U.S News just released their 2013-2014 rankings of business schools with little change from the previous year. Despite a tepid economy and higher than average unemployment, business school admissions and tuition rates continue to rise. Particularly for part-time and online business, or MBA, degrees. Getting a graduate business degree is almost becoming the norm for those wanting to get management level roles which come with higher salaries and better perks. But it also means more and more Americans will be paying off student debt well into their adult lives.
Top Ranked Full-Time MBA Programs
Still the most prestigious, but also requiring the most time and money commitment, is the full-time MBA program. Ivy league schools continue to dominate this category with Harvard and Stanford Universities sharing the top spot this year. With annual tuition over $50,000 per year at most top schools, expect to pay close to$200,000 for an MBA degree over the 2 year program duration when you factor in room and board in the expensive cities these top schools are located in.
Part-time, Evening and Weekend MBA programs
For those unwilling or unable to leave work, a part-time MBA offers the perfect alternative to the full time version. With essentially the same content, albeit without the range of extra circular activities (since people have to work in the day time), part-time MBA’s are getting as valuable as the full time MBA. Having completed one myself, I can attest to their value. But be careful, only those able effectively to balance work, school and family will get the most value from a part-time MBA. To really get a big bang from your part-time MBA try and get your employer to foot part or all of the tuition bill.
Online MBAs for those wanting the ultimate flexibility….
Online MBA’s are the fast growing area for business schools looking to reach more students while leveraging the content and staff from their other MBA programs. While an online MBA does not have the same cache as a full-time or part-time MBA, they can make a big difference for those looking to move up the corporate ladder and/or to a higher pay grade. For example, if you are going for a manager position and all other factors being equal, the person with the MBA is more likely to get the job than someone without one. The good thing with an online MBA is that you can pick a top ranked school no matter where you live.
At the end of the day, whether or not you are a fan of rankings, they matter. An MBA grad from top a ranked university is much more likely to snag a $100,000 starting salary than one from a less prestigious b-school. Further the better ranked the school the better the alumni network – which means better insider access for those who attend the same schools. You can see the full list of best business and graduate schools at US News.