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The M7, Elite Of The Elite, By The Numbers

HBS students at graduation. Courtesy photo

How The M7 Rank Against Each Other

You might expect the M7 schools to all rank naturally in the top seven positions of the most credible rankings. But you would be wrong. Because rankings are based on often flawed and misinformed methodologies, the media organizations that crank out these lists often have M7 schools outside the top seven.

In fact, several highly prominent lists have some of the M7 institutions far back in the pack. Columbia ranks 8th according to The Economist, 10th in U.S. News & World Report, and 11th in Bloomberg Businessweek. The Economist, whose rankings earned some much-deserved criticism last year, has Harvard fourth (behind the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business), Columbia 11th and Wharton 12th. U.S. News & World Report‘s 2017 survey put most of the M7 in the top seven, but Columbia Business School landed 9th.

Of course, looking at the overall standing of a school in MBA rankings doesn’t give you the most complete picture of the strengths and weaknesses of an MBA program. Another way to look at these rankings is to parse them by category, and that’s exactly what we’ve done in taking U.S. News’ specialty ranking and showing how each of the M7 schools fare. These rankings are determined by a survey of business school deans and MBA directors.

The final table on the page parses some of the more telling data from the different rankings, from Forbes‘ highly conservative estimate of the payback period for the degree (it fails to conclude scholarship grants) and U.S. News‘ surveys of corporate recruiters and academics to The Financial Times‘ alumni recommendation and academic research rankings.

  • avivalasvegas

    I’m guessing you’re other addition to the list is Tuck? If so, I suppose I can agree that they are comparable. There was a time not too long ago that Ross was considered a solid Top 10 program – not sure what happened there.

    I like the EU schools you’ve listed. IMD’s had a rough half decade but its a top quality program for sure. The only issue I have with both INSEAD and IMD is the length of the program. As I look back at my 2 years, there was a LOT of opportunity and learning that came from my internship and the second half of the program. I wouldn’t trade that extra year in for all the scholarship money in the world.

    I do agree that the US job market > the EU job market for most. There was a time pre- Brexit that the disparity was almost gone and the currency rates actually meant you could be paid more for a similar role in parts of Europe than you could in the US. Add in the very arguable better quality of life and you’d have a solid option.

    Not anymore.

    I’d be curious to know if LBS grads have a hard time finding employment in the US?

  • C. Taylor

    I guess it depends on your viewpoint. It’s pretty easy for some to write INSEAD, IMD, and LBS off in comparison to “top 5” US programs. I suggest doing so is a mistake.

    I view the US as having nine (fairly even) ultra-elite programs, rather than seven, with Kellogg and Haas holding up the rear. US programs in general have one key advantage over non-US programs for anyone who doesn’t have US citizenship or residence status. That is the two sequential dice rolls for access to the largest single-language MBA job market in the world–the US.

    The main difference in outcomes you see across top programs is due to differences in backgrounds and cost of living adjustments. This means, for example, some will get VP roles post-MBA, and others will get associate roles.

  • John

    That’s because IB is not lucrative these days and people want to have a life instead of being corporate slaves. Grads from higher-ranked schools choose something more interesting to do.

  • Haha Good One

    The reason most people seek a top MBA is the job afterwards and when looking at programs in the South there are clearly a couple schools who attract the blue chips while the rest not so much.

    Duke/Darden and to some extent Emory/Texas but there are clearly roles that are held our for M7s — high end corp strategy/top PE/VCs/Top Boutique Consultancies. MBB/BBs obv only recruit at the top schools and i would guess thats one other good indicator on making it to the Suite.

    Using CEOs is a bit misleading since theres a number of factors besides the alma mater, to get there but if looking down at the C-Suite as a whole I’d be confident the M7 have an advantage.

  • avivalasvegas

    I can see the struggle Marc faced with this. One on hand, you’ve got 2 great schools in LBS and INSEAD, worthy competitors to the bottom end of the Terrific Ten. On the other, they’re just not in the same league as the M7, despite being excellent options for those not interested in moving to the US. Ultimately, if either were worthy of the contrast to the M7, I would support their inclusion. To date, that just hasn’t been case but I’m hopeful that will change!

  • avivalasvegas

    They’re just trolls – ignore them. They know that IIT is nothing but a middle management factory.

  • M7Bound

    Doesn’t that seem a bit dubious? What if other schools, too, stopped reporting the salary numbers of like 10% of their graduating class? Can’t imagine how that won’t greatly skew the numbers + provide misleading results. Ridiculous!

  • Southern ROI

    I consider UNC/Texas/Florida/Ross = to Darden.(UVA appears fancy, but in reality is it better than McCombs???, all Rugby and Imagery aside?) They are a both Public, so I know Darden is classy, but come on! They are a not Ivy! I Consider South Carolina a step above, because of their International Business Program (not flashy, not expensive,but effective).If they tripled the cost, I guess then they would be in UVA territory. Obviously Duke is in another CLASS, but if you ask anyone from an M7 program how they would rank Fuqua and Duke gets treated like a red headed step child(read this site and see Tier 3). I have several VP’s at my company from Duke. I’d rather be top 10% from Ross/ MCombs /Darden/ or Fuqua then last at HBS.I digress, if Finance/Consulting is your goal you are dead on. If you want to be a CEO lets pull the Fortune 500 and find out who is running America. That’s all I’m saying. MIT would get allot more respect by that regard as well as Notre Dame! M7 = Smoke and Mirrors!

  • Southern ROI

    I consider UNC/Texas/Florida/Ross = to Darden.(UVA appears fancy, but in reality is it better than McCombs???, all Rugby and Imagery aside?) They are a State School! They are a not Ivy! I Consider South Carolina a step above, because of their International Business Program (not flashy, not expensive,but effective).If they tripled the cost, I guess then they would be in UVA territory. Obviously Duke is in another CLASS, but if you ask anyone from an M7 program how they would rank Fuqua and Duke gets treated like a red headed step child(read this site and see Tier 3). I have several VP’s at my company from Duke. I’d rather be top 10% from Ross/ MCombs /Darden/ or Fuqua then last at HBS.I digress, if Finance/Consulting is your goal you are dead on. If you want to be a CEO lets pull the Fortune 500 and find out who is running America. That’s all I’m saying.

  • Mike

    Read the above comments. The alumni numbers are completely illogical.