Harvard | Ms. Athlete Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Guy From Taiwan
GRE 326, GPA 3.3
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Enlisted Undergrad
GRE 315, GPA 3.75
Darden | Mr. Stock Up
GMAT 700, GPA 3.3
Darden | Mr. Education Consulting
GRE 326, GPA 3.58
Tepper | Mr. Leadership Developement
GMAT 740, GPA 3.77
Columbia | Mr. NYC Native
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Ms. Ambitious Hippie
GRE 329, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Classic Candidate
GMAT 760, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Unrealistic Ambitions
GMAT 710, GPA 2.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Equal Opportunity
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Tuck | Mr. Over-Experienced
GRE 330, GPA 3.0
HEC Paris | Mr. Indian Entrepreneur
GMAT 690, GPA 2.1
Chicago Booth | Mr. Community Uplift
GMAT 780, GPA 2.6
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Worldwide
GMAT 730, GPA 3.1
Wharton | Mr. LatAm Indian Trader
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
Wharton | Mr. MBB to PE
GMAT 740, GPA 3.98
Harvard | Mr. Soldier Boy
GMAT 720, GPA 3.72
Harvard | Mr. MBB Aspirant
GMAT 780, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Ms. Finance
GMAT 760, GPA 3.48
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Angel Investor
GMAT 700, GPA 3.20
Rice Jones | Mr. ToastMasters Treasurer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
Kellogg | Mr. MBB Private Equity
GMAT TBD (target 720+), GPA 4.0
Said Business School | Ms. Creative Planner
GMAT 690, GPA 3.81 / 5.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Wedding Music Business
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Big 4 Auditor
GMAT 740, GPA 3.55
Harvard | Mr. Software PE
GMAT 760, GPA 3.45

Top Feeder Colleges to Harvard B-School

Perhaps the best way to get into Harvard Business School is to already have studied at Harvard University. And if you didn’t have the opportunity to collect an undergraduate degree from Harvard, then it would probably help greatly if you went to Stanford, Penn, Yale, or Columbia University.

At the very least, those prestigious institutions are the top five feeder colleges for HBS’s incoming Class of 2013, according to an analysis of Facebook profiles by PoetsandQuants. Harvard undergrads make up an estimated 9.4% of the class with an estimated 86 MBA candidates out of an incoming class of 918 students. Together, all five schools account for 26.7% of the entire class.

As our earlier analysis of Wharton’s incoming class showed (see Top 25 Feeder Schools for Wharton), it’s an impressive group with largely prestige credentials. About 30% of Harvard B-school’s incoming class this fall hails from one of the original eight Ivy League schools (slightly less than Wharton’s 33.1%). Subtract out the international schools in the sample and those eight institutions account for roughly 38% of Harvard’s entire class (versus 44% at Wharton). The vast majority of the students come from more expensively priced private schools.

The data was collected from the Facebook page for the Class of 2013. Poets&Quants was able to identify and confirm the undergraduate backgrounds of some 638 members of the group. We then used that sample to estimate the number of students from any one institution in the full class of 918 first-year MBAs.

An estimated 49 students got their undergraduate degrees at Stanford, 45 from the University of Pennsylvania, 37 from Yale, 27 from Columbia, and 26 from Princeton.

Despite the tony schools at the top of the list, HBS admits appear to be drawn from a slightly wider selection of public schools than Wharton. In the HBS sample, for example, there are at least a pair of students each are from Arizona State, Ohio State, the State University of New York, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Iowa, and the University of Washington. There’s also at least three from the University of California’s Davis and Irvine campuses as well as a minimum of four students from the University of Florida.

The U.S. Military Academy, which failed to make the top 25 feeder schools at Wharton, figures much more prominently at Harvard. With an estimated 15 West Pointers in the class, the academy boasts the 15th largest contingent of undergradates in HBS’ new crop of MBAs.

Boston-area schools also are well represented. Besides the large contingent from Harvard and MIT (see table on next page), the class has at least five undergraduates from Boston College, two from Boston University, and a pair from Babson College.

Of course, the pedigree of one’s undergraduate degree is just one of many factors used by admissions to decide whether to admit or deny an applicant. Unlike GMAT scores, grade point averages, however, it’s one of the more mysterious factors because no B-school publicly discloses the colleges attended by their admits. Yet, the school where an applicant earned his bachelor’s degree can loom large in an admissions decision, often given far more consideration than most admissions directors will admit (see Getting Into Wharton: Does College & Work Pedigree Trump Merit?).

“School and job pedigree count more than schools would like to publicize because the mythology of admissions is that everyone starts equal, and schools are open to all comers,” says Sanford Kreisberg, an MBA admissions consultant who runs HBSGuru.com. “But schools are not equally open to all comers, and job pedigree especially can be critical, even more so than schooling. You are not getting into Harvard Business School or Wharton from the local bakery or real estate office.”

While the information is eye-opening, though, it can be difficult to draw firm conclusions from the data. For one thing, it’s a slightly incomplete sample. For another, it’s only for the current incoming class. And finally, it’s not known with certainly how refective the sample of admits might be with the entire applicant pool.

Regardless, buried in all this infomation are some compelling factoids and insights. Among them:

  • Some 6.3% are from the Ivy publics: Berkeley, Michigan, UCLA, UVA, and UT-Austin (vs. 7.7% at Wharton).
  • Some 17.6% come from public universities (versus Wharton’s 16.7%)
  • The three largest international schools represented are the Indian Institute of Technology and Britain’s Cambridge and Oxford Universities.
  • A surprise of sorts is the high percentage of students from Georgetown which claims 1.7% of the class. This was even a bigger surprise at Wharton where some 3.3% of the incoming class is from.

(See next page for our table of the top 25 feeder schools for Harvard Business School’s Class of 2013)

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.