UPenn’s Wharton School vs. Columbia Business School

Rankings:

Hands down, Wharton comes out on top over Columbia on every major ranking out there. The school’s rankings almost always put it among the top five business schools in the world. Columbia, on the other hand, is usually in the bottom part of any top ten list. The Financial Times has Wharton as the number two school, Penn’s highest current ranking. Perhaps more importantly, however, no school has had better success in the rankings than Wharton in the past ten or so years. The best rank accorded Columbia is sixth place, according to our new survey along with Forbes and The Financial Times. The lowest rank given Columbia is 20th by The Economist which is yet another reason why we consider that magazine’s ranking to be the least credible of them all. The P&Q rank–which factors into consideration all the major rankings weighted by their individual authority–places Wharton at fourth and Columbia at sixth. These are the up-to-date rankings from each ranking organization.

MBA RankingsWhartonColumbia
Poets&Quants46
BusinessWeek47
Forbes56
U.S. News & World Report59
Financial Times26
The Economist920

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Historical Rankings by BusinessWeek:

Wharton is the big winner here, having come in first in the BusinessWeek rankings on four separate occasions, from 1994 until 2002, when it fell to fifth, its lowest ranking by BW ever. Columbia has never been ranked higher than sixth by BusinessWeek, which largely measures customer satisfaction by surveying recent graduates and corporate recruiters. The reason: Wharton has simply been far more attentive to both students and MBA hirers than Columbia Business School over the years. Wharton’s vastly superior facilities certainly play some role in the consistently high satisfaction levels it scores.

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Historical Rankings by The Financial Times: Unlike BusinessWeek’s rankings, The Financial Times includes business schools from all over the world. So the FT is ranking both Wharton and Columbia against such places as London Business School, which ranked number one in this survey in 2010 and 2009, and INSEAD, which ranked fifth these last two years. Even so, no school has fared better than Wharton in The Financial Times’ surveys. Wharton has been named the top business school in the world in nine out of the past ten years! The London Business School just barely edged out Wharton in the FT’s last survey. Columbia has done quite well in the FT rankings over the years as well, even though it has been far less consistent, ranging from its current rank of sixth to second in 2007. The Financial Times has ranked Columbia third on five occasions, in four consecutive years from 2002 to 2005, and in 2008.

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Admissions:

Both Wharton and Columbia attract exceptional talent to their schools and are highly selective as a result. Wharton says no to more than eight out of every ten applicants, and has an acceptance rate of just 16.9%. Columbia is even more selective, mainly because its location in New York City is highly desirable. Columbia sends offer letters to just 14.9% of its applicants, making it the sixth most selective business school in the world. That is a world of difference from where Columbia was in the early 1990s when it was accepting 47% of its applicants in 1992. Wharton’s average GMAT score for the Class of 2011 is slightly higher than Columbia’s by five points, 718 to 713. * Estimate.

Admission StatsWhartonColumbia
Average GMAT718713
GMAT Range540-790530–780*
Average GPA3.503.50
Selectivity16.9%14.9%
Yield68%*72%*

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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.