What Wharton MBAs Dislike About Wharton

Locust Walk on a beautiful fall day just outside the Wharton School of Business

Locust Walk on a beautiful fall day just outside the Wharton School of Business

Ask Wharton students what they like and dislike about their school and you’ll get a wild range of opinions.

“Coexisting with the undergrads is a constant source of frustration,” complained one student recently.

Another maintained that the school had too many “Ex-PE robots who just want to make money and die.”

The comments were collected by The Wharton Journal, the student business school newspaper, which attempted to replicate a similar survey at the Harvard Business School earlier this year. Despite the criticisms, the online survey found that Wharton students seem more likely to promote their schools to others than those at HBS. Only 51% of the responding Harvard MBA students considered themselves “extremely likely” to recommend the MBA program to a friend or colleague.


“Detractors cited a broad array of concerns,” the Journal found. “Some took issue with the academic curriculum, and the quality of the professors, while others just felt overwhelmed by the size and breadth of opportunities available. Predictably, the cost of the experience was a major drawback for some.”

Even so, Wharton did better in the informal survey than HBS when Harvard’s MBA student newspaper did its survey. Harvard’s MBA experience was about as likely to be recommended to others as drug store chain Walgreens (42%) or life insurer State Farm (45%), but significantly less popular than such leaders as Apple (70% for laptops and 67% for iPhones). The survey–completed by 105 anonymous MBA students out of more than 1,800 currently enrolled–was based on the popular Net Promoter measurement of brands (See HBS More Walgreen’s Than Apple).

Students were asked to rank the school on a ten-point scale based on how likely they would be to recommend an MBA from Harvard to an interested and qualified firmed or colleague, Under this net promoter approach, developed by Bain & Co., the top scores of ten and nine, consider promoters of a brand, are totaled and then subtracted from the scores of one to six, deemed to be ‘detractors’, to come up with a net score of promoters. The Harbus survey found that 62% of the respondents were promoters, while 22% of respondents were detractors. After rounding up, that gave the HBS experience an actual net promoter score of 41, one point less than Walgreen’s and four points under State Farm.


“In the spirit of friendly competition, we ran our own survey and compared the results,” explained The Wharton Journal. “At 51, our NPS score is almost 25% higher than HBS, putting us squarely in the company of brands such as Discover Card (52) and State Farm (45).”

More than 249 Wharton students filled out the anonymous survey which was sent out two weeks ago via links in email blasts and Facebook. Wharton’s Net Promoter Score of 51 was comprised of 61.85% promoters and 10.84% detractors. “A breakdown by class shows an enormous uptick of support from second years,” according to the Journal. The NPS for 1st years was only 49 and for second year MBA candidates it was 53. “This suggests that Wharton students value the experience more the longer they are here, as opposed to becoming increasingly embittered towards the school, which would be disturbing,” the Journal said.

What do Whartonites dislike most about the school? The people, the faculty and the range of classes were the top three dislikes. They were followed by the Wharton brand, the lack of academic rigor in the MBA program, and the practicality of the classes. One respondent complained that “Not enough people take classes seriously.” Several students also maintained that the school needed to focus on improving its brand outside of the U.S. Added the Journal: “One sagely commenter suggested that Wharton just needed to “think bigger” while another wrote that the school needed to “[represent] a broader and more daring vision of itself for community to rally behind.”

Source: Survey of students by The Wharton Journal

Source: Survey of students by The Wharton Journal

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