Foster MBA – an outstanding value among top-ranked schools

Foster MBA students talking outside in courtyard
As MBA graduates’ average debt soared above $100,000 for many top-ranked U.S. schools, the average debt of Foster School of Business MBAs dropped from $38,394 to $35,104 this year. Foster graduates also benefited from one of the highest job placement rates in the U.S. – 95.6% and high salaries averaging $118,405.

“The average debt for Foster MBA graduates dropped because we have been able to increase the total number and amount of MBA scholarships thanks to the generosity of many successful Foster alumni,” said Dan Poston, assistant dean for master’s programs. “As a policy, Foster does not grant ‘full ride’ scholarships. Instead, we choose to spread scholarship awards across a larger percentage of students than some other schools enabling us to reduce the cost for more people,” he continued. “In the last two years, we have also seen a rise in the number of Foster MBA graduates receiving large signing bonuses. Obviously, a large signing bonus drastically reduces a student’s debt.”

Based on Poets and Quants’ data, Foster is one of only three nationally ranked schools with average salaries over $110,000 and average debt at 30 percent of salaries or less. In 2015, Forbes’ Best Business Schools rankings reported the average debt from surveyed MBA students was $80,000. MBAs from just the top 10 U.S. business schools left campus last year with a mind-boggling $317.4 million in graduate loans according to Poets and Quants.

The Foster School is one of the most affordable schools in the top 30, with the third lowest out-of-state tuition and fees. “As a business school in a leading public university, we believe offering a first class graduate business education while still keeping the tuition at a reasonable level is part of our public mission,” Poston explained.  “Also, we know graduating from an MBA program with a large debt often limits post-MBA career options. High debt can preclude a graduate from pursuing intriguing opportunities in entrepreneurial ventures or in smaller enterprises trying to launch new technologies. Our region’s economic growth benefits from channeling more great talent into these types of ventures rather than creating a barrier to such options.”

Increasing debt influences MBA applicants’ choices of schools according to the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants. The AIGAC found that 41% of 2015 survey respondents indicated their initial choice of schools was “partly influenced” by affordability and that about 20% switched MBA programs based on cost and access to financial aid.

“We are seeing a lot more concern about debt among MBA candidates, and rightly so,” Poston emphasized. “The likely debt is often a factor in an applicant’s choice of schools. To me, this is a good sign that someone is thinking like an MBA already.”

To help MBA applicants evaluate schools based on outcomes as well as financials, the Foster School created the free MBA Rankings Calculator with licensed data from U.S. News, Businessweek, Forbes, The Financial Times, M7 Financial and the Economist. Applicants can create their own MBA ranking by weighting up to ten metrics, including career results, reputation, low average debt and ROI.

Full-time MBA Programs by Percentage of Average Debt to Average Salary

SchoolAverage DebtAverage SalaryAvg. Debt % of Avg. SalaryPercent In Debt
Wisconsin-Madison$15,481$114,81513%52
Brigham Young (Marriott)$22,521$120,85319%48
Florida (Hough)$30,549$109,17128%44
Washington (Foster)$35,104$118,40530%55
Penn State (Smeal)$36,234$114,03532%28
Temple (Fox)$31,615$83,80038%40
Texas A&M (Mays)$42,833$110,62539%42
Arizona State (Carey)$45,662$113,24340%44
Georgia Tech (Scheller)$47,727$118,23340%45
Rice (Jones)$55,156$129,95442%42
Purdue (Krannert)$45,807$103,38644%28
Iowa (Tippie)$46,523$102,61945%24
Minnesota (Carlson)$54,723$120,00046%51
Texas-Austin (McCombs$62,525$133,64747%59
Michigan State (Broad)$55,539$117,32647%43
UC-Berkeley (Haas)$70,568$143,48549%53
Rochester (Simon)$55,548$112,51249%53
Ohio State (Fisher)$56,154$110,35851%45
Indiana (Kelley)$64,438$123,85552%48
Harvard$79,667$149,78453%55
Illinois-Urbana-Champaign$53,820$99,49554%30
Washington Univ. (Olin)$62,053$112,95755%54
Notre Dame (Mendoza)$69,632$125,22756%52
Chicago (Booth)*$82,173$143,47557%50
Stanford GSB$83,762$145,17358%47
Emory (Goizueta)$77,343$132,77958%59
Vanderbilt (Owen)$76,448$126,95960%48
UC-Irvine (Merage)$57,243$94,76560%26
Boston College (Carroll)$63,080$102,20662%45
Boston University (Questrom)$67,582$109,35862%43
UC-Davis$70,273$112,20263%48
UCLA (Anderson)$88,654$132,82767%46
Virginia (Darden)$100,083$146,13668%57
Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)$93,267$135,54869%49
Michigan (Ross)$100,611$143,19570%41
UNC (Kenan-Flagler)$93,898$129,01673%61
MIT (Sloan)$107,172$146,20173%69
Northwestern (Kellogg)$104,632$140,10775%63
Dartmouth (Tuck) *$111,761$148,02576%67
Yale SOM*$108,719$139,31078%59
New York (Stern)$107,458$137,53478%45
Columbia *$116,000$146,43679%67
Cornell (Johnson)$115,048$144,81379%58
Duke (Fuqua)$114,498$143,38280%61
Georgetown (McDonough) *$104,424$130,65980%41.3
Pennsylvania (Wharton)$122,370$146,76183%45
USC (Marshall) *$118,088$120,20798%56

* Poets and Quants’ estimate based on previous disclosures

Sources: Poets and Quants, U.S. News & World Report