What are the M7 business schools?
- Harvard Business School
- Stanford Graduate School of Business
- MIT Sloan School of Management
- Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management
- University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business
- Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania
- Columbia Business School
Talk about diversity! Seven distinct, vivid cultures – each with its own history, values, characteristics, opportunities, and challenges.
Of course, there are many commonalities among the M7 schools: all are highly competitive, all feature deep academic resources, all are supported by committed and involved alumni, and all attract top-tier recruiters (even in down business cycles). Yet the most important commonality is their individual uniqueness! Their strong and distinctive personalities literally reflect their leadership in the MBA realm. They rise to their prominent position because they are the leaders in their domain: graduate business education. So, they reasonably expect you – their students and prospective students – to have correspondingly high ambitions, whether your domain be finance, healthcare, energy, social entrepreneurship, or something else. While these M7 programs all value diversity, together they also represent diversity.
What makes the M7s so magnificent?
There are other elite MBA programs, of course. But these seven have a history together that continues – their deans connected with each other years ago and formed a group that would regularly meet and share information. Eventually, these meetings grew beyond just the deans to include others within their admissions offices, creating a consistent flow of information. Their meetings and discussions address a range of issues, including best practices for components of the admissions process and responses to current events that directly impact MBA admissions.
A deeper look at the M7s
Harvard Business School
There is not a day I regret going to HBS. The classes I am taking this year have been incredibly valuable, being taught by practitioners who have been incredibly successful in their careers. The case method is also incredibly unique. You are learning from peers who have collective experiences no individual could have themselves – from the military, Tesla, big corporations with different missions and visions, and all are invaluable to my learning experience.Tess Michaels, then a second-year student at Harvard Business School; today Founder & CEO of Stride Funding, on Admissions Straight Talk
Immersion could be the keyword for the Harvard Business School (HBS) experience. The cornerstone of the program is the case-study academic approach: students read the case and then intensively analyze it both before and in class. The aim is to train students in real-world, complex decision-making. By continuously engaging with classmates from different functions, industries/sectors, and geographic regions in these case discussions, students radically expand their perspectives, thought processes, and knowledge. This immersive experience is heightened and enhanced by the smarts, passion, and ambition of HBS students. Outside of class, these high-achieving, high-energy students participate together in many club and volunteer activities. The two years just fly by, and suddenly you’re graduating, when it seems like you’ve just started at HBS, thanks to the nonstop immersion and engagement.
Median GMAT score: 730
Average GPA: 3.70
Acceptance Rate: 12.5%
What HBS is looking for in applicants:
Given its case method approach, HBS seeks students and future leaders who will carry their weight and contribute fully in the classroom – people who have something to say and the ability to communicate it. Further, they must be able to listen, respond thoughtfully, and adapt to new ideas as the dialogue progresses. Beyond the requisite high accomplishment, people who enthusiastically and capably engage.
For more on this, check out our blog series, What HBS Is Looking For
More HBS Resources:
Stanford Graduate School of Business
Stanford wants people of impact. Show the Stanford GSB that you are that kind of person. All the essays should lead Stanford to that conclusion.Linda Abraham, CEO of Accepted, in her Stanford Application Essay Tips
Transformation, nothing less – that’s what the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) is about. Its Silicon Valley connection and “mythology” (as one student puts it on the website), highly customizable program, innovation, change, and entrepreneurship shape the Stanford experience. Its small, elite cohort goes on an exploratory journey together, and many emerge in a different place than they expected to when they started out. This journey integrates the personal and the professional – in Stanford’s multifaceted pedagogical approach, building business and leadership skills is tied to understanding and defining your mission, your vision. Beyond the MBA classroom, students learn from and engage with numerous guest speakers who represent the cutting edge in their fields and are encouraged to access Stanford’s various other top-notch programs, including law, medicine, engineering, humanities, and sciences. During the program, Stanford students form a robust, mutually supportive network for testing ideas, boundaries, and their own assumptions and inclinations.
Stanford GSB Average GMAT score: 737
Stanford GSB Average GPA: 3.76
Stanford GSB Acceptance Rate: 6.2%
What Stanford GSB is looking for in applicants:
Given our encapsulation of the program, Stanford wants people who will be excellent “fellow travelers.” People who have – and bring to the program – a point of view, a unique perspective. Risk-takers. Change agents. At the same time, these individuals deliberately remain a “work in progress” – always open to new information, ideas, and situations and willing to change accordingly. They relish exploration and collaboration.
For more on this, check out our blog series, What Stanford GSB Is Looking For.
More Stanford GSB resources:
If you are looking to put the finishing touches on your essay, we recommend you have two people review – someone who knows you really well and can tell you if it sounds like you, and someone who you trust but maybe doesn’t know you as well to get a sense of what the essay does sound like, and judge whether or not it’s the way you want it to be.Dawna Levenson, MIT Sloan Assistant Dean, on Admissions Straight Talk
The MIT MBA program’s embrace of “wicked problems” captures what’s special about the MIT Sloan MBA. The MIT cohort learns how to develop robust solutions that can weather uncertainty, ambiguity, and change. And they take pleasure in that learning. Sure, the adcom wants leaders – people who become leaders organically by drawing others along the journey to solve a wicked problem. The MIT MBA roots its approach in two concepts that intertwine: invention, entailing creativity and agility, and data-driven analysis, entailing rigor and objectivity. These concepts align with those of the broader MIT university. Just as a robust process involves iteration, this program supports its pedagogy with ongoing experiential learning opportunities – practice – to reinforce and deepen the learning and ensure that students grasp topics in a real-world context. In essence, the MIT MBA program graduates people who are able to see around corners and are prepared to make constructive use of whatever they encounter. They will probably lead others in the process, as a result of their zeal and/or vision to tackle a compelling problem.
MIT Sloan Median GMAT score: 730
MIT Sloan Median GPA: 3.62
MIT Sloan Acceptance Rate: 12.1%
What MIT Sloan is looking for in applicants:
Can you be guided by the data? MIT seeks students who are open to going where the data leads, even if it contradicts their preferences or assumptions. MIT also seeks people who possess both vision and practical skills, who are creative and analytic. That doesn’t mean the school expects (or wants) these qualities 50/50, but if, say, you veer toward creative and visionary, you should still show a record of concrete impact and achievement. Needless to say, in such a program, curiosity and collaboration are also sought.
More MIT Sloan Resources:
We want students to do self-reflection on why they want this degree. We want students to explore the pivot moment (when they decided they wanted to do this) and unpack the talent and treasure they can bring to the MBA. Spend the time and really think about the top three things you will get out of the program.Blair Mannix, Wharton’s Director of Admissions, on Admissions Straight Talk
The Wharton MBA program is big – almost 900 enrolled students, multiple opportunities for joint degrees and certificates (from law and veterinary medicine to the Lauder program and Harvard Kennedy School), 21 majors, innumerable electives (including courses across the many other campus schools), and clubs too many to count in several broad categories: professional, athletics, social and special interest, community service, and international and cultural. Yet, Wharton does not sacrifice quality for quantity. Each of its many majors is deep and rigorous. Moreover, its tiered structure of five- or six-person Learning Teams at the core that are selected to be diverse in multiple dimensions – surrounded by Clusters of 70 or so, encircled by Cohorts of 210 – ensures some consistency and drives dynamism throughout the learning process. Especially with the Learning Teams and Cohorts, what you learn from teammates and classmates will help you to take full advantage of the program’s vast resources – and in turn, you can share what you discover about the program with them. Your “two cents” about a class, major, or club might open a magical door for someone who otherwise would not have encountered it among the abundance of opportunities. While bigness and abundance characterize this program, Wharton has devised the perfect learning structure that personalizes and optimizes it for students.
Wharton Average GMAT score: 733
Wharton Average GPA: 3.6
Wharton Acceptance Rate: 18.2%
What Wharton is looking for in applicants:
Wharton wants applicants who, along with being high performers, are actively engaged in activities and/or interests that contribute somehow – this doesn’t necessarily have to be community service, but some clear and consistent engagement outside work that positively impacts others. Finally, given Wharton’s extensive opportunities and resources, it is essential that applicants show they are resourceful – Wharton does not want its abundance squandered.
More Wharton Resources:
Kellogg School of Management
Kellogg values people who are going to be engaged and “all in” with their experience… Bottom line we look at engagement, initiative, and collaboration. High impact, low ego – people who elevate everyone in the room.Kate Smith, Assistant Dean of Admissions, on Admissions Straight Talk
Teamwork and management remain hallmarks of the Kellogg MBA program – teamwork is a means to the ends of learning content and skills, growing as a leader and manager, preparing to achieve your goals, and contributing to the Kellogg community. Kellogg’s renowned strength in management underpins the academic program with two management-focused majors, “Management Science” and “Managing Organizations,” along with numerous other traditional functional majors. Complementing these pillars of business training, Kellogg has innovated by also offering “pathways,” which are cross-functional sets of courses that address timely topics, including “Technology Management,” “Energy and Sustainability,” and “Asset Management.” Students can mix and match majors and pathways, benefiting from the accumulated wisdom of the scholars and experts who devise them. Kellogg has innovated in another area as well: it is one of the first U.S. MBA programs to offer a one-year program (for people with some academic business foundation). Not least, Kellogg is renowned for its abundant global opportunities, which are taken by almost half of its students.
Kellogg Average GMAT score: 729
Kellogg Average GPA: 3.7
Kellogg Acceptance Rate: 26%
What Kellogg is looking for in applicants:
Kellogg greatly values work experience that shows exemplary people skills – leadership, teamwork, collaboration, and communication – and that also presents a record of impactful accomplishment. Because Kellogg’s student body is particularly strong in philanthropic activity, including this element is a way to show fit with the program.
More Kellogg Resources:
[Booth is] looking for students who demonstrate self-awareness and direction. They want to read your application and see, based on what you’ve done, that you’re going to make a mark on the world.Linda Abraham, CEO of Accepted, in her Chicago Booth Application Essay Tips
Academic and intellectual rigor balanced by curricular flexibility – this intriguing balancing act is the valuable gift of the Chicago Booth MBA program. Intellectual culture is paramount at Booth – a reflection of the identity of the broader university to which it belongs. In the Booth MBA program, ideas are important – having them, sharing them, challenging them, testing them – and acting on them when the time is right. Booth has unrivaled depth among MBA programs in quantitative and analytic rigor. This is a fantastic asset both for students who want to refine existing strengths in these areas and for students seeking a rock-solid foundation in them. Booth’s flexibility means students tailor their learning program to their needs, which puts the onus on students to understand what they need. Although Booth students do not have to take a major, many do, in fact often pursuing multiple majors, and Booth has compiled a fascinating array of options that includes both standard items like “Accounting” and “Marketing Strategy” and less common ones like “Behavioral Science” and “Econometrics and Statistics.”
Chicago Booth Average GMAT score: 729
Chicago Booth Average GPA: 3.6
Chicago Booth Acceptance Rate: 22.6%
What Booth is looking for in applicants:
Because of the program’s flexibility, Booth looks for people who have the self-knowledge, critical thinking skills, and resourcefulness to make the most out of the program’s flexibility and strengths and to use them productively. And because Booth values ideas, it looks for applicants who will go beyond practical career training to explore new topics, areas, and disciplines and who will challenge themselves intellectually.
(For more on this, check out Finding and Articulating Fit with the Booth MBA.)
More Chicago Booth Resources:
Columbia Business School
To me [what interests me about you as an applicant is] what kind of leader will you prove to be with the people you are around right now. Do you make the people you are around right now better and how do you do that?Michael Robinson, Columbia Business School Director of Admissions, in an AMA Session with Accepted
Integral to Columbia’s MBA program and the school’s identity is its New York City home. Indeed, the Columbia Business School (CBS) website landing page refers to access to New York City (NYC) as a top asset of the program. Thanks to this location, along with the program’s renowned full-time faculty, CBS attracts adjuncts and speakers who are thought leaders in many areas of business and beyond, because so many either reside in/near NYC or visit frequently. Because Columbia’s ongoing interaction with the city makes it such a dynamic program, it builds student community from the start through the cluster program – clusters comprise 60-75 diverse students who take all first-year classes together. As for academics, CBS’s depth in finance is unique, offering special programs for private equity and value investing. Other highly acclaimed specializations are “Social Enterprise” and “Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Management” – the latter strengthened by the plethora of major pharma companies within a couple hours’ drive. The NYC location also reinforces and amplifies the program’s entrepreneurship resources, given the city’s strong tech and fintech ecosystem.
CBS Average GMAT Score: 729
CBS Average GPA: 3.6
CBS Acceptance Rate: 15.7%
What Columbia Business School is looking for in applicants:
Beyond strong professional and academic track records, Columbia wants people who have a plan – for taking advantage of the CBS resources, for engaging with the surrounding city and its endless opportunities, and for pursuing their defined goals. Because it’s easy to fade into the background amid the immensity of NYC and the dynamism of Columbia University, CBS also wants students who can and do forge bonds with peers.
More CBS Resources:
A final words about the M7s
Given their distinctive personalities, deep and comprehensive resources, and continuous adaptation to rapid economic, social, and technological change, these seven MBA programs continue to lead in the MBA space. As different as these schools are, many applicants can find their needs met by several, if not all, of them – each program will provide a positive life-changing experience in its own unique way. Exploring these programs in depth is a perfect way to kick off your MBA process, as you will be inspired to create and deliver your absolute best application.
The Accepted team has guided hundreds of applicants to acceptance at the M7s.
Our advisors are ready to walk you through the application process. We will help you figure out which schools you have a chance of getting accepted to (you might be pleasantly surprised!) and guide you every step of the way to ensure that you submit a magnificent, acceptance-worthy application. Learn more about our MBA Admissions Services here.
- Business School Selectivity Index [Can I Get Into My Dream School?]
- Harvard, Stanford, Wharton: What’s the Difference?, a short video
The M7 business schools are Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, MIT Sloan School of Management, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia Business School.
Click on the school name for a deeper look at each one!
*Acceptance rates source: U.S. News ranking