10 MBA Programs That Lead to the Most Student Debt

Devon Haynie

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Students accepted into the business school of their choice can be prone to daydreams about glamorous careers and high wages.

A more realistic thought, though far less pleasant, is the idea of paying thousands of dollars a month in student loans. Students who get into the nation's top business schools may well go on to earn impressive wages, but some will also find themselves saddled with six-figure debt upon graduation.

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The average MBA program student debt load incurred for full-time MBA students graduating in 2012 was $49,619, according to data provided to U.S. News by 100 ranked schools. That figure climbs to $97,154 at the 10 schools where graduates incurred the largest MBA program student debt burden.

Full-time students can expect to have the highest debt load at New York University's Stern School of Business, where the average graduate owes $105,782.

Students can also anticipate owing six figures after graduation at the University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management.

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Of the top 10 schools, all but one are among the top 16 business schools ranked by U.S. News. Students at the highly rated schools are often destined to make high salaries, which may be why students are able to take on such substantial debt.

At New York University's Stern, for example, students can expect an average starting salary and bonus of $133,919, according to data collected by U.S. News about 2012 graduates.

At the other end of the spectrum, Louisiana State University--Baton Rouge's E. J. Ourso College of Business reported the lowest debt load. There, full-time students graduate owing an average of $8,181.

These data include only the debt incurred by full-time MBA graduates to fund their graduate business school degrees.

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Schools designated by U.S. News as Unranked were excluded from this list. U.S. News did not calculate a numerical ranking for Unranked programs because the program did not meet certain criteria that U.S. News requires to be numerically ranked.

The 10 business schools below graduated full-time students with the heaviest average debt loads in 2012, based on data reported by schools to U.S. News.

Business school (name) (state) Average MBA program indebtedness U.S. News b-school rank
New York University (Stern) $105,782 10
University of Virginia (Darden) $105,490 12
Duke University (Fuqua) (NC) $102,054 11
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan) $100,212 4
University of Michigan--Ann Arbor (Ross) $95,720 14
Cornell University (Johnson) (NY) $95,600 16
Yale University (CT) $95,235 13
Dartmouth College (Tuck) (NH) $94,512 9
Northwestern University (Kellogg) (IL) $88,740 4
Thunderbird School of Global Management (AZ) $88,195 88

Don't see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News Business School Compass to find data on employment rates, base salaries 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 448 schools for our 2012 survey of business programs. Schools self-reported a myriad of data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News's 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 Business 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's rankings of Best Colleges or Best Graduate Schools. The indebtedness data above are correct as of July 23, 2013.

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