Top Feeder Schools To Columbia B-School

by John A. Byrne on

In David Brooks’ “The Social Animal,” The New York Times columnist writes of a so-called “Composure Class” that pretty much fits the profile of any top business school. “They’ve made good grades in school, established solid social connections, joined quality companies, medical practices, and firms,” he writes. The only things you’d add to the list would be an undergraduate degree from a highly selective school and a 700-plus GMAT score.

That’s certainly the case for this fall’s incoming class of MBAs at Columbia Business School, according to an anlysis of Facebook profiles by PoetsandQuants. The top five feeder colleges into Columbia Business School is UPenn, Columbia, Duke, Georgetown, and Harvard, in that order.

Slightly more than one in five members of the Class of 2013 got their undergraduate degrees from one of the eight original schools in the Ivy League. Some 21.2% are from Ivy League colleges, compared to 33.1% at UPenn’s Wharton School, 30.0% at Harvard Business School, and 15.6% at the Johnson School at Cornell University.

The Facebook data provides a rare glimpse into the educational and work backgrounds of the students accepted and enrolled at Columbia Business School. B-schools keep this information close to the vest, never disclosing this information in typical class profiles. Yet, it can often loom larger in admission decisions than an overall grade point average or GMAT or the quality of the required essays.

The Columbia data was collected from the Facebook page for the Class of 2013. Poets&Quants was able to identify and confirm the undergraduate backgrounds of some 457 members of the class of 548 students who enrolled this August. (Columbia says it expects to enroll another 200 MBA students in its January start term). We then used that sample to estimate the number of students from any one institution in the full class.


Columbia clearly likes UPenn undergrads. The largest single contingent of MBA students in its just admitted Class of 2013 hail from the University of Pennsylvania. So far, it’s the only top business school among Harvard, Wharton and Cornell, where the largest number of MBA students aren’t from the parent university. But it’s close: UPenn accounts for an estimated 4.8% of the incoming MBA students versus 4.6% for Columbia.

Two of the top five feeder schools are outside the U.S.: Canada’s McGill University and the University of Seoul in Korea. The U.S. Military Academy at West Point had eight members in the Facebook group sample, more than Yale, Brown, Nrothwestern or Stanford. The West Point contingent at Columbia in this year’s class is slightly better than Harvard: 1.8% vs. 1.4% at HBS.

Some 22.5% of Columbia’s Class of 2013 hail from public university backgrounds, a larger percentage than Harvard or Wharton but significantly below the Johnson School at Cornell where about 30% of this year’s incoming class is represented by state schools. Some 17.6% of the incoming class at Harvard and 16.7% at Wharton is from public universities. If you subtract out students with undergraduate degrees from international schools, as much as 28.2%% of the Columbia class graduated from a state college or university.

Unlike Wharton, where many public grads are from such high prestige schools as Berkeley, Michigan, Virginia, Texas and UCLA, Columbia Business School opened its doors to a wide range of public university graduates including Penn State, Arizona State, Colorado State, Ohio State, and the University of Maryland. Most of the California state schools are represented, including UC-Irvine, Davis, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Riverside, and San Francisco.

(See next page for our table of the top feeder schools for Columbia Business School’s Class of 2013)

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  • John A. Byrne


    Great point. It’s a complication unique to Columbia and it’s not clear what impact it might have on these results.

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