When it comes to value for money, Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) MBA course beats Harvard hands down, according to The Economist.
NTU finished 39th in the news magazine's ranking of Master of Business Administration courses, based on their return on investment after a year.
While NTU delivered returns of 30.8 per cent, Harvard University offered a return of 14.8 per cent. Wharton Business School, at the University of Pennsylvania, did no better with 6.3 per cent.
Professor K. Ravi Kumar, who is the dean of NTU's Nanyang Business School, which offers the MBA course, said he is glad that the "world-class education our students receive is paying dividends in their lives".
The course was recently revamped and shortened to 12 months, which will increase the value proposition of the master's degree, he added.
The National University of Singapore's (NUS) MBA did not deliver returns that were as good, going by the study. It came in near the bottom, ranking 106 out of 109 institutes.
The ranking was done by calculating the difference in a student's yearly salary before and after getting the MBA, divided by the total cost of the business programme.
The programme cost is, in turn, computed by adding the tuition fees incurred and the salary the student could have earned if he did not pursue an MBA.
The Economist said two-year courses at prestigious United States institutes were the most expensive, while cheaper and shorter courses offered better returns.
For example, Wharton's MBA course runs for two years and is the most expensive at US$129,656 (S$162,000); NTU offers a one- year business programme, and NUS' course lasts 17 months.
Data from The Economist showed that at NUS, a student would give up US$53,000 in income to pursue its MBA programme, which costs about US$46,400. But after his MBA, the student's salary would rise to about US$63,800 a year. This is a 10.8 per cent return on the student's investment, one year after graduation.
But at NTU, its students have a lower salary of US$46,530 before their MBA, which rises to about US$74,400 after completing the business programme. The Nanyang programme is also slightly cheaper, at about US$44,000.
But Ms Chua Nan Sze Marie-Antonie, director of graduate studies at NUS Business School, said the rankings are just "one of a number of indicators of our performance". Global rankings "consistently show NUS MBA graduates continue to be in high demand", she said.
Human resource expert David Leong, from recruitment firm PeopleWorldwide, said a master's degree from a local institution offers employees "a single shot at leveraging pay increment". Any salary increment beyond that is based on job performance, said Mr Leong.
In Singapore, those who seek an MBA are usually entry- and mid-level managers hoping to advance in their careers.
Marketing and corporate communications head Josh Goh, from recruitment firm Manpower Staffing Services, said the long-term value of an MBA does not necessarily come from pay rises. He said: "A big part of (an MBA) is networking... The programme is important but those attending it are just as important. It might open doors for you in future."
This article was published on May 17 in The Straits Times.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.