A degree from a top business school has long been seen as a direct path to a job at a top company , but new data demonstrates just how much it costs to pursue that route.

Bloomberg Businessweek surveyed more than 10,000 2018 graduates of MBA programs from 126 schools about the amount of debt they piled on earning their degrees. The survey found that almost half of students at leading business schools around the world borrowed at least $100,000 to finance their MBA.

According to the survey, at minimum 40% of MBA graduates from U.S. News & World Report ’s top-ranking business programs — those at Duke, Dartmouth, University of Michigan, Cornell and University of Chicago — reported incurring at least $100,000 in debt.

That percentage drops a bit at nine other top MBA programs – including those at MIT, University of Pennsylvania, NYU and Northwestern University – where around a third of recent graduates borrowed at least $100,000 to finance their degrees.

University of Michigan students are seen in the Stephen M. Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor

Rebecca Cook | Reuters

Conventional wisdom has held that the price tag on an MBA, however high, tends to be worth it. According to U.S. News & World Report , tuition for traditional full-time (two year) MBA students surpassed $50,000 per year at the top 15 ranked MBA programs in the 2019 Best Business Schools rankings – with some schools exceeding $70,000 annually. Prices at public schools, particularly for in-state students, tend to be lower. U.S. News says that, “among the 10 highest-ranked public B-schools, the average in-state tuition for full-time MBA students was slightly more than $42,000 per year.”

But Bloomberg’s survey results illustrate just how steep the debt eager entrepreneurs and executives undertake to advance their careers.

Graduates of the 26 schools where at least 20% of students report having had to borrow six-figure sums disclose median starting pay ranging from $80,000 to $140,000. “The survey data puts into stark relief just how much of a return some students need to justify their debt-financed investment,” Bloomberg reports.Students see a clear connection between the […]

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