It’s not as easy to find out the real cost of an MBA at HBS as you would think. To learn the actual cost of tuition requires taking a lot of factors into consideration.
According to Poets and Quants, no matter how much time you spend estimating, a Harvard MBA is not cheap by any means. This year’s tuition cost looks especially shocking: it skyrocketed by a whole 13.1% ($72,000 compared to last year’s $63,675). This happened because Harvard moved the cost of non-course and program materials to tuition, whereas before they could be found in a separate category, namely “course and program materials fee”. Consequently, the tuition itself hasn’t grown much.
This bit of accounting shows that if you are planning to apply to a top business school, you have to consider not only the tuition fee itself, but also the cost of program materials.
For two years of education at a Harvard MBA program, the total cost equals $144,000 plus $5,000 for course materials and fees, $6,620 for health insurance, approximately $26,388 for living on campus, and lastly, $29,668 for eating, drinking and other things.
All in all, this makes no less than $213,600 – and this number looks even more threatening than the just-tuition-fee $144,000.
Less Than Half Of Harvard MBA Students Actually Pay That Much
Still, there’s a way to cut the costs even if you have set your mind on Harvard. If you receive the Harvard scholarship (like half of its students), you can cut your costs by $37,000 per year. Although Harvard’s tuition and other fees are the highest in the US, they give out more scholarships than any other business school: last year, they allocated $34 million for MBA students. Incidentally, students may also apply for another scholarship outside their school and win another $30,000. If you get even luckier and receive an average $16,000 internship salary, it will allow you to decrease your tuition cost to approximately $100,000 – half the full price at Harvard.
Rent cost and living cost can also be deducted, as you still have to pay for your living and food when out of school. So, the real number will be closer to $40,000.
However, there’s a big catch, as many students tend to underestimate their living expenses when at school. For instance, networking requires communicating with classmates, and also agreeing to their invitations to expensive ski resorts or sea trips. That’s why it would be reasonable to add something like 20% to your planned board and living cost.
Is a Harvard Education Really Worth That Much?
While planning for your expenses at Harvard, don’t forget that you’ll have to lose two years’ worth of salary – an annual average of $85,000.
With all the opportunity costs counted, the big question arises – is it actually worth all the money you have to send? It is. Firstly, you will have a life-changing experience, secondly, you will obtain the best possible part of your resume, and thirdly, you’ll build the best possible network.
There’s another thing to think of: Harvard (like any university) doesn’t actually make a profit with student tuition fees. Every year, the school loses money, as the tuition revenues cannot possibly cover all the expenses as well the investments in innovations. The extras are paid with gifts from rich alumni, philanthropists and other benefactors. This means that you are obtaining from the school more than you give it.
Learn more about the cost of MBA programs on MBA25 event in Frankfurt!