Why Stanford Is Beating HBS Among Dual Admits

Duke University's Fuqua School of Business

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

Scorecard: Fuqua — 28% Darden — 26%

Yet another matchup you might be interested in: Duke Fuqua vs. UVA Darden. As everyone knows, Duke was crowned Businessweek’s No. 1 school last year for the first time, while Darden sunk like a stone in the ranking. But when it came to actual admits deciding which MBA program to attend, it was a very close and tough decision. Some 28% of 81 students went to Duke, while 26% chose Darden.

Bauer considers this matchup “pretty much a coin flip between two excellent schools. Duke’s ‘Team Fuqua’ culture vs. Darden’s demanding ‘case method’ makes the decision process a relatively easy one based on the dual admit’s priorities.”

Scorecard: Fuqua — 19% Ross — 44%


The largest sample size BW used to make its comparisons was 128 respondents who were admitted to both the University of Michigan’s Ross School and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Despite Duke’s private status and its recent No. 1 ranking, Ross crushed Fuqua in the dual admit battle. Some 44% of the prospective students picked Ross, while 19% chose Fuqua. The remaining 37% went to other MBA programs not mentioned. It’s worth noting that Ross has been among the most aggressive public institutions with scholarship money in recent years.

“I’m not surprised that Ross would win a yield showdown situation, as the school has always impressed me with its ability to really spot ‘Ross students’ through the admissions process and target their admit letters to those candidates,” adds Hoff of Amerasia Consulting. “Whenever a school is a good partner in this game of match making, I feel like they usually come out well in the yield process. Michigan also has a massive alumni network that Ross students can tap into when looking for jobs, which is no small thing. I’ve always felt that Ross is the most underrated business school in the country, year in and year out, but given these numbers, maybe the word is getting out.”


Of course, what difference the smack down data makes to an applicant’s own decision is a matter of question. “We live in a bubble where these decisions are scrutinized and magnified, but what we are really talking about is the difference between ‘awesome’ and ‘fantastic,'” says Jeremy Shinewald, founder and president of mbaMission, a leading business school consulting firm. “The individual is the determinant of his/her own future, not the MBA program. So, an individual who gets into HBS and Stanford may agonize about the decision, but he/she is the amazing type of person who got into both and will be remarkably successful after attending either, and the same goes for Chicago vs. Kellogg or Wharton vs. Columbia and on down the line.”

That’s why Shinewald advises clients to take rankings–including this data–with a grain of salt. “We recommend that applicants eschew rankings — because rankings fluctuate dramatically and you can’t buy rankings ‘futures’ — and really consider factors that are important to an experience: teaching method, class size, structure of the program, location, specializations, etc. If you need structure and are not ready to make all of your academic choices from day one, Chicago is the wrong school for you. If you tried the case method and can’t stand it, it shouldn’t matter how strong HBS’s brand is. And, of course, if you want to make all of your academic choices from day one, then Chicago is a great choice and if you love the case method and got into HBS, you should not ignore that. Of course, this is a simplification – the number of variables are immense. But, you should not be swayed by a survey of a bunch of graduates choosing one over the other. It will have no bearing on your experience.”

And if you’re in that lucky position of deciding between Harvard and Stanford, or for that matter, any set of great business schools, you might take this advice from Betsy Massar, an MBA consultant and founder of  Master Admissions: “I made that choice myself once long ago, and for me, it was HBS over Stanford…mostly because it was a visceral choice. That is, from the heart. It wasn’t logical, and I don’t recommend to any dual admit students that they make a pro and con list, but instead, take their significant other and a bottle of single malt, drink and celebrate the wonderful first-world problem of such luxurious choices, and then decide. There is simply no other way to know what is right.”