B Schools Are Forever

Is business school worth it? The top schools now cost about $50,000 for a two-year degree plus twice that in lost earnings. On a cost-benefit basis, can that kind of investment possibly be justified. Well...yes. The latest BUSINESS WEEK survey of the best business schools shows that for those who choose wisely, the return will come, even though it may take five or six years.

The median pay for graduates of the top 25 B-schools is up 16% since 1994, to $81,569. Throw in signing bonuses and grads from Wharton, Harvard, and Stanford start with median pay of more than $100,000, roughly twice what they earned pre-MBA. Other schools, such as Dartmouth, Carnegie Mellon, and MIT, have even quicker paybacks on student investments.

The best B-schools are not only providing high-powered financial skills for managing and fancy credentials to impress potential bosses but something extra--lifelong career help. Their MBAs get special help from executive search firms. Career strategists on staff at school offer guidance to alums. Some schools are even about to offer their grads online access to fellow alums in any major city in the world, broken down by individual company and industry.

In a highly competitive global economy, the right kind of B-school education is still a smart investment.

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