London Business School vs. UPenn’s Wharton

Historical Rankings by BusinessWeek:

Unfortunately, this is a little bit like comparing apples to oranges because BusinessWeek ranks non-U.S. business schools separately from its list of the best U.S. schools. As a result, the schools are not directly in competition with each other on these surveys. Nonetheless, London can’t hold a candle to Wharton which is the big winner here, having come in first in the BusinessWeek rankings on four separate occasions, from 1994 until 2002, when it fell to fifth, its lowest ranking by BW ever. Meantime, London has consistently been ranked fifth among the non-U.S. schools in the past three BusinessWeek biennial surveys over the last six years. Its best showing was in 2000, the first time BusinessWeek ranked schools outside the U.S. London was named the second best non-U.S. school.


Historical Rankings by The Financial Times:

Unlike BusinessWeek’s rankings, The Financial Times includes business schools from all over the world. London Business School is now the FT’s undisputed number one school, after tying Wharton for that honor in 2009. Even so, no school has fared better than Wharton in The Financial Times’ surveys over the years. Wharton has been named the top business school in the world in nine out of the past ten years! The lowest rank awarded to London has been ninth place in 2002. The school has been ranked eighth twice, in 2000 and 2001, and fifth twice as well, in 2005 and 2006.



Both London and Wharton attract some of the most talented young people in the world. They are both highly selective schools, with the barrier to entry at Wharton somewhat higher than it is at London. There are nine applicants to every seat in the class at Wharton; seven for every open seat at London. Though London appears to pay more attention to GMAT scores (notice that the lowest number it accepted is 600 vs. 540 at Wharton), its average GMATs are a full 24 points below Wharton.  * Estimate.

Admission Stats Wharton London
Average GMAT 718 694
GMAT Range 540-790 600-800
Average GPA 3.50 NA
Selectivity 16.9% NA
Yield 68%* NA


With entering classes that number not much more than 319 students, London is a much smaller school than Wharton which enrolls more than 800 full-timers a year. Although the number of “international” students at London far exceeds those at Wharton, the school is lacking in diversity in unusual ways. For one, only 25% of the students at London are female, vs. 40% at Wharton. For another, there are far fewer minority students, as they would be defined in the U.S. Our number for international students, moreover, at London excludes the Europeans because the school is a European school. It does include the 20% of London students from the U.S. The largest single international contingent at London is Asian, representing 22% of the latest entering class. The Wharton numbers for women, international and minority students are for the Class of 2011.

Enrollment Stats Wharton London
Total MBA Enrollment 1,674 660
Women 40% 25%
International 37% 66%
Minority 29% NA


  • 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.

  • A


    I have a question regarding US recruitment at LBS. If you are an American, and are looking for a global experience, we it be a better idea to do a foreign exchange at LBS instead of attending full time? My concern is the expense of London. I also got a pretty tepid response from an LBS representative when I asked about US recruiting.

  • Planet GPA

    A small business school is really a university-level institution that confers degrees running a business Administration. They could even be known by such names as College of economic, College of economic Administration, School of economic, or School of economic Administration. A small business school teaches topics for example accounting, administration, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, information systems, marketing, organizational behavior, public realtions, strategy, human resource management, and quantitative methods.

    planet gpa

  • Karthik nellian

    Hi John, 

    I guess my comment should be posted here rather than the comments section in the smackdown of Wharton Vs Columbia. I have been following your website, Poets and Quants for a long time now. I would like to thank you very much for the effective detail embedded into every B-school smackdown. It’s really helpful and thank you very much for the same. I was just wondering if you could do a smackdown of Insead Vs London and ISB Vs HKUST, since there are a lot of prospective students just like me, waiting for your analysis and advice before making a clear cut decision. Thanks for the same John. You are doing a very great Job!!
    Best Regards,


  • Dwjerj

    Couldn’t agree more. We desperately need a Chicago-Wharton smackdown! Loooong overdue

  • Foryouankit

     John, we need a Chicago vs. Wharton comparison.  Really confused which one is a better school.  Would love to hear your thoughts

  • Gnut Sucram

    Hi John, I am also interest to know when will you release the smashdowns among Europe Top 3: INSEAD/IMD/LBS, Thanks!

  • mr.ap

    But what if you are european? (like me). If you go to USA you can get your chances there and eventually come back and work anywhere in Europe since you do not need any visa. Whereas the opposite does not hold true. So I think that such a choice opens up more opportunities. And besides, a european with an american degree is more rare, and by attending in US you have expanded your borders. Does it make sense?

  • Sorry: the correct path: @Wharton MBA -> CFA -> the youngest CFO for an startup. 

  • Wow, amazing thoughts about these two amazing MBA schools, but for me, that I want to be a CFA rock star, @WhartonMBA:twitter  program is the best fit for me. Wait for me, Philadelphia. My path is MBA -> CFA -> the youngest CFO for a startup. Regards

  • paramia

    Yes, they aren’t can you compare Rolls Royce with Cadillac..doesn’t make sense.. ::))

  • Marioalejo

    I don’t think so, i know people who entered to LBS and Wharton and finally deciding to go to LBS; outside US, LBS has a great reputation!, is a recognized business school comparable to any US business school

  • seeksleek

    I completely agree !!!! Unless it’s H/S, LBS, INSEAD, IMD, IESE are great choices for European career goals. Plus IESE is an elite school in EU. UCLA is a great school (Great for Cali) but not US top elite

  • Alex

    Hi John,

    You mentioned that you’d be publishing a comparison between LBS, Insead and IMD in Q1. Could you please advise when you’re planning to release it? I may have a choice to make between the schools towards the end of March and your review would come in handy.

    Thanks a lot!

  • USvEurope,

    Yes. But just to help, this decision very much turns on where you most want to work. If it’s Europe, you’re going to be in a much better position graduating from a top business school such as IESE. Only in few circumstances would I suggest that an applicant who is accepted by a top European school, ie. London, INSEAD, IMD, HEC Paris, IESE, and IE, and who wants to work in Europe should go to a U.S. business school. That is when the applicant has received a yes from the likes of a Harvard or Stanford.

  • Arnold,

    This data doesn’t change very much year-over-year so we aren’t updating the smackdowns every single year unless there is something dramatic that occurs.

  • Arnold

    The LBS recruiting data is a year old and doesn’t recent hiring, e.g., McKinsey hired 39 people from LBS last year.

  • USvEurope

    Hi John,
    Could you do a comparison between a fantastic European school and a good US school? I need to make a choice between UCLA and IESE soon, and I am very confused. Thanks a lot.

  • Gosh

    The problem with that kind of comparisons is that it dosen’t give you a winner. In my mind, the only real criteria that one should take into account is how highly a program is regarded worldwide so the weakness of LBS is that it is first and foremost a London story…

  • John

    Hey john,
    Would love a Darden v. Duke smack down. Getting close to decision time. Thanks!

  • Brian,

    Yes. We will be comparing LBS and INSEAD, along with IMD, Oxford and Cambridge shortly. In the first quarter of the new year.

  • Brian


    Can you compare LBS and INSEAD to the “top” US schools with respect to the opportunities they provide in the US? Thanks.

  • Conor

    Wharton and LBS are not comparable. LBS is comparable to <= top 12 US schools. Wharton and Chicago may make sense as Adam mentioned above. Comparing a 323 BMW with a 500 SL Mercedes doesn't make sense just to make some LBS ppl happy. Apologies for LBS people but you are, with a stretch at par with top 12-15 US schools.

  • Adam,

    Thanks much for your kind comments. Yes, indeed, Chicago vs. Wharton is high up on the list. It should have been done months ago! Will get to it soon.

  • Adam Goldman


    I loved the smack down of two global finance giants! Still I can’t wait for Chicago Booth vs Wharton. Is that on the list?!

  • Bruce Vann

    “e) eventually these folks go and loot and cause recession every decade.”

    what do mbas do? they all do same thing, you’re very very wrong on this point. Recessions happened long before MBA’s were thought of and were less severe as the MBA became more popular. MBA’s don’t even have enough power to cause a recession every decade. We ALL caused this because of the trillions of decisions that we made over many years. Perhaps an MBA macro economics course wouldn’t hurt.

  • what do mbas do? they all do same thing!

    They all learn same thing and do same thing more or less! They all have same patois! MBA’s can be serious drones. Meaning they already following a protocol, they are not going to break any rules or go out of the way to change anything, no sparkle, no romance, no jazz and no fizz, they cant let loose with all that baggage they have and they gonna handle!
    The precedent is already set.
    a) pay high fees
    b) get internship
    c) get jobs from the company who have already hired alumni of these schools.
    d) the pay scale is fixed by market.
    e) eventually these folks go and loot and cause recession every decade.
    ranking,fees,number of job offers, sign bonus, year end bonus…..
    It is all good if money only can make you happy!

  • Shern Frederick

    Great article. One concern on the commentary. “Also, 40% of the class at Wharton is international so at least 40% would be non-native English speakers”. International does not imply non-native English Speaker. If one were to assume that the 40% of the internationals at Wharton were from the UK, then it’s REASONABLE to assume that the entire class would be all native english speakers. Being international and not having english as a first language don’t mean the same thing. 40% international may quicker mean “at most” 40% are non-native english speakers, not “at least”.

  • It’s really a great thought & knowlege sharing excerise. I enjoyed the article & comments thoughly. Hopefully I will see such a more eye opening articles ahead.

  • Tim

    Wow – both Jim and Jimi commented. Anyway, Nigel makes a great point regarding the comparison of hires from vastly differing class sizes. Still, I found this article very interesting and a rather fun exercise.

    Anecdotally – I see my company represented as having hired from both schools. I recently met an international grad from one of the schools who is in way over her head at my companu, but that’s neither here nor there.

    Great website – and keep doing these interesting articles!

  • Jimi

    One correction: regarding recruiting, being a recent LBS Grad, I can definitely vouch for Morgan Stanley, Deloitte and the likes being on campus. I know classmates who are working at those firms now, having been recruited through Career Services.

  • Nigel

    I’d like to point to a few flaws in your logic and make some further comments about your article (beyond its obvious Wharton bias). You state that Wharton “cares less” about GMAT. Really ? How so ? because they admitted someone with a 540 ?? Doesnt matter that the vast majority of the Wharton class will need nearly appx 720 as opposed to appx 700 at LBS. How about also comparing the average age / work experiences / industry backgrounds of people so that we get a better idea of the differences in the student body (digging beyond a raw GMAT score) ?

    Then you compare #of recruits by firm. At this point you should consider that it makes no sense to compare #of recruits by firm for a class size of 850 v/s a class size of 400 (actually 330 based on your out of date numbers).

    On that point you absolutely neglect the wonderful community feel at LBS (due to the small class size) not to mention the amazingly collaborative students. I consider this one of the biggest differentiating factors between LBS and Wharton (and most US schools). The social events at LBS are nothing like most American schools. The experience is enhanced with the many many social trips all around Europe taken by students at LBS. They have access and they have familiarity (i.e. say a trip to central Europe organized by someone actually from Khazakistan).

    Another advantage at LBS is its exchange program to most top American schools. This includes Wharton (yes – you can experience both), Kellogg, Chicago Booth, Columbia, MIT, Tuck, Haas, Stern and several others. Most American schools have exchange programs, but not to other top American programs.

    These are just some of the most obvious things I felt that your article was lacking. There are several points but that would make the post almost as long as the article. But I do hope that in future posts you make a better effort of understanding what the school is all about.

  • Luiz Arruda

    Beginning with the MBA 2011 class, LBS’ intake size is 400 students.

  • Jim

    The Wharton class profile (as posted on their website) states that 720 is the median. Nevertheless it could be that the avg=median and in any case it doesnt really matter if the GMAT is +/- 2 or 3 points. My other point though, focused not on class diversity (I am certain that Wharton students are of the highest quality on all aspects, diversity included) but rather on the assumption that the GMAT and escecially the verbal part might be a little more challenging for students that are non-native English speakers.

    One another note, I do understand that comparing a top US school to a top EU school can be quite challenging and can sometimes lead to apples vs oranges comparisons. I mean, even US schools are sometimes hard to compare/rank; eg Wharton vs Tuck, very very different student experiences…

    Anyway, sorry for the long post. Btw, love the site, great articles!

  • Thanks Jim. I don’t believe, however, that the Wharton number is a median but rather an average. We want to compare apples to apples here, and in all cases I’m using reported averages. Also, 40% of the class at Wharton is international so at least 40% would be non-native English speakers. Many of the American students at Wharton have also lived and traveled abroad and are fluent in other languages.

  • Jim

    You might want to include in your article that the average GMAT at LBS is 701 for class of 2012. Wharton has a median (not avg, there is a difference) of 720. Moreover, 90% of students at LBS are non native english speakers versus maybe 30-40% at Penn.