What’s the return on investment for these business degrees? | TopMBA.com

What’s the return on investment for these business degrees?

By Laura L

Updated September 14, 2022 Updated September 14, 2022

Will the cost, time and energy you put into advancing your business education pay off in salary and career opportunities?  

Whether you’re looking to step up your career with an MBA, executive MBA or a master’s in business, return on investment (ROI) will feature heavily in your decision making. 

Let’s look at the potential ROI of four different business degrees.  


Full-time MBA 


£51,625 GBP (~US$59,560) on average 


One-two years full-time 

Expected salary 

£68,000 GBP (~US$78,460) 

Full-time MBA price tags vary from five-six figures depending on location, reputation of the school and profile of the faculty.  

The world’s top MBA at Stanford Graduate School of Business costs US$124,389 (~£108,608) for a single student. In the UK, the third ranked MBA at Oxford Saïd Business School will set you back a significantly lower cost of £71,540.  

For the investment you’re making in a one- or two-year degree programme, an MBA has many benefits beyond the intense business knowledge you’ll gain in class. Much of the attraction in a top MBA programme is the alumni networks and industry contacts you’ll make, providing you with real life lessons from the business world and valuable connections once you graduate.  

Seerat Sindhu is studying for her MBA at Imperial College Business School. She said: “One of my favourite events is ‘Breakfast with the Board’, where MBA students are given access to interact with global leaders serving as board members or advisors across different industries.”  

MBA graduates can expect to earn an average salary of £68,000 GBP per year, according to QS salary data on the graduating class of 2020.  

Though, it’s important to consider the time taken out of the workplace to complete a full-time programme, sacrificing your salary for one or two years while paying the same living costs.  


Online MBA 


£37,736 GBP (~US$43,220) on average 


Flexible programme lengths: 

Usually around 17, 21 and 30 months 

Expected salary 

£43,220 GBP (~US$49,870) 

The average cost of an online MBA is significantly lower than the in-person alternative, and you can study at any one of the top business schools in the world from the comfort of your home.  

The top-ranked online MBA at IE Business School in Spain costs €50,000 (~43,330 GBP), whereas Marshall School of Business in the US, ranked fifth, charges $119,800 (~£104,340 GBP) for its online programme.  

Students who opt for an online programme often cite the ability to progress in their career while studying as the main reason for their decision.  

UCL School of Management student, Iain Cooper, chose an online MBA so he could study from anywhere in the world. His role as a financial leader for professional services company, Jacobs, meant he could be given as little as a week’s notice to travel across the world for work.  

The online MBA gave Iain the opportunity to advance his skillset to a strategic level and apply his learning to his role immediately.  

While the programme content of an online MBA is usually the same as a full-time alternative, the average salary for online graduates is 36 percent less, at £43,220 GBP (~US$ 49,870) per year.  

However, this is likely set to change as more online MBA graduates enter the workplace and showcase the equal value they bring to the table. In 2022, online MBA students outnumbered those in full-time on-campus programmes for the first time ever, which could see the shift in perceptions that in-person programmes hold more value.   


Executive MBA 


£48,620 GBP (~US$56,195) on average 


Flexible programme lengths: 

Usually around 17, 21 and 30 months 

Expected salary 

£87,000 GBP (~US$101,940) 

The highest level of business education, an executive MBA is aimed at executives with over five years of managerial experience and is generally a faster-paced programme than the MBA.  

EMBA graduates can expect to see a salary increase within three-and-a-half to five years and financial renumeration is expected to continue throughout your career. With an EMBA you can expect to earn an average of £87,000 per year, 21 percent more than with an MBA degree.  

While EMBA candidates are at a different stage of their career than an MBA or master’s of business candidate, the question is whether to undertake an MBA or advance your career organically before studying for an EMBA as you gain further managerial experience.   

Like an online MBA, executive programmes are studied on a part-time basis so students can continue in their profession while they learn. Again, one of the major benefits being that the advanced business knowledge, frameworks and leadership skills can be directly applied to your work.  

With an average cost of £48,629 GBP per year, you could be looking to earn almost double the price of an EMBA as your yearly salary, post-graduation.


Master's in business

Course Cost (on average) Expected salary (six months after graduation)
Duration: Full-time and part-time options from 12 to 24 months
Master's in finance £30,810 GBP (~US$36,100) £46,000 GBP (~US$53,900)
Master's in management £25,290 GBP (~US$29,630) £42,000 GBP (~US$49,200)
Master's in marketing £25,350 GBP (~US29,700) £40,000 GBP (~US$46,870)
Master's in business analytics £32,900 GBP (~US$38,550) £52,000 GBP (~US$60,930)
Master's in supply chain management £26,370 GBP (~US$30,900) £44,000 GBP (~US$51,560)

If you’re looking for a way to give your career the edge, a master’s in business could be the perfect way to gain specialised skills in management, finance, analytics, marketing or supply chain management.

While a master’s in business is considered to be less prestigious than the more advanced MBA and EMBA programmes, there’s no minimum business or managerial experience required, which makes it an accessible choice for those at an earlier stage in their career.

With both full-time and part-time options across several specialisations, they also come at a lower cost. Average prices range from £25,290 GBP for a master’s in management to £32,900 GBP for a master’s in business analytics, an increasingly in-demand area.

Many master’s in business programmes provide the opportunity for work experience, whether placements are provided or time is given for students to find their own. So, while a master’s in business might not provide the same level of alumni and industry contacts as an MBA or EMBA, it can provide valuable industry insight.  

This article was originally published in September 2022 .

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