Who are the M7 business schools? They’re a prestigious group of elite US business schools, including world-renowned names like Stanford, Harvard, and Wharton.
M7 MBA programs are among the best-ranked in the world, dominating top MBA rankings tables, but they’re also the most expensive.
So how much does an M7 MBA cost?
M7 MBA: Overall Cost
According to our BusinessBecause Cost of MBA Report 2021, the average total cost for an M7 MBA program is around $227,000, far higher than the global average for top MBA programs at around $176,000.
The Wharton MBA costs an estimated $162,000 in tuition fees for the two years, while the Stanford MBA costs $149,412. The Harvard MBA costs the least in terms of tuition fees out of the M7, at around $146,000, however the total cost of an MBA goes beyond tuition fees alone.
Our Cost of MBA Report considers MBA tuition fees alongside factors like living costs, the cost of materials, and healthcare cover, to estimate the total cost of the world’s top MBA programs.
The table below shows the overall cost breakdown across the M7 business schools. In terms of overall cost, MIT Sloan is the world's most expensive MBA program, and most expensive M7 MBA, while Kellogg offers the most affordable M7 MBA program.
M7 MBA Cost Breakdown
Most Expensive M7 MBA Programs
1. MIT Sloan School of Management
Total Cost: $241,984
MIT Sloan has a history of producing world leading talent, including MIT notable alumni like Brian Halligan, CEO and co-founder of HubSpot, and John W Thompson, former chairman of Microsoft.
But to earn a place among the brightest and best, you’ll have to pay a huge amount of money; the MIT MBA costs around $242,000 in total. This is largely down to the program’s tuition fees—which are the second highest among the M7—and the sky high costs of living and healthcare.
For the price, you can expect to earn a salary of around $195,000 on average within three years of graduation, according to the latest Financial Times data.
2. Stanford Graduate School of Business
Total Cost: $239,928
The world's hardest MBA program to get into, the Stanford MBA costs just under $240,000 in terms of total cost.
While the school has some of the lowest tuition fees among the M7, the cost of living at Stanford is around $10,000 higher than anywhere else. Healthcare cover is also among the more expensive options.
But Elise Smith, a Stanford MBA alum, thinks the cost is worth it. “While it was clear to me that every MBA program would offer finance and accounting, no other school focused so clearly on the soft skills that make the best leaders,” she says.
3. The University of Pennsylvania Wharton School
Total Cost: 230,864
Wharton charges the highest tuition fees of all the M7 business schools, at around $162,000 for the two years.
Although Wharton’s healthcare cover is the lowest of the M7 and the school has the second cheapest cost of living. In total, the Wharton MBA costs $230,864.
Wharton MBA grads see strong return on their investment. In 2020, former students earned average salaries of $217,141 three years after graduation, according to the FT.
4. Harvard Business School
Total Cost: 223,084
Harvard is arguably the most famous business school in the world. It was ranked first by the Financial Times in 2020, and its graduates earn more than $200,000 three years after graduation.
But Harvard also has the lowest MBA tuition fees among the M7. At $146,880, Harvard tuition is below the average cost of tuition across all top US MBA programs, which stands at $148,978.
The Harvard MBA cost of living is the second highest behind Stanford and it also has some of the highest cost of materials. In total, the Harvard MBA costs around $223,000. But for this price, you get to study at one of the world’s most iconic business schools, where the first ever MBA degree began.
“It changed my perspectives on everything,” says Chris Riley, a Harvard MBA alum and founder of Guzman Energy, a clean energy startup. “I was in a room of tremendously smart people of different backgrounds, seeing a new range of perspectives as to how to solve problems.”
5. Columbia Business School
Total Cost: 221,362
New York City-based Columbia Business School is one of the world’s top MBA programs for investment banking. Columbia is also one of the schools where the Big Three consulting firms recruit the most MBA graduates.
The Columbia MBA has some of the M7’s highest tuition fees, at around $155,000. However, overall the Columbia MBA is the third cheapest among the M7; the Columbia MBA costs around $221,000 in terms of total cost.
6. The University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Total Cost: 218,435
Chicago Booth is another top producer of world leading talent, including Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, and James M Kilts, former CEO of The Gillette Company.
Chicago Booth MBA graduates can expect salaries of around $197,000 three years after graduation, according to the FT.
Booth’s tuition fees are around the US average for top MBAs at just under $150,000, while cost of living and materials are also relatively low. In total, the Booth MBA costs around $218,000.
There are many great things about studying at the school, thinks Eric Gene, a Booth alum; “beginning with the great cohort and faculty that Chicago Booth allows us to work with,” he says.
7. Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management
Total Cost: 213,420
Kellogg offers the cheapest M7 MBA program. At around $213,000 in total, Kellogg’s MBA costs almost $30,000 less than the MIT MBA.
Kellogg’s affordability is partly due to the school’s affordable cost of living. Kellogg has the cheapest living costs of all the M7 schools, and is second cheapest for healthcare.
Kellogg also offers a uniquely diverse experience to its students, says Tandra Bidyanda, a former Kellogg MBA. The cohort is comprised of 42% international students, and 43% of students are female. As many as 40% of students go on two or more global trips during the program.
“Throughout my whole life I’ve enjoyed understanding a different culture or different perspective in the context of business,” she says. “I think I’m now the person in the room who comes in with an experience that is uniquely different from what people are used to today.”
How to pay for your M7 MBA
There are ways to make paying the substantial cost of an MBA easier, including loans and MBA scholarships offered by schools and independent organizations.
“Cost is a very valid concern almost everyone I know has at the beginning of the process,” says Chris Abkarians, Harvard MBA graduate and co-founder of loans company Juno, “but most people don’t actually pay the sticker price.”
After being admitted into an M7 MBA, you can submit a financial aid request telling you how much aid you’re eligible for based on your income, assets, and liabilities. In some cases you can also negotiate with schools over the amount of financial aid you’re allotted, says Chris.
“After that, you have to finance it in a way that’s best for you, through savings and loans. Most people spend a lot of time thinking about that and comparing options,” he explains.
Juno has secured over $300 million in low-interest loans for MBA students since it was founded in 2018. Students can make savings of up to $15,000 by using the loans company, which currently has more than 70,000 members.
Ultimately, the financial support available means you shouldn’t let cost put off applying to an M7. With M7 graduates among the highest earning MBAs in the world, you can expect a strong return on your investment.
Images in this article have been sourced from business school Facebook pages.
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