The Top 5 MBA Programs in Iowa

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Nestled between the Missouri River and the Mississippi River, Iowa holds a unique position among the 50 states. It ranks 30th, with an estimated population of 3 billion, and 23rd in land area. The capital city is Des Moines, earning Iowa the nickname “Hawkeye State.” 

Due to its small population, Iowa only has three state universities—Iowa State University, University of Iowa, and University of Northern Iowa—and 33 private nonprofit options. Nevertheless, its educational landscape is known to be as diverse as its natural resources. Moreover, the state’s commitment to education is evident in its students’ impressive ACT and SAT scores, ranking among the top five states, and a baccalaureate graduation rate of 71%.

MBA Programs in Iowa - fact

Iowa’s Economic and Industry Profile

Although primarily known for its agricultural roots, the state’s manufacturing stands as the largest source of personal income for Iowans. According to IBIS World, a reliable source of economic insights, the Manufacturing industry has a $35 billion contribution to the state’s $178.9 billion GDP. Second to the Manufacturing industry is Finance and Insurance. 

Iowa’s biggest industries require the skills and knowledge only MBA graduates can provide. For instance, the state’s Finance and Insurance sector seeks professionals with ample finance, risk management, and insurance knowledge.

Several schools are offering MBA courses and degree programs in Iowa. But in this list, we’ve only considered programs accredited by programmatic accrediting agencies, such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. The accredited MBA programs ensure qualified students receive a high-quality education taught by distinguished faculty members.

Top 5 MBA Programs in Iowa

Ivy College of Business – Iowa State University

Ivy College of Business - Iowa State University

Iowa State University, a public land-grant research university located in Ames, Iowa, was established under the Morrill Act of 1862 provisions. The university was first built to emphasize agriculture and the mechanical arts. Over the years, ISU has evolved into a comprehensive institution with diverse academic programs and research initiatives. Its commitment to fostering innovation and addressing real-world challenges has positioned it as a prominent player in higher education in the United States. 

Today, ISU offers more than 150 majors leading to bachelor’s, master’s, and doctor’s degrees. ISU has eight colleges, including the Ivy College of Business, which was ranked #1 Best Business School in Iowa by US News and World Report. This business school has an acceptance rate of 88%. 

The Ivy College of Business fosters positive change and prepares students for future advancement. Students establish connections with peers, faculty, and accomplished leaders. The college offers a high-quality curriculum, internationally renowned faculty, and a welcoming environment for a comprehensive business education.

Students looking for a high-quality MBA program in Iowa can look into Ivy’s three Master of Business Administration programs:

Understanding the diverse needs of students, each MBA program comes with unique learning formats. The Professional and Executive MBAs offer a hybrid learning format, combining on-campus and online courses for flexibility, while the Full-Time MBA provides a fully immersive on-campus experience. 

The Ivy College of Business has obtained accreditation from AACSB International, which means that students graduating from ISU receive a high-quality education that meets rigorous global standards. 

The Ivy MBA is more than just a degree. It’s an experience that offers advanced facilities, internship support, a cohort-based fall start, excellent career coaching, international study abroad options, specializations, real-world consulting projects, scholarship opportunities, and a team-based focus. Technical undergraduate students in their senior years can apply for the concurrent MBA program. Concurrent students can begin the two-year Ivy MBA program concurrently with their bachelor’s degree, allowing them to complete both in five years.   

Interested Ivy MBA applicants need at least two years of professional experience, a resume, college transcripts, letters of recommendation, MBA personal essay, GMAT/GRE score, and TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English score. 

Tippie College of Business – University of Iowa

Tippie College of Business - University of Iowa

The University of Iowa in Iowa City, chartered by the state legislature on February 25, 1847, is the state’s oldest university. Classes officially began in 1855, and the university opened its doors to students in 1856. Like any other US university, UIowa experienced financial challenges during the Civil War. However, UIowa managed to recover post-war and became the College of Medicine, which was renowned for its medical breakthroughs and innovations, including Dr. James Van Allen’s space science discoveries. 

Since then, the University of Iowa has developed a reputation for academic excellence, cultural enrichment, and innovation. Its commitment to providing a well-rounded education extends beyond the traditional disciplines. UIowa fosters an environment that encourages creativity, critical thinking, and interdisciplinary collaboration.

UIowa’s Tippie College of Business is an AACSB-recognized business school. It offers several rigorous and demanding business education programs taught by faculty members with expertise in various topics, such as finance, economics, and accounting. Moreover, the campus houses the top research institution for the study of prediction markets, Iowa Electronic Markets (IEM).

Tippie College offers three MBAs:

Specific admission requirements may vary. But in general, students interested in the Tippie MBA must have a 3.0 or higher GPA and 18 months or more post-undergraduate professional, full-time work experience. Although GMAT or GRE scores are not required, those who submit high test scores will have better chances for admission and scholarship consideration. 

The UIowa MBAs are known for their flexibility and affordability. Students can expect to pay $33,750 for a whole MBA program, which can still be reduced by availing financial assistance from your employer, the federal government, or the school. Iowa MBA scholarship offers up to 30 incoming students each semester, with no separate application required. Automatic application means that students qualified for the MBA program will have their application automatically considered for the scholarship. 

The University of Iowa Tippie College of Business students benefit from a network of research institutions. In addition to the IEM, students will also have access to other influential institutions in marketing, small business development, and investment banking, such as the Small Business Development Center.

Wilson College of Business- University of Northern Iowa

Wilson College of Business- University of Northern Iowa

Formerly Iowa State Normal School, the University of Northern Iowa was founded in 1876 as a teacher preparation school. Over the years, the institution evolved to meet the changing demands of education, expanding its offerings to include liberal arts, business, sciences, and humanities programs. The UNI Campus, situated on the banks of the Cedar River, is known for its modern facilities, green spaces, and vibrant community atmosphere. 

UNI has five colleges applauded for their contribution to advancements in various fields. The David W. Wilson College of Business is a top-ranked business school that has received its accreditation from the AACSB. Business school students at UNI can expect a lot from the university, including access to various networking events, modern facilities, academic advising, and tutoring services. 

To prepare students for the new world of data interpretation, UNI business education strongly emphasizes turning data into insights. Various professionals, including accountants, economists, supply chain managers, and marketers, teach students how to make decisions using data-driven models. This helps them prepare for the difficulties of implementing data-driven insights into their regular business operations.

The Wilson College of Business offers two Master of Business Administration programs: 

The UNI MBA programs offer a relevant education, professional connections, and a convenient schedule for working professionals. It provides hands-on experience, small class sizes, outstanding faculty, and extensive resources at a lower cost.

UNI has among the highest job placement rates of business schools in the United States. According to UNI, its placement rate is over 95%. UNI stands out as one of the leading business schools for its exceptional job placement rates and for offering students the opportunity to participate in international experiences such as study abroad programs, international internships, and global business seminars. 1 in 4 students have international experience. Recognizing the significance of global exposure, employers highly value this aspect. 

Furthermore, boasting an impressive record, on average, business graduates have secured employment five months before graduation, emphasizing the distinct advantage of a UNI education. 

Students interested in the Wilson MBA must have earned a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year institution and show post-undergraduate professional work experience.

Zimpleman College of Business – Drake University

Zimpleman College of Business - Drake University

Drake University, a top-performing private university in Des Moines, Iowa, was founded in 1881 by the Disciples of Christ. During the early decades of the 20th century, Drake University experienced significant growth and development. New academic programs were introduced, and the university expanded its campus infrastructure. 

The College of Business Administration was established in 1920, contributing to Drake’s reputation in business education. Today, the Zimpleman College of Business at Drake University is known to foster alumni success through partnerships with industry leaders, internships, and networking events. It also emphasizes career services, guiding resume building, interview preparation, and job search strategies. These collaborations bridge the academic environment with the professional world, facilitating a smooth transition.

Drake currently offers one Master of Business Administration (MBA) program. 

The Zimpleman Online MBA is among the most reliable AACSB-accredited online degrees. This format is perfect for working adult professionals who want to pursue a high-quality MBA program without sacrificing their current lives. Drake’s online MBA program prepares effective communicators, ethical stewards, data-driven problem solvers, and global citizens, offering a customizable degree based on interests and career aspirations.

Zimpleman MBA students can pursue a specialty in Accounting, Business Analytics, Health Care Management, Cybersecurity, Leadership and Human Capital Development, or Public and Nonprofit Management. Those who want to gain a broader view of the several emphasis areas can request a more customized MBA program where they can choose up to nine credit hours from any of the emphasis areas. 

Students attend in small, collaborative learning environments, particularly classes with an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Moreover, Drake’s College of Business and Public Administration is among the only 17 US universities recognized by the Centers for Actuarial Excellence.

Admission requirements for the Drake MBA include a bachelor’s degree from an AACSB-accredited college and official transcripts from other higher education institutions. 

Patricia VanBruwaene College of Business – St. Ambrose University

Patricia VanBruwaene College of Business - St. Ambrose University

St. Ambrose University is one of the best schools for students looking to study in a private Catholic institution. The university’s establishment was a response to the growing need for Catholic higher education in the region. Initially beginning as a seminary and liberal arts institution, St. Ambrose now offers more than 60 majors that allow students to mix and match minors and electives to align with their interests. 

With only 2k enrollment per year, St. Ambrose University students benefit from the intimate and personalized learning environment that characterizes the university. Faculty and students at St. Ambrose have excellent relationships because of the school’s close-knit community. Teachers frequently act as mentors for their students, helping them in their academic endeavors and providing insightful advice on the subjects they have chosen to study.

The VanBruwaene College of Business is among the best business schools for veterans. It offers several graduate programs, including:

This online MBA program offers flexible scheduling to students with full-time jobs. Accredited by the ACBSP, SAU students should expect to undergo comprehensive training to meet the demands of the 21st century. This MBA program is better known as the HL McLaughlin MBA. 

Online MBA students can concentrate on Leadership or General Business, with experienced professors teaching across various business sectors. As a liberal arts-based program, students will have plenty of opportunities to discover new business techniques, transforming them into competent managers capable of solving current and nimble problems. 

Students can also pursue a Master of Social Work degree while pursuing their MBA. The MSW-MBA combination opens doors to a unique and powerful skill set, allowing students to merge business’s analytical and strategic thinking with the empathetic and service-oriented approach of social work. Students in this dual degree program will gain a comprehensive perspective of the economic, cultural, and social factors that influence organizations and communities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I pursue MBAs with programmatic accreditations?

While regional accreditation provides a broad assessment of an institution’s overall quality, programmatic accreditation ensures that specific academic programs maintain high standards within their respective disciplines. Programmatic accreditation assures students and employers that a graduate has obtained the competencies in a particular field. It also serves as a benchmark for continuous improvement within academic programs, encouraging institutions to stay current with industry trends and best practices.

Who are the top MBA employers in Iowa?

Iowa has two Fortune 500 companies that employ the most MBA graduates: the Principal Financial Group and Casey’s General Stores. These large corporations, each operating in distinct industries, present unique opportunities for MBA professionals to contribute to their operations. The Principal Financial Group, a global financial services company, relies on the expertise of MBA professionals to navigate the complexities of the financial industry. On the other hand, Casey’s General Stores relies on MBA professionals to enhance operational efficiency and drive strategic initiatives.  

In addition to these Fortune 500 companies, Iowa boasts a robust business environment with a blend of large corporations and small to medium-sized enterprises across different sectors. Other MBA employers in the state include Rockwell Collins, UnityPoint Health, and John Deere. 

How much do MBA professionals earn in Iowa?

The specific salary for an MBA professional in Iowa depends on several factors, including position, location, and industry. However, according to Zip Recruiter, the average annual salary of MBA graduates in Iowa is $145,813. This figure is lower than the national average of $165,372. However, considering the low cost of living in Iowa—7% lower than the national average—MBA professionals in the state may still find their overall financial situation favorable.

How much do MBA programs in Iowa cost?

Several factors affect the total cost of an MBA degree program in Iowa, including institution type, financial aid, delivery format, and transfer credits. In general, students enrolled in public colleges pay less than those who pursue a program in private colleges. However, private colleges tend to be more affordable for out-of-state students as they usually follow a flat-rate tuition policy.

Here’s a quick comparison of the MBA programs mentioned in this ranking:

International students should expect to pay higher costs than out-of-state students due to various international student fees. 

The increasing cost of higher education demonstrates the importance of why all students, regardless of location and residency, must exhaust all financial assistance. By completing the FAFSA, students can gain access to various federal aid programs, grants, and subsidized loans to alleviate the financial burden associated with pursuing a higher education. 

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