5 Best MBA Programs

By Jill Gardiner , last updated December 7, 2011

Today’s job market is more competitive than ever before, and if you want to get ahead in the uncompromising world of business, you may want to have a look at the five best MBA programs in the country. These top tier programs are extremely difficult to get into and will cost you a pretty penny, but as any smart businessperson knows, these prestigious programs are well worth the investment. Once you’ve earned your diploma from one of these top schools you can virtually write your ticket into the most competitive companies in the nation, if not the world. So if you’re looking to break into the upper echelon of the business elite, you’ll definitely want to give these five MBA programs a shot. Here they are, listed in alphabetical order.

Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School was ranked number one in the country by both Poets & Quants and Forbes, second by Businessweek and US News, and fifth by The Economist. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, Harvard Business School has been one of the most prestigious programs for over a century. But HBS has more to offer than just a celebrated history. You can expect to get real, actionable experience from their case method curriculum. The tuition and fees for this 18-month program will cost you around $120,00, but the cachet of an MBA from Harvard Business School is priceless. Even beyond the fact that Harvard Business School is instantly recognized as a top school worldwide, you’ll also have a large pool of well-connected alumni to look to for support.

Northwestern University

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management sits in the top tier of several MBA ranking lists, including tying for fourth according to US News and making fourth place on Businessweek’s list. Located in Evanstown, Illinois, this top-rated business program is one of the few high rankers to offer both accelerated and part-time schedules in addition to their traditional full-time MBA. Total tuition and fees for this 22-month program are just over $100,000.

Stanford University

The Graduate School of Business at Stanford University has garnered top spots in virtually all of the ranking lists, including the number one spot at US News, number two at Poets & Quants, and number five at Businessweek. One of the main reasons this MBA program is so successful is its focus on building both leadership qualities and collaborative, critical thinking skills in students, although the beautiful Bay Area climate is hard to beat as well. The total tuition and fee costs for this program run around $110,000.

University of Chicago

University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business was ranked first by Businessweek, second by The Economist, third by Poets & Quants, and tied for fourth according to US News. One of the big attractors to the Booth School of Business, beyond its century of prestigious alumni of course, is the school’s focus on ideas. Always encouraging students to think of the next big one, they start by designing much of their own curriculum to fit their interests and goals. The 21-month program has a total cost of around $110,000 and also offers a part-time program.

University of Pennsylvania

The first business college in the world, the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania has a long and illustrious history, which explains why it was ranked third by both Businessweek and US News and fourth by Poets & Quants. With campuses both in Philadelphia and San Francisco as well as connections with SEAD in France and Singapore, this school is also an undeniable force in the current global market. Total costs for the 21-month program are around $115,000.

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