Berkeley Haas | Ms. Jill Of All Trades
GRE 314, GPA 3.36
Stanford GSB | Mr. Army Man
GRE 330, GPA 3.25
Ross | Mr. NCAA to MBB
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Finance in Tech
GMAT 760, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Global Energy
GMAT 760, GPA 7.9/10
Chicago Booth | Mr. Indian O&G EPC
GMAT 730, GPA 3.75
Tuck | Ms. Green Biz
GRE 326, GPA 3.15
Wharton | Ms. Female Engineer
GRE 323, GPA 3.5
Foster School of Business | Mr. Tesla Gigafactory
GMAT 720, GPA 3.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Global Innovator
GMAT 720, GPA 3.99
London Business School | Mr. CFA Charterholder
GMAT 770, GPA 3.94
Tuck | Mr. Federal Civilian
GMAT 780, GPA 3.4
Kellogg | Mr. Texan Adventurer
GMAT 740, GPA 3.5
London Business School | Mr. Impact Financier
GMAT 750, GPA 7.35/10
Kellogg | Mr. Class President
GRE 319.5, GPA 3.76
Harvard | Ms. Media Entertainment
GMAT 740, GPA 3.3
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Upward Trend
GMAT 730, GPA 2.85
Kellogg | Mr. Defense Contractor
GMAT 730, GPA 3.2
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Work & Family
GMAT No GMAT Yet, GPA 4
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Navy Electronics
GRE 316, GPA 3.24
Kenan-Flagler | Ms. Big Pharma
GRE 318, GPA 3.3
Wharton | Mr. Big 4
GMAT 770, GPA 8/10
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 1st Gen Grad
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Career Coach
GRE 292, GPA 3.468
Kellogg | Mr. Indian Globetrotter
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. S.N. Bose Scholar
GMAT 770, GPA 3.84
INSEAD | Mr. Indian In Cambodia
GMAT 730, GPA 3.33

Wharton vs. Harvard Business School

A Harvard Business School case study class

At the most simplistic level, you can think of Wharton as the school of facts and Harvard as the school of stories. Wharton is a numbers-driven, fact-craved MBA institution. Harvard is a story-driven place, as evidenced by its near total reliance on the case study method of teaching. As J.J. Cutler, deputy dean of Wharton’s MBA Admissions and Career Services, puts it, “We are a fact-based and data-driven school. We do not have a charisma-style approach. We let the data drive us and help lead us to the solutions.”

That sounds like a disguised knock on Harvard, and it might very well be. Yet, it gives you a clue as the basic difference between these two great MBA schools. Though Wharton and Harvard live in very different places, Philadelphia vs. Boston, finance vs. general management, facts vs. stories, they attract many of the same aspiring candidates who make up the very best of the world’s MBA applicant pool. These are world-class educational enterprises with best practice admissions offices, MBA programming, career services staffs, and alumni offices.  Obviously, the faculty at both these schools is second to none, with Wharton leaning more toward the conventional B-school research side and Harvard leaning closer to professional practice and pragmatic relevance.

One rather startling fact to keep in mind: When Thomas Robertson became dean of Wharton in 2007, he said his goal was to double the school’s $690 million endowment over five years. At the time, Harvard Business School’s endowment was a whopping $2.8 billion. That’s right: Harvard’s endowment was four times the size of Wharton’s. That treasure chest buys a lot of faculty, great staff, and world-class buildings. The financial crisis hasn’t helped Robertson with his goal, and it has also led to a setback in the HBS endowment which shrunk to $2.1 billion at the end of 2009. But the numbers give you a sense of Harvard’s strength and dominance in the world of business school education.

How else do these two exceptional schools differ from each other? Let’s start with the major business school rankings.

Rankings:

Over the years, Wharton has done better than Harvard in many of the rankings, from BusinessWeek to the Financial Times. More lately, however, Wharton has lagged a bit–not much, just a spot or two. Currently, Wharton is slightly favored by both The Financial Times, which ranks it number two, and The Economist, which ranks it number three. Otherwise, BusinessWeek, Forbes, and U.S. News & World Report give Harvard a higher rank. The P&Q rank–which factors into consideration all the major rankings weighted by their individual authority–puts Harvard at the very top at number one and Wharton in fourth place, behind only HBS, Stanford, and Chicago. These are the up-to-date rankings from each ranking organization.

MBA RankingsHarvardWharton
Poets&Quants14
BusinessWeek24
Forbes35
U.S. News & World Report15
Financial Times32
The Economist73

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.