Rankings released last week by Forbes put Stanford University on top of a list of America's 25 best business schools this year in terms of return on investment.
The biennial ranking is based on the average salary gains seen in students' first five years after graduation compared to their financial status and investment cost -- two years of forgone compensation, tuition and required fees, all before receiving an MBA. This year's ranking focused on the MBA graduating class of 2008.
According to Forbes, "five-year MBA gain" salaries decreased from two years ago for all but two schools in the top 10: Stanford's Graduate School of Business and Michigan's Ross School of Business.
Still, an MBA degree pays off.
The tuition cost of an MBA may be high, but the return on investment at top schools still shows a significant rise in salary five years after graduation versus a pre-MBA salary.
Stanford moved up from the No. 2 spot it occupied in the 2011 rankings.
Students entering the program had an average pre-MBA salary of $80,000, and the average salary in 2012 rose to $221,000 for five year postgrads -- an increase from the average salary of $205,000 two years ago.
The tuition cost was roughly $117,960.
Forbes' Top 10 business schools for 2013 (2012 rank in brackets):
2. Chicago (Booth)
4. Pennsylvania (Wharton)
5. Northwestern (Kellogg)
6. Dartmouth (Tuck)
8. Duke (Fuqua)
9. Cornell (Johnson)
10. Michigan (Ross)
-- USA Today