B-Schools With The Most Competitive Students

It’s also somewhat surprising that Columbia Business School wasn’t on the list. In years past, some overzealous Columbia students were said to hide books in the library so their classmates wouldn’t be able to study for an upcoming exam. Typically, schools located in big cities tend to bring out the most competitive instincts in students, partly because they can disappear in the city during their two-year experience and often feel less connected to the university and their classmates.

When BusinessWeek began surveying MBA students in 1988, it asked a telling question: “What percentage of your classmates would you have liked to have as friends?” The schools that scored highest on what you might call a “friendliness index” were Yale, Dartmouth, North Carolina, Northwestern and Stanford. And which schools were on the low end? Columbia, Chicago, NYU, and Wharton, the Princeton Review’s number one school with the most competitive students.


How to read the table: For each year of the Princeton Review survey, we give the actual rank for each school that made the top ten list for having the “most competitive” students. The overall results are based on an index that takes into account each school’s annual rankings as well as the number of times a school made the Princeton Review top ten list.

1. Pennsylvania (Wharton)100.012113
2. Vanderbilt (Owen)95.951222
3. Brigham Young (Marriott)88.774341
4. Acton School of Business74.22343
5. Texas A&M (Mays)59.86659
6. Southern Methodist (Cox)55.7568
7. Arkansas (Walton)49.5109710
8. University of Mississippi42.3895
9. Purdue (Krannert)32.047
10. Rochester (Simon)30.984
11. Rutgers University26.8610
12. Howard University24.799
13. IMD18.63
13. Santa Clara University (Leavey)18.68
15. Texas Southern (Jones)16.55
16. University of Iowa (Tippie)15.56
17. University of Miami14.47
17. Clemson University14.47
19. Georgia State (Robinson)13.48
20. Texas Christian (Neeley)11.310
20. Florida State11.310

Source: The Princeton Review

Methodology: To create the index and our own ranking, we awarded each school 10 points for every first place finish in this ranking, nine points for every second place finish, and so on. We also awarded ten points for each year a school landed on the top ten list on the theory that multiple appearances gives more credibility to the Princeton Review’s findings.



  • This statement is absurd. No CBS student would ever do that.

  • “It’s also somewhat surprising that Columbia Business School wasn’t on the list.” Not at all surprising to anyone who actually goes to CBS. The myth that was have anything less than an amazingly supportive and collaborative culture needs to die. We’re also not a commuter school, nor are we “distracted” by New York City.

  • John Gurskey


  • Dylans153

    disagree.  Association for Corporate
    Growth NY (ACG), the leading organization for private equity professionals,
    recently invited Columbia Business School to participate in ACG’s 2012 case
    competition. The school has declined to participate in the case competition for
    the last four years. Schools competing in ACG NY’s 2012 competition were:
    Fordham, Baruch, NYU, Hofstra, Pace, and St. Johns.  Fordham and Baruch came out 1st
    and 2nd respectively.  Private
    equity is considered one of the most competitive areas of business yet a top
    tier school with a substantial presence in PE does not want to compete?  It does not make sense.  

  • JayHova

    This ranking is laughable at best… rather nonsensical if you ask me. It takes an extremely competitive individual to make a top 10 school, but somehow only Wharton is ranked in the top 10 here… 

  • Hotjeezzy21

    Well, you clearly heard wrong… I visited the school several times and the class discussion was extremely competitive, as every participant was required to backup their points with empirical evidence… 

  • Spencer H.

    @Buckaroo Bill “Would you rather hire a creampuff from some MBA program or a python from HBS? I prefer pythons.”

    As one hires from HBS, I’d take a “cream puff” every time. pythons are of the past and no one likes working with them. High performance and collaboration/team work do not have to be mutually exclusive. Competion against the “other team” we like, of course, but internally rather workinh together and helping each other be. You are at b school to learn and develop not to beat out your classmates.

  • VandyGrad

    Go Vandy! both of my schools made the list!

  • Alum

    Texas Southern! go Tigers!

  • How many of you feel it is possible to measure, not to mention rank, competitiveness? Do you believe these questions are adequate indications of sharp elbows?

  • RocketMan

    How much did it cost Harvard not to appear on that list?

    I visited HBS last fall. In just 4 hours there 3 situations that at least should make it to the podium.

    1) TMO Class. In the middle of the discussion (case method) one student raised his hand just to say that in the beer game they played 2 weeks ago the student in charge of shipping had failed to do so when required.

    2) While checking my email I overheard a discussion of 3, then 4, people talking about a guy in their class. The problem with this guy was that he was Mexican and, not only that, he had a humble background.

    3) The group of 4 turned int 5 for a while, discussing plans for thanksgiving. They were planning to go skiing all together but the last to join refused because the other four went to lousy places, so he preferred joining his parents at Cape Cod.

    In an event held where I live I asked the alumni present if they felt the tag competitive tag HBS holds was accurate, 4 said no, the last one said:” I’ll tell you the truth, yes. You’ll probably find less than 5% that are really competitive, you’ll find some people competitive and the rest are low profile. Can’t tell you how much but let’s say half and half. But hey, HBS has a class size of 900, almost twice as much as most other top 10 schools so you can find as many non-competitive buddies (in number) as you would find in other schools.”

    As for Chicago, that someone mentioned, for what I’ve heard, and experienced, Boothies are more individualistic than competitive.

  • Vandy Grad

    Would have to agree in that Vandy students are competitive externally and very collaborative internally.

    Dean Bradford is one of the great assets of the school.

  • DW

    I’m surprised that Wharton ranks at the top with its grade non-disclosure policy.

  • anon

    “some overzealous Columbia students were said to hide books in the library so their classmates wouldn’t be able to study for an upcoming exam.”

    I could not stop laughing at this one. I had a friend in high school who was caught hiding books in the library so that other students wouldnt be able to get this one book that was a treasure trove of information. People reported the book missing.The person was caught later as he was the only person to have information from that book.

    Guess where did he go for college? 😛

  • jay

    “And which schools were on the low end? Columbia, Chicago, NYU, and Wharton, the Princeton Review’s number one school with the most competitive students.”

    So basically, finance/wall street types are competitive.

  • Buckaroo Bill

    Would you rather hire a creampuff from some MBA program or a python from HBS? I prefer pythons.

  • srini

    Wharton’s ranking is not at all surprising. It’s a great school but I have been told by several alum that it wasn’t the best experience. Of course many others have said it was a great experience. Almost universally, people who went to schools such as Tuck, Kellogg and Darden seem to have had a really wonderful 2 year experience. I’m surprised Booth is not on the list.

  • FSU

    First, love my Noles. I have undergraduate and graduate degrees from FSU. Not sure, however, how they made this list. The MBA program is very small and is largely lecture based (not much experiential learning or head to head project). More of an MBA to avoid hitting a ceiling at a job you can already get, not a game changer or door opener. Wonder how it got ranked so competitive. Most of the students don’t have work experience though, so they may not truly know what competition is. Fine program, but not a top 25 experience.

  • Edward,

    I have to agree with you, even though I cranked this one out. On the other hand, wouldn’t you love to see a ranking of the schools with the greatest number of faculty snobs? Just kidding!

  • Edward

    Too many MBA rankings. Pretty soon we are going to see an MBA ranking with the snobbiest facility, most students with stuttering problems, smokers, prettiest rose gardens…

  • BT

    Wharton’s atmosphere is really competitive because of the way the school operates. For example, there is an auctioning system for courses and clubs and conferences require that students submit applications to join. If everyone is scrambling for the same slice of cake, sharp elbows are gonna come out.