P&Q Editor John A. Byrne Answers Reader Questions About The MBA

Forty-six percent of INSEAD’s 2016 class of MBAss went into consulting, the highest percentage among more than two dozen top programs examined by Poets&Quants. Courtesy photo


Is Wharton really better than Stanford?

I’m assuming that you are asking this question because the latest ranking of full-time MBA programs by U.S. News & World Report has Wharton in a tie with Harvard Business School and above Stanford, Chicago Booth and Northwestern Kellogg. Though I am highly skeptical of all rankings—all of which are imperfect measures of a quality education—over time and over a series of rankings, these lists do give one a good indication of a school’s general standing.

Here’s the deal: Stanford is the most selective U.S. business school, with the lowest acceptance rate, the highest class GMAT averages, the highest GPA averages, and the highest total compensation for its graduates. On those metrics, there is no doubt that Stanford is better than Wharton.

But it’s possible those measures don’t mean much to you. If you wanted a larger portfolio of electives, Wharton’s size may easily trump Stanford. If you plan a career in the Northeast, Wharton might well be a better bet for you. And frankly if you don’t have the nosebleed stats and extraordinary profile of a Stanford MBA applicant, you will never get admitted to the school so all this doesn’t matter a bit.

Whether you go to Stanford, Wharton or Booth (which rankings in the last five years have favored over Wharton), you will be going to a school that offers a world class MBA degree.

As to that U.S. News ranking, you should read this story which casts the ranking in an important and consequential new light:

How Wharton Fought Its Way To The Top Of U.S. News’ MBA Ranking


Is it possible to get into the Wharton MBA program without work experience?

Yes, but it’s virtually impossible. You probably have to be Donald Trump’s son or the son of a very famous or wealthy person. The average amount of work experience each student bring to Wharton is actually five years. That is the average, of course. The range is between zero and 13 years. But there are precious few students with no experience and very few with 10 or more years of work experience. A great MBA program relies on students who can bring in valuable perspectives to class discussion as a result of their work experiences. A student who comes directly from undergraduate college can add little to those discussions and is not generally considered an ideal person to have in the class. Here’s our story on the latest class to enter Wharton:

Meet Wharton’s MBA Class of 2018


Is it difficult to get admitted into INSEAD Business School?

INSEAD is a highly selective business school, especially for certain over-represented parts of its applicant pool. It can be quite hard for an Indian born applicant to get into the school compared to, let’s say, someone from North America. Yet, the school’s overall acceptance rate—which the school does not make public—is slightly over 30%. That’s significantly higher than most of the prestige U.S. MBA programs. That 30%+ compares with 6% at Stanford, 10.7% at Harvard Business School, 11.7% at MIT Sloan, 12.0% at UC-Berkeley Haas, 14.1% at Columbia Business School, 19.0% at Yale SOM, 19.8% at Wharton, 20.1% at Northwestern Kellogg, and 23.6% at Chicago Booth.