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10 MBA Programs Where Graduates Leave With the Most Debt

Delece Smith-Barrow

The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College, The Short List: Grad School and The Short List: Online Programs to find data that matter to you in your college or grad school search.

Few bills compare with the payments often required for student loans. Second only to mortgages for consumer debt, student loan debt is collectively more than $1.2 trillion for the 41 million Americans who owe, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

MBA students often borrow to pay for business school, and for some graduates, how much they owe can reach or exceed six figures.

At Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management, the average indebtedness for 2015 MBA graduates who borrowed for business school was $115,048 -- almost $9,000 more than the average for its 2014 borrowers. Cornell alumni had the highest average indebtedness among 93 ranked MBA programs that submitted data to U.S. News in an annual survey.

[Decideif getting an MBA makes financial sense.]

New York University's Stern School of Business previously topped the list of schools where grads had the most debt, on average, but it's now third. The average indebtedness for Stern MBA graduates in 2015 who borrowed was $107,458.

The percentage of students who borrow and tuition for MBA programs can vary greatly between schools.

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, 69 percent of MBA students borrowed for their degree. On average, graduates owed $107,172, and annual tuition and fees is $65,446.

[Calculatethe return on investment for an MBA.]

But at Coastal Carolina University, 75 percent of graduates borrowed, which is a higher proportion than any other school. The school's annual tuition and fees for full-time students, however, is relatively low -- $15,990 for in-state students and $29,100 for out-of-state students. The average indebtedness among the 2015 grads was $23,063.

Alumni from the Missouri University of Science & Technology had the lowest average debt among all schools: $10,141.

[Avoidthree mistakes when building your MBA budget.]

The following MBA programs had the highest average debt for full-time 2015 graduates who borrowed. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report. In the table below, U.S. News did not include schools that accepted fewer than 100 applicants.

School (name) (state) Average MBA program indebtedness Percentage of full-time 2015 graduates with debt U.S. News b-school rank
Cornell University (Johnson) (NY) $115,048 N/A 14
Duke University (Fuqua) (NC) $114,498 61% 12 (tie)
New York University (Stern) $107,458 N/A 20
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan) $107,172 69% 5 (tie)
Pepperdine University (Graziadio) (CA) $103,721 41% 83 (tie)
University of Michigan--Ann Arbor (Ross) $100,611 41% 12 (tie)
Chapman University (Argyros) (CA) $100,518 21% 81 (tie)
University of Virginia (Darden) $100,083 57% 11
University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler) $93,898 61% 16 (tie)
Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper) (PA) $93,267 49% 18

Don't see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News Business School Compass to find debt data, complete rankings and much more. School officials can access historical data and rankings, including of peer institutions, via U.S. News Academic Insights.

U.S. News surveyed 470 colleges and universities for our 2015 survey of graduate business programs. Schools self-reported myriad data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News' data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Engineering Schools rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data come from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News' rankings of Best Colleges, Best Graduate Schools or Best Online Programs. The debt data above are correct as of April 26, 2016.



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