Chicago’s Booth vs. Northwestern’s Kellogg School

Facilities: The critics will tell you that Chicago’s new, modern business school complex looks and feels more like a shopping mall than an educational environment. But this spacious and attractive building, called the Charles M. Harper Center after the retired CEO of ConAgra Foods, is a world-class MBA facility. The $125 million building, with 415,000 square feet, opened in 2004, replacing classrooms and offices that had been scattered across four traditional buildings. The center gave Chicago 60 percent more space than it previously had. All 11 tiered-classrooms are windowless and in the bottom of the building, while 31 group study rooms, seminar rooms, and offices are upstairs. The Rothman Winter Garden, a massive six-story glass atrium, is the school’s piazza, an impressive gathering space that is topped by curved steel beams that mimic Gothic arches. It is the centerpiece of the building, where the incoming 550 MBA students are welcomed by the dean each year. There are 40 interview rooms for recruiters alone in the facility, along with a recruters’ lounge that reaches outside onto a patio, next to the dean’s office. The Kellogg School, in contrast, is largely housed in two connected buildings built in 1972, Arthur Andersen Hall and Leverone Hall. A six-story addtion was added to the northeast of Andersen Hall in 2001. Now known as the Donald Jacobs Center, it’s a compact and efficient facility that could use more updating.  A separate executive education facility, the James Allen Center, is a short walk away on Lake Michigan.

Chicago’s Booth School of Business

Teaching Methods: At both schools, there’s a fairly strong mix of lectures, case studies, experiential learning and simulation. The single biggest difference: collaborative team work. You would be hard pressed to find a school that requires more work in different teams across the entire two-year experience than Kellogg. Sure, almost all the schools talk the teamwork and collaboration game these days. But Kellogg was the first major business school to make working in teams a core part of the MBA experience. It remains a profound difference between Kellogg and Chicago. The average Kellogg grad will have been in roughly 200 team meetings by the time he or she graduates. Each student grades his fellow teammates on most of the group work and those grades go to the professor so there are no free rides. Some Kellogg grads actually think that the school puts too much emphasis on teamwork and not enough on independent thinking and study, but they tend to be in the minority.

Program Focus: The most obvious difference is that Kellogg has long been known as the business school for marketing, while Chicago has long had a reputation for finance. Kellogg routinely comes in first for marketing in numerous surveys and studies, while Chicago often is ranked just below Wharton and sometimes Columbia in finance. In U.S. News & World Report’s latest survey of B-school deans and directors, Kellogg takes first place in marketing (Chicago is tied for sixth with Columbia), while Chicago is ranked second in finance behind Wharton (Northwestern is tied for seventh with Harvard, Berkeley and UCLA). Not surprisingly, Kellogg edges out Chicago in general management where U.S. News ranks Kellogg third behind only Harvard and Stanford (Chicago is ranked 11th). Kellogg is also given the edge over Chicago in entrepreneurship (11th vs. 14th), international business (13th vs. 17th), and non-profit management (fourth) behind Yale, Berkeley and Stanford).

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.