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The Business Schools Where Students Most Want To Go In 2015

Forbes logo Forbes 04-09-2015 Susan Adams, Forbes Staff

For Harvard Business School’s class of 2017, 9,686 students applied. HBS accepted 11% of those, and 937 decided to attend. HBS students pay a steep price. Tuition alone this year is $61,225 and the cost for one year of the two-year MBA program comes to $98,400, bringing the total for a Harvard MBA close to $200,000. And that doesn’t count the lost wages of those who stop working for two years.

But students are betting that the degree will pay off. The figures back that up. HBS reports that for the class of 2014, of those seeking employment, 93% had gotten job offers three months after finishing school. Those grads are being paid handsomely. Their median base starting salary was $125,000. Sixty-seven percent of that group got a median salary bonus of $25,000 and 20% received other guaranteed compensation of $34,700, meaning some newly-minted Harvard MBAs are making at least $184,700.

A new list put out by a two-year-old test prep company, LTG Exam, reveals, not surprisingly, that Harvard’s is the most sought-after MBA program in the world. LTG Exam’s figures come from some 5,000 users who prepped for the GMATs (General Management Admissions Test) using the company’s app, which allows them to study at their own pace and connects them with live tutors if they choose. Users ranked their top five business school choices. In Forbes’ most recent ranking of top business schools, Harvard also came out on top.

Today’s aspiring MBA’s may not realize that the degree is a relatively recent invention in higher education. Harvard University dates back to 1636 but the business school only started in 1908, when, according to the school, it offered the world’s first MBA program. (There were other business schools that preceded it like ESCP Europe, which was founded in 1819 and has campuses in five European cities including Paris and London, and Wharton, the first business school in the U.S., founded in 1888.)

Harvard is also known for its scores of extraordinarily successful grads, including billionaires Michael Bloomberg, Sheryl Sandberg and hedge fund titan Bill Ackman, and former president George W. Bush.

In second place on both Forbes’ and LTG Exam’s list: Stanford business school, which costs even more than Harvard, at $103,419 a year for the incoming class. Like HBS grads, Stanford alums are hot commodities on the job market. Of those members of the class of ’14 seeking employment, 95% had landed jobs three months after graduation, with a median compensation of $125,000. For those who got both signing bonuses and other guaranteed compensation, the median total came to $181,500. Stanford, which dates its founding to 1925, has a total enrollment this year of 809 students.

MIT’s Sloan School of Management came in third on LTG Exam’s list, though it ranks 10th on the Forbes list. The cost is comparable to Harvard’s, at $98,014, as are its employment stats. Among the class of 2014, 94.6% of those seeking work had job offers three months after graduation. The median base salary for Sloan grads was just slightly lower than Harvard’s and Stanford’s, at $124,400. Sloan dates its roots to 1914, when a business course was founded in the school of engineering that evolved into the business school, which now has 1,300 students.

For the top 10 schools on Prep4GMAT’s list, see the slide show above. For the rest of the pack, read on.

While the three schools at the top of the list are no surprise, there are a number of schools among the top 25 and even the top 10, that were unfamiliar to me. Since LTG Exam’s app is used in 193 countries, it culls from an international student group.

I must be provincial because in fourth place is a school I’d never heard of, Indian School of Business. I did find it on a list put out by the Financial Times ranked in 33rd place (Forbes only ranks U.S. schools). The school was founded in 1996 by two McKinsey executives, Rajat Gupta and Anil Kumar, who commandeered a group of consultants to get things going. Kumar recruited Wharton as a U.S. partner and Gupta brought in Kellogg business school at Northwestern. The institute is located in the central Indian city of Hyderabad, where its campus was constructed in 1999. The ISB website lists dozens of entrepreneurs who are graduates, like the class of 2002’s Anish Sonal, who offers business intelligence services through his company Orkash Services, and Bijaei Jayaraj, who heads a customer loyalty system firm called Loylty Rewardz.

University of Pennsylvania (Wharton ) is next on the LTG list, followed by London Business School, but then in 7th place there’s another Indian school that is new to me, Indian Institute of Management, No. 26 on FT’s list. Established in 1961, it is a public school based in Ahmedabad in Gujarat state. It’s one of nine IIM campuses in India, and it has some impressive alumni including Ajay Singh Banga, president and CEO of Mastercard, and the late C.K.Prahalad, a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan who wrote the influential book, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, about business models aimed at serving the world’s poorest people. I also wasn’t familiar with the SP Jain School of Management, which has campuses in Sydney, Mumbai, Singapore and Dubai.

The costs of some of the foreign schools on the list are significantly lower than at U.S. schools. Example: the Indian School of Business charges roughly $40,000 a year. Its job placement stats are impressive, at 884 offers for a class of 766. The National University of Singapore business school costs roughly $66,000. But since connections you make in business school can be invaluable, if you’re an American reader and you can scrape up the money to attend a U.S. school, I’d recommend that.

Here is the complete list of the 25 business schools most favored by LTG Exam’s users:

1. Harvard

2. Stanford

3. Sloan School of Management (MIT)

4. Indian School of Business

5. Wharton (University of Pennsylvania)

6. London Business School

7. Indian Institute of Management

8. Columbia

9. INSEAD

10. NYU Stern (New York University)

11. University of Oxford

12. Yale

13. Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern)

14. University of Chicago Booth School of Business

15. Haas School of Business (University of California, Berkeley)

16. National University of Singapore

17. UCLA

18. Tepper School of Business (Carnegie Mellon)

19. University of Cambridge

20. HEC Paris

21. Boston College

22. Imperial College London

23. Duke University

24. USC Marshall School of Business

25. SP Jain School of Global Management

ALSO SEE (slideshow): Where the rich and famous go to college

A total of 16 percent of the world's total billionaires have completed their bachelor's degree at Harvard (pictured) and 19 other universities on a list provided by Wealth-X. Here's a look at the universities and a few of their billionaire alumnus. Wanna be a billionaire? Study here

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