What Are the M7 Business Schools?

Stanford MBA students in a class discussion

Stanford MBA students in a class discussion

How The M7 Rank Against Each Other

You might expect the M7 schools to all rank naturally in the top seven positions of the most credible rankings. But you would be wrong. Because rankings are based on often flawed and misinformed methodologies, the media organizations that crank out these lists often have M7 schools outside the top seven.

In fact, several highly prominent lists have some of the M7 institutions far back in the pack, in 14th, 12th, and 9th place. Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2014 list, for example, ranks MIT Sloan 14th. The Economist has Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in 12th place among U.S. MBA programs and 14th overall on its global list. U.S. News & World Report‘s 2014 survey put Columbia Business School 8th, the same position that Businessweek relegated the Harvard Business School in 2014.

Not to toot our own horn, but it’s worth noting that every M7 school is in the top seven positions of the 2014 composite ranking by Poets&Quants, further evidence that putting together all the most influential lists in a selectively weighted fashion is the best way to get the most authoritative ranking.

Of course, looking at the overall standing of a school in MBA rankings doesn’t give you the most complete picture of the strengths and weaknesses of an MBA program. Another way to look at these rankings is to parse them by category and that’s exactly what we’ve done in taking U.S. News’ specialty ranking and showing how each of the M7 schools fare. These rankings are determined by a survey of business school deans and MBA directors.

A word of caution should be issued on these latter rankings. Because they reflect the views of deans and MBA directors who often do not have direct experience with other schools, they are more likely to be based on “perception” rather than “reality.” Kellogg, for example, has made a major push into entrepreneurship, yet the school fails to receive a rank in this category by U.S. News. Wharton, long known as a school of finance, turns up pretty high in almost all the categories ranked by U.S. News, proving once again that Wharton has clearly outgrown its narrow definition as a school of finance.

The final table on the page parses some of the more telling data from the different rankings, from Forbes‘ highly conservative estimate of the payback period for the degree (it fails to conclude scholarship grants) and U.S. News‘ surveys of corporate recruiters and academics to The Financial Times‘ alumni recommendation and academic research rankings.

2014 Rankings For the M7 MBA Programs

StatsStanfordHarvardWhartonChicagoColumbiaKelloggMIT
Poets&Quants1234567
U.S. News1114865
Forbes13427512
Businessweek48235714
Financial Times2136495
The Economist749181210

Source: P&Q analysis

The Best M7 MBA Programs By Discipline or Specialty

StatsStanfordHarvardWhartonChicagoColumbiaKelloggMIT
Accounting Rank62124141418
Entrepreneurship1461217NR3
Finance6712495
Management213109413
Marketing34258114
Non-Profit23NRNR8NR5
International Business1143145NR19
Production & Operations5NR3NR861
Information Systems9NR6NRNRNR1
Supply Chain Logistics4157NR18121

Source: U.S. News & World Report 2014 specialty rankings

Parsing The Rankings On The Best M7 MBA Programs

StatsStanfordHarvardWhartonChicagoColumbiaKelloggMIT
U.S. News Recruiter Scores4.64.64.64.44.34.44.5
U.S. News Peer Scores4.84.84.84.84.44.74.7
Forbes’ Payback Period4.1 yrs4.0 yrs4.0 yrs3.7 yrs3.9 yrs3.8 yrs4.0 yrs
FT’s Alum Recommendation Rank2134865
FT’s Research Rank101277134
FT’s Salary Increase100%113%99%100%116%94%101%

Source: Various rankings

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.