The Cost of doing an MBA in the USA

Are you interested in a career in business or advancing your current business career? If so, you may be considering a Master in Business Administration (MBA) graduate program. An MBA is a graduate degree designed to help individuals develop the abilities needed for careers in business and management. There are many factors to consider when deciding whether to go back to school for an MBA and cost is something you should consider early on. If you choose to leave your job to pursue a graduate degree, keep your careers goals in mind first and foremost and get the most out of the experience. Although the cost of an MBA degree can vary, the average tuition for a two-year full-time MBA program exceeds $60,000. If you attend one of the top business schools in the US, you can expect to pay as much as $100,000 or more in tuition and fees.

General Costs for an MBA in the US

When deciding whether to earn an MBA, consider all of your costs. The costs for an MBA include tuition, fees, books, and the estimated cost to live in the city where you attend school. In addition to these costs, take into consideration other programs, clubs, and opportunities you may want to be a part of. For example, many schools have global study or immersion programs that take place outside of the US. These programs could add more than several thousand dollars to your costs. You should also factor in your cost of lost wages while attending graduate school. Some universities provide budget estimates for MBA students to help with this process. For example, Harvard Business School provides this student cost summary. However, you should be cautious solely relying on these estimates. In most cases, you can expect the total costs to be 10% to 20% higher depending on your lifestyle.

Public vs. Private MBA Program Costs

Among the numerous MBA programs to choose from in the US, there are two categories: public and private. Although most people assume that public universities are less expensive than private, that may not always be the case depending on whether you’re paying in-state or out-of-state tuition and many other university-specific factors. Be sure you do your research about costs for your target schools before you apply.

Least Expensive Private MBA Programs

his data includes cost information from 44 private business schools. They found that the 10 least expensive of these private business schools charged less than $45,000 for tuition and fees in the 2016-2017 school year. The average tuition and fees for these 10 schools was $37,000. In contrast, the average for the 10 more expensive private schools of the 44 surveyed was $56,379. The most expensive of these private schools surveyed was Babson College's Olin Graduate School of Business, which charged full-time students $105,000 in tuition and fees. Keep in mind that these costs don’t include books, the cost of living in that city, or additional programs and expenses.

See the table below for a list of the least expensive private MBA programs in 2019 (yearly tuition) - $36,000
ProgramCost (one yr. tuition & fees)Ranking
La Salle University$37,000
Brigham Young University (Marriott) $28,000Top 50
Stevens Institute of Technology (NJ)50-100
Howard University$35,000
Case Western Reserve University (Weatherhead)$43,000Top 100
Rochester Institute of Technology (Saunders) $48,000
Baylor University (Hankamer)$48,000Top 100
Syracuse University (Whitman)$49,000Top 100

Least Expensive Public MBA Programs

Least expensive public MBA programs for tuition and fees:
ProgramCost (one yr. in-state tuition & fees)Ranking
University at Buffalo - SUNY$20,000Top 100
Clemson University (SC)$22,000
Iowa State University$11,000Top 100
University of Houston (Bauer)$24,000Top 100
University of Alabama (Manderson)$11,000Top 100
CUNY - Baruch College (Zicklin)$15,000Top 100

Reducing Your MBA Costs

Going back to school to earn your MBA is a significant financial investment. However, there are ways to reduce these costs. Many schools offer merit-based scholarships that may cover part of your tuition and living expenses so make sure you take the time to research these options. Also, you should research scholarships offered by organizations other than your target school. For example, the National Black MBA Association and the National Society of Hispanic MBAs both offer merit-based scholarships for MBA students. The Forte Foundation offers fellowships and other support to women MBA students. In addition, students with multiple MBA program acceptance letters may be able to negotiate with schools for scholarship money.


It is essential that you focus on your career goals when considering the costs of graduate school and what program is the best fit for you. You want to be sure to factor in all the costs to attend graduate school so you can budget accordingly without enduring financial stress.

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