London Business School vs. UPenn’s Wharton

by John A. Byrne on Print Print

London Business School’s main Georgian building

It was Samuel Johnson who once made the still-true observation: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” In that quote lies the greatest advantage of the London Business School; its location in one of the world’s great cities. Set just across the street from the lovely green grounds of Regent’s Park, London Business School is postcard-perfect England. Inside the grand Georgian walls, you’ll hear plenty of leading-edge discussions between faculty and students on globalization, strategy and technology. Increasingly, London has gained widespread recognition as the best of all the business schools outside the U.S.

And then there is Wharton, one of the very best schools inside the U.S. For years, Wharton’s strength in finance has overshadowed faculty and programs in other departments. That’s no longer true, and hasn’t been for some time. Looked at another way, Wharton is the world’s largest department store devoted to graduate business education: As the business school with the largest faculty and the largest number of elective courses, there is something for everyone here.

Top Ten Reasons to Go to Wharton?

  1. You want to work for a financial services firm and want the single best degree to do so.
  2. You want lots of choices in courses, joint programs with other schools.
  3. You’re not yet sure what you want to concentrate in and want to insure you have a deep dive in virtually any subject.
  4. You’re up for an intense, competitive culture.
  5. You thrive in a larger environment and enjoy being a smaller fish in a bigger pond.
  6. You want to work, live and play in world-class business school facilities.
  7. You expect to be among the highest paid MBAs in the world.
  8. You prefer smaller, manageable cities to larger, more congested ones.
  9. You think Rocky is one of the best pictures ever made.

Top Ten Reasons to Go to London?

  1. It’s by most accounts the best MBA program outside the U.S. and one of the best in the world.
  2. It’s all about location, location, location. That is, London.
  3. You want a truly global experience, with the largest possible percentage of classmates from all over the world.
  4. You expect to work in Europe, and particularly the United Kingdom, and want to be part of an extremely strong alumni base in the city where many players got their MBA ticket punched where you did.
  5. You already at least two languages fluently or want to learn to be fluent in more than just English.
  6. You want the intellectual challenge that comes from being in a completely different environment, yet one where English is still the spoken language.
  7. You don’t mind paying about 40% more for rent, 20% more for groceries, or nearly 60% more for a meal in a mid-range restaurant.
  8. You don’t mind traffic, people congestion, overpriced housing, and putting up with the hassles of big city life.
  9. You love big city life, or at least badly want to try it out, and you tend to dislike small towns in isolated places.
  10. You love English literature, The Beatles, the whole idea of Royalty, and West End theater.

The more detailed differences between London and Wharton?

Wharton’s Huntsman Hall in Philadelphia

Geography: London is the quintessential global city. The gateway to the European Union, London is headquarters to a third of the world’s largest companies. Every leading financial institution in the world is represented here. Its location brings the school massive benefits: a living laboratory of markets and businesses, an endless supply of well-qualified adjunct teachers, and more visiting executives who gravitate to its classrooms to speak and lecture. “We’re in the heart of the city,” says David Simpson, former admissions director at LBS. “A big part of life at the school is life in London.” There are few cities in the world that are as alive, exciting and dynamic than London, and it’s especially a great benefit to have Regent’s Park just across the street. The Sherlock Homes’ museum is a mere three-minute walk away. The financial district, dubbed “The City,” is about a 15-minute ride on the Underground. Students live throughout London and get to campus by bus or subway (the school is just a block away from the Baker Street underground stop). The drawback to London’s location is also obvious: it’s fairly easy to get lost here. Wharton’s location in the heart of Philadelphia makes it a train ride away from either New York or Washington, but compared to worldly London, Philly feels small town and provincial. Nonetheless, despite some concerns over the neighborhood surrounding the school, Wharton is in an extremely safe and comfortable place. With the fifth largest population in the U.S., Philadelphia is a great, compact city, with world-class restaurants and cultural attractions. Most students who attend Wharton have never been to Philadelphia and are usually pleasantly surprised by the city’s livability. Says Wharton’s Cutler: It’s fair to say that you can’t compare Philly to New York. They are different places. It’s not better or worse, they are different.”

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  • DrJ$$

    John, is Wharton also included as being part of “the likes of a Harvard or Stanford”, or are you talking about specifically those two schools? I am currently facing precisely the decision Wharton vs. LBS and the answer to the above question will play an essential role… also how do you view Oxford Said? It has such a strong brand in Europe (and globally) and yet it is not mentioned in the top tier of European b-schools.

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