Forget Harvard — these underrated b-schools boast strong employability

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In 2021, Tim Cook became the highest-paid CEO among large publicly traded companies. Did you know he's an MBA?

By Shekinah Kannan 

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Students invest into their education expecting a ROI. Among the common advanced degrees that have well-documented returns is an MBA, known for equipping students with skills and knowledge that will help them climb up the higher rungs of the career ladder.

Despite this, MBA programmes at US business schools can come with hefty fees. Depending on the programme enrolled, it could take students anywhere between one to two years to complete a full-time programme. Tuition fees alone can set students back some 50,000 US dollars to US$100,000 and up, excluding room and board. 


It’s a big financial and emotional investment, which makes it essential that aspiring b-school students do their research before committing to a programme. 

According to Poets & Quants, some of the most overlooked or underestimated business schools across the US are doing better than higher ranked schools when it comes to employability.

Despite the economic unrest in the midst of a pandemic, 100% of Texas State University, McCoy College of Business’s MBA graduates landed a job within three months of graduating. Harvard Business School’s score was 82.5% in comparison.

The same comparison was made for the Iowa State University Ivy College of Business vs the Stanford Graduate School of Business — 85.3% of Stanford’s class of 2020 secured jobs, while Iowa State MBAs achieved an 11.3 percentage gap over the M7 business school. 

The best MBA ROI could come from where you would least expect it

It’s not just Texas State University and Iowa State University giving the likes of Harvard and Stanford a run for their money.

The following business schools had employment rates in 2020 that put nine or more of its graduates into jobs within three months of graduation:

  • The University of Rochester’s Simon Business School — 91%
  • The University of Texas’ Jindal School of Management in Dallas — 90%
  • Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management — 90%
  • Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business — 90%
  • North Carolina A&T State University — 94%
  • St. Louis University’s Chaifetz School of Business — 92%

It’s important to take into consideration the fact that these schools are not as strategically placed as its higher-ranking competitors. Stanford, for example, is a stone’s throw away from Silicon Valley, yet the numbers are still in favour of hidden gems.


Despite their stellar employment rates, it’s worth highlighting that from examining the full list of business schools, many of these under-the-radar MBA programmes can’t compete with the starting salaries of graduates of top business schools. 

Simon Business School’s graduates take home US$143,349 a year; Scheller College of Business graduates bank US$141,847 annually; and North Carolina A&T State University’s alumni have achieved starting salaries of US$77,857. Harvard Business School 2020 graduates, on the other hand, enjoy a US$150,000 median base salary, not including signing bonuses and other guaranteed compensation.

Despite that, if you’re looking for an affordable programme that could still offer some bang for your buck, these schools are worth considering.