Stanford GSB | Mr. Entrepreneurial Bassist
GMAT 740, GPA 3.61
McCombs School of Business | Ms. Second Chances
GRE 310, GPA 2.5
Rice Jones | Mr. Back To School
GRE 315, GPA 3.0
Cornell Johnson | Mr. IT To IB
GMAT 660, GPA 3.60
Kellogg | Mr. Green Business
GMAT 680, GPA 3.33; 3.9 for Masters
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Account Executive
GMAT 560, GPA 3.3
NYU Stern | Mr. Military Officer
GRE In Progress, GPA 2.88
Kellogg | Mr. Real Estate Finance
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0
Kellogg | Mr. Finance To Education
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Ms. Artistic Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 9.49/10
Emory Goizueta | Mr. Multimedia
GRE 308, GPA 3.4
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Commercial Banker
GMAT 700, GPA 3.3
IU Kelley | Mr. Construction Manager
GRE 680, GPA 3.02
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare Fanatic
GMAT 770, GPA 3.46
Harvard | Mr. Sovereign Wealth Fund
GMAT 730, GPA 3.55
Harvard | Mr. Smart Operations
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Darden | Mr. Strategy Manager
GRE 321, GPA 3.5
Ross | Mr. Airline Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.73
Stanford GSB | Mr. Corporate VC Hustler
GMAT 780, GPA 3.17
Wharton | Mr. Marketing Director
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3
Ross | Ms. Healthcare Startup
GRE 321, GPA 3.51
Georgetown McDonough | Ms. Air Force
GMAT 610, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. JD To MBA
GRE 326, GPA 3.01
Harvard | Mr. MacGruber
GRE 313, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Poet At Heart
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Yale | Mr. Ukrainian Biz Man
GRE 310, GPA 4.75 out of 5
Darden | Mr. Former Scientist
GMAT 680, GPA 3.65

The M7, Elite Of The Elite, By The Numbers

Chicago Booth students in class. Courtesy photo. Learn more about the MBA M7

Chicago Booth students in class. Courtesy photo

In the business world, the M7 need no introduction. Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Columbia Business School, MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management are — and have long been — the cream of the crop.

The designation itself — M7, standing for Magnificent 7 or Magic 7 — is self-given, and therein lies the source of a long-running, probably inextinguishable dispute. Many feel it should be the Terrific 10, including Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, UC-Berkeley’s Haas School, and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business; the rankings lately certainly reflect that. For that matter, you could add another couple of names — Yale SOM, in particular, has been making waves lately — and see little dropoff in the quality of education. Or the cost.

But the M7 modality, set in stone after a legendary meeting of the seven schools’ deans many years ago, is more than just shorthand for greatness. It affects interactions at every level of the seven schools and other schools that do business with them. It impacts more than the twice-yearly meetings among the seven deans — it also impacts meetings among vice deans, admission directors, career management directors, even PR and marketing types.

MAKING THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISION BE THE MOST WELL-INFORMED

If you’re seeking an MBA, none of this much matters. All that does matter is that the M7 is the Holy Grail of the MBA Kingdom, and hard as hell to get into —and afford. Every year, a huge number of applicants will only apply to the M7 schools or a subset of them, and every year, many will fail to crack the code. There are always some success stories, but there are always more failures — see the M7’s acceptance rates, below — because these schools are the most selective in the B-school landscape.

How much does the fascination with this group of schools and their mysterious self-designation have to do with some applicants’ obsession with only attending an M7 school? Hard to quantify. But just try to persuading them that the Tuck School or the Darden School at the University of Virginia might be preferable. Crickets.

So, in the interest of making one of the most important decisions of your life be one of the most well-informed, we’ve compiled updated numbers on as many aspects of attending an M7 school as we could find. We contrast everything from GMATs and GPAs to starting salaries and job offer rates. We have rankings by school and discipline, as well as information on cost and scholarship availability. In short, this guide will help you decide whether to aim your B-school aspirations at the best of the best, and what that might entail.

BEST OF THE BEST

What will you learn? For one thing, times change. Just two years ago, only two the seven schools had at least 40% female students. Now, six do, led by Wharton’s 44%. In terms of under-represented minorities, a couple schools have seen big jumps in two years: Chicago Booth grew its minority population by 7 percentage points, to 29%, while Stanford GSB also grew to 29%, from 23% in 2014. MIT Sloan, meanwhile, backslid, going from 25% in 2014 to 18% in 2016.

Two years ago, Wharton’s incoming class’s average score on the General Management Admission Test outdid Harvard’s class for the first time ever. Last year, Wharton repeated the feat, outdueling HBS 730-729. But Stanford — which is also the most exclusive of the seven schools, with a miserly 6.1% acceptance rate — bested them both with an average score of 737. Stanford’s 3.73 average GPA was best among the M7, too.

It’s no secret that two years at any of the M7 schools will set a student back about $200,000 — that’s been the case for a couple of years now. Of course, those numbers keep inching upward: An MBA from Stanford GSB, leading the pack, will cost about $210,838 (not counting scholarships or fellowships), while HBS isn’t far behind at $204,640. Kellogg is the least costly of the bunch, at $189,020.

That’s a lot of scratch. But don’t lose sight of the salient fact: When it comes to the top seven MBA programs in the world, you’re looking at the best of the best, which attracts the most talented students and faculty, and certainly the most corporate recruiters offering the most sought-after jobs. One more thing these schools boast: highly achieving alumni and valuable networks in nearly every walk of life.