Let me just start with two disclaimers: #1) I’m biased #2) I don’t have actual facts to back up this claim.
This month I was just thinking of how fortunate I feel to be at UVA (which was always a life long dream), but none of it would be possible if not for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. It’s not exactly explained well on the UVA MBA site, but with the Post 9/11 GI Bill and accompanying BAH payments, you can actually attend with no out-of-pocket expenses (assuming you have 100% benefit covering the time period). Combine that with the median return on a Darden MBA and even just the value of a MBA in general, this really may be the absolute best value for the GI Bill in the U.S.
John Byrne of Fast Company, and former BusinessWeek editor, explained “Why the MBA Remains One of the Most Valuable Degrees Ever” in a February 2015 article:
Starting salaries of $110,000 to $125,000 are now the median at 16 top U.S. schools, ranging from Harvard where the median was $125,000 to the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business where the median was $110,000. Median sign-on bonuses–now given to the vast majority of MBA graduates from top schools–are $25,000. And all these numbers tend to be highly conservative because they do not include increasingly common year-end bonuses, tuition reimbursement, stock grants and relocation expenses.
I think that the value as a professional with over 15 years experience, and a member of the Darden MBA for Executives cohort, may be even greater because my classmates bring a wealth of professional knowledge into the classroom. To say this experience has been and will be life-changing is not a stretch in any sense of the word.
But you may be thinking as a military veteran, “can I actually get into a top tier business school?” Obviously I can’t speak for any of the other schools in the list, but I think military veterans are a unique and valuable contribution to the Darden process, which features the Case Method versus traditional lecture-based schools. As military veterans, we likely have years of experience over our traditional peers in leadership, organizational process, strategy, and general management. All of this experience plays a crucial role in contributing to case discussions. While many of us may lack a strong business-specific foundation in topics like accounting, finance, marketing, and operations, Darden really does provide everything you need to be successful on these subjects, even for a history major like me.
Well if you’re a military veteran, you don’t need me telling you that anything is possible. I’d just like to stress veterans have a lot to offer at Darden and the return on investment for getting a MBA at almost no cost should be a no-brainer. If you also have Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, I’d say this is the best value for your time that exists if you’re interested in a business, non-profit, or organizational leadership career!