A Graduate Degree That Pays Off: The M.B.A.

By Patrick Thomas and Andrea Fuller

Oct. 27, 2021 5:30 am ET

A Wall Street Journal analysis of federal student loan data found 98% of programs leave students with manageable debt loads

Borrowing money to go back to graduate school can be a surefire way to get mired in student debt. But one master’s degree appears to pay off for many people who finance their education: the M.B.A.

At about 98% of universities that offer master’s of business administration programs, graduates typically made more money two years out of school than they had borrowed, a Wall Street Journal analysis of federal student loan data for nearly 600 programs found. That stands in contrast to law schools, where roughly 6% of programs had graduates with higher median earnings than debt in the same time frame.

Jenny Le, 29, enrolled in 2018 at Columbia Business School, where total tuition and fees surpass $160,000 for the two-year M.B.A. She tapped savings and scholarships and borrowed $38,000 to attend, assuming she would take several years to pay down the debt after graduating. Thanks in part to a signing bonus she got with her new role as an associate in corporate strategy and development for Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America in New York, she cleared the debt in six months.

“I thought it would be worth it in the long run, but wasn’t sure about the short-term,” Ms. Le said of her degree. “I’ve seen so many others my age struggle with debt payment. It was a better investment than I was expecting.”

Many people who pursue their M.B.A. do it for the promise of a bigger payday, the ability to pivot to a new industry or launch themselves onto an executive path. The high sticker price for some programs, which can range from $100,000 to $250,000 or more once living expenses are factored in on top of tuition and fees, can turn off prospective students, as can the two-year career break required to go back to campus.

The federal government allows graduate students to take out a fixed amount of relatively low-interest loans. After that, students must turn to higher-interest Grad Plus loans, which have no cap. Thousands of M.B.A. students take out six-figure loans every year to help finance tuition, fees and living expenses. A small number of M.B.A. candidates at some elite schools rely more on private loans with lower interest rates. The debt figures the Journal examined don’t include private loans, and the salary data reflects only students who take out federal loans.

Many M.B.A. candidates have experience in the professional workforce, so the degree often boosts their existing career trajectory. Traditionally, some students have come from more affluent backgrounds and people who already work in finance or other high-paying sectors have tended to gravitate to the degree, which has made the pool of M.B.A. candidates a financially healthy group, though business schools say they have been trying to expand their pool of applicants.

When Juliet Lawrence, 37, graduated from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business with her M.B.A. in 2013, she decided not to immediately pay off her more than $108,000 in loans. She opted to put her higher salary and bonuses at Dow Inc. DOW -0.88% into her 401(k) and the stock market while making loan payments. Ms. Lawrence, now a senior finance manager at Dow, paid off the last of her debt in 2020.

“From a net worth perspective, you get more return from that than just straight paying off loans. There was no real rush,” Ms. Lawrence said of investing instead of wiping out loans quickly. “Your M.B.A. pays off, but where are you going to get more growth?”

Not everybody who attends a well-known school catapults into a new income bracket. Bradley Hoefer, 31, borrowed about $110,000 to get his M.B.A. from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business in 2020; he already had about $85,000 in loans for his undergraduate degree. He estimates it could take him 20 years to pay down the debt.

Mr. Hoefer had hoped his M.B.A. would help him leave banking, the sector where he worked for five years, and enter the videogame industry. After a year of job hunting and working part-time to make ends meet, he recently took a full-time job at Citigroup Inc. C -0.91% in Buffalo, N.Y., with a remote start from Ormond Beach, Fla., where he currently resides. His salary of $60,000 a year is a modest increase over the salary he drew before graduate school.

“It was worth it for the experience,” Mr. Hoefer said. “I think there is a little false advertising with respect to some M.B.A.s. People expect to increase their salaries from $60,000 to $120,000.”

Paulo Goes, dean of Tulane’s business school, said the class of 2020 has had a particularly tough time because many companies stopped recruiting M.B.A. job seekers during the pandemic, which is reflected in graduates’ placement and salary.

Debt-to-income ratio

A ratio above one means a typical student would graduate with more debt than income two years after graduation. A ratio below one means the typical graduate has income greater than debt.

SCHOOL MEDIAN DEBT MEDIAN EARNINGS DEBT-INCOME RATIO
Adelphi University $32,547 $70,296 0.46
Alabama A & M University $46,348 $43,798 1.06
Albany State University $34,750 $38,289 0.91
Albertus Magnus College $41,000 $57,318 0.72
Alvernia University $37,027 $60,878 0.61
Alverno College $30,691 $63,005 0.49
American InterContinental University $35,281 $45,244 0.78
American International College $33,000 $52,107 0.63
American Public University System $33,178 $66,728 0.5
American University $78,230 $99,458 0.79
Anderson University $30,425 $61,020 0.5
Anderson University $37,885 $65,238 0.58
Antioch University-Midwest $41,000 $62,012 0.66
Appalachian State University $26,005 $49,084 0.53
Arizona State University-Tempe $50,795 $98,650 0.52
Arkansas State University-Main Campus $30,749 $57,318 0.54
Ashford University $41,000 $51,179 0.8
Ashland University $22,700 $73,035 0.31
Assumption College $20,701 $64,572 0.32
Auburn University $41,000 $114,892 0.36
Augsburg University $35,500 $72,602 0.49
Augusta University $37,967 $66,821 0.57
Aurora University $33,828 $65,238 0.52
Averett University $38,500 $63,898 0.6
Avila University $39,782 $59,969 0.66
Azusa Pacific University $39,000 $59,425 0.66
Babson College $51,316 $103,078 0.5
Baker College $37,490 $61,144 0.61
Baker University $37,931 $67,473 0.56
Baldwin Wallace University $38,205 $86,129 0.44
Barry University $51,250 $51,482 1
Bay Path University $29,176 $63,005 0.46
Baylor University $43,366 $96,457 0.45
Belhaven University $41,000 $46,673 0.88
Bellevue University $38,224 $71,495 0.54
Benedictine University $34,608 $71,661 0.48
Bentley University $35,096 $89,968 0.39
Bethel University $34,500 $80,858 0.43
Binghamton University $26,359 $68,443 0.39
Bluffton University $26,660 $57,995 0.46
Boise State University $30,750 $74,786 0.41
Boston College $47,630 $115,060 0.41
Boston University $46,446 $106,688 0.44
Bowling Green State University-Main Campus $31,788 $79,688 0.4
Brandeis University $40,647 $72,214 0.56
Brandman University $46,309 $78,029 0.59
Brenau University $56,878 $60,173 0.95
Brigham Young University-Provo $41,000 $119,642 0.34
CUNY Bernard M Baruch College $40,956 $101,518 0.4
CUNY Brooklyn College $18,899 $52,107 0.36
CUNY Graduate School and University Center $20,000 $80,964 0.25
CUNY Lehman College $17,000 $56,157 0.3
California Baptist University $22,098 $73,075 0.3
California State Polytechnic University-Pomona $37,948 $85,357 0.45
California State University-Bakersfield $27,333 $71,015 0.39
California State University-Channel Islands $30,750 $64,990 0.47
California State University-Chico $27,133 $50,856 0.53
California State University-Dominguez Hills $29,584 $69,338 0.43
California State University-East Bay $33,635 $79,838 0.42
California State University-Fresno $35,795 $90,049 0.4
California State University-Fullerton $27,750 $80,779 0.34
California State University-Long Beach $41,000 $67,660 0.61
California State University-Monterey Bay $41,000 $79,389 0.52
California State University-Northridge $31,963 $88,907 0.36
California State University-Sacramento $35,381 $73,739 0.48
California State University-San Bernardino $41,000 $72,214 0.57
California State University-San Marcos $34,954 $74,576 0.47
California State University-Stanislaus $30,200 $73,949 0.41
California University of Pennsylvania $26,004 $48,139 0.54
Campbell University $30,000 $54,810 0.55
Canisius College $35,245 $65,387 0.54
Capella University $43,094 $61,281 0.7
Capital University $25,009 $83,177 0.3
Cardinal Stritch University $41,000 $66,461 0.62
Carlow University $32,419 $60,623 0.54
Carnegie Mellon University $82,000 $133,383 0.62
Case Western Reserve University $70,520 $85,860 0.82
Centenary University $34,167 $79,755 0.43
Central Michigan University $31,976 $65,180 0.49
Chadron State College $20,988 $73,949 0.28
Chaminade University of Honolulu $26,595 $56,415 0.47
Champlain College $40,922 $73,635 0.56
Chapman University $70,158 $80,459 0.87
Charleston Southern University $33,500 $59,425 0.56
Chatham University $39,601 $58,221 0.68
Christian Brothers University $32,438 $76,460 0.42
Citadel Military College of South Carolina $35,805 $82,123 0.44
City University of Seattle $46,125 $74,200 0.62
Claremont Graduate University $80,616 $61,020 1.32
Clarion University of Pennsylvania $25,625 $72,796 0.35
Clark University $41,000 $64,328 0.64
Clarkson University $35,637 $71,575 0.5
Clayton State University $41,000 $53,894 0.76
Cleary University $35,455 $59,045 0.6
Clemson University $36,101 $74,262 0.49
Cleveland State University $37,309 $65,610 0.57
Coastal Carolina University $25,500 $48,198 0.53
Colorado Christian University $47,009 $66,541 0.71
Colorado State University-Fort Collins $38,934 $80,301 0.49
Colorado State University-Global Campus $39,541 $82,440 0.48
Colorado Technical University-Colorado Springs $41,000 $47,957 0.86
Columbia Southern University $32,433 $58,990 0.55
Columbia University in the City of New York $61,349 $170,426 0.36
Columbus State University $19,714 $51,106 0.39
Concordia University Texas $40,224 $65,131 0.62
Concordia University-Chicago $31,352 $59,576 0.53
Concordia University-Irvine $36,000 $62,012 0.58
Concordia University-Portland $52,759 $59,576 0.89
Concordia University-Saint Paul $34,771 $75,795 0.46
Concordia University-Wisconsin $35,160 $72,462 0.49
Cornell University $100,370 $145,332 0.69
Cornerstone University $29,943 $64,493 0.46
Curry College $41,000 $82,882 0.5
Dallas Baptist University $45,073 $67,324 0.67
Dartmouth College $41,000 $167,295 0.25
Davenport University $34,601 $63,318 0.55
DePaul University $47,997 $100,096 0.48
DeSales University $29,726 $79,284 0.38
DeVry University-Illinois $46,125 $64,686 0.71
Delaware Valley University $30,167 $66,104 0.46
Dominican University $67,373 $55,840 1.21
Duke University $81,299 $148,189 0.55
Duquesne University $40,974 $65,486 0.63
East Carolina University $30,750 $64,493 0.48
East Tennessee State University $26,953 $43,798 0.62
Eastern Illinois University $20,500 $54,386 0.38
Eastern Michigan University $51,250 $66,077 0.78
Eastern Nazarene College $24,000 $57,318 0.42
Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus $29,772 $62,409 0.48
Eastern University $40,845 $58,402 0.7
Eastern Washington University $26,379 $53,358 0.49
Elmhurst College $27,475 $84,653 0.33
Elon University $38,730 $71,854 0.54
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona Beach $39,906 $75,047 0.53
Emmanuel College $25,504 $83,546 0.31
Emory University $61,500 $134,287 0.46
Evangel University $33,185 $47,650 0.7
Everglades University $32,236 $65,797 0.49
Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan Campus $30,750 $74,953 0.41
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University $39,238 $52,107 0.75
Florida Atlantic University $41,000 $59,688 0.69
Florida Gulf Coast University $30,765 $66,821 0.46
Florida Institute of Technology $41,000 $75,787 0.54
Florida International University $57,732 $67,685 0.85
Florida Southern College $35,750 $61,020 0.59
Fontbonne University $50,299 $54,035 0.93
Fordham University $56,586 $113,850 0.5
Fort Hays State University $31,765 $55,286 0.58
Franklin University $37,584 $61,580 0.61
Friends University $35,504 $57,995 0.61
Frostburg State University $23,875 $78,719 0.3
Full Sail University $41,000 $42,905 0.96
Gannon University $30,750 $54,154 0.57
Gardner-Webb University $30,865 $54,748 0.56
George Fox University $41,000 $75,518 0.54
George Mason University $41,000 $105,585 0.39
George Washington University $62,739 $114,046 0.55
Georgetown University $102,713 $127,040 0.81
Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus $76,863 $127,034 0.61
Georgia Southern University $20,500 $65,486 0.31
Golden Gate University-San Francisco $46,000 $88,861 0.52
Goldey-Beacom College $20,500 $55,286 0.37
Gonzaga University $47,631 $82,685 0.58
Governors State University $32,015 $73,635 0.44
Grand Canyon University $34,435 $64,265 0.54
Granite State College $23,717 $53,775 0.44
Grantham University $34,239 $60,523 0.57
Gwynedd Mercy University $39,961 $58,402 0.68
Hamline University $42,940 $65,238 0.66
Hampton University $25,316 $63,749 0.4
Harding University $35,491 $67,101 0.53
Herzing University-Madison $41,000 $44,389 0.92
Hodges University $31,750 $56,415 0.56
Hofstra University $64,931 $108,092 0.6
Houston Baptist University $40,384 $80,022 0.51
Howard University $75,985 $76,460 0.99
Hult International Business School $78,837 $67,420 1.17
Husson University $20,500 $58,943 0.35
Idaho State University $20,300 $61,516 0.33
Indiana State University $26,040 $63,005 0.41
Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main Campus $29,841 $59,726 0.5
Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion $49,187 $66,326 0.74
Iona College $45,443 $70,456 0.65
Iowa State University $28,955 $70,680 0.41
Jackson State University $20,500 $46,087 0.45
James Madison University $32,719 $91,744 0.36
John Brown University $24,772 $74,105 0.33
John Carroll University $26,679 $58,402 0.46
Johns Hopkins University $34,166 $106,421 0.32
Johnson & Wales University-Providence $24,245 $50,677 0.48
Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale $46,196 $39,653 1.17
Kennesaw State University $41,000 $91,949 0.45
Kent State University at Kent $41,000 $73,635 0.56
Kettering University $32,190 $103,746 0.31
Keuka College $39,853 $58,673 0.68
King University $40,721 $53,810 0.76
LIM College $34,816 $43,575 0.8
La Salle University $31,300 $84,100 0.37
Lake Erie College $23,922 $52,733 0.45
Lake Forest Graduate School of Management $39,936 $113,168 0.35
Lakeland University $41,000 $60,689 0.68
Lawrence Technological University $70,000 $89,968 0.78
Le Moyne College $20,500 $56,776 0.36
LeTourneau University $38,750 $67,660 0.57
Lewis University $41,000 $60,071 0.68
Liberty University $34,818 $57,714 0.6
Limestone College $33,212 $55,286 0.6
Lindenwood University $29,256 $52,107 0.56
Lipscomb University $35,680 $63,005 0.57
Long Island University $55,138 $60,623 0.91
Lourdes University $45,136 $55,964 0.81
Loyola University Chicago $66,007 $87,470 0.76
Loyola University Maryland $47,410 $92,188 0.51
Lynn University $30,750 $46,790 0.66
Malone University $28,749 $61,814 0.47
Marist College $28,505 $88,506 0.32
Marquette University $37,829 $98,506 0.38
Marymount University $40,789 $74,157 0.55
McKendree University $28,452 $59,942 0.48
Mercy College $35,875 $64,196 0.56
Meredith College $41,984 $73,949 0.57
Methodist University $17,800 $52,464 0.34
Metropolitan College of New York $39,006 $54,622 0.71
Metropolitan State University $30,750 $65,131 0.47
Michigan State University $51,250 $98,481 0.52
Mid-America Christian University $41,000 $43,519 0.94
MidAmerica Nazarene University $30,412 $61,218 0.5
Middle Tennessee State University $34,155 $67,101 0.51
Midland University $28,700 $63,005 0.46
Millsaps College $30,000 $61,516 0.49
Misericordia University $20,500 $47,650 0.43
Mississippi State University $20,000 $88,527 0.23
Mississippi Valley State University $38,296 $33,993 1.13
Missouri Baptist University $35,283 $53,358 0.66
Missouri State University-Springfield $16,982 $58,402 0.29
Molloy College $38,403 $68,499 0.56
Monmouth University $33,128 $62,211 0.53
Monroe College $30,450 $52,357 0.58
Montclair State University $41,000 $88,971 0.46
Montreat College $41,000 $49,214 0.83
Morgan State University $41,000 $51,750 0.79
Mount Mary University $46,333 $69,338 0.67
Mount Mercy University $34,439 $68,666 0.5
Mount Saint Mary College $31,770 $52,941 0.6
Mount Saint Mary’s University $41,000 $67,660 0.61
Mount St. Mary’s University $28,516 $68,331 0.42
Mount Vernon Nazarene University $39,904 $61,516 0.65
National American University-Rapid City $39,207 $51,722 0.76
National Louis University $41,000 $63,600 0.65
National University $40,192 $65,238 0.62
National University College $13,900 $32,032 0.43
New England College of Business and Finance $22,111 $69,338 0.32
New Jersey City University $38,503 $63,749 0.6
New Jersey Institute of Technology $35,250 $85,918 0.41
New Mexico Highlands University $17,860 $54,192 0.33
New York University $81,350 $145,543 0.56
Newman University $24,881 $57,318 0.43
Nicholls State University $13,300 $56,641 0.24
Nichols College $24,200 $65,387 0.37
North Carolina Central University $57,746 $44,384 1.3
North Carolina State University at Raleigh $37,014 $74,200 0.5
North Central College $30,750 $62,260 0.49
North Park University $27,900 $58,303 0.48
Northcentral University $35,016 $49,990 0.7
Northeastern State University $24,659 $67,660 0.36
Northeastern University $30,750 $61,516 0.5
Northern Arizona University $30,125 $65,042 0.46
Northern Illinois University $30,750 $91,587 0.34
Northwest Missouri State University $18,667 $51,197 0.37
Northwest Nazarene University $32,740 $64,493 0.51
Northwest University $34,167 $77,715 0.44
Northwestern University $149,545 $189,565 0.79
Northwood University $41,000 $57,995 0.71
Norwich University $31,250 $79,912 0.39
Notre Dame de Namur University $51,250 $78,074 0.66
Nova Southeastern University $50,395 $58,605 0.86
Nyack College $30,750 $61,516 0.5
Oakland University $28,381 $89,412 0.32
Ohio Christian University $30,750 $51,482 0.6
Ohio Dominican University $37,356 $62,260 0.6
Ohio State University-Main Campus $49,189 $108,577 0.45
Ohio University-Main Campus $37,666 $90,283 0.42
Oklahoma City University $21,600 $76,083 0.28
Oklahoma Wesleyan University $37,469 $66,077 0.57
Olivet Nazarene University $29,160 $48,432 0.6
Oral Roberts University $37,562 $53,608 0.7
Oregon State University $34,166 $63,997 0.53
Our Lady of the Lake University $39,955 $55,625 0.72
Palm Beach Atlantic University $20,500 $60,689 0.34
Park University $28,885 $52,265 0.55
Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus $40,999 $94,864 0.43
Pepperdine University $82,310 $92,733 0.89
Pfeiffer University $35,013 $57,318 0.61
Piedmont College $20,969 $41,342 0.51
Pittsburg State University $18,194 $48,432 0.38
Plymouth State University $46,000 $60,771 0.76
Point Loma Nazarene University $37,576 $69,338 0.54
Point Park University $35,087 $57,735 0.61
Portland State University $41,000 $86,867 0.47
Prairie View A & M University $36,119 $54,109 0.67
Presidio Graduate School $59,662 $42,682 1.4
Providence College $20,500 $65,198 0.31
Purdue University-Main Campus $42,475 $88,342 0.48
Queens University of Charlotte $41,000 $86,867 0.47
Quinnipiac University $32,454 $70,044 0.46
Ramapo College of New Jersey $41,000 $97,604 0.42
Regent University $41,000 $45,500 0.9
Regis University $40,646 $66,897 0.61
Rice University $41,000 $127,993 0.32
Rider University $37,724 $79,473 0.48
Robert Morris University $37,583 $61,516 0.61
Robert Morris University Illinois $28,000 $57,770 0.49
Rochester Institute of Technology $41,000 $67,101 0.61
Rockhurst University $30,750 $70,176 0.44
Rollins College $49,888 $62,806 0.79
Roosevelt University $42,905 $61,350 0.7
Roseman University of Health Sciences $171,883 $94,408 1.82
Rosemont College $26,000 $58,221 0.45
Rowan University $26,387 $65,486 0.4
Russell Sage College $29,459 $59,124 0.5
Rutgers University-New Brunswick $53,313 $109,327 0.49
SUNY College at Oswego $26,128 $56,716 0.46
SUNY Empire State College $51,250 $69,897 0.73
SUNY Maritime College $41,000 $76,460 0.54
SUNY at Albany $38,391 $74,576 0.52
Sacred Heart University $35,000 $73,949 0.47
Saginaw Valley State University $31,399 $57,318 0.55
Saint Ambrose University $38,768 $78,657 0.49
Saint Cloud State University $21,750 $75,204 0.29
Saint Edward’s University $45,802 $65,486 0.7
Saint John Fisher College $28,437 $54,686 0.52
Saint Leo University $46,125 $56,918 0.81
Saint Louis University $41,000 $88,904 0.46
Saint Martin’s University $42,644 $58,221 0.73
Saint Mary’s College of California $45,825 $108,331 0.42
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota $34,166 $72,469 0.47
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College $18,500 $52,107 0.36
Saint Xavier University $46,784 $71,957 0.65
Salem University $28,200 $41,342 0.68
Salisbury University $20,500 $53,537 0.38
Salve Regina University $17,420 $61,888 0.28
Sam Houston State University $34,937 $68,858 0.51
San Diego State University $40,998 $68,499 0.6
San Francisco State University $29,677 $80,124 0.37
San Jose State University $35,250 $87,973 0.4
Santa Clara University $54,666 $128,588 0.43
Seattle University $41,000 $86,424 0.47
Seton Hill University $24,836 $51,169 0.49
Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania $20,500 $65,066 0.32
Shorter University $26,630 $45,249 0.59
Siena Heights University $30,466 $60,771 0.5
Simmons University $54,920 $71,778 0.77
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania $20,500 $59,124 0.35
Sonoma State University $38,979 $83,768 0.47
South University-Savannah $41,000 $42,799 0.96
Southeastern Louisiana University $19,867 $51,106 0.39
Southern Arkansas University Main Campus $24,825 $58,402 0.43
Southern Connecticut State University $36,366 $64,706 0.56
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale $30,750 $54,809 0.56
Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville $24,412 $56,931 0.43
Southern Methodist University $111,000 $120,363 0.92
Southern Nazarene University $39,100 $58,092 0.67
Southern New Hampshire University $39,292 $69,218 0.57
Southern University and A & M College $47,436 $49,344 0.96
Southern Wesleyan University $29,050 $42,682 0.68
Southwest Minnesota State University $21,763 $55,964 0.39
Southwestern College $26,979 $60,523 0.45
St Bonaventure University $22,500 $54,401 0.41
St Catherine University $53,143 $66,915 0.79
St John’s University-New York $47,825 $63,430 0.75
St. Joseph’s College-New York $34,600 $81,997 0.42
St. Thomas University $36,500 $53,358 0.68
Stanford University $41,000 $163,337 0.25
State University of New York at New Paltz $20,500 $51,607 0.4
Stetson University $30,661 $62,260 0.49
Stevens Institute of Technology $38,500 $125,611 0.31
Stevens-Henager College $15,736 $49,136 0.32
Stockton University $27,250 $57,318 0.48
Stony Brook University $30,949 $50,563 0.61
Strayer University-District of Columbia $74,380 $56,911 1.31
Suffolk University $41,000 $83,388 0.49
Sullivan University $44,885 $50,742 0.89
Syracuse University $71,750 $77,966 0.92
Tarleton State University $23,003 $60,013 0.38
Temple University $45,523 $102,409 0.45
Tennessee State University $40,438 $54,463 0.74
Tennessee Technological University $19,727 $62,579 0.32
Texas A & M International University $21,995 $45,696 0.48
Texas A & M University-College Station $39,749 $115,761 0.34
Texas A & M University-Commerce $31,680 $68,688 0.46
Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi $24,888 $57,318 0.43
Texas A & M University-Kingsville $28,247 $57,526 0.49
Texas A&M University-Texarkana $11,989 $62,012 0.19
Texas Christian University $41,000 $97,663 0.42
Texas Southern University $45,040 $52,941 0.85
Texas State University $31,750 $68,965 0.46
Texas Tech University $41,000 $75,706 0.54
Texas Woman’s University $28,748 $65,131 0.44
The College of Saint Rose $34,952 $58,673 0.6
The College of Saint Scholastica $32,383 $75,383 0.43
The New School $65,598 $59,788 1.1
The University of Alabama $39,932 $80,004 0.5
The University of Findlay $26,013 $61,814 0.42
The University of Montana $21,129 $58,673 0.36
The University of Tampa $31,055 $59,253 0.52
The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga $27,350 $76,041 0.36
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville $39,250 $99,251 0.4
The University of Texas at Arlington $37,188 $76,460 0.49
The University of Texas at Austin $67,500 $131,707 0.51
The University of Texas at Dallas $41,530 $94,674 0.44
The University of Texas at El Paso $33,963 $52,420 0.65
The University of Texas at San Antonio $35,572 $74,786 0.48
The University of Texas at Tyler $31,530 $68,858 0.46
The University of West Florida $30,637 $49,854 0.62
Thomas College $20,500 $49,883 0.41
Thomas Edison State University $27,462 $71,015 0.39
Thomas Jefferson University $43,242 $57,619 0.75
Thomas More University $38,979 $70,456 0.55
Trevecca Nazarene University $30,750 $59,967 0.51
Trident University International $21,995 $64,990 0.34
Trine University $19,329 $52,941 0.37
Trinity Washington University $45,334 $61,303 0.74
Troy University $35,735 $58,549 0.61
Tulane University of Louisiana $72,378 $87,973 0.82
Tusculum University $20,750 $68,219 0.3
Union Institute & University $30,750 $72,899 0.42
Union University $31,637 $70,456 0.45
Universidad Ana G. Mendez-Carolina Campus $15,310 $33,993 0.45
Universidad Ana G. Mendez-Cupey Campus $24,370 $32,678 0.75
Universidad Ana G. Mendez-Gurabo Campus $20,514 $37,208 0.55
Universidad Politecnica de Puerto Rico $29,600 $53,358 0.56
University at Buffalo $36,648 $68,499 0.54
University of Akron Main Campus $29,000 $81,111 0.36
University of Alabama at Birmingham $36,500 $70,176 0.52
University of Arizona $41,000 $92,743 0.44
University of Arkansas $27,800 $106,421 0.26
University of Arkansas at Little Rock $34,343 $54,739 0.63
University of Baltimore $41,000 $75,204 0.55
University of Bridgeport $38,750 $60,161 0.64
University of California-Berkeley $57,297 $171,936 0.33
University of California-Davis $61,589 $116,258 0.53
University of California-Irvine $78,253 $90,983 0.86
University of California-Los Angeles $77,000 $143,744 0.54
University of California-San Diego $90,670 $101,406 0.89
University of Central Missouri $22,700 $55,286 0.41
University of Central Oklahoma $18,250 $67,324 0.27
University of Chicago $68,376 $159,442 0.43
University of Cincinnati-Main Campus $28,606 $79,284 0.36
University of Colorado Boulder $40,500 $80,503 0.5
University of Colorado Colorado Springs $39,009 $71,015 0.55
University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus $41,500 $89,184 0.47
University of Connecticut $37,490 $106,249 0.35
University of Dallas $50,000 $77,966 0.64
University of Dayton $20,039 $63,005 0.32
University of Delaware $41,000 $86,424 0.47
University of Denver $40,544 $54,661 0.74
University of Detroit Mercy $61,500 $81,111 0.76
University of Dubuque $15,784 $57,589 0.27
University of Evansville $25,250 $45,221 0.56
University of Florida $36,520 $88,546 0.41
University of Georgia $49,576 $111,283 0.45
University of Hartford $24,223 $90,348 0.27
University of Hawaii at Manoa $45,106 $78,719 0.57
University of Houston $41,000 $92,563 0.44
University of Houston-Clear Lake $25,394 $78,343 0.32
University of Houston-Downtown $20,500 $64,990 0.32
University of Houston-Victoria $31,178 $67,324 0.46
University of Illinois at Chicago $43,535 $80,189 0.54
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign $56,209 $95,930 0.59
University of Indianapolis $30,263 $62,260 0.49
University of Iowa $42,795 $96,991 0.44
University of Kansas $29,960 $73,299 0.41
University of La Verne $43,500 $69,657 0.62
University of Louisiana at Lafayette $24,209 $46,869 0.52
University of Mary $23,309 $60,230 0.39
University of Maryland Global Campus $50,831 $72,006 0.71
University of Maryland-College Park $71,000 $106,102 0.67
University of Massachusetts-Amherst $30,750 $99,741 0.31
University of Massachusetts-Boston $29,697 $74,200 0.4
University of Massachusetts-Lowell $30,750 $71,854 0.43
University of Memphis $29,022 $73,446 0.4
University of Miami $83,312 $83,022 1
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor $47,258 $140,166 0.34
University of Michigan-Dearborn $33,937 $90,856 0.37
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities $45,000 $112,319 0.4
University of Mount Olive $22,042 $45,947 0.48
University of Nebraska at Omaha $31,940 $87,068 0.37
University of Nebraska-Lincoln $22,247 $91,017 0.24
University of Nevada-Las Vegas $40,703 $90,856 0.45
University of Nevada-Reno $20,500 $82,440 0.25
University of New Mexico-Main Campus $31,721 $59,688 0.53
University of New Orleans $35,500 $63,692 0.56
University of North Alabama $40,593 $66,461 0.61
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill $68,719 $127,836 0.54
University of North Carolina at Charlotte $36,725 $84,653 0.43
University of North Carolina at Greensboro $32,829 $64,121 0.51
University of North Florida $24,863 $65,557 0.38
University of North Texas $22,587 $77,401 0.29
University of Northwestern Ohio $40,284 $48,432 0.83
University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus $33,750 $95,473 0.35
University of Oregon $41,000 $86,621 0.47
University of Pennsylvania $47,275 $175,674 0.27
University of Phoenix-Arizona $34,354 $56,498 0.61
University of Pikeville $19,005 $37,424 0.51
University of Portland $34,810 $72,510 0.48
University of Redlands $41,000 $79,037 0.52
University of Rochester $49,734 $89,524 0.56
University of Saint Francis-Fort Wayne $25,681 $64,706 0.4
University of Saint Mary $31,793 $69,338 0.46
University of San Diego $49,653 $89,672 0.55
University of San Francisco $51,048 $96,866 0.53
University of Scranton $40,457 $82,440 0.49
University of South Carolina-Columbia $40,222 $95,102 0.42
University of South Dakota $21,934 $68,778 0.32
University of South Florida-Main Campus $30,250 $66,566 0.45
University of Southern California $82,279 $131,090 0.63
University of St Francis $35,653 $69,338 0.51
University of St Thomas $44,614 $101,300 0.44
University of Toledo $27,250 $71,575 0.38
University of Utah $42,250 $98,213 0.43
University of Virginia-Main Campus $89,889 $155,263 0.58
University of Washington-Seattle Campus $46,712 $127,652 0.37
University of West Georgia $27,437 $62,343 0.44
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire $26,396 $85,206 0.31
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee $27,837 $65,267 0.43
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh $23,467 $80,292 0.29
University of Wisconsin-Platteville $30,000 $77,087 0.39
University of Wisconsin-River Falls $30,500 $73,949 0.41
University of the Cumberlands $11,340 $49,787 0.23
University of the Incarnate Word $37,583 $59,253 0.63
Upper Iowa University $39,092 $63,005 0.62
Utah State University $21,882 $71,015 0.31
Valdosta State University $28,278 $55,964 0.51
Vanderbilt University $83,273 $127,087 0.66
Villanova University $41,000 $109,095 0.38
Virginia Commonwealth University $41,000 $93,467 0.44
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University $39,888 $113,246 0.35
Viterbo University $30,626 $61,218 0.5
Wagner College $49,385 $58,557 0.84
Wake Forest University $51,549 $76,836 0.67
Walden University $41,000 $58,943 0.7
Walsh College $37,255 $73,486 0.51
Walsh University $29,719 $65,089 0.46
Warner Pacific University $41,000 $50,856 0.81
Warner University $43,050 $41,349 1.04
Washington State University $39,505 $100,915 0.39
Washington University in St Louis $82,799 $112,270 0.74
Wayland Baptist University $35,968 $53,984 0.67
Wayne State University $33,187 $90,079 0.37
Waynesburg University $20,494 $67,660 0.3
Weber State University $28,916 $76,878 0.38
Webster University $47,198 $64,473 0.73
Wesleyan College $41,000 $63,005 0.65
Western Carolina University $28,340 $55,286 0.51
Western Governors University $13,990 $70,169 0.2
Western Kentucky University $20,746 $61,144 0.34
Western Michigan University $39,601 $73,801 0.54
Western New England University $27,513 $71,015 0.39
Western Washington University $21,874 $63,005 0.35
Westminster College $47,129 $80,521 0.59
Wichita State University $22,253 $57,318 0.39
Wilkes University $33,000 $52,733 0.63
Willamette University $66,763 $73,530 0.91
William & Mary $43,126 $68,499 0.63
William Paterson University of New Jersey $33,309 $65,238 0.51
William Woods University $16,600 $50,856 0.33
Wilmington University $35,843 $54,697 0.66
Winthrop University $24,103 $54,724 0.44
Woodbury University $30,750 $63,997 0.48
Worcester Polytechnic Institute $40,500 $119,061 0.34
Wright State University-Main Campus $35,769 $69,338 0.52
Xavier University $41,000 $84,284 0.49
Yale University $69,938 $147,858 0.47
Youngstown State University $26,203 $64,706 0.41

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Note: Shows median debt for graduates in roughly 2015 and 2016, compared to median income two years later. Data isn’t available for programs with few graduates. Figures are only for graduates who borrowed federal loans. Program names are standardized across schools and may include multiple degrees. Different colleges sometimes report graduates of similar programs across degree levels or program names due to inconsistent coding. (For instance, Harvard Business School’s M.B.A. is listed as a professional degree, not a master’s degree.)

Source: Education Department

For-profit business schools had fewer students who repaid their loans after two years. At Strayer University in Washington, D.C., 2% of graduates fully repaid their loans within two years, while about a third asked to temporarily suspend payments. Strayer students borrowed a median $74,000, yet half earned less than $57,000 two years after graduation. Strayer didn’t respond to requests for comment.

About a dozen other business schools showed median debt loads outstripping graduates’ median earnings, the Journal’s analysis found. Several of those schools said their debt numbers are inflated because the federal debt data reflect students in pricey dual-degree programs. Roseman University of Health Sciences had the highest debt compared to earnings of any school, with students borrowing a median $172,000. That figure includes students in the school’s dual dentistry and M.B.A. program, a school spokesman said.

At several elite M.B.A. programs, including Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business, the median starting salary after graduation allowed more than half of alumni to fully pay off their federal student loans within two years, according to the data the Journal examined.

Some of the most expensive M.B.A. programs had some of the lowest debt loads, federal data show. At Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and some other top schools, graduates borrowed a median $41,000 in federal loans, which is the maximum amount that students can borrow at the most favorable interest rates, without resorting to higher-interest Grad Plus loans.

At Harvard Business School, students had $41,000 in debt and median earnings of about $172,000, according to the federal data. About 56% of the 2020 class of M.B.A.s graduated with some debt, averaging $79,000 in federal and private loans

Daniel Huizinga, 29, landed a job at consulting company Accenture PLC after getting his undergraduate business degree from Baylor University in 2015, but he decided to pursue an M.B.A. in the hopes of moving up at Accenture or landing a job at one of the top consultancies—McKinsey & Co., Bain & Co. or Boston Consulting Group. He calculated that going back to school, and providing for his young family for those two years, would cost him about $300,000. He landed a $90,000 scholarship from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and had $100,000 saved from five years of working. He borrowed $100,000 to enroll last fall and will graduate in the spring of 2022.

At one of the big consulting firms, Mr. Huizinga expects to make roughly $200,000 a year upon graduation, which will allow him to pay off the debt in two to three years.

“I wanted to go to a top school with a good brand name. It opens doors I didn’t have after undergrad,” he said. “For me, it was a no-brainer.”

By Sheila Lillis
Sheila Lillis Associate Director Sheila Lillis