Forbes Finds Out Which MBAs Have The Best ROI

University of Pennsylvania campus, whose Warton School ranked as the best U.S MBA institution for return on investment.

After surveying 17,500 MBA graduates around the world this year from the class of 2012, Forbes have determined which schools and their MBA programs deliver the best return on investment.

Forbes took into account the employability of a student after graduating from an institution, as well as the tuition fees as opposed to hypothetically not getting a graduate degree.

“The top 10 one-year international programs produced an average “5-year MBA gain” of $126,000,” they said.

“The leading two-year programs outside the U.S. had a gain of $74,300, while the best U.S. MBA programs had a five-year gain of $73,400 with Wharton School ranked first at $97,100.”

Best U.S MBAs

  1. Wharton – University of Pennsylvania
  2. Stanford Graduate School of Business
  3. Harvard Business School
  4. Northwestern – Kellogg School of Management
  5. Dartmouth
  6. Columbia Business School
  7. The university of Chicago Booth School of Business
  8. MIT Sloan School of Management
  9. University of California – Berkeley – Haas School of Business
  10. Cornell University – Johnson

International MBAs: One-year programs

  1. IMD – Switzerland
  2. Insead Business School – France
  3. IE Business School – Spain
  4. Cambridge University – United Kingdom
  5. SDA Bocconi School of Management – Italy
  6. Said Business School, Oxford University – United Kingdom
  7. University of Hong Kong – Hong Kong
  8. Mannheim Business School – Germany
  9. Erasmus University – Netherlands
  10. Cranfield School of Management – United Kingdom

International MBAs: Two-year programs

  1. London Business School – United Kingdom
  2. IESE Business School, University of Navarra – Spain
  3. CEIBS – China
  4. HEC Paris – France
  5. ESADE Business School – Spain
  6. Manchester Business School, Manchester University – United Kingdom
  7. NUS Business School – Singapore
  8. Schulich School of Business, York University – Canada
  9. IPADE – Mexico


According to Forbes, IMD ranked first this year among the one-year MBA programs because of its course affordability in relation to the students’ earnings, as well as the employability factor.

“IMD also has the highest cost for a one-year program ($88,000 for the current class) thanks to mandatory fees outside tuition that cover two trips abroad, daily lunch on campus, teaching materials and more,” they said.

“The payoff is worth it despite the high opportunity cost. The class of 2012 had a median salary of $215,000 five years of out of school, $26,000 more than any other non-U.S. school. IMD grads earned back their investment (forgone salary, tuition) in just 2.3 years on average.

“Sixty percent of IMD grads last year landed in consulting or marketing jobs. Top employers included, McKinsey, Danaher, Boston Consulting Group and Samsung Electronics.”

Insead ranks second among one-year programs with a five-year gain of $150,400. The payback period is a brisk 2.7 years thanks to salaries five years of school of nearly $190,000.

London Business School rated as the best two-year international program with a gain of $119,100.

Forbes’ ranking of business schools was based solely on the return on investment achieved by the class of 2012.

“We compared graduates’ earnings in their first five years out of business school to their opportunity cost (one year of forgone compensation, tuition and required fees) to arrive at a five-year MBA gain.

“Schools whose alumni had response rates below 15% or a negative return on investment after five years were eliminated.”

Ben Ready
Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (