Business Administration

A Guide to Earning an MBA in the Nation’s Capital

A Guide to Earning an MBA in the Nation’s Capital
More than 35 colleges and universities in the DC metropolitan area, Virginia, and Maryland offer MBA and other post-bachelor's degree business programs. Image from Unsplash
Christa Terry profile
Christa Terry September 29, 2020

If you're interested in the intersection of business and government, there's no better place to earn your MBA than Washington DC. Most area programs excel in global business issues as well.

MBA Programs You Should Consider

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Whether you’re pursuing a bachelor’s degree or a graduate degree, Washington, DC is a fantastic place to study and learn. It’s rich in history and culture; home to monuments, museums, and embassies; and a hub of capitalism, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The nation’s capital is also where business and politics intersect, making it a dream destination for MBA seekers looking to make big things happen.

The federal government may be DC’s largest employer, but public administration is only its second largest industry; in aggregate, professional, scientific, and technical services concerns employ more people. More importantly, DC has one of the highest concentrations of managerial jobs in the country and some of the top-earning managers. Getting an MBA in Washington, DC, interning in the District of Columbia, and then settling here is a pretty solid three-step life plan.

More than 35 colleges and universities in the DC metropolitan area, Virginia, and Maryland offer MBA and other post-bachelor’s degree business programs. In this article, we’re going to concentrate on the best MBA options in the very heart of the capital.

In this article about earning an MBA in Washington, DC, we cover:

  • Five reasons to get an MBA in Washington, DC
  • Master of Business Administration tuition rates in Washington, DC
  • Top MBA programs in Washington, DC
  • Internship and employment opportunities for MBA grads in Washington, DC
  • How graduating from a DC MBA program will affect your income
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Five reasons to get an MBA in Washington, DC

  • You can explore careers in both the public and private sectors. MBA grads in DC work in government and diplomatic roles, for nonprofits and NGOs, and at companies like Amazon and KPMG.
  • The area is a hotspot for all kinds of industries. Real estate, construction, tourism, lobbying, law, and media are all core elements of the DC economy.
  • You can attend a top HBCU MBA program. Howard University‘s School of Business is ranked among the nation’s top business schools by Bloomberg Businessweek and U.S. News and World Report.
  • The networking opportunities are unparalleled. DC attracts heads of state, business leaders, and VIPs from a variety of fields.
  • The tech scene is growing in DC. The federal government is the largest global consumer of technological products and services, making Washington, DC, a magnet for telecom, information technology, and computing firms.
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“Should I Get A MBA?”

The National Association of Colleges and Employers predicted an average starting salary for 2019 MBA graduates of $84,580—provided those graduates found jobs in computer science, engineering, science, or business. (source)

Students considering an MBA or graduate business degree can choose from varied career paths, including those focused on financial management, data analytics, market research, healthcare management, and operations management. The analytical skills and problem-solving techniques gained from graduate level business degrees are in high demand across business sectors. (source)

University and Program Name Learn More

Master of Business Administration tuition rates in Washington, DC

MBA programs tend to cost more than other graduate degree programs; earning a graduate business degree in Washington, DC, isn’t cheap. The average cost of an MBA in DC is about $80,000, which is slightly above the nationwide average . Even though the cost of living in this area of the US is quite high, you won’t pay much more than is typical for this degree.

Even the highest-ranked MBA programs in Washington, DC, charge only about what you’ll pay for prestigious programs elsewhere—once you get past the especially pricey top-10 programs.

Top MBA programs in Washington, DC

American University

Kogod School of Business

Experiential learning is the focus of the full-time no-GMAT MBA program at American University. The Kogod Office of Career Engagement places students in high-value summer internships; MBA students participate in local, regional, and national case competitions; and intensive live consulting projects with corporate partners worldwide are built into the curriculum. First-year MBA students benefit from the school’s weekly Business Leadership Luncheons that feature presentations by business leaders from the Washington, DC area.

MBA students can opt into any of several dual-degree programs. The Kogod MBA can be paired with any of the following degrees:

  • Juris Doctor (JD)
  • MA in International Affairs
  • MA in International Communication
  • MA in International Development
  • MA in International Peace and Conflict Resolution
  • MA in Global Environmental Policy
  • Master of Laws (LLM)
  • MS in Development Management

The Kogod MBA program is also available online via a mix of live Zoom classes, asynchronous coursework, and immersions in business capitals worldwide. Online MBA students can choose from among six MBA concentrations—business analytics, consulting, cybersecurity, finance, legal studies, and marketing—or create a one-of-a-kind specialization by selecting electives that align with their goals. The distance MBA at American University has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s best online MBA programs.

George Washington University

School of Business

Students enrolled in the GW MBA program can choose from among a variety of delivery formats and focus areas, including the:

  • Accelerated full-time or part-time MBA program
  • Full-time Global MBA program
  • Part-time Online Healthcare MBA program
  • Part-time MBA Online
  • Part-time Professional MBA program

GWU is ranked first for international business in the US and fifth worldwide by the Financial Times. All MBA pathways here emphasize global business issues. Students can participate in a short-term study abroad trip for up to six academic credits, take part in international service immersions, and participate in collaborative advocacy initiatives at home and abroad. There are also opportunities to bundle elective courses to earn graduate certificates and several dual-degree options. The George Washington University School of Business partners with other departments to offer an MBA plus a/an:

  • Juris Doctor (JD)
  • MA in Asian Studies
  • MA in European and Eurasian Studies
  • MA in Global Communication
  • MA in Higher Education Administration
  • MA in International Affairs
  • MA in International Development
  • MA in International Science and Technology Policy
  • MA in International Trade and Investment Policy
  • MA in Latin American and Hemispheric Studies
  • MA in Security Policy
  • MS in Finance
  • MS in Information Systems Technology
  • MS in Project Management
  • MS in Sport Management

Georgetown University

McDonough School of Business

Ranked #25 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best business schools, the McDonough School of Business offers a full-time MBA program, a flex MBA program, and an Executive MBA program. Highlights of the full-time program include the domestic and international residencies, robust career support, notable corporate partnerships, and dual-degree pathways that pair the MBA with a JD, an MS in Foreign Service, an MD, or a Master of Public Policy.

The part-time Flex MBA is the latest variation on the school’s highly regarded evening MBA for working professionals. The program lasts anywhere from 28 months to five years, depending on how quickly a student progresses. The Flex curriculum includes one- and two-week-long Intensive Learning Experience courses. Students can participate in the same student organizations, international treks, and case competitions open to full-time MBA candidates.

The 20-month, no-GMAT EMBA program at Georgetown University is #1 in the U.S. for its career-boosting potential, #1 in the DC area, and 6th in the nation overall, according to the Financial Times. Students experience the program among relationship-building cohorts, a source of academic support before graduation and a source of career support afterward. The approach this program takes is hands-on. Students tackle live case experiences from day one, student consulting teams work together to solve pressing business problems, residency and practicum experiences abound, and the EMBA program culminates in a global capstone project completed with a real-world company.

Howard University

School of Business

Howard University is home to the top HBCU MBA program and the first MBA program in Washington, DC, to be accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Ranked #70 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, the School of Business offers a full-time on-campus MBA, an accelerated flex MBA, and an online MBA. Several dual-degree pathways confer the following degree pairings: JD/MBA, MD/MBA, PharmD/MBA, MSW/MBA, MDiv/MBA, and BSE/MBA.

Job placement is one of Howard University School of Business’ strengths, and the school’s partnerships with local and faraway companies put it on the same level as top-20 MBA programs. Large national and international firms regularly recruit on campus. Howard MBA students also have access to abundant social and net­working opportunities, monthly leadership development workshops, an executive lecture series, and a strong alumni network.

Those aren’t the only reasons MBA students choose Howard University. The School of Business offers a learning environment that’s unique to HBCUs. Small class sizes make the environment of this MBA program extraordinarily close and supportive. Professors go out of their way to assist students and support their career goals. Howard University also has the lowest tuition of the Washington, DC, business schools profiled in this article and provides a significant amount of financial assistance to its students.

Internship and employment opportunities for MBA grads in Washington, DC

Internship and employment opportunities are plentiful in DC, where an MBA student might land in a government agency, a multinational corporation, or a growing tech startup. There are 16 Fortune 500 companies in the Washington, DC, area where business school students find internships and post-graduation employment. The military and FEMA also employ many DC-minted MBAs, and the Department of Homeland Security even has a Presidential Management Fellowship program for advanced degree holders.

Students at the schools we’ve listed don’t have to navigate the post-graduation landscape on their own. Career prep is woven through the MBA programs at these institutions. Students work with industry coaches and peer advisors, go on career treks, participate in career day events, and work on real-world projects with university partners.

As a result, graduates go on to work at great companies. Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte, and Raytheon are three of the biggest employers of American University graduates. Georgetown University students regularly go on to work at companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Bank of America, Citigroup, EY, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, KPMG, and Microsoft. DC MBA holders also found their own companies—in fact, Howard University graduates more company founders than any other ranked business school.

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How graduating from a DC MBA program will affect your income

The reason MBAs cost so much is that you get what you pay for. Return on investment is the metric most people use to determine how much they’re willing to spend on a Master of Business Administration. When it comes to the post-graduation salaries associated with MBA programs in Washington, DC, the ROI is pretty good. The average DC salary across industries and degrees is about $76,000, but MBA salaries in Washington, DC tend to be a lot higher than that.

Graduates from the above schools may earn even more. The average starting salary of Howard University MBAs is about $91,000. Georgetown graduates typically earn about $117,000 after graduation. McDonough School of Business graduates earn starting salaries of about $124,000.

Pursuing an MBA in Washington, DC, makes good financial sense considering that these programs aren’t among the most expensive graduate business programs. Money isn’t everything, however. While DC MBA programs do a lot to help students build strong networks and land lucrative jobs in the industries that interest them most after graduation, their appeal can’t always be measured in dollars and cents. If you’re passionate about government operations, a huge history fan, or a patriot through and through, you’ll love studying here at the crossroads of business and politics.

(Updated on February 21, 2024)

Questions or feedback? Email editor@noodle.com

About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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MBA Programs You Should Consider

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