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Unraveling the Enigma: What Makes M7 Business Schools So Prestigious?

POSTED ON 05/03/2024 BY The Red Pen

Explore what sets M7 Business Schools apart

M7 is a prestigious designation held by seven business schools in the US. While no official organization formally anoints these institutions, this elite category of schools carries immense weight in the minds of MBA aspirants. The ‘M’ is a testament to the ‘Magnificent’ or ‘Magic’ quality attributed to these seven.  According to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the average MBA acceptance rate for M7 business schools is 18.2 percent. M7 schools are highly sought-after, with more than 47,000 applicants vying for spots in the class of 2024. 

What distinguishes M7 Business Schools as elite institutions?

The answer lies in a confluence of factors that elevate them to the zenith of academic excellence and prestige. Let’s examine some of these factors

Top Rankings: The M7 Schools enjoy global acclaim, consistently securing top ranks worldwide. Renowned for their excellence, they attract exceptionally talented young leaders and are hubs for groundbreaking research.

High-Earning Potential: M7 graduates are among the highest earners in the MBA world. In 2022, graduates from Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business led the pack, boasting the highest starting salaries and bonuses at $198,180 and $198,032, respectively, significantly higher than $115,000 (median starting salary for MBA graduates across the US). 

Promising Career Prospects: Admission to an M7 MBA program paves the way for a brighter future, transcending various industries such as consulting, technology, healthcare, real estate, retail, energy, and entrepreneurship. For example, the latest employment statistics for Harvard Business School reveal that 25 percent of graduates pursued careers in finance. In comparison, 17 percent opted for private equity, and 16 percent entered the technology sector with prestigious firms.

High ROI: While the cost of pursuing an MBA from an M7 institution is substantial, the ROI is exceedingly promising. For instance, MBA graduates from the Wharton School saw a strong return on investment, with an average salary increase of 115 percent, earning an average income of $238,000 three years after graduation. Furthermore, each M7 school provides various forms of financial assistance. 

Access to notable faculty and alumni: M7 MBA programs offer access to renowned professors and the chance to join prestigious alumni networks, including presidents and CEOs. For instance, Harvard Business School has the highest number of CEOs (22) among Fortune 500 companies, while Wharton boasts a network of 100,000 alumni across 153 countries.

Which are the leading M7 Business Schools of 2024?

1) Booth School of Business (University of Chicago)

US News and World Report Best Business Schools Ranking 2024: 1

Founded in 1898, Booth School of Business is located in the heart of Chicago. Known for its strength in finance and consulting, the business school aims to “create knowledge with enduring impact and educate current and future leaders.” It offers a highly flexible curriculum, where the only compulsory component is LEAD (Leadership Effectiveness and Development), a hands-on experiential learning program. 

The course

Booth’s education philosophy, the Chicago Approach, teaches students to develop a multi-disciplinary outlook, thereby turning every business challenge into an opportunity. The approach includes case studies, hands-on labs, group projects, or lectures and varies depending on the course. Its full-time MBA program lasts 21 months and requires an extra course from three foundational areas of Financial Accounting, Microeconomics, or Statistics, along with completing courses in Business Functions, Management, and Business Environment. Additionally, students must take one course from each of the six categories: Finance, Marketing, Operations, Decisions, People, Strategy, and Business Environment. They must also select 10 electives from over a hundred options across disciplines. Chicago Booth and the University of Chicago offer various MBA joint-degree and certificate programs, including the MBA/MS in Applied Data Science.

What makes the Booth School of Business different?

With only a single required core course and multiple electives, students at Chicago Booth can customize their MBA journeys. They have the autonomy to determine their approach to the MBA, identify the skills they want to develop to meet their goals, and fulfill the requirements for graduation. Chicago Booth also boasts an exceptional faculty, with ten Nobel Prize recipients, including four actively teaching Nobel laureates. Booth Career Services is pivotal to the MBA experience, organizing over 320 annual networking events that connect students and alumni with various companies and industries. Its resume referral service effectively links qualified candidates to job openings. The previous year, students and alumni accessed over 3,600 positions from more than 1,700 unique companies. After graduation, students can take advantage of up to 300 credit units for free, allowing them to stay current as they advance in their careers or explore new interests. The class of 2023 demonstrated remarkable success, achieving a median base salary of $180,000. 91 percent of graduates secured jobs across diverse sectors, including positions at renowned companies.

Other facts:  

  • Most popular incoming major: Business at 26 percent
  • Most popular incoming profession: Financial Services at 19 percent

2) Kellogg (Northwestern University)

US News and World Report Best Business Schools Ranking 2024: 2

Kellogg is a globally recognized business school committed to the education and inspiration of leaders, fostering the creation of lasting value in organizations and markets. Boasting a robust legacy in business education, Kellogg operates campuses in Evanston, Chicago, and Miami. Each campus offers unique advantages and characteristics tailored to enhance the educational experience. It uses team-based learning to promote problem-solving through diverse peer perspectives. Classes are typically divided between case discussions and lectures, reinforcing the importance of collaboration and hands-on learning.

The course

Kellogg’s two-year MBA program combines theory and practice, involving students in six full-time terms for a minimum of 20.5 credits. The core curriculum comprises nine courses covering essential areas: Accounting, Management, Marketing, Finance, Managerial Economics, Decision Sciences, Operations, and Management Strategy. Additionally, in the second year’s Pre-Term orientation, students must complete the half-credit Leadership and Crisis Management course to consolidate the knowledge gained from the first-year core. Students with prior relevant coursework or work experience can explore the option of waiving specific courses, allowing them the opportunity to enroll in a more extensive selection of electives. 

Kellogg refers to its concentrations as majors, employing an approach that allows students to tailor a distinctive intellectual experience in line with their individual educational and career objectives. Students can choose one of eight majors: Accounting, Economics, Finance, MarketingOperationsStrategyManaging Organizations, and Management Science. They may also choose not to choose them. If they do not elect a major, “General Management” will be noted on their transcript.

Additionally, Kellogg offers “pathways” for students keen on developing expertise in emerging fields and evolving industries. They include Data Analytics, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Entrepreneurship, Growth and Scaling, Healthcare at Kellogg, Real Estate, Social Impact, Venture Capital &  Private Equity, and more.

What makes Kellogg different? 

Kellogg is one of the first business schools to provide a One-Year MBA program. Kellogg offers unique dual-degree programs in Law, Medicine, and Design. For instance,  MMM is an immersive dual degree that combines a comprehensive business education with a strong foundation in design innovation. Students interested in technology can opt for the MBAi program, which combines business strategy with analytic technologies. It also offers exceptional global learning with 37 exchange programs in 20 countries. Students can explore over 1,000 experiential learning opportunities, including client projects, self-defined projects, and real-world simulations, to develop their skills for their career goals.

Kellogg’s Career Management Center consistently ranks in the top 20 percent for MBA graduate satisfaction. The employment outcomes for its Full-Time MBA class of 2022 demonstrate a high demand from various employers, including startups and Fortune 500 companies in technology, finance, and consulting. The median base salary is $164,000, with notable employers including Amazon, BCG, JPMorgan, and PepsiCo.

Other facts: 

  • Most popular incoming major: Economics and Business at 50%
  • Most popular incoming profession: Consulting at 26%

3) Wharton School of Business (University of Pennsylvania) 

US News and World Report Best Business Schools Ranking 2024: 3

Known as a finance business school, Wharton School in Philadelphia is the world’s first collegiate business school. The institute runs a highly academic program intending to “prepare graduates with the breadth and depth of knowledge to become ‘pillars of the State,’ whether in private or public life.”  

The course

Wharton uses various teaching methods, including simulations, case studies, learning teams, lectures, etc. Its curriculum offers 21 MBA concentrations, including Business Analytics, Insurance and Risk Management, and Healthcare Management. It even allows students to pursue an individualized major if their interests lie in another discipline. 

The intensive cross-functional core curriculum is split into a fixed and flexible core. The fixed core includes six required classes in disciplines such as Leadership, Marketing, Economics, and Statistics. The flexible core allows students to choose courses from eight categories: Operations, Marketing, Finance, and Accounting. The flexible core is taken over both years, allowing students to take more electives in year one. The business school offers nearly 200 courses across ten academic departments for electives

What makes the Wharton School of Business different?

During their time at Wharton, students will have access to the school’s extensive alumni network, which is recognized as the largest among all M7 business schools. The alumni network’s vast number and global reach enable students to gain insights from diverse perspectives and receive career guidance spanning almost every industry. Wharton, renowned for its excellence in finance, also demonstrates strength in entrepreneurship and technology, which is attributed to significant investments and successful placement. The MBA class of 2023 has achieved a median base salary of $175,000, with 97 percent of graduates securing job offers across various sectors, including notable companies such as Paypal, Blackrock, Doordash, and Citi.

Other facts: 

  • Most popular incoming major: Humanities at 40 percent
  • Most popular incoming profession: Consulting at 27 percent

4) MIT Sloan (Massachusetts Institute of Technology )

US News and World Report Best Business Schools Ranking 2024: 4

As one of the world’s leading research institutions with a strong focus on engineering, MIT Sloan combines business and technology with its learning-by-doing approach. This Cambridge-based business school aims to “develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice.” 

The course

The full-time two-year MBA journey at MIT Sloan starts with six required core courses, such as Economic Analysis, Communication for Leaders, and Financial Accounting. Students must also elect an additional core from four options: Managerial Finance, Intro to Operations Management, Competitive Strategy, and Marketing Innovation. Following the initial core semester, they have three semesters to tailor a program to their preferences. In total, students typically complete 144 units of electives.

MIT Sloan also offers optional MBA certificate programs in Analytics, Digital Product Management, Enterprise Management, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Finance, Sustainability, and Healthcare. Additionally, it offers Dual Degrees like MIT Leaders for Global Operations, MIT Sloan and MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and MIT Sloan and Harvard Kennedy School of Government to prepare students for diverse leadership roles.

What makes MIT Sloan different? 

A unique feature of MIT Sloan School of Management’s curriculum is the ‘Sloan Intensive Period’–a week-long hands-on learning experience in the middle of each semester. From term two onwards, you may opt for various electives and real-world learning opportunities–called Action Learning. Classes are conducted using a combination of lectures, case studies, team projects, and more. The MIT Sloan class of 2023 secured a median base salary of $170,000, with 100 percent of graduates finding success in various sectors, including top companies like Nvidia, Adobe,  Morgan Stanley, and Tesla.

Other facts: 

  • Most popular incoming major: Engineering at 33 percent.
  • Most popular incoming profession: Consulting at 26 percent.

5) Harvard Business School (Harvard University)

US News and World Report Best Business Schools Ranking 2024: 5

Established in 1908, Harvard Business School (HBS) is the world’s first MBA program. Renowned for its commitment to nurturing leaders who make a difference globally, HBS is situated in the heart of Boston, Massachusetts, making it the sole M7 business school with a residential campus in the city.

The course

HBS offers an intensive two-year MBA program strongly emphasizing real-world application. The program encompasses a Required Curriculum spanning the initial two terms, featuring foundational courses and a Field Immersion with domestic and international focuses. 

In the second year, the Elective Curriculum allows students to select up to five electives from a diverse offering of over 100 courses across ten subject areas each semester. Notably, 32 courses are dedicated to Entrepreneurial Management, and 17 are field courses. HBS students can engage in cross-registration with esteemed graduate programs at Harvard University, MIT Sloan, and Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. 

Renowned for pioneering the case study method, HBS immerses students in an intensive two-year MBA program where they delve into a curated selection of 500 cases. Notably, 55 percent of these cases have a global focus, contributing to a comprehensive and globally-oriented educational experience.

What makes Harvard Business School different? 

The unique Section Experience at HBS enables first-year MBA program students to collaborate with 90 students to complete the Required Curriculum. Each “section” has students with diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Section faculty teach and manage the learning environment, using their research and real-world expertise to introduce innovative ideas and approaches to learning. HBS also offers seven unique joint degree programs, including MS/MBA BiotechnologyMBA/MPP (Master of Public Policy), MD/MBA, and  MS/MBA: Engineering Sciences.

The Career and Professional Development team at HBS offers many personalized resources, including a personal career coach. More than 50 percent of MBA graduates from HBS create ventures with The Rock Center for Entrepreneurship through various programs, including the annual New Venture Competition, one-on-one meetings with our Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, and Rock Summer Fellows. 

Additionally, the New Venture Competition Alumni Track supports the alumni by connecting them with investors and mentors. The class of 2023 HBS MBA graduates received a median base salary of $175,000, showcasing success across diverse sectors, including prominent companies like Cargill, Deloitte, McKinsey & Company, and Wellington Management.

Other facts: 

  • Most popular incoming major: Engineering at 25 percent
  • Most popular incoming profession: Venture Capital/ Private Equity and Consulting at 17 percent

6) Stanford Graduate School of Business (Stanford University)

US News and World Report Best Business Schools Ranking 2024: 6

As the only representative of the prestigious M7 business schools on the West Coast, the Stanford Graduate School of Business (Stanford GBS) occupies a strategic position in the heart of Silicon Valley. This iconic institution has cultivated a reputation synonymous with the region’s core values of entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology. With a resounding motto to “change lives, change organizations, change the world,” Stanford GSB underscores its commitment to academic excellence, societal impact, and transformative leadership. Its proximity to Silicon Valley facilitates an immersive learning experience, fostering connections with industry leaders, startups, and groundbreaking enterprises. 

The course

Stanford GBS’ synergy with the technology world is evident in its curriculum and encourages bold ideas, disruptive thinking, and a proactive stance toward shaping the future. In the two-year MBA program, the first-year curriculum allows students to focus on core requirements, distribution requirements, and the opportunity for a couple of electives. 

The core requirements include Data Analysis and Decision Making, Leading with Values, Finance, Financial Accounting, Leadership Laboratory, Managing Groups and Teams, Microeconomics, Optimization and Simulation Modeling, and Organizational Behavior. The distribution requirements focus on specific business functions and business theory: Finance II, Human Resource Management, Information Management, Information Management, Macroeconomics, Managerial Accounting, Marketing, Operations, Strategy and Strategy Beyond Markets.

The second-year curriculum pushes students to expand their mindset, focusing on new electives. Stanford GBS students choose 18 electives from 100 to personalize their MBA experience. Its most popular elective, Interpersonal Dynamics, helps students learn about themselves and connect with peers in small groups. Second-year students also participate in Action Learning Programs like Product Management, Analysis and Measurement Impact, and Marketing for Measurable Change.  The MBA course also offers joint and dual degrees for students with interests and goals across multiple disciplines. 

The teaching methodology at the Stanford Graduate School of Business is mixed. Classes use a combination of case studies, lectures, group projects, hands-on learning labs, problem-solving sessions, simulations, and more.

What makes Stanford Graduate Business School different?

A highlight of Stanford GBS is its Global Experiences, where students gain real-world insights through projects with organizations, trips, or an exchange program. During their global experience, students interact with Stanford’s international community, gaining new perspectives. 

The business school also offers its MBA students Joint and Dual Degrees for students with interests and goals across multiple disciplines. Students can pursue Joint Degrees like JD/MBA, MA Education/MBA,  MPP/MBA, MS Computer Science/MBA, Electrical Engineering/MBA, and MS Environment and Resources (E-IPER)/MBA Joint Degree. The MD/MBA dual degree program enables students to pursue an MBA at Stanford GSB and an MD from the Stanford School of Medicine. 

The Stanford GBS MBA class of 2023 achieved a median base salary of $182,500, with 82 percent of graduates securing employment in various sectors.

Other facts: 

  • Most popular incoming major: Engineering at 26 percent
  • Most popular incoming profession: Investment Management/ Private Equity/ Venture Capital at 19 percent

7) Columbia School of Business (University of Columbia)

US News and World Report Best Business Schools Ranking 2024:11

Columbia Business School (CBS) in New York City provides unparalleled access to industry leaders, fostering a dynamic learning environment. Dean Costis Maglaras underscores CBS’ commitment to advancing business education through programs and courses centered on five key pillars: the digital future, entrepreneurship and innovation, 21st-century finance, the intersection of business and society, and climate sustainability.

The course

The two-year full-time MBA program at CBS comprises 18 core coursework credits and a minimum of 42 elective course credits. The school’s core curriculum is the cornerstone of the Columbia experience. It comprises two full-term and eight half-term courses, providing students with a comprehensive mastery of essential business disciplines and functional areas. The curriculum, taught by a mix of full-time professors and practitioners, emphasizes practical knowledge, case-based learning, and collaborative models to cultivate analytical, decision-making, and leadership skills. The core creates a shared student experience, fostering a robust, interconnected community. The first-term core courses cover Lead: People, Teams, Organizations, Financial Accounting, Foundations of Valuation, Managerial Statistics, Strategy Formulation, Managerial Economics, Corporate Finance, Business Analytics, Marketing, and Global Economic Environment. In the second term, students take Operations Management alongside elective classes of their choice, offered in block weeks, full term, and half term. 

Exemption exams before each term offer qualified students the chance to replace core courses with electives. Columbia provides over 300 electives, enabling students to explore specialized topics with experienced faculty. Students can craft their own sequences or choose from recommended courses for career paths like entrepreneurship, finance, consulting, healthcare, marketing, media, real estate, value investing, and social enterprise.

CBS offers dual degree programs allowing you to pair a Columbia MBA with one of 11 other professional degrees, including law, engineering, medicine, international affairs, or social work.

Entrepreneurship is at the core of the CBS MBA program. Its alumni have launched 726 startups in the past decade, raising $23 billion in funding and $226 billion in venture capital.

Columbia Business School uses diverse teaching approaches, including the case method, lectures, group work, experiential learning, guest speakers, interactive discussions, simulations, and mentorship. 

What makes Columbia Business School different? 

Columbia Business School has several unique features. For instance, The J-Term (January entry) allows qualified students to skip the summer internship and get their degree in just 16 months, thereby reducing the opportunity cost of being out of the workforce during their studies. Its one-of-a-kind Executives in Residence pairs 25 senior C-level executives with MBA students. The school’s Master Classes like “Driving Strategic Impact: Mastering the Tools of Strategy Consulting” blend experiential learning and real-world engagement. 

Furthermore, its Global Immersion Programs connect classroom learning with real-world business applications. For instance, during Global Immersion: The UAE – Economic Growth, Business Dynamism, and Global Relevance, students spend half a term in New York and a one-week immersion week in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and other emirates collaborating on team projects with business executives and government officials

In 2022, 95 percent of Columbia MBA graduates received job offers with a median base salary of $175,000, showcasing success across diverse sectors, including prominent companies like Apple, Cisco, Bain & Company, and Google.

Other Facts: 

  • Most popular incoming major: Business at 35 percent
  • Most popular incoming profession: Financial Services at 29 percent

Essential facts about M7 Business Schools

FactsBooth School of BusinessKellogWharton School of BusinessMIT SloanHarvard Business SchoolStanford Graduate Business SchoolColumbia Business School
Acceptance Rates15%Not declared14%Not declared12%7%15%
Average GMAT Score728731728730740738730
Average GPA
Required Work Experience5 years5 years5 years5 years5 years5 years5 years
Women 42%48%50%46%45%46%44%
International Students48%39%31%40%39%36%47%
Alumni Network53,000+60,000+100,000+24,000+80,000+22,500+45,000+
(≈)*Annual Tuition$80,961$81,015$79,800$84,200$74,910$79,860$84,496

Source: University Websites | * Tuition cost only. Does not include living expenses | Disclaimer: Numbers are subject to change. Always check university websites. 

If you are looking to apply to M7 business schools, you need to start working on your essays and your applications at least six months in advance. Please contact us if you need guidance with your MBA application. Meanwhile, you can read our recent blogs, How to Write the ‘Goals Essay’ for MBA Applications? and MBA Admissions: Why Round 2 Applicants Have an Edge