Christina Settimi

Christina Settimi, Forbes Staff

I focus on the business of sports.

1/11/2010 @ 7:53PM

The Most Satisfied MBAs

In 2002, John Abbamondi decided to trade his seat in the cockpit of an EA-6B Prowler for a spot at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. As a Flight Officer for the U.S. Navy, Abbamondi’s job highlights included combat missions and night landings on aircraft carriers. But he wanted to gain practical business management experience–even if it couldn’t top the thrill of flying.

He shouldn’t have worried. He began another great ride when he met Billy Beane, general manger of the Oakland A’s, who was a guest speaker for a Stanford sports management class. The Beane connection led to others in Major League Baseball, and after graduation, Abbamondi landed a job in the labor relations department in the office of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. He joined the St. Louis Cardinals three years later as assistant general manager, and is now responsible for helping ensure that the team has what it needs to win a World Series. He says what he once thought was an unrealistic aspiration has become a reality, thanks to Stanford.

“I can’t imagine having made a better choice,” said Abbamondi. “Even if I knew I could end up where I am today without my Stanford MBA, I still would have gone to school there.” He is not alone in singing the school’s praises. Stanford ranks first in the nation when it comes to graduates’ satisfaction with their current jobs and their MBA education.

In Pictures: U.S. Business Schools With The Most Satisfied Graduates

In Pictures: Non-U.S. Business Schools With The Most Satisfied Graduates

Last year, Forbes conducted a survey of business school graduates in conjunction with our Best Business Schools ranking. We asked 17,000 alumni of the Class of 2004 at 103 schools to answer questions regarding their satisfaction in three areas: their current jobs, their MBA education and how well their school prepared them relative to other B-school grads. We averaged the ratings and excluded any school where we heard back from less than 15% of alumni.

In addition to scoring tops in student satisfaction, Stanford was also our best-ranked program in terms of return on investment. Its class of 2004 had a median salary of $82,000 before entering school, made a $235,000 investment (measured by adding two years of forgone salary to the cost of tuition), and a median salary five years after graduation of $225,000, tops among all U.S. schools. Half the schools on our list of most satisfied MBA students also show up on the top 10 of our Best Business School rankings.

Stanford sends its graduates into a wide range of careers. Top employers for the Class of 2004 included consulting heavyweights McKinsey, Bain and Boston Consulting. Yet the other top employers, Gap and Yahoo! , were outside the typical MBA path of banking and consulting. Stanford sent only 50% of its 2004 class into consulting and finance jobs, compared to at least 60% at other top schools like Harvard, Columbia and Chicago.

Visit our Education section f or more about business schools, graduate education and how to pay for college.

According to Pulin Sanghvi, a member of Stanford Business School’s Class of 1997, who now works as director of career management for the business school, being satisfied with your education contributes directly to financial success. “True satisfaction happens from work-life actualization,” said Sanghvi, referencing the Dalia Lama’s book The Art of Happiness at Work. “We nurture students to pursue career decisions based on their internal drivers. That they then become financial successes is just a bonus.”

Rich and happy? Sounds like a good combination.

In Pictures: U.S. Business Schools With The Most Satisfied Graduates

In Pictures: Non-U.S. Business Schools With The Most Satisfied Graduates

For more stories about getting an MBA, including our list of America’s Best Business Schools, click here.

Comments are turned off for this post.