The M7: The Super Elite Business Schools By The Numbers

Harvard Business School across the Charles River

Harvard Business School across the Charles River

The M7.

It’s the informal super elite group of seven private business schools generally considered to have the world’s best MBA programs. If you’re in business, you know their names: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, Booth, Columbia, and MIT Sloan.

You can quibble forever over whether the Magnificent 7 really should be the Terrific 10, with Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, UC-Berkeley’s Haas School, and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business thrown in for good measure.

But years ago, the deans of these top seven schools decided to form their informal network to share information and to meet twice a year, and through the years, the group has been limited by the self-anointed seven instiutions. It’s not only the deans who get together. The M7 modality cascades down to meetings among vice deans, admission directors, career management directors, even PR and marketing types.

SECRET MEETINGS TO TRADE GOSSIP, INFORMATION AND BEST PRACTICES

At the private sessions, for which the schools rotate hosting duties, business school officials trade gossip, best practices, and whatever topical issues end up on the agenda. In the aftermath of Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and the onset of the Great Recession, for example, the deans discussed how their schools were responding to the collapsing job market. There’s a good bit of jealousy about these tete a tetes, especially from the deans of schools just outside the Magic 7, who privately gripe about how elitist the whole exercise is.

From an applicant’s point of view, the M7 is something else entirely: It’s the Holy Grail of the MBA Kingdom. Every year, there’s a sizable number of applicants who will only apply to the M7 schools or a subset of them, even though there are many other business schools that are just as or nearly as good. Indeed, for some candidates, a case can easily be made why the Tuck School or the Darden School at the University of Virginia might well be preferable to an M7 institution. After all, the cutoff at seven was arbitrary to begin with and was made at a very different time.

Still, the fascination with this mysterious group and these schools can turn into an obsession for any highly striving MBA candidate. Which is why we’ve put together this comparative look at the M7 players, comparing and contrasting them by everything from GMATs and GPAs to starting salaries and job offer rates.

SURPRISES, EVEN AMONG THE SUPER ELITE

Even among these elite schools, there are surprises. For the first time ever, the average GMAT score for Wharton’s incoming class in the fall of 2014 beat the Harvard Business School. Wharton said its mean GMAT–often considered something of a proxy for the quality of a class–rose to a new record 728, up from 725 in 2013, which represented a more sizable hike from a score of 718 in the previous four years. The new record is just two points higher than Harvard’s reported 726 average so the difference isn’t all that much. But it does send a signal that Wharton is aggressively playing the GMAT game in admissions, having increased its average score by a full ten points in the past two years.

Make no mistake. When it comes to the top seven MBA programs in the world, you’re looking at the best of the best–a fraction of the 1% of business schools that routinely attract among the best students, faculty, and corporate recruiters. They boast highly achieving alumni and valuable networks of influencials in nearly every walk of life.

Our guide:

The Basics On The Latest Incoming Class At The M7 Schools

Stats Harvard Wharton Columbia Chicago Kellogg Stanford MIT
Incoming Class Size 936 859 743 581 483 410 406
Acceptance Rate 12% 21% 18% 24% 22% 7% 13%
Yield 89% 69% 70% 59% 48% 80% 68%
Average GMAT 726 728 716 724 717 732 719
Average GPA 3.67 3.60 3.50 3.59 3.54 3.73 3.60
Female 41% 40% 36% 36% 37% 42% 39%
International 35% 31% 41% 36% 36% 44% 40%
Minority 24% 30% 32% 22% 26% 23% 25%
Average Age 27 27 28 28 28 26 28

Source: Business school class profiles