The Best MBA Business Schools In Chicago

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is an excellent option for anyone looking to gain business experience and develop essential skills for their career. 

This advanced degree leads to success across all fields and is usually held by executives at large corporations. In addition, an MBA can help graduates break into competitive industries such as tech or finance.

Typically lasting two years, there are a variety of MBA program formats for different students and their personal needs. 

Based on their availability, many schools offer accelerated, part-time, full-time, executive, and online options with a variety of specializations. MBA students in any of these programs develop the initiative, creativity, leadership, and work ethic required to succeed in business.

While at business school, graduate students study accounting, economics, finance, management, marketing, business ethics, and many other subjects. 

Students gain vital entrepreneurship skills and learn how to inspire employees. They also learn how to analyze large amounts of information collaboratively.

The overarching goal of MBA programs is to provide an effective mindset for solving business problems. Through internships or real-world class projects, the top MBA programs will provide experiential learning opportunities. These projects help students develop hands-on skills and grow their professional network.

Chicago is one of the most competitive financial centers in the United States, considered on par with NYC and San Francisco. It is home to the Chicago Stock Exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade, and many top business schools. Students interested in business can apply their skills to financial trading, manufacturing, technology, insurance, and other industries.

Due, in part, to the prominent presence of numerous highly successful businesses, Chicago is a great location for MBA students to learn and gain experience. 

Here are College Gazette’s picks for seven of the best MBA programs in Chicago.

Saint Xavier University Graduate School of Management

The MBA program at Saint Xavier University provides practical application and a comprehensive foundation of coursework for its students. 

The School of Management is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, a standard of excellence that only 5% of business schools worldwide have met. This standard promises high-quality faculty, a challenging curriculum, and unique career opportunities.

MBA students can choose from four different concentrations to further their careers, management, financial fraud examination, forensic and investigative accounting, and healthcare management.

Developed by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the finance courses are guaranteed to be industry-relevant. 

The faculty in the graduate school of management are leaders in their industry and willing to connect students to exciting opportunities. The BEST Mentoring Program at SXU allows MBA students to learn from experienced executives while creating professional relationships.

Northeastern Illinois University College of Business and Technology

Northeastern Illinois University
Serhii, NEIU El Centro, CC BY-SA 3.0

Northeastern Illinois University provides MBA students with the tools to achieve their professional goals. MBA students graduate with a network of over 80,000 alumni spread throughout local and national financial institutions.

No matter your situation, NEIU has a variety of flexible formats for working professionals. MBA classes are held in the evening or on the weekend. In addition, there are online, in-person, full-time, and part-time options to match any student’s availability.

According to the US News World Report, NEIU graduates have some of the lowest student debt among MBA students. The program utilizes per-credit tuition rates for part-time graduate students and below-average tuition. This ensures an excellent return on investment while receiving a quality education.

Outside of class, there are a variety of student groups where MBA students can apply their knowledge and skill in a hands-on setting. The International Business Conference, Accounting Associates Club, Financial Management Association, and many other organizations allow students to further their business interests.

Illinois Institute of Technology Stuart School of Business 

As the only business school in a Chicago tech-focused university, the Stuart School of Business provides a unique educational experience. The MBA program shares the university’s emphasis on an applied education. Students are prepared to lead industries from global financial markets to sustainable enterprise.

While at Illinois Tech, MBA students gain the intellectual agility to handle complicated business challenges. The unique curriculum focuses exclusively on one course at a time, emphasizing project-based learning and hands-on technology application. There are electives in artificial intelligence, IoT, and Blockchain to keep students at the cutting edge of business and technology.

The Stuart School of Business performs collaborative research across a wide range of business topics. Mentored by world-class faculty, MBA students participate in research experiences that end up in scholarly journals or business competitions. Illinois Tech research covers product placement, corporate social responsibility, bankruptcy, sustainability, work practices, data regulation, and ethics in automated financial markets.

MBA students have access to Illinois Tech’s wide range of career resources, including career fairs, employer information sessions, mock interviews, and guest lectures. Using these resources, MBA graduates have gone on to work at Bank of America, Kraft Inc., Merrill Lynch, and many other big names.

Loyola University Chicago Quinlan School of Business 

Loyola University
Amerique, Richard J. Klarchek Information Commons, CC BY 3.0

The Baumhart Scholars MBA program is a highly selective, unique opportunity for business leaders interested in social impact. 

Ranked as the #7 nonprofit MBA program in the nation, students benefit from a specialized curriculum, one-on-one mentorship, and international recognition. Students in this program receive a scholarship of $20,000 for their commitment to using their degree to advance the greater good.

MBA students have plenty of opportunities for hands-on practice while studying at Loyola. The university’s Business Leadership Hub creates an interdisciplinary team of faculty and students to solve business challenges. The center focuses on research, recruitment assistance, solution-based events, consulting, and more.

For entrepreneurial students, the Ignite Lab helps MBA students develop new business ideas and launch their own ventures. Through mentorship, networking opportunities, legal services, and other workshops, the center helps incubate a variety of startups.

University of Illinois Liautaud Graduate School

Over the past 50 years, the UIC business school has evolved its offerings to meet the demands of students. Today, the school is home to nearly 150 faculty members and 300 graduate students

At UIC, MBA students have the flexibility to tailor a program to their specific needs and interests. There are accelerated, weekend, flexible, and online curriculums to fit the life of any working professional. In addition, students can choose to concentrate in a variety of subjects from business analytics to entrepreneurship.

While in classes, MBA students can choose from many unique courses to gain the hard and soft skills necessary to stand out. An improv and leadership course is available for students to experiment and determine their executive presence. For more technical skills, business students can study fundamental web analytic skills and learn how to apply software tools.

MBA students at UIC have the opportunity to participate in study abroad programs from Brazil to Normandy. In these programs, graduate students meet with local businesses, study local business issues, and attend presentations.

DePaul University Kellstadt Graduate School of Business 

The MBA program at DePaul provides transformative education for solving business challenges. Students can choose from 16 different concentrations including business strategy, entrepreneurship, international business, strategy, and many more. This specialized education gives students an edge in their future careers.

MBA students are surrounded by world-class employers and entrepreneurs. Graduates can leverage this network for internships and employment opportunities. 92% of Kellstadt graduates were employed, continuing education, or pursuing alternative goals within six months of graduation.

Outside of the classroom, MBA students at DePaul can participate in unique opportunities to practice their business skills. The Kellstadt Case Competition allows students to work in teams to develop a business strategy and pitch their ideas to a panel of respected judges. 

In 2018, MBA students engaged in a “pitch” competition, with executives at Microsoft judging.

University of Chicago Booth School of Business 

University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Matthew G. Bisanz, Harper Center by Matthew Bisanz, CC BY-SA 3.0

All of the MBA programs at UChicago employ the renowned “Chicago Approach.” 

This method provides theoretical frameworks that help business students define problems, seek out specific answers, and create innovative solutions. After graduating, 92% of MBA alumni feel confident that they can tackle business programs that they have never seen before.

Aspiring executive MBA students can choose to advance their career from UChicago’s London, Hong Kong, or Chicago campus. At any location, students will learn from renowned faculty and join a global community of business professionals. UChicago is the only US business school that has campuses on three different continents.

Along with analytical abilities and a global outlook, UChicago MBA students graduate as qualified leaders in business. LEAD was one of the first experiential leadership development programs offered by a top MBA school. This innovative program helps students become more effective leaders in their fields.

MBA students can participate in a number of business centers at UChicago, such as the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation. Since 2012, the center has launched over 100 social impact startups and funded 30 research projects.