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How much does an MBA Cost in India, USA, Europe: A basic comparison

Written by MG (Manish Gupta)

MBA cost in India USA UKSome time back, we had written a post outlining the contours of what are the various costs involved while going for an MBA here –> How much financing would you need?

On popular demand, in this post, we’ll give you a realistic estimate of the kind of money we are talking about.

While all the international MBA blogs talk about MBA financing in Dollars and Euros, we’ll stick to a currency that is giving us newfound respect to everything from onions to MBA degrees – the Indian Rupee.

As you will see from the table below, this is based on a variety of sweeping assumptions so don’t be too surprised if your MBA cost calculations are different from ours. As with the other GMAT and MBA related posts on our blog, use this to build your own MBA costs calculator that cover all the important accounting heads from MBA tuition fees and the cost of living (which can vary substantially in India, USA, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany).

MBA Cost in India, Europe, USA

The intent is to give you’re a send of ‘range’ rather than one number. For this purpose, I have ‘randomly’ chosen 3 kind of MBA schools. An Indian GMAT based college, a European 1 year program and a full scale, 2 year course in the USA, albeit one of the pricier ones.

No prizes for guessing, but think on the lines of ISB, INSEAD, Stanford, Stern, Columbia, Harvard and the likes. Most of the information is taken from the school websites. So here’s the math on how we’ve worked out how much an MBA can cost for 1 year and 2 year programs.

All Figures in INR

Low Range
1Yr

High Range
1Yr

High Range
2Yr

Pre MBA Expenses

29,975

42,975

44,850

GMAT Fee

16,250

16,250

16,250

TOEFL Fee

10,725

10,725

10,725

Application Fee

3,000

16,000

17,875

Program Fees

2,014,000

4,990,000

8,807,840

Tuition

1,744,000

4,760,000

7,741,500

Fees

200,000

116,000

511,680

Books

20,000

64,000

504,660

Laptop

50,000

50,000

50,000

Personal Expenses

1,077,414

1,866,000

10,665,940

Travel (Local + Flight)

115,000

450,000

437,930

Accommodation

168,000

720,000

3,655,860

Food

100,000

424,000

incl in acco

Exchange/Job Search

400,000

152,000

6,500,000

Miscellaneous MBA costs

33,000

120,000

72,150

Taxes

261,414

   
Opportunity Cost      
Average Incoming Salary

829,086

829,086

1,658,172

Total Cost

3,950,475

7,728,061

21,176,802

Average Outgoing Salary

1,741,081

6,896,000

11,050,000

  © MBA Crystal Ball    $1=INR 65; 1EUR=INR80



A few noteworthy assumptions that you may want to adapt depending on your own case:

Travel: The assumption is that you will travel once to the campus, and then make 2 trips back home. So this can vary depending on where is home as well as your inclination/requirement to visit it

Exchange/Job Search: The job search component is relevant for most international school as many of them do not have a formal in-campus placements week, the like we are more accustomed to in India. The Exchange is completely discretionary but definitely a good idea in general if manageable.

Average Incoming Salary: The assumption here, which could be big one, is that the average incoming salary is the same for Indian, European and US schools. So you may want to tweak this to your own favorite number.

Socialising/Entertainment: This is a big omission from the calculation. The reason is because this tends to be extremely subjective and hugely variable. Putting a number on that is akin to estimating the number of stars visible on a moonless night – well I exaggerate, but you get the drift. Depending on what kind of person you are, this could be a big expense or it could be relatively modest. So take a pick on this one.

How to use this MBA cost calculator

You are now probably thinking what next and how do I use this information. One of the uses of this information will be to attempt a potential ROI and Payback calculation.

Taking a stock of your incoming and outgoing salaries, you can get a sense on which schools would potentially give you the best ROI. Do however be aware of the perils of averages. The average or median salary can be quite misleading on a case by case basis. So proceed with extreme caution.

If you willing to look beyond the top B-schools, the calculations would look quite different.

For Indian MBA applicants who don’t want to shell out so much, the value of MBA scholarships can’t be underestimated, as they can bring down the MBA costs significantly.

Use this kind of analysis to get an indicative sense and don’t make a decision based on a decimal point differential between two schools basis these numbers.


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MG (Manish Gupta)

About MG (Manish Gupta)

As a principal MBA admissions consultant & career counsellor with MBA Crystal Ball, MG has helped many get into the top B-schools from ISB to Wharton. He is an IIT topper, an ISB alumnus (Dean's list honors) and a former strategy consultant with McKinsey.


14 Comments

  1. Anirudh   |  Saturday, 14 September 2013 at 6:03 am

    Hi..Manish

    This post is really shocking…1 Cr is really too much…Do yo think a middle class indian guy should dream about US MBA dream ? ..i was thinking that it would cost 25- 40 locs..but ur estimates are really different..please comment…i am losing hope…

  2. Naveen   |  Saturday, 14 September 2013 at 9:48 am

    I will not go to any US B School or any abroad school without substantial scholarship.. This post reiterated that fact.. Looking for 80% or possibly a full ride is essential.. Thanks a lot for an informative post!!

  3. Naveen   |  Saturday, 14 September 2013 at 11:14 am

    By the way, the pic is very nice:)

  4. MBA Hopeful   |  Sunday, 15 September 2013 at 11:22 am

    Some more “Pre MBA Expenses”:

    1) Multiple GMAT attempts (16250 x N) (Only handful can get a 750 in first attempt to get into top 15)
    2) Multiple Applications (17875 x N) ( Obviously you are going to apply in 3-4 schools)
    3) MBA consultants fees (MBA MAP, essay writing/editing, profile evaluation) (1.5 to 3 Lakhs)

  5. SNayak   |  Sunday, 15 September 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Not worth it! unless you want a job as a Consultant or a I-Banker. But I wonder if you guys could ever be flexible with your jobs, post the MBA, having a 2 crore loan on your head?

    Total Rip off. Instead take a 2 crore loan put in the markets and live happily ever after :-D

    Lucky i dint get into any of the B-Schools last year, was dissappointed initially buy has been a blessing in disguise.

  6. Sameer Kamat   |  Sunday, 15 September 2013 at 1:52 pm

    @Anirudh: 1 Crore is at the higher end. Indian bschools like ISB, IIMA PGPX offer a good quality education at a fraction of the cost. But then there are pros and cons to doing an MBA in India or abroad.

    @Naveen: MBA Scholarships and other MBA cost reduction options like graduate assistantships can make a huge difference to the affordability and RoI.

    @MBA Hopeful: Thanks for additional heads. Multiple applications can’t really be avoided unless you have a single bschool on the list.

    Multiple GMAT attempts + MBA consulting fees are optional. However, they can help in offsetting other bigger expenses. A high GMAT coupled with a strong application could get huge savings on the overall MBA cost in terms of MBA scholarships.

    Elsewhere on this site, you’ll find stories of folks who’ve got scholarships ranging from $10,000 to 100% fee waiver (plus stipend). That can be one heck of a deal to justify the additional (optional) costs.

    Of course, blindly pumping money into admission consulting without having the ‘raw material’ (good GMAT score, diversity of experience, practical goals) can be a waste of good money. So it’s a judgement call.

    @SNayak: You wouldn’t have a 2 crore loan. The opportunity cost is a ‘notional’ number (how much you could’ve earned if you hadn’t quit your job) not an actual one.

  7. SNayak   |  Monday, 16 September 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Oops! Sorry Sameer, but even without the opportunity costs, the two year MBA still comes up to 1.95 crore .. phew!! I have my own start up and my mouth waters when i think of what all i could do with that sort of money.

    I do agree with your point that the Indian schools have some good options. Another thing i would really appreciate is for you to dissect on the average salaries Indian grads would earn post the MBA. I have heard that the median salaries are quite misleading and more accurately reflect what American grads are paid. Indian students do not quite make that much. For instance, an Indian grad from Stanford might make around $90,000 not the $125,000 median that is usually advertised.

  8. Sameer Kamat   |  Monday, 16 September 2013 at 4:13 pm

    @SNayak: You are right about the fact that the overall financial jolt (even without the opportunity cost) can be crippling. Trying to get MG bhai (the author of the article) to take a break from his overload application assistance work and add some more clarity and analytical perspective on some of the numbers.

    Getting the big education loan sanctioned by an American bank (thanks to the non-cosigner loan schemes offered by the top MBA programs) is only part of the process. Unless your post MBA goals will get you high paying jobs, it can get very difficult to pay back the loans.

    Which brings up the point you raise about MBA compensation figures. You are right again that these numbers can be misleading. Long back we wrote a (small) post on average MBA salaries and what they mean.

    I wouldn’t agree that Indians will always get lesser than the median. They could get more as well (for instance, if they stick to their area of expertise and reach out for senior roles). Or it could go lower as well (radical career transitions that force experienced folks to start a new career at a lower rung).

    For an entrepreneur like thyself, the numbers get even more hazy, as your earning potential can vary dramatically before and after the MBA.

    Just for hypothetical discussion, if you had to extrapolate what you could do with the money, what’s the likelyhood that you’d earn more than the median published by the top bschools ($100,000 – $130,000) in a 3-5 year horizon?

  9. MG   |  Tuesday, 17 September 2013 at 3:44 am

    Let me make a few additional comments to what Sameer has already mentioned.

    One, as I have mentioned, the costs are on the ‘higher’ side. The idea is to give you a sense of range varying from lakhs to crores. Many international schools (2 year programs) could be 30-50% cheaper than the one in the example above. So please take this with dollops of salt.

    Two, it is prudent to avoid a tendency of only looking at a ‘converted’ figure. We used INR to get everything in numbers that most of our audience could relate to. It is way more important to consider the payback/RoI figures than the absolute numbers. Yes the salary figures could be misleading at times – but well, we are doing the above analysis on an ‘average’ basis.

    In summary, my intent was not to deter MBA applicants from India, but to create awareness of the kind of investment we are talking about. There are half a dozen ways to defray that cost and still launch a global career which is worth the effort. Scholarships are definitely one of these ways. Hopefully we’ll do a post on that topic soon enough.

    Till then, keep the faith!

  10. vikram   |  Sunday, 29 December 2013 at 4:03 am

    hello sir my self vikram i have a doubt,i don’t know whether it is right place to ask or not but plz help me

    up to how much percentage can we get the loan from top school like stanford ,harvard . ,and should we put the remaining amount remaining amount from our own pockets is the only way we have do it ,if not is there any alternative to receive aid for that remaining amount also ,from indian banks or other sources

    plz help me sir
    thanking you in advance

  11. Sameer Kamat   |  Monday, 06 January 2014 at 5:45 pm

    @Vikram: For the right candidates, schools like Stanford can give 100% scholarships. But most will not get it.

    You’d get around 20L loan from Indian banks. Some bschools offer non-cosigner loans. Rest you’d have to manage independently.

  12. Ravi Kiran   |  Thursday, 09 January 2014 at 9:22 am

    Hey Manish/Sameer,

    This is quite an interesting and apt post for me right now. I don’t clearly get the Exchange/job search part, costing abt 80 to 90% of tuition costs. Can u brief more on that?

    I think most top schools have their career management centers. So the exchange costs should not be likely. Isn’t it?

  13. MG   |  Thursday, 09 January 2014 at 10:15 am

    @Ravi. That actually has two factors built into it. One is the Exchange part. This is the ‘student exchange’ meaning, say if you are doing your MBA at School A, and go for a term to School B. Many students opt for that.

    The second factor is the job search. Most schools have careers center yes, but unlike the Indian model where there is almost zero search cost, most programs in USA entail some or the other kind of your individual search. Campus placement/Campus days are rarer overseas. Plus this also includes part of your living expenses while you are searching for a job.

    Hope this clarifies things

  14. Vishal Patel   |  Monday, 24 March 2014 at 9:04 pm

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