Program Focus: The Tuck program has a general management focus. While you can dive deeper into finance, marketing, or entrepreneurship, among other areas, the dive isn’t nearly as deep as it would be at Columbia which also has more places to dive. This is especially true in finance and economics, the largest division of Columbia Business School, which offers nearly half the school’s courses. There’s also a private equity focus and a “value investing” focus, the latter with a curriculum of eight courses alone, from “Legends in Value Investing” to “Distressed Value Investing.” A “media” focus boasts 26 courses at Columbia’s schools of business, film, law, journalism, international and public affairs, and arts and sciences. You can even do deep dives on such specialized areas as “social enterprise” or “healthare and pharmaceutical management.” With a full-time faculty of 150 plus 50 more adjunct professors versus Tuck’s 47 professors and instructors, Columbia offers an unusual breadth and diversity of courses. The school has more than 130 electives, though there are more than 4,000 graduate-level classes from the university’s other graduate and professional schools. Dartmouth has 81 courses in its business catalog. If you want to focus on a more narrow specialty, you’re more likely to be disappointed at Dartmouth. So the sacrifice you pay at Tuck for the intimacy and bonding is that there are far fewer options among electives and less opportunity to specialize in a specific area of study.
On-Campus Recruiting: If you want to work on Wall Street, an investment management shop, or a global financial services firm, a Columbia MBA is a near peerless ticket for entry. Citicorp, Goldman Sachs, Chase-Morgan Stanley overflow with Columbia grads. So was Lehman Brothers before it went down. All the major MBA employers recruit at the school so there are no shortages of opportunity on the job front. Obviously, Tuck attracts as many prestige MBA hiring organizations as Columbia, but not the overall number of recruiters. On the other hand, your access to on-campus recruiters at Tuck can sometimes be better because you won’t have to compete with hundreds of students for conversations during recruiting events or for slots on an interview schedule.
Alumni Network: Columbia alumni are fully entrenched in the financial, media, and business world of New York which essentially means that alums are a powerful and influential bunch. Of the 38,000 living alums, a figure that includes EMBAs, you can find a Columbia connection anywhere in the world. How helpful and supportive they’ll be is another question. That’s less of a reflection on the graduates than it is on the all-across-town MBA experience that Columbia offers. It’s more of a hit-or-miss proposition than it would be if you have a Tuck degree. Over the years, BusinessWeek surveys of MBA graduates show that Harvard, Stanford and Dartmouth boast the strongest alumni networks of any business schools in the world. Dartmouth’s 8,600 living MBA alums may be a fraction of Columbia’s but you would be surprised at the deep commitment and cohesiveness of the Tuck alumni body. For our money, this is the best MBA alumni network in the world. How can we make such a claim? We’ll quote that old cliche about how money speaks and talk is cheap. The proof is in the percentage of alums who routinely donate money to the school. Tuck leads all business schools by a huge margin, with an alumni participation rate of 66.7% in its most recent fund-raising campaign–and Tuck has had 60%-plus percent participation for the past 25 years. No other top business school comes close to 50%, while the average of Tuck’s peer schools come in at less than 25%. Put another way, the Tuck participation rate is three times the average of the top 20 business schools. It demonstrates the alumni’s remarkable loyalty to and relationship with the school and its students. “If someone wants to go to San Diego and looks in our database and finds 20 alums there, he or she can get return emails from 19 of them in one day,” says Paul Danos, dean of the Tuck School. “There’s a comfort to have that network for the rest of your life.” The second largest number of Dartmouth alums, about 1,000, reside in New York.
Dartmouth beats Columbia in three of the five major rankings, in the Forbes, U.S. News, and The Economist surveys, doing considerably better than the best business school in New York. In 2010, Dartmouth surprised everyone by getting ranked number two by The Economist. Columbia wins over Tuck in the BusinessWeek and Financial Times surveys. Dartmouth’s surprisingly poor showing in the BusinessWeek ranking is in part due to the small size of the program which hurts the school in BusinessWeek’s recruiter poll. The P&Q rank–which factors into consideration all the major rankings weighted by their individual authority–gives Dartmouth the edge at number five with Columbia right behind it at number six. It’s important to note, however, that Chicago and Wharton, both schools with stellar programs in finance, rank better than Columbia. These are the up-to-date rankings from each ranking organization.
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