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Study MBA in the USA - Top Universities, Application Deadlines, Documents Required, Fees, Scholarships

Bhavya Rawal Bhavya Rawal
Study Abroad Expert

The USA is no less than a brand when its Business Schools are considered. Studying MBA in USA will take international students two years and cost them anywhere around 170,000 USD to 220,000 USD as the overall tuition fees. According to the Financial Times’ Global MBA Rankings’ report, 51 of the top 100 MBA programs in the world, are from the USA Business Schools. Additionally, more than 50% of the total foreign students apply to a Management program in the USA every year, making Management as one of the most sought-after courses.

What makes the Graduate schools of USA stand out for management program seekers is because USA is the birthplace for MBA program. Originated for providing a more scientific and methodological approach to business management, MBA in USA has now become a program capable of giving you a raise of more than 100% on your previous salaries. 

The USA hosted about 1.1 million international students in 2017, retaining its no. 1 spot for accommodating a maximum number of foreign students. Despite the entering-USA freeze taking place, a large number of foreign students are heading towards the USA in search of best quality education, high employment opportunities and standard of living. International students make up to 5% of the total 20 million college students studying in the USA.

Why Study MBA in USA?

  • More than 50 Business schools rank globally among top business schools abroad for their MBA programs as per both FT rankings and QS Rankings. 
  • USA offers one of the most cushy median Salaries around the globe post completion of an MBA degree. Given below is a graph comparing the average annual salaries offered in various regions of the globe: 
MBA Salaries by region
  • 91% of the total of over 960 recruiters aim at hiring USA’s MBA graduates for various positions as per GMAC reports. 
  • Some Business schools have a payback time short hardly 4 years. Some these include Michigan State Univeristy, Texas A&M University, etc.  An increment 11% is observed in sector USA every 13 months. However, other receive only much 8% increments 16 months.

Top Universities to Study MBA in USA

With more than 20 ranking globally among top 50 thier programs QS 2020 Global Rankings, becomes world leader offering quality higher education. Given below list universities FT rankings. The table also discusses program fees pursuing an from popular Business Schools in USA

University NameFT Global MBA RankingsQS Global MBA RankingsProgram Fees (USD)Weighted Salary (USD)Percentage of international students
Harvard Business School15146880210,11034%
University of Pennsylvania Wharton21162,756211,54323%
Stanford Graduate School of Business31149412222,62510%
MIT Sloan63154336197,17717%
Columbia Business School811154752202,23826%
University of Chicago Booth108144000191,67920%
Northwester University Kellogg1110174692186,43820%
UC Berkeley129129304193,63025%
Yale School of Management1418149400178,82919%
Dartmouth College1645155040177,81937%

Weighted Salary: The average alumni salaries post three years of completion of MBA in USA. 

Types of MBA Programs Offered in the USA

USA business schools offer a broad spectrum of MBA programs that are not only comprehensive but are highly flexible too. However, with too many options available, students often find it difficult to opt for the most suitable MBA program. The following factors must be taken into consideration for choosing the best MBA option available at the USA Universities:

  • Career objectives
  • Amount of time that can be devoted to the course
  • Admission prerequisites
  • Cost of attendance

The table given below outlines important information pertaining to the type of MBA courses offered by USA universities.

Type of ProgramProgram DurationB-School Popular for ProgramAverage Work Experience RequiredProgram Schedule
Full-time MBA1-2 yearsStanford, Harvard, UPenn, Chicago-Booth, MIT3+ yearsRegular classes
Part-time MBAEqual to or more than 3 yearsMIT, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia University0 to 3 yearsEvening classes
Online MBA2 yearsIndiana University, University of North Carolina, University of Florida0 to 3 yearsNo strict schedule, can be planned as suitable
Executive MBA2 yearsUPenn Wharton, MIT, Yale, NorthwesternMore than 8 years of experience Weekend classes
Early Career MBAEqual to or more than 2 yearsChicago-Booth, UPenn Wharton, UCLA0 years Regular classes
Global MBA1-2 yearsHarvard, New York UniversityMore than 8 years of experienceRegular classes
Certificate Program1-2 semesters (differs by the business school)MIT, HarvardNot required4-6 course modules

Top MBA Specializations at Business Schools in USA

Another factor which may affect your choice of MBA program is the specialization you want to opt for. As per the QS MBA by Specialization Rankings 2019, the following USA universities grabbed the top positions for different MBA specializations offered. Given below are the popular specialization and various business schools in USA ranking for those MBA specializations:

  • Consulting: Columbia University (#2) and Harvard University (#3)
  • Finance: UPenn- Wharton (#1), Harvard (#2) and Columbia (#3)
  • Information Management: MIT- Sloan (#1), Northwestern University- Kellogg (#2) and Stanford University (#3)
  • Marketing: Stanford University (#1), Northwestern- Kellogg (#2) and UCLA- Anderson (#3)
  • Operations Management: MIT- Sloan (#1) and Erasmus- RSM (#3)
  • Technology: MIT- Sloan (#1), UC Berkeley- Haas and Standford University (#3)
  • Entrepreneurship: Stanford University (#1)

Business Schools in USA with Most International Students (Full-Time)

In 2018, the US News released a list that ranked business schools in the USA on the basis of their enrollment of full-time international students in fall 2017. The list is as follows:

University NamePercentage of International Students
Stevens Institute of Technology Hoboken, NJ94.2%
Worcester Polytechnic Institute Worcester, MA92.1%
Hult International Business School – Boston Cambridge, MA90.2%
Indiana University of Pennsylvania (Eberly) Indiana, PA82.7%
North Dakota State University Fargo, ND80%
Syracuse University (Whitman) Syracuse, NY73.1%
Babson College (Olin) Babson Park, MA72.3%
University of California-Riverside (Anderson) Riverside, CA69.7%
University of Connecticut Storrs, CT64.5%
University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth North Dartmouth, MA63.6%

Applications to Study MBA in USA

A majority of the USA business schools require the applicants to appear for a number of standardized tests to prove their eligibility, consuming a considerable amount of time. Thus, it becomes imperative for international applicants to start planning their study at least 1.5 years in advance to allow themselves sufficient time for visa processing upon acceptance.

The procedure takes place in 3 stages primarily:

  1. Pre-application: Involves uptaking of the standardized test and collection of all the necessary documents
  2. Application: Involves submission of completed application and uploading of admission prerequisites
  3. Post-application: Involves submission of other necessary documents and fee to secure a seat after acceptance.

Most of B-schools in the USA segregate the application process into a number of rounds, requiring the applicants to fulfil different requirements in each round. It is highly essential for applicants to keep track of these deadlines for a hassle-free application.

To study an MBA in the US, applicants may have to appear for an admission interview. Applicants are called for the interview on an invitation basis after they have met other prerequisites. With most of the students meeting the academic requirements, the admission interview makes it easier for the application review committee to distinguish among the applicants and grant admission based on their personal competencies.

Admissions to Study MBA in USA

Soiling one of the most ranked business schools from around the world makes the admissions process a real deal to crack. It becomes really difficult for an international student to handpick a few institutions and figure out the application process and the essential documents required to apply for an MBA at these colleges. Understanding the admissions and application cycle for top universities in USA becomes an important part of finding your way to the business schools in USA. 

Eligibility to Study MBA in USA

Making the way to your dream college will not be half as easy. the eligibility of studying MBA in USA involves testing an international applicant on various ground. Some of the important criteria that an international student must be familiar with is listed below:

  • Completion of 16 years of education is a must to pursue any masters program in the USAThis means that you need to have 10+2+4 education or complete a four year bachelors program. 
  • GMAT scores: For qualifying for into any of the business schools in USA will mostly require you have a good GMAT score. Some universities may accept GRE equivalents. The average GMAT score for some of the popular business schools in USA is given below:
Business SchoolAverage GMAT Score
Harvard Business School730
Stanford Graduate School of Business737
The Wharton School710
Sloan School of Management724
Kellogg School of Management724
Yale School of Management730
Columbia Business School717
  • A non-native English speaking applicants are required to submit proof of languge proficiency. International students can submit the scores of IELTS and TOEFL for pursuing studies abroad. 
    • Minimum TOEFL score accepted: 100
    • Minimum IELTS score accepted: 6.5
  • Work Experience: To study MBA in USA, applicants are requried to mostly have a minimum work experience of 3 years. However, this varies from university to university and with type of MBA program choosen. 

Documents Required

When planning to Study abroad, international students will be requried to submit additional documents. Some of these are enlisted below:

  • Academic Qualification and Transcripts: You have to submit a scanned copy of all the transcripts from the schools you have attended, in the English language. 
  • Scores of exams requried to study in USA must be directly submitted to applying business schools from the testing agency. 
  • Letters of Recommendation: Two academic and one professional letter of recommendation will always help you ace you LOR game, but some universities may demand only two LORs. 
  • Resume: An updated CV discussing your overall work experience and skills 
  • Cover Letter: A letter elaborating and highlighting your achievements
  • SOP: Statement of Purpose/Intent may be required by some universities. These must consist a brief of why you want to pursue that program and why are you choosing that university. 

Study MBA without GMAT in USA

Gone are the days when the application decision for business schools in USA was solely dependent on the GMAT scores. Nowadays, more and more colleges offering MBA in USA are relying on additional criteria for evaluating a candidates profile. Given below is the list of six popular MBA programs that do not require GMAT in USA. 

University/B-SchoolProgramAdditional Requirement
Sawyer Business SchoolExecutive MBAMinimum 7 years of work experience
Hult International Business School1-year MBATake the Hult Business Assesment Test Instead
Alfred Learner College of Business & EconomicsMBAGPA- 2.8 (83% or B grade) in UG with upper level maths course
Minimum 4 years experience
College of Business at Florida International UniversityProfessional MBAMinimum 4 year experience
Though GMAT not required but can strengthen your application
Kellogg School of ManagementExecutive MBAGMAT required only if the application seems to have a problem as per the admissions committee
Marshall School of BusinessExecutive MBAThough GMAT not required but can strengthen your application

Cost to Study MBA in USA

The overall expense of studying in USA will include the sum an international student will experience before leaving the home country to tuition fees and cost of living in USA. Detailed in the sections below are certain such expenses of pursuing MBA in USA

Pre-Arrival Expenses

This section incorporates the cost of Visa application and fees of different tests and entrance examinations required to study in the USA.

CategoriesCost(in USD)
Visa Application Cost510
IELTS fee240
TOEFL fee200
GRE fee190
SEVIS fee180 for J-Visa 200 for F-Visa

The tuition fees of studying MBA in the USA from a reputed university approximately range between 45, 000 and USD 80,000 per year. However, an MBA degree at the top-10 Business schools may cost over 120,000 USD.The overall program fees for popular B-schools is already discussed above. The graphical image below compares the annual tuition at the popular Business schools in USA. 

Annual Tuition fees by University

There a number of business schools in the USA that offer quality education at an affordable cost ranging between 30,000 and 60,000 USD. Cheap Business Schools in the USA include Dowling College, Cameron University, Southeast Missouri State University, St. Cloud State University, Worcester State University, Minnesota State University, Missouri State University, Cambridge College

Cost of Living in USA

Cost of living in USA for an international student will vary depending upon the choice of student housing opted for, lifestyle choices and other factors. Some of the expenses you will suffer while living in the USA are listed below:

CategoriesAverage monthly expenses(in USD)
Accommodation1000(On-Campus) 600-800(Off-Campus)
Personal Expenditures300-600
Health Insurance450-700

The monthly cost of living in USA easily crossed a value of 1500 USD. 

Scholarships to Study MBA in USA

For an international MBA aspirant, the choice of business school and study destination highly depends on how much their pocket allows. Financial aids available for international students in the USA can be of great help in cutting the expenses. Indian aspirants can avail of various scholarships available to only them for studying in USA. Most of the top business schools in USA offer to fund to its international students. Find out some of the popular scholarships for international students in USA, here. Some of the popular scholarships available to Indian student pursuing MBA in USA are as follows:

  • Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship: Covers 80% of the tuition for Indian student pursuing MBA at Stanford. 
  • Akhtarali H. Tobaccowala: Offers 1 million USD to an Indian Student pursuing MBA at Chicago Booth School
  • Ramakrishnan Family Scholarship: Offers 25,000 USD/year to 3 Indian students pursuing MBA at Chicago Booth Business School

Additionally there are various other MBA scholarships offered to international students at top business schools in USA. Some of these are as follows:

  • Harvard Business School Scholarship: Offered to at least 50% of the class at Harvard, the awards offered up to 40,000 USD/year.
  • McComb’s Scholarships and Fellowships: Award ranges from 2000 USD to complete tuition waiver. 
  • Forte Foundation Scholarships: Nominated Female applicants of Columbia Business School’s MBA are offered this scholarship.  

Jobs post Studying MBA in USA

As per the BLS, USA, a 23% rise in demand of various business and related roles will create around 138,000 new opportunities by 2024. This suggests that demand is ever increasing. Top MBA recruiters like Amazon, Apple, Bain & Company, BCG, Deloitte, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, McKinsey are always eying the MBA graduates from USA. 

Return On Investment for Popular Business Schools in USA

Let us have a look through the Return on Investment of popular B-schools. The graphical image below compares the program fees of studying MBA in USA with the Weighted Salaries. 

B-schools in USA Fees vs Weighted Salary

The graph clearly suggests that pursuing MBA in USA will not only add stars to your shoulder but also offer you cushy median salaries to lay your back on. Some of the popular job profiles for which you can apply and earn a handsome salary post completion of an MBA from USA:

Job DesignationAverage Annual Salary (USD)
Assistant B.D. Manager99,000
Business Development (B.D.) Manager128,000
Project Manager106,000
General Manager128,000

The demand for MBA graduates from USA is ever rising and they can be placed globally in all sectors they wish and dream of. This makes MBA in USA not only just a lucrative program but also worth all the money that it may be costing you. 


Ques. Is it worth pursuing an MBA degree in the USA?

Ans. The USA accounts for the top-most Universities in the world offering MBA degrees in various specializations, such as the Harvard and Stanford University. Pursuing an MBA degree from a USA institution empowers a student to develop business-related competencies and entrepreneurial skills through comprehensive courses. Thus, it pursuing the USA, MBA won’t be a bad option.

Ques. Do the USA Business schools require Standardized English Test scores for MBA programs?

Ans. Yes, almost all the institutions in the USA require applicants to submit scores of standardized tests like GRE or GMAT and IELTS/TOEFL to gain admission in the MBA programs in the US.

Ques. Should one take the GRE or GMAT to study MBA in USA?

Ans. GMAT is the most preferred test taken by the students applying for MBA courses in the USA and GRE for other graduate programs. A vast number of universities in the USA accept equivalent GRE scores in lieu of GMAT scores. Both the tests are equal in terms of evaluating the applicant. However, over the time GMAT has gained more popularity over GRE for MBA programs

Ques. Is it possible to study MBA in USA without GMAT?

Ans. Most of the top universities require you to have appeared for GMAT before applying to their MBA program, especially if you are doing a full-time MBA. But there are many who, in lieu of your GMAT score, give importance to your academic credentials and work experience. The three major types of MBAs where GMAT is not considered required are Executive MBA, Online MBA, and Lesser-known full-time MBA. 

Executive MBA: As this program is made for experienced managers who have a good amount of work experience in their field already, they are not required to submit the GMAT score.

Online MBA: This type of MBA program is of the distance category. These Online MBA degrees do not ask for a GMAT score from you.

Lesser-known full-time MBA: Leaving aside the top MBA universities in the USA, a few of the lesser-known B-Schools don’t ask you for a GMAT score while filling out the application form. They base their selection aspects other than this GMAT entrance test criterion.

Ques. Is an MBA from the USA without Work Experience possible?

Ans. Work experience is one of the important points that the application reviewing committee looks into while assessing the application. In their application instructions, many of the top B-Schools have mentioned their preference for work-experience in the applicants’ application forms.

Having said that, it is not mandatory. If the applicant has solid academic credentials, they can sometimes become a substitute for their no-work-experience element. Business Schools such as Stanford, Harvard, Chicago Booth, MIT, Columbia, etc. have not made work-experience compulsory and take freshers in their MBA program.

Also, there are universities that offer you an MBA program combined with work experience. For instance, the Harvard Business School 2+2 program, where for the first two years(maximum 4 years) you have to work in an American company at a professional position and then you will be admitted to a 2- year full-time MBA program. For this, you can either be an undergraduate or a graduate but must not have held any full-time work position prior.

Ques. How to Study MBA in USA through Scholarships?

Ans. There are various scholarships offered by external foundations, host universities and other institutions to study in the USA across many programs and universities. Click here to check all the types of scholarships available.

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