Both Harvard and MIT’s MBA programs boast a general management focus with a lot of additional options. The biggest single difference is in the wealth of offerings at Harvard. With a full-time faculty of 228, HBS offers an unusual breadth and diversity of courses. Harvard lists 130 electives in its course catalog, compared to about 90 at MIT. Sloan, however, offers its students two formal, completely optional tracks: finance and entrepreneurship & innovation. Essentially, it means you can load up on electives in either one of these two areas, often taking the courses with students who are committed to one of these two fields. The 50 or so MBAs in the innovation track do a required trip to Silicon Valley with faculty; the 70-plus students in the finance track do a similar trip to Wall Street. There are also a fair number of track-related activities, including alumni events organized by the school.
If MIT has any advantages over Harvard in terms of specific areas of study, it may well be in such niches as production/operations and information technology. In U.S. News & World Report’s latest survey of B-school deans and directors, MIT beats all schools in both production/operations and information systems where it has a number one rank. Harvard is ninth in production/operations and 15th in information systems. In finance, MIT places sixth and HBS is just behind it at seventh; in entrepreneurship, MIT is ranked third, and HBS fourth. In management, Harvard is first while MIT is 13th; in marketing, Harvard is fifth, while MIT is tied for 14th with the University of Virginia’s Darden School; in non-profit management, Harvard places fifth, while MIT doesn’t even merit a rank, and in international business, Harvard is fifth, while MIT is a distant 22nd. So other than production, MIT tends to trail Harvard or only slightly edges it out (a difference that we believe is statistically insignificant).
A case in point: entrepreneurship. On the surface, given MIT’s more tech focus, you might expect it to have a strong lead over Harvard. It doesn’t. Harvard, for example, has its own building devoted to the subject, the Arthur Rock Center, named after the HBS alum who invested in both Apple and Intel. Harvard boasts 35 faculty members who teach entrepreneurship, the second largest faculty group at the school. All first-year MBAs at Harvard have a required course in entrepreneurship and can choose from nearly two dozen second-year electives on the topic. At MIT, there are about 14 courses. Yet, given these stats, there is another counter-intuitive surprise here: As a percentage, only 3% to 4% of Harvard grads launch companies right out of school. At MIT, possibly because of the technical bent of many of its students, about 10% start entrepreneurial ventures out of Sloan. However, 15 years out of HBS, about half of its grads end up as entrepreneurs. Even more surprisingly, Harvard alums compose nearly 25% of the entire venture capital industry. Clearly, it’s a myth that Harvard is the breeding ground for just corporate chieftains.
Surprisingly, perhaps, the Sloan School discourages students who want to launch their own companies out of the gate. “The faculty advise them not to do it,” says Berechman. “They feel that students who go out and get some real world experience get a chance to build the skills base that they will need to be entrepreneurs later on. It’s really hard to launch right out of school.” That said, about 3% of Sloan grads start their own companies before or immediately after graduation.
On-Campus Recruiting: Whether you’re aiming for a top MBA job at McKinsey, Bain, BCG, or Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley or JPMorganChase, or Amazon, Apple, Cisco, Google, IBM, Intel or Microsoft, the Harvard- or MIT-punched MBA will easily get you in the door. MIT, being just down the street from HBS, attracts as many prestige MBA employers as Harvard. But your access to on-campus recruiters may be slightly better at MIT because you won’t have to compete with hundreds of students for conversations during recruiting events or for slots on an interview schedule. The range of prestige employers at both schools is simply dazzling (see below on who hires for a glimpse of major companies who hire the most Sloan grads).
Alumni Network: Harvard’s alumni network is extraordinary. There is no business school in the world that can boast as many high achieving graduates than Harvard. The most obvious differences between MIT and Harvard is the vast size and scope of the HBS network. Obviously, no school can beat Harvard in the number of grads who hold CEO jobs at the largest public corporations. But Harvard alums are not only in positions of authority around the globe: they are also extremely helpful to each other. Over the years, BusinessWeek surveys of MBA graduates show that Harvard, Stanford and Dartmouth boast the strongest alumni networks of any business schools in the world. With 41,378 living MBA alums, Harvard’s network is larger, more diverse, and more global. The critical mass of that network cannot be overestimated. MIT boasts 25,000 Sloan alums, a number that includes grads of every kind from the Sloan School so it is not directly comparable to the Harvard MBA number. MIT has 75 alumni association clubs around the world.
In every major ranking, including our own, Harvard predictably performs better than MIT. Harvard is ranked number one by us as well as by U.S. News and World Report, number two by BusinessWeek and number three by Forbes and the Financial Times. The P&Q rank–which factors into consideration all the major rankings weighted by their individual authority–puts Harvard at number one and MIT at number eight, just behind the Kellogg School of Management. The lowest positions awarded MIT by major media brands is The Economist’s ranking of 19th and Forbes’ ranking of 14th, the latter solely on the basis of the return-on-investment grads have achieved after five years (Stanford is first). That makes the gap between MIT and Harvard on these two surveys considerable: HBS has a 14-place lead over MIT in The Economist ranking and an 11-place lead in the Forbes survey. Even BusinessWeek, where one would think MIT would have some advantage in student and recruiter satisfaction, has Harvard ahead by seven places over MIT. MIT’s highest ranking comes from U.S. News & World Report which believes that Sloan is the third best business school in the U.S. These are the up-to-date rankings from each ranking organization.
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