MIT’s Sloan School vs. Harvard Business School

Historical Rankings  by BusinessWeek:

The biggest question is how come Harvard has never placed number one in the most influential MBA rankings published. Over a 22-year period and 11 biennial rankings, BusinessWeek has never put Harvard at the top of its carefully watched lists of the best MBA schools. Just as surprisingly, MIT has had one of the most inconsistent runs of any top business school in the Business Week survey, coming in as low as 15th in the inaugural ranking in 1988 and in 1998 and climbing as high as fourth in 2000. Harvard, with its largest graduating classes and east coast pedigree, has definitely been ranked far more consistently over the years. HBS has generally came in the number three spot, going as high as two twice and as low as number five on three different occasions. It’s important to remember that  BusinessWeek measures customer satisfaction. While students rate these schools very highly, recruiters often have other issues. At Harvard, some corporate recruiters balk at the price tag. At MIT, the BusinessWeek methodology may put the school at a slight disadvantage due to its smaller size.


Historical Rankings by The Financial Times:

Unlike BusinessWeek’s rankings, The Financial Times includes business schools from all over the world. So the FT is ranking both Harvard and Dartmouth against such places as London Business School, which ranked number one in this survey in 2010 and 2009, and INSEAD, which ranked fifth these last two years. Over the years, HBS has bested MIT in all 11 years charted below. Yet, Harvard has topped this list only twice in 11 years (the biggest winner in the Financial Times surveys has been Wharton which has been ranked first on nine separate occasions and second twice). MIT has never had a higher FT rank than fourth, way back in 2000,  and has been ranked as low as 14th in 2007.



MIT and Harvard are two of the most selective business schools in the world. There are only other schools that reject a higher percentage of applicants than these two: Stanford and Berkeley. Getting a yes from MIT’s Sloan School has become increasingly more difficult in the past three years, a period when applications have risen by 55%. MIT now gets 12 applications for every available seat. For the class entering in the fall of 2010, applications were up 15% over the previous year. Harvard also had the second highest number of applications ever received for the same class. Harvard’s average GMAT score for the Class of 2011 is 719 versus an average of 711 for MIT.  An asterisk indicates the 10th to 90th percentile only and not the full range of GMAT scores.

Admission Stats MIT Harvard
Average GMAT 711 719
GMAT Range 650–760* 490–800
Average GPA 3.57 3.67
Selectivity 14.2% 12.2%
Yield NA 89%



MIT enrolls less than half the students of Harvard, resulting in a more intimate and close-knit environment (even though Sloan’s total enrollment is larger than such top schools as Stanford, Dartmouth, Berkeley, Yale, and Carnegie-Mellon. The numbers for women, international and minority students are for the Class of 2011.

Enrollment Stats MIT Harvard
Total MBA Enrollment 792 1,837
Women 36% 36%
International 37% 36%
Minority 27% 22%



MIT’s image as a quant school keeps a lot of poets away. “We find that people with soft backgrounds who we think would not only do well but would turn out to be great graduates turn us down out of fear over the rigor of the program,” says Rod Garcia, MIT admissions director. Harvard, in fact, pulls nearly double the percentage of poets than Sloan does. Instead, MIT tends to get a significantly higher percentage of students with computer science, engineering, math, and science undergraduate degrees. No surprise. Yet, a remarkably high percentage of the Class of 2012 are composed of engineering graduates alone: a full 37%. The numbers tell you a lot about the quant-intensive intellectual milieu of MIT.

Undergrad Degrees MIT Harvard
Humanities 21% 40%
Engineering/Math 47% 33%
Business/Economics 32% 26%

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  • GoldmanBoy

    It’s like comparing a C-Class Mercedes Benz to a Bugatti Veyron as far as the MBA world is concerned. Bugatti is HBS.

  • George Bush

    What the hell where you thinking Harvard? The worlds biggest idiot responsible for the mess in middle east which includes ISIS as your most famous alumni?!?

  • Bog

    Regarding networking, I agree! However, history
    seems to disagree with you regarding who is hiring who… MIT produces entrepeneurs, HBS produces CEOs.

  • CJ

    I noticed that, too. When I hear “entrepeneurial venture” I think “fancy word for company”. But maybe this is not the case.

  • Excellent article on MIT vs. Harvard comparison. I was lucky to attend both, getting my Masters at MIT and my doctorate at HBS. Having been at both schools almost seven years ( five for the doctorate) I can validate most of what the article mentions. Some additional considerations:
    • The teaching at both schools is simply outstanding, HBS of course, mastering the case method and MIT having excellent lecturers. Many Harvard doctoral students (myself included) preferred to take some required non-case courses at MIT.
    • The MIT culture is much more casual and open.For example, I was allowed to take graduate economics and political science courses as electives in the second year. Harvard cannot be beat in facilities and networking.
    • In some fields at times MIT has dominated Harvard. In Finance for example, at one point MIT had several future Nobel Prize Winners and superstars doing work in Finance ( Merton, Samuelson, Scholes, Modigliani, Black, Myers). Its only real competition at the time in Finance was Chicago. Most of what is taught in the field now was developed at MIT.
    In summary, you cannot go wrong with these two schools!!

  • Alex

    I like the statement from MIT that they don’t want fresh grads to rush out and start companies. I entirely agree having done that mistake. So the numbers some times don’t tell a full story. I think MIT should not dilute themselves just to get the stats up and so should HBS.

  • Htun Naing

    Hello John,
    I want to know about Harvard’s admitted percent of international students. Do international students compete with US students for seats or is there any quota for international students? Thanks for wonderful article MIT vs Harvard.

  • Bruce Vann

    Can’t you do that without a degree?

  • kindergartenteacher

    Oh my I wish I had a degree from either so that I could poke fun at the intelligence of either Sloanies or HBS folk in the future, and do it with a straight face

  • Ken

    To Spencer Maxwell. I would much rather have access to an “only-HBS” alumni network rather than to a Berkeley-MIT-Caltech “full-network”. Those HBS alumni will help you get into VC/PE, then help you establish your own company and once you are there you can eventually hire a bunch of “Sloanies” to do the grunt work nobody wants to do.

  • Jon

    Can we reconcile the apparent discrepancy between those two statements?
    “At MIT, possibly because of the technical bent of many of its students, about 10% start entrepreneurial ventures out of Sloan.”
    “about 3% of Sloan grads start their own companies before or immediately after graduation.”

  • Brentwood

    To Spencer Maxwell… HBS grads do have access to the entire Harvard alumni… you posted incorrect info.

    We use the general Harvard alumni website in addition to the HBS alumni website.

  • amitabishnoi

    very good comparative study of both. it gives a very clear picture of colleges with their plus and minus points ………….

  • Kumar

    Very nice article on MIT Vs Harvard. Provides a good perspective into their 2-year programs. Are there any rankings for business schools that offer a 1-year full-time program?.

  • Spencer Maxwell

    on alumni networks

    mit grads have access to the entire mit database of alums

    hbs grads only have access to the business schools alums

  • I graduated from Sloan in 2004, and can attest that the core, or the first semester there, is as “militarily” focused as can be–when I worked at the Cap Group (i.e., in investment management) in California over the summer after my first year at Sloan, I actually had to explain the minutiae of cash flow projections and analyses for a fellow Harvard MBA who also was doing her summer internship at this company with me, and who had been a 3-year analyst at Morgan Stanley. The bottom line is that Sloan is extremely challenging from a technical standpoint, independent of your previous academic background (I had an MIT Masters of Engineering degree before attending Sloan), and the school ensures that in order to graduate from it, you must be grounded in the fundamentals of business boot camp–I would say more so than any other of the top B-schools. Basically all Sloanies, without exception, are extremely well versed with numbers as well as with concepts and qualitative issues. When Sloan lets a “poet” in, the school makes sure that his or her quantitative GMAT score is very high, so that this person will be well adjusted in Sloan’s quantitative environment; I also was surprised to find out that many of my Sloan cohorts had Master’s degrees (as in my case) and even PhD’s, primarily from top schools.

  • MIT is a sensational school. I can understand why you’d want to know a lot more. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing a lot more information on all the top schools, including in-depth profiles of individual schools such as MIT.

  • Good Analysis…Want to know more,more and more about MIT as I’m from Engineering background and I always consider MIT as my ‘Theater of Dreams’.

  • s g

    Very useful article. Most articles about B-schools (especially the ones published by the schools themselves) are full of words like “innovative”, “ethics”, “leadership”, and “transformative”. In other words, you have no idea what a school is going to be like. This article has enough detail (grading policies, class size, etc) to let me know what Harvard or MIT would really be like.

    Looking forward to more articles like this one.

  • J Asalde

    Incredible article. Congratulations!

  • Varun

    Amazing analysis and loads of interesting information about the schools. Nice work here.