Since obtaining my undergrad in Engineering about eight years ago, I’ve played around with the idea of going back to school for my Masters in Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration on finance. Although I don’t see the MBA designation advancing my career at the moment, I’m more interested in it for the sake of learning more about the business/finance world with the side benefit of personal growth.

Having said that, one of the largest factors when choosing an MBA program is the cost, especially if the tuition is not sponsored by an employer. It just so happened that a recent edition of Canadian Business listed the more popular MBA programs in Canada, their associated costs, and a list of strengths. I’m not surprised to see the local NL University to be among the lowest cost, but I was really surprised to see how high it can get to obtain an MBA from top schools.

Most Expensive MBA Programs in Canada

  1. Rotman (Toronto): $80,931 for 16 months
  2. Ivey (Western): $74,200 for 12 months
  3. Queens: $69,000 for 12 months
  4. Desautels (McGill): $65,000 for 16 months
  5. Schulich (York): $55,574 for 8-16 months

Most Expensive Executive MBA (EMBA) Programs in Canada

  1. Schulich (York): $110,000 for 15 months
  2. Queens-Cornell: $100,000 for 17 months
  3. Ivey (Western): $90,000 for 18 months
  4. Rotman (Toronto): $89,000 for 13 months
  5. Queens (national): $88,000 for 16 months

The Lowest Cost MBA Programs in Canada

  1. Laval: $4,032-$9,717 for 12-23 months
  2. Memorial: $4,398 for 12 – 16 months
  3. Sherbrooke: $4,600 for 16 months
  4. University of Quebec: $4,748-$10,283 for 12-48 months
  5. Royal Military College: $6,000 for 16-20 months

What are your thoughts on the more expensive programs out there?  Are they worth the money?

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Is there any way to figure out the best value out of an MBA / EMBA?

The costs are all over the map, obviously a 10x spread…

I think if you are going to stay in Canada, you can go with a lower cost program. If you want to go abroad internationally (even the US), a big reputation name like Ivey would be worth the premium assuming you could get in since smaller programs may not be recognized/respected(maybe not the right word). That’s my opinion anyway.

Doing a MBA is a tough call without employer sponsorship. It costs a fortune. If you go full time, you’re probably stacking on debt with no more income. If you go part-time it you will probably be working a full time job, and a part-time stressful degree for 3 to 4 years.

I would recommend a mix of part-time and full time if possible. Do a year or two part time while working full-time, then take a 6-month leave of absense to finish the degree off.

I thought about doing an MBA at one point but decided against after looking at the courses in more detail. My goal was to learn how to be an entrepreneur and start my own business. Unfortunately MBA programs don’t do that. Instead I just bought and read a lot of business books and went ahead and registered a business found an accountant and lawyer and spent the money that would have gone to tuition on launching.

MBA programs do a terrible job teaching marketing. None of them teach anything about salesmanship or. Negotiation.

If you want to focus on the finance side of things take a look at getting A CPA designation. Much more focused.

Finally, if you are set on getting a MBA read all the course synopses. You wouldn’t buy a $10 book without reading the back flap or a couple reviews. Don’t spend $5000 without some due diligence.

Almost all my friends who have an MBA say that the main reason for going through the program was for the amazing networking opportunities they offer, especially at the top schools. It had less to do with the actual academic education.

Their reasoning is that most of the people who graduate with an MBA will get top jobs and are more likely to help their fellow classmates than some random stranger from the street. This is illustrated by the tight knit sense of community of alumni networks at top ranking schools.

They also mentioned that most business schools teach the same stuff and what really differentiates the top schools from the rest are: size of alumni network, prestige associated with the university and quality of instructors.

Also, I’ve noticed through various b-school rankings that average salaries of graduates from top schools are much higher than those from lower ranked institutions. Here’s an example:

I think MBA’s are a great designation to obtain. Many extremely senior VP’s and CEO’s I know have their MBA’s with an undergrad in Engineering or Sciences. I know someone who did her MBA through Queens and really enjoyed it. I think even finding a school with mid-range tuition (such as the U of A) would be worth it. I think that the value of having more education will definitely out way the costs in the long run, education is never wasted!

best comment ever, “i think”…”education is never wasted”,
i would add maybe tight it to your personal and professional goals, after all an MBA designation from an Equis certified Bschool worths its value ( i am more thinking JMBS with a budget 90k) among family and and from a netting perspective. another point to consider maybe is, you get from whatever program you paid for as much as you invest yourself in

Qfactor – well said – it’s not what you know but who you know. IMO, the money spend at the tops school is well worth it – you are connecting with people for a lifetime. I also think the depth of the instruction is higher – these tops schools attract better faculty for the same reasons.

You can completely change your career trajectory by doing an MBA. Note – you *can*. My base+bonus salary (last year before MBA) was $75K. The year after my MBA base+bonus $203K. And there were at least 30 of us in my graduating class with that figure on graduation. ROI = high (even accounting for lost time of earnings).

Now the flipside – there were many people whose $$$ barely moved. Maybe in the long run their trajectory will be higher than the other alternative – need to factor that in to the equation.

In conclusion (a) great network – I have C-level contacts in many major Canadian companies (b) unbelievable fun and friends for life (c) you learn *quite* a lot (not as much as some of the top professional services firms will teach you, but there you go (d) your thinking changes for life.

Only go with Ivey or Rotman in Canada – the rest have shallow depth of talent in the student population. Even these schools have zero recognizability outside of Canada. Oh and many EMBA’s don’t have the same level of access to consulting or i-banking firms (if that’s your bent) – no matter what the schools tell you.

Just know why you’re doing an MBA – for the network, the $$$, the fun, the learning or the combination therein. I only know of one person from my class who regrets it. And I don’t think the rest of us are suffering from collective cognitive dissonance.


Although cost is certainly a factor, the quality of the program is much more important. I apply to a few of the best programs and decide based on numbers.

I imagine this is a lot like me looking for a music school. When I was in high school a friend who had graduated from McGill gave me the advice to go to the biggest/best university I could. The reasoning is that you might get accepted to Wilfrid Laurier (Waterloo, ON), but you’ll be a big fish in a small pond. Go to UofT or McGill, and suddenly you’re faced with competition from all over Canada. It’s perhaps more comforting for a young student to stay close to home, but in terms of broadening one’s horizons it’s best to go to the big school.

Studying at Laurier might be fine if you want to get into the southern Ontario music scene, but if you set your sights higher you should go to a bigger school. If you’re committed to staying in Sherbrooke, it looks they have a cheap MBA, too.

I am in the same boat for looking for an MBA program. The other thing i want to consider is to do it part-time or full time. Based on my own background with a Master degree in Science already, i will prefer PT. But I wont be able to participate the LLP then.

The major MBA source of students are Engineers who see this as making them more marketable.
I believe you should have at least five years of work experiance before you take this program, and an MBA is not a ticket to success, if you have no social skills your opportunities are limited.
MBA Grads have an attitude of entitlement, I would rather hire a B.Comm with drive and ambition than an MBA who thinks they deserve the position.
School reputation means little in Canada, in the US it is a big deal, Harvard Grads like to employ other Harvard Grads, just ask J.P Morgan.

I have read many times that MBA can be a waste of money if you are not compensated from the university or your employer and that often they like to mold you themselves into what they want, not the masters or doctorate degrees.

I am curious as to how the newest Macleans rankings might influence your opinions on the best MBA programs in Canada. What is the tradition outside of Canada for these programs? Growing up most of my life in the States I have often been told that many programs are a complete waste while others have suggested it does not matter if they are online or at a community college. The skills are essential. What are your thoughts on that?

In my opinion, MBA programs are fairly eroded. If you want to really learn something, I’d begin looking past MBA programs – something which fringes more on the sciences. If you’re looking for a piece of paper to advance your career, pay and networking opportunities, a well established MBA brand may be a good investment. That said, there are likely some MBA programs which are still worth it for both – though I doubt they’re in Canada.

I take it that the costs for Quebec University represent the variation for Quebec, Canadian (Non-Quebec) and international students?

I think thats a very big disparity in cost. One thing I would question is the credentials of the cheaper schools compared to the those of the expensive schools. Also whats the word on the street for graduates of both categories. How easy is it for the students of the cheaper schools to get employed? I really cant offer more advice because I live in the US. But here the more expensive school graduate get jobs quicker than most other schools.

Cost variation for Quebec university probably represent the variation for doing single or double diplomation with a french (as in france university)

Earning an MBA is one of the best education and professional moves you can make. An MBA degree can make you more valuable to your current, future and potential employers. I will be starting my MBA course integrated with a CFA designation starting next fall.

I think that if your employer doesn’t pay for your MBA program, then I don’t think its worth it.

If it could be done part time while doing full time work, then that might be something to look into.

Would the tuition credits apply for the MBA program? (If so that would be a nice tax deduction!)

Personally if school didn’t give me more potential income, I wouldn’t have gone back! (Doing my masters now and it’s a pain with work on top of school- don’t know how people with families do it!)

A lot of interesting points here. Personally, I think there is a value in a good MBA. Worth the almost 100k in debt and 1-2 year off work? That depends on the person, their current situation, and where they hope to take their career.

apart laval and sherbrooke university,, are there any other universities in canada (could be outside quebec oo) that allow low costing MBA