New Rankings Reveal the 20 Best Business Schools to Stay Out of MBA Debt

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Student Loan Hero ranks MBA programs by average student loan debt, starting salaries, and tuition to highlight affordable business schools.

Austin, Texas, September 7, 2017 — A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a popular path to higher income and better opportunities across industries. But it also can land graduates in major debt. The average MBA debt for new graduates is $53,000, according to Bloomberg.

MBA candidates who want the biggest bang for their buck should consider the business schools highlighted in a new study from Student Loan Hero, a leading financial news and education site.

“An MBA can be a life-changing degree with huge upside for graduates” said Elyssa Kirkham, lead researcher on the study. “But the negative side of seeking an MBA is often tied to student loans. MBA candidates who underestimate their costs will have a hard time limiting how much they’ll need to borrow for their degrees.”

Choosing an affordable business school is a great way to limit MBA costs — and debt. To find those schools, Student Loan Hero surveyed the average tuition, starting salary, and debt at 116 MBA programs.

It ranked schools according to those factors to highlight programs that result in less student loan debt and higher pay. Here are the top 10 MBA programs, as ranked in the study:

  1. Lehigh University in Pennsylvania
  2. Oklahoma City University
  3. University of Texas — Dallas
  4. Missouri University of Science and Technology
  5. Oklahoma State University (Spears)
  6. University of Missouri (Trulaske)
  7. Florida State University
  8. West Virginia University
  9. Louisiana State University — Baton Rouge (Ourso)
  10. West Texas A&M


“Some MBA grads borrow six figures for their degree, only to get a rude awakening in repayment,” Kirkham said. “MBA debt can stress you out and make you feel like you have to play it safe and forgo opportunities you’d otherwise take. Borrow less, and your student loans will operate the way they should: as investments that open doors, not burdens that hold you back.”

Rankings Methodology

Student Loan Hero surveyed 116 MBA programs and ranked them by factors indicating students’ likelihood to avoid student debt:

  1. The ratio of the average MBA debt balance to the average starting compensation
  1. Average indebtedness figures sourced from the U.S. News & World Report education rankings
  2. Compensation calculated as average starting salary (plus average signing bonus when listed) and sourced from the MBA program’s site or U.S. News & World Report listing if not provided by the college
  1. Portion of students graduating with MBA debt, sourced from U.S. News & World Report
  2. Annual 2017-18 in-state tuition and fees, sourced from each college’s site, normalized to assume two terms per year of attendance and 12 credit hours per term

Rankings weighted the first factor at half and the remaining two factors at a quarter each. All data was sourced August 28-31, 2017.

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Student Loan Hero combines easy-to-use tools with financial education to help the millions of Americans living with student loan debt manage and pay off their loans. Student Loan Hero has helped more than 150,000 borrowers manage and eliminate over $3 billion in student loan debt since 2012 and assists over 3.5 million people in becoming more financially healthy every year.

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