The M7, Elite Of The Elite, By The Numbers

Chicago Booth students in class. Courtesy photo

In the business world, the M7 need no introduction. Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Columbia Business School, MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management are — and have long been — the cream of the crop.

The designation itself — M7, standing for Magnificent 7 or Magic 7 — is self-given, and therein lies the source of a long-running, probably inextinguishable dispute. Many feel it should be the Terrific 10, including Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, UC-Berkeley’s Haas School, and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business; the rankings lately certainly reflect that. For that matter, you could add another couple of names — Yale SOM, in particular, has been making waves lately — and see little dropoff in the quality of education. Or the cost.

But the M7 modality, set in stone after a legendary meeting of the seven schools’ deans many years ago, is more than just shorthand for greatness. It affects interactions at every level of the seven schools and other schools that do business with them. It impacts more than the twice-yearly meetings among the seven deans — it also impacts meetings among vice deans, admission directors, career management directors, even PR and marketing types.


If you’re seeking an MBA, none of this much matters. All that does matter is that the M7 is the Holy Grail of the MBA Kingdom, and hard as hell to get into —and afford. Every year, a huge number of applicants will only apply to the M7 schools or a subset of them, and every year, many will fail to crack the code. There are always some success stories, but there are always more failures — see the M7’s acceptance rates, below — because these schools are the most selective in the B-school landscape.

How much does the fascination with this group of schools and their mysterious self-designation have to do with some applicants’ obsession with only attending an M7 school? Hard to quantify. But just try to persuading them that the Tuck School or the Darden School at the University of Virginia might be preferable. Crickets.

So, in the interest of making one of the most important decisions of your life be one of the most well-informed, we’ve compiled updated numbers on as many aspects of attending an M7 school as we could find. We contrast everything from GMATs and GPAs to starting salaries and job offer rates. We have rankings by school and discipline, as well as information on cost and scholarship availability. In short, this guide will help you decide whether to aim your B-school aspirations at the best of the best, and what that might entail.


What will you learn? For one thing, times change. Just two years ago, only two the seven schools had at least 40% female students. Now, six do, led by Wharton’s 44%. In terms of under-represented minorities, a couple schools have seen big jumps in two years: Chicago Booth grew its minority population by 7 percentage points, to 29%, while Stanford GSB also grew to 29%, from 23% in 2014. MIT Sloan, meanwhile, backslid, going from 25% in 2014 to 18% in 2016.

Two years ago, Wharton’s incoming class’s average score on the General Management Admission Test outdid Harvard’s class for the first time ever. Last year, Wharton repeated the feat, outdueling HBS 730-729. But Stanford — which is also the most exclusive of the seven schools, with a miserly 6.1% acceptance rate — bested them both with an average score of 737. Stanford’s 3.73 average GPA was best among the M7, too.

It’s no secret that two years at any of the M7 schools will set a student back about $200,000 — that’s been the case for a couple of years now. Of course, those numbers keep inching upward: An MBA from Stanford GSB, leading the pack, will cost about $210,838 (not counting scholarships or fellowships), while HBS isn’t far behind at $204,640. Kellogg is the least costly of the bunch, at $189,020.

That’s a lot of scratch. But don’t lose sight of the salient fact: When it comes to the top seven MBA programs in the world, you’re looking at the best of the best, which attracts the most talented students and faculty, and certainly the most corporate recruiters offering the most sought-after jobs. One more thing these schools boast: highly achieving alumni and valuable networks in nearly every walk of life.

  • Ben

    They are not penalized. They are the only top school that won’t report 99-100%. It has led to a large salary increase from just a year ago on US News.

  • Mike

    Yep- that’s why these numbers make no sense. And even if they wanted to calculate it in a strange way, it would be fine if it was parallel across all schools, but that isn’t the case at all. Stanford has all types of certificate programs as well. It makes you wonder where they get so many of these numbers or if they just pull them out of you know where. If you click on the link to see the source, it just give you an excel file of the made up numbers that is the same as the article.

  • Haha Good One

    Duke and Darden are certainly solid programs but to say the rest are a top program is absurd.

    Keep dreaming buddy.

  • 2cents

    Coming from the MBB world, there’s a line still on a national scale for a CBS compared to some of the the other schools that sit around it in rankings. In truth, there seems to be a longer tail there when it comes to quality as compared to the other M7, which means they would benefit from either a smaller class size or better controls from career services. Honestly the only people that (1) care and (2) think there is a noteable difference for m7 schools are posting on these boards. There still is a strong preference for hbs/gsb nationally, with access to these jobs available with more legwork well beyond the m7.

    On another note – the rankings drop is either temporary, or it will be replaced by another school with an NYC campus. There’s too much local business and growth in MBA hiring there to not capitalize in a way that drives rankings.

  • MBA-Couple

    Obtaining a certificate from HBS doesn’t make you an HBS alum. HBX CORe’s website clearly states that obtaining a CORe certificate will not provide you access to HBS alumni network.

  • Princeton Graduate

    Why are you arguing with a clear idiot?

  • HBSlivingalum

    HBS includes graduates of all HBS programs in their alumni stats. This includes certificates, executive education, 2 month programs, etc.

  • Sue

    Every single year, Wharton provides substantially less visibility of the employment numbers than every other school.

  • Mike

    Why does MITs say (All of MIT)? Does that not imply the others are just for MBA classes? Because HBS graduates 940 a year and they live for 400 years each to produce 371,000 Living MBA alumni? Seems like it means the whole university system. Then why is Stanford 29,000 if they have 17,000 students in the whole university system at any one time? So many numbers are just printed with little backing. If Mike the construction worker does HBX CORE then is he an HBS Alum?

  • Sam

    The total living alumni data makes absolutely no sense. How are people so gullible?