Columbia Business School vs. Dartmouth’s Tuck


Columbia is one of the largest two-year, full-time MBA programs in the world, with a total enrollment of nearly 1,300 students–not including more than 200 additional Executive MBAs. That’s more than twice the size of Dartmouth’s total enrollment of 510. Dartmouth is known for its intimate and close-knit community environment, while Columbia–as a New York City school–is an extreme opposite. Columbia is only slightly more international–merely by two percentage points which is surprising given its location. Yet there is great diversity within Columbia’s international student population: the Class of 2011, for example, colectively speaks more than 50 languages, including Sanskrit, Tagalog, Yoruba and Serbian. The numbers for women, international and minority students are for the Class of 2011.

Enrollment Stats Dartmouth Columbia
Total MBA Enrollment 510 1,293
Women 33% 34%
International 30% 32%
Minority 18% 18%


The poets seem to win out at Tuck, where 26% of the incoming class has humanities undergraduate degrees vs. 20% at Columbia. The larger difference appears to be students with engineering and math degrees, an area where you might not have expected Tuck to be as strong as it is. Tuck says 27% of its students in the Class of 2011 have such degrees compared to only 13% at Columbia.

Undergrad Degrees Dartmouth Columbia
Humanities 26% 20%
Engineering/Math 27% 13%
Business/Economics 41% 46%


Jobs and Pay:

The financial meltdown of 2009 led to a disaster of an MBA recruiting season at Columbia’s Business School. Nearly four of every ten graduating students in the Class of 2009 was without a job at commencement. Columbia was more severely impacted because it traditionally feeds Wall Street and the big banks which were largely on life support at the time. Dartmouth did much better, though nothing to brag about, because nearly a third of its class didn’t have jobs when they graduated. Grads from both schools fared much better three months after commencement, yet Columbia sill significantly trailed Tuck. Starting pay for Tuckies was more than $5,000 more than at Columbia and is also third best, after only Stanford and Harvard. The estimates of median pay over a full career come from a study by PayScale done for BusinessWeek and do not include stock options or equity stakes by entrepreneurs. Columbia grads did better than Dartmouth here by a couple hundred thousand dollars. In fact, Columbia MBAs were third behind Harvard and Wharton. Dartmouth came in fifth on this measurement, just below Stanford.

Job & Pay Data Dartmouth Columbia
Starting salary & bonus $128,282 $123,150
MBAs employed at commencement 69.2% 61.1%
MBAs employed 3 months after commencement 82.8% 77.3%
Estimated median pay & bonus over a full career $3,146,032 $3,349,669
  • CBSalum

    I am a CBS alum and I can 100% attest that the vibe and culture of the school is not competitive/cut-throat.  It’s a very collegial, fun and hardworking bunch.  Admittedly, the facilities are pretty bad for a top school.

  • BSchoolGuy

    This article needs to be archived and dated. The material is very out of date. 

  • guest

    All of these smackdowns are going to be a little out-of-date rankings-wise since they were published in 2010 when the P&Q site launched.  The articles are still useful since things like culture, facilities, class size, recruiting ties, etc, don’t change all that much from year to year.

  • NewEnglander

    Well only for this year. Dartmouth has the oldest graduate business school and the New England prestige dies hard.

  • B-Schooler

    This is pretty out-of-date. Columbia is ahead of Tuck in nearly every ranking today, and compositely ranks 5 nationally, while Tuck is somewhere between 7 and 9. 

  • Srikar

    A common feature to both B-Schools is that they don’t act as as Co-signor for International Applicants. It’s really SAD. Wonder what’s stopping them?

  • LoboMBA,
    We think so, too. But there is a surprising amount of overlap largely because applicants apply to business schools more on brand, reputation and geography than culture or expertise in a discipline. So you have two closely ranked prestige schools here on the Northeast Coast.

  • LoboMBA

    NYU vs. Columbia? I would think this is more of an appropriate comparison, is it not?

  • Thanks Paul.

  • Richard,

    Let me suggest another reason for the difference. It’s very possible that the discrepancy is due to the higher percentage of Columbia grads going into finance which can provide some outsized compensation, particularly if you stay on Wall Street and climb the ladder. On the other hand, those lifetime numbers are from a survey by a firm which is sampling the population. Because it is a sample, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of error due to the size of the sample.

  • @Kshitij – If I’m not mistaken I think what’s stated is that the full time enrollment for 1st and 2nd years is 510, but each class is around 250, give or take a couple spots.

    What’s curious to me about this write up is that the starting salary & bonus for a Tuck graduate is higher than those for a Columbia graduate and yet the mean lifetime earnings is $200k more for the Columbia graduate. I wonder when the change occurs. Maybe it’s because so many Columbia graduates go into finance?

  • Kshitij

    Hi John, While I am finding all these comparisons quite useful and they have really impacted my selected B-Schools list heavily, I am a bit confused about one parameter here.

    Tuck’s intake is mentioned as 250 students while the enrollment is 510 how can these two figures differ while you mentioned there is no program other than Full time MBA offered at Tuck???

  • Ravishankar S

    Hi John, Thank you for such an in-depth and detailed analysis. I am always a fan of Tuck and your research made me a lot more inclined towards Tuck now. Looking forward to comparison of Tuck with other B schools (Wharton, Haas etc…)

  • Paul

    I just graduated from Tuck. For what it’s worth, I find this to be the most accurate portrayal of the Tuck experience that I’ve read.

  • Jtbb

    Patroklos, what played into your rationale to choose Columbia over Tuck?

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  • Patroklos, can you explain what you mean?

  • Patroklos

    Having successfully been through both schools’ admission processes, I ended up with a bad taste in my mouth with the attention Columbia gives its admitted, and in my case enrolled, individuals.