Best Business Schools: The Top 11 Schools Offering Excellent Business Courses

best business schools

Attending one of the best business schools is an expensive proposition, but it's one that pays off. Graduates get a return on investment on average within 3.9 years. This is down from the pre-recession years. Business school students must weigh the cost of tuition and foregone salary against the vast gains of compensation they will enjoy for the rest of their working career. The best business schools allow business school students to achieve vast increases in their salary immediately after graduation.

What Is A Business School?

After attending business school, students receive an MBA, or Masters in Business Administration. Students can study to get an MBA even if they did not have a business major for their undergraduate degree. Many best business schools use the case study method, wherein they solve problems that mirror real-world problems they will face in their careers.

Students attend business school as part of a career change and to increase their compensation, according to Forbes. Students report they learn valuable information about accounting and financial statements, teamwork, effective communication, leadership and more. Often students start their own businesses while in business school and use their actual businesses for case studies.

The best business schools shape students to be the leaders of tomorrow. They are usually two-year programs. Most are full-time but nowadays more schools are creating part-time MBA programs that are geared towards working professionals. The best business schools often have executive education programs that offer continuing education for executives.

Considerations for Choosing a Business School

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When choosing a business school, carefully weigh out the pros and cons. Location may be an important factor. The top business schools on our list all offer substantial increases in earnings after graduation. Think about class sizes. Smaller names may give closer access to professors. Some schools may offer more of a concentration on a global perspective. If you are a veteran, look to schools that have a historically close relationship with veterans. Many of the best business schools are all about entrepreneurship and will offer a lot of support for business students wanting to start their own business.

11 Best Business Schools

These are the 11 best business schools in the United States according to Forbes. They have chosen their rankings based only on the "5-year MBA gain", which is a comparison of what the student would have made before their MBA versus what they made after completing their MBA, minus opportunity cost, which means their tuition, fees, and two years of foregone compensation. Forbes assumed that salaries with their MBAs rose twice as fast as they would have, had students not attended business school.

The schools at the top of the list had the highest 5-year MBA gain, which means they had the best ROI. There may be other factors to consider, but after a thorough study of 2012 alumni earnings, these schools seem to give you the best bang for your buck.

1. University of Pennsylvania at Wharton


Wharton
  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • 5-Year MBA Gain: $97.1K
  • Average undergraduate GPA: 3.74
  • Percent employed three months after graduation: 92.6%
  • Tuition: $148K
  • GMAT Score: 730
  • Acceptance Rate: 19%

Though Wharton is the oldest business school in the United States, founded in 1881, this is the first year it has topped Forbes' business school rankings. Wharton is the second-largest business school in these rankings behind Harvard's Kennedy School. A revamped curriculum, 19 majors, and 200 electives? We don't know what the deciding factor is, but we know Wharton alumni make the highest starting salaries out of all business school graduates five years out of school.

2. Stanford Graduate School of Business


2. Stanford Graduate School of Business
  • Location: Palo Alto, California
  • 5-Year MBA Gain: $92.5K
  • Average undergraduate GPA: 3.74
  • Percent employed three months after graduation: 87.6%
  • Tuition: $136K
  • GMAT Score: 740
  • Acceptance Rate: 6%

Stanford has the lowest business school acceptance rate out of all of our best business schools. All students must go abroad during their time at Stanford, either on short trips during the school year or on longer trips during the summer. Stanford business school graduates are employed by some top companies, including Apple, Bain, and McKinsey and Company.

3. Harvard Business School


Harvard
  • Location: Boston, Massachusets
  • 5-Year MBA Gain: $89.6K
  • Average undergraduate GPA: 3.71
  • Percent employed three months after graduation: 89.3%
  • Tuition: $154K
  • GMAT Score: 730
  • Acceptance Rate: 9.9%

Though Harvard Business School has the highest tuition on our list, its huge $3.3 billion endowment makes up for it. Nearly half of the school's 900-person enrollment get a scholarship valued at more than $65,000. Graduates from this best business school invariably have their pick of the top employers such as Bain and McKinsey and Company.

4. Northwestern University (Kellogg)


Northwestern University (Kellogg)
  • Location: Evanston, Illinois
  • 5-Year MBA Gain: $84.8K
  • Average undergraduate GPA:3.6
  • Percent employed three months after graduation: 92.6%
  • Tuition: $138K
  • GMAT Score: 730
  • Acceptance Rate: 20.2%

One of our best business schools with a somewhat more welcoming acceptance rate, the Kellogg School of Management is well-established in educating tomorrow's business leaders. Students can choose from full-time MBA programs, part-time MBA programs, or joint degrees with the engineering, law, or medical schools. Business consultancies such as Bain, Deloitte, and McKinsey love to hire Kellogg grads.

5. Dartmouth College (Tuck)


Dartmouth College (Tuck)
  • Location: Hanover, New Hampshire
  • 5-Year MBA Gain: $81.2K
  • Average undergraduate GPA: 3.52
  • Percent employed three months after graduation: 91.8%
  • Tuition:$145K
  • GMAT Score: 722
  • Acceptance Rate: 23%

The Tuck School of Business may be attractive to students who want a closer-knit residential community. This best business school is located in the peaceful atmosphere of Hanover, New Hampshire. Tuck has a diverse student body with 40% women, 20% U.S. minorities, and 36% international. Students interact in trust-based teams which allows for an immersive learning experience and their close living quarters allow for a depth of sharing and learning across cultures that Tuck students really appreciate.

6. Columbia University


Columbia University
  • Location: New York, New York
  • 5-Year MBA Gain: $75.9K
  • Average undergraduate GPA: 3.60
  • Percent employed three months after graduation: 89.3%
  • Tuition: $148K
  • GMAT Score: 722
  • Acceptance Rate: 14%

The Columbia University Graduate School of Business benefits from its location in one of the top financial centers of the world—New York City. There are full-time MBA programs and programs geared towards working professionals and non-degree programs for today's executives.

7. University of Chicago (Booth)


University of Chicago (Booth)
  • Location: Chicago, Illinois
  • 5-Year MBA Gain: $75.9K
  • Average undergraduate GPA: 3.61
  • Percent employed three months after graduation: 95.3%
  • Tuition: $139K
  • GMAT Score: 730
  • Acceptance Rate: 23.5%

Chicago Booth offers a fully flexible full-time MBA program. There is only one required course; the other courses are electives.

8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)
  • Location: Cambridge, Massachusets
  • 5-Year MBA Gain: $72.5K
  • Average undergraduate GPA: 3.57
  • Percent employed three months after graduation: 93.9%
  • Tuition: $140K
  • GMAT Score: 722
  • Acceptance Rate: 11.6%

The Sloan School of Management wants to create tomorrow's thought leaders. Their specialty is combining both theory and practice together. Sloan students specialize in one of three specialties; entrepreneurship and innovation, finance, or enterprise management There is a big focus on entrepreneurship. Classes include the Leadership Lab where students have to create a socially responsible innovation.

9. UC Berkeley (Haas)


UC Berkeley (Haas)
  • Location: Berkeley, California
  • 5-Year MBA Gain: $72.4K
  • Average undergraduate GPA: 3.71
  • Percent employed three months after graduation: 89.9%
  • Tuition: $113K
  • GMAT Score: 725
  • Acceptance Rate: 12.9%

Has has a big focus on global business. Students are encouraged to spend semesters abroad or go on shorter trips. The school's four main tenets are  “confidence without attitude,” “beyond yourself,” “question the status quo” and “students always.”

10. Cornell University Graduate School of Management (Johnson)


Cornell University Graduate School of Management (Johnson)
  • Location: Ithaca, New York
  • 5-Year MBA Gain: $70.4K
  • Percent employed three months after graduation: 90%
  • Tuition: $131K
  • GMAT Score: 700
  • Acceptance Rate:27%

The Cornell SC Johnson School of Business teaches a model of business education that is flexible, collaborative, and cross-disciplinary. The school is serious about being part of tech startups it can fast-track—so serious that it has a US Patents Officer in residence. US veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are a part of every Johnson class.

11. University of Virginia (Darden)


University of Virginia (Darden)
  • Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
  • 5-Year MBA Gain: $69.9K
  • Average undergraduate GPA: 3.48
  • Tuition: $132K
  • GMAT Score: 710
  • Acceptance Rate: 25%

The Darden School of Business offers MBA, Ph.D. and Executive Education programs. It offers programs and concentrations in:

  • Accounting
  • Consulting
  • E-commerce
  • Economics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Ethics
  • Finance
  • General management
  • International business
  • Leadership
  • Manufacturing and technology management
  • Marketing
  • Not-for-profit management
  • Production/operations management
  • Organizational behavior
  • Portfolio management
  • Supply chain management/logistics
  • Quantitative analysis/statistics and operations research
  • Tax
  • Technology

The Darden School uses the case study method. First-year students solve cases in assigned Learning Teams, which are groups of just six people.

Conclusion

The best business schools offer all business students the opportunity to become high-achieving business leaders of tomorrow. Many offer programs for working professionals so students do not have to put their entire lives on hold while they further their business education. These best business schools put the success of their students first, which is one of the best qualities a school can have. Whether full-time or part-time, you can find the right best business school for you.  

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