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Last Updated: July 29, 2021

Cost of doing MBA

Candidates who are interested in taking up a career in business or already have a business career and are looking to further their prospects will generally plan on doing an MBA. MBA or Masters in Business Administration is a course designed to help candidates develop the abilities required for both business and management. The main components of the course would be accounting, statistics, business ethics, economics, marketing, etc. Candidates will be able to specialize in different fields according to their interest-based on which they will be able to advance their career.

With proper career planning, candidates often choose to do an MBA right after their undergraduate course. But since work experience is a component for admission in most business schools, candidates often face the dilemma of leaving the job to pursue the course. While choosing to do an MBA, the most important factor that comes up is that of the expenditure associated with it. The cost of attendance for most business schools is extremely high when compared to other graduate courses.

Although the cost of an MBA degree can vary from institution to institution, the average tuition for a two-year full-time MBA program often exceeds $60,000. Candidates who choose to attend top business schools in the US will be surprised to see that the cost of studying MBA can go up to even $200,000.

General Costs for an MBA

While applying for an MBA course, candidates will have to look into the different expenditures incurred while studying the course. This will include tuition/cost of attendance, books, cost of living in the city, the cost for other external activities, etc. While doing an MBA it is mandatory that candidates become a part of different programs, clubs, and opportunities that can enhance their learning experience.

Most universities will include global study and immersion programs for candidates which will mostly require traveling outside the country. The expenses for these programs will be outside that of the tuition fee and candidates will have to accept such additional costs while enrolling in the course. Some universities provide budget estimates for MBA students to help with this process. For example, Harvard Business School provides this student cost summary. But it isn’t ideal for candidates to rely solely on the estimates provided since most often the expenses will exceed the estimates provided.

Public vs. Private MBA Program Costs

Among the numerous MBA programs to choose from in the US, there are two categories: public and private. It is generally the private business schools that have a high fee structure when compared to the public sector. But at the same time, it cannot be completely said that all public business schools will cost relatively less in comparison. The cost of attendance and other additional costs can vary depending on the different factors that have to be taken into consideration.

The in-state and out-of-state tuition are subject to change from institution to institution. The location of the university will also have to be considered which plays a huge factor in deciding the living expenses.

Least Expensive Public MBA Programs

The least expensive public MBA programs according to the cost of attendance in the institutions are as follows-
ProgramIn-state Tuition Out-Of-State Tuition
University of Alabama (Manderson)$11,000$30,000
Iowa State University$12,000$28,000
University at Buffalo - SUNY$15,000$24,000
Binghamton University-SUNY$15,000$24,000
CUNY - Baruch College (Zicklin)$16,000$30,000
Clemson University (SC)$20,000$33,000
University of Wisconsin-Madison$23,000$47,000
University of Oklahoma$34,000$54,000
University of California-San Diego$53,000$57,000
Temple University-Fox-PA$65,000$68,000

Least Expensive Private MBA Programs

Though it is often understood that private programs in MBA is more costly than those offered by public schools, if one compares the cost of attendance between the two, they look nearly similar. The only difference between the two is that private schools might have additional expenses that may come even in the form of parking fee. It is also because public universities will contain more provisions for candidates to seek financial aid from the government than resort to private student loans. These programs in general make it easier for candidates to complete their program debt-free. While this is the case, there are still private b-schools that have a low cost of attendance. The least expensive full-time MBA programs offered by private universities in the country are- $40,000
ProgramCost (one yr. tuition & fees)
Howard University$36,000
Brigham Young University (Marriott) $37,000
Alfred University$38,000
Stevens Institute of Technology (NJ)
Bentley University$46,000
Case Western Reserve University (Weatherhead)$46,000
Rochester Institute of Technology (Saunders) $50,000
Syracuse University (Whitman)$54,000
Baylor University (Hankamer)$57,000
American University$88,000

Reducing MBA Costs

The high cost of studying an MBA course often makes candidates reconsider their choice of course. This is where they will have to look for alternate ways of meeting the expenditure. Choosing a cheap option among universities is one of the most feasible options for candidates. But the tables above depicting the cost of attendance from the cheaper universities available will provide an idea of how even the cheap options can be found expensive. This is mainly due to the additional expenses a professional course like MBA can incur.

The best option for candidates will be to look for the different kinds of financial aid available that will mostly cover all the expenses they can incur during the course of study. The different kinds of financial aid they can receive for an MBA include scholarships, fellowships, federal loans, private student loans, employer funds, etc. Most b-schools offer their students both merit-based and need-based scholarships that can either be partially funded or fully funded.

Candidates can also look for specialization-based scholarships from non-profit and private organizations apart from their 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.


MBA is a professional course that offers more returns on monetary investments than most other courses available. Irrespective of the monetary returns expected upon the completion of the course, candidates must be able to choose programs that fit their budget after including the expenses covered by financial aid. It is also essential that candidates enroll for the course by consulting their career goals so as to move ahead with a single-minded focus towards the goal in the shortest way possible.

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