M7 Schools: The 2018 Data Is In & They Remain Magnificent

Three years ago, only two of the seven schools in the M7 had 40% or greater female enrollment. Now all seven do

Way back in the misty recesses of business school history, deans from seven of the most elite business schools in the United States met and agreed on an informal arrangement. They would meet twice a year and share information, and not only among the deans — everyone else, too, from vice deans down through admission directors, career management directors, and even marketing staff. According to legend, the schools would form a self-anointed echelon from which no school would be dropped, and none added. Thus was born the Magnificent — or Magic, depending on whom you asked — 7.

New year, old truth: The M7 schools continue to have an aura of exceptionalism that most other schools envy. 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 may trade places in the full-time MBA program rankings, moving up or down a few places year to year, but they continue to be regarded as, generally, the best programs in the world.

Which is not to say that a select few other schools don’t have a legitimate claim to belonging among this elite of the elite — or that it shouldn’t be expanded to a Terrific 10, or even 12. Shining particularly brightly, lately, have been Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business (ranked No. 7 in the latest Poets&Quants ranking), UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business (No. 9), and Yale School of Management (No. 10). And that’s just in the U.S. — European schools like London Business School, INSEAD, and HEC Paris belong among the world’s best, too. But sorry folks — like it or not, the M7 doors were designed to stay closed, and closed they remain.


As good or as much-improved as other schools may be, there is no laurel-resting at the M7 schools. In metric after metric, year-over-year improvement is a constant. According to the latest profiles for the Classes of 2019, average GMAT scores and GPAs are up, acceptance rates are down, graduates’ compensation continues to rise, and the rankings are holding steady.

Three years ago, Wharton’s incoming class’s average score on the GMAT outdid Harvard’s class for the first time ever. A year later, Wharton repeated the feat, outdueling HBS 730-729. But Stanford — which is also the most exclusive of the seven schools, with a ridiculously low acceptance rate that actually went down from last year’s 6.0 to a miserly 5.1 for the Class of 2019 — bested them both with an average score of 737. Stanford’s 3.73 average GPA was best among the M7, too. For the Class of 2019, the numbers have held for both Stanford and Wharton, while Harvard inches upward in both measures (729 to 730 GMAT, 3.67 to 3.71 GPA).

The M7 has seen major progress in another arena, too: gender parity. Three years ago, only two of the seven schools had 40% or greater female enrollment. Now all seven do, led, for the second straight year, by Wharton’s 44%. In diversity, too, most of the M7 are seeing improvement, led by Columbia’s 34% under-represented minority population, and with only Booth and Kellogg backsliding (27% and 25%, respectively).


But as much as the M7 have improved in the quality of their admits, they don’t make it easy for anyone to attend their hallowed halls. Three years ago, only one school — Stanford — had an estimated total cost north of $200,000. Now all seven do, led by Stanford’s $225,594 (not counting scholarships or fellowships). The least costly is Kellogg, at a measly $200,434.

That’s a lot of money. And those projections are conservative when it comes to living expenses. Most importantly, they are projections for single students with no children; the total cost for someone who is married with two kids is always much higher. A student seeking an MBA at Harvard, for example, will pay about $213,000 if he or she is single; but if they have a spouse and two children, they will pay $296,000, according to the latest estimates.

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 big-time compensation once you have your degree in hand. No school has less than $125,000 as the median salary for grads, with Stanford pacing the pack again at $140,000, and every school’s median bonus is north of $20,000 as well. Stanford, incredibly, adds a median “other compensation” of $50,000 to the mix. Three months after graduation, no school has fewer than 92% of grads employed or holding job offers.

How does this compare to other schools? According to 2017 Graduate Management Admission Council data, the median total compensation package for graduate business school alumni starts at $75,513. And according to data from a joint 2017 survey by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and the MBA-CSEA, the average salary for grads from six of the M7 schools (Wharton failed to report enough data to be included) is $129,769, compared to an average of $112,246 for a set of 129 reporting schools (which included the other six M7 schools). GMAC also compiled a chart in 2016 showing that a graduate business degree pays out a median of $2.5 million over 20 years (see below); according to data from Payscale from the same year, M7 20-year projections were considerably higher, with Harvard ($3.23 million), Stanford ($3.01 million), and Wharton ($2.98 million) leading the way. See all the 20-year projections on page 4.

(See the next pages for much more data on the M7 schools.)

  • Edub

    Best response ever!

  • avivalasvegas

    I can’t believe I’m saying this but… I agree with M7hopeful!

    The investment made by firms in the M7 programs is noticeably greater. From sponsorship of various clubs and industry gatherings, to dinner invites to carefully selected students from their assigned company contact, it’s a different experience at an M7 program akin to being courted. You’ll experience most of this at Haas, Yale and Tuck but not at the lower ranked programs.

    That’s not to say that these companies don’t recruit elsewhere- most do. They cast as wide a net as possible. But if you’re thinking that attending Fuqua or Darden (as examples) is the same as attending Wharton, when it comes to recruiter attention, you’d be mistaken.

  • SranfordSucks

    what you are asking for is basically the BusinessWeek rankings. Alumni and current student satisfaction is big there

  • 2cents

    Every year the same article, and every year a forum of people who don’t actually know what they’re talking about… The M7 is an organization set up of what then was considered the top schools. Calling the M7 fictitious is like saying you believe the G7 is made up because who would ever put Italy in an economic forum over China.

  • frank

    No honest person would ever put Duke, Michigan, Cornell, Darden in the same conversation as Kellogg/Booth/MIT.

  • OG

    Its concerning that this article uses post-MBA compensation as the ultimate value add of the M7. Has anyone bothered to research happiness and job satisfaction levels of M7 alumni versus, say people who went to a top 30 school? Is money really all people care about?

  • Hahaha

    So really, Harvard yield excluding the 2+2 is ~83%? That’s how they win against Stanford’s 83.3% yield, by accepting so much 2+2s?

  • onanisland

    This article has more numerical errors than any I’ve seen recently on P&Q. Kind of embarrassingly bad actually given how off the numbers are anyone could spot that.
    – The % admit rates are way off on the first table for MIT and Kellogg.
    – Wharton is number 1 not 2 in the US News Ranking (you’ve written many articles about this!).
    – The % gross tuition for Harvard in the last table is nowhere near 58%. Its about the same as Stanford around 30%.

  • Hahaha

    Haas is a dump. No one takes it seriously unless they are Haas alums or students. Even top 20ish Yale is better than Haas

  • HarvardWinsAgain

    No, Yale barely is top 14. Keep on Dreaming.

  • HarvardWinsAgain

    M7 is real. It is a real brand. It is a real organization of deans and of students. And there is tons of media associated with the brand,

  • M7hopeful

    This is incorrect. At top employers, it is not unusual for there to be “tiers” associated with different amounts of visibility, activity, and handholding at individual schools. Many of these employers choose the M7 as their cutoff between top engagement with students and medium engagement. My employer does exactly this–we have different processes in place for the M7 that gives us more face time with these students than we have with students at other top-20 schools.

    You can argue about whether it makes sense or whether it’s fair, but the fact of the matter is that it does happen, and it happens fairly regularly at the top companies.

  • Randy Magallon

    I totally agree. It’s either there’s a “Big 3” (Stanford, HBS & Wharton) or a Top 14:
    Stanford, HBS, Wharton, MIT-Sloan, Berkeley-Haas,
    Columbia, Chicago-Booth, Northwestern-Kellogg, Yale SOM, Dartmouth-Tuck,
    Michigan-Ross, NYU-Stern, Cornell-Johnson, UVa-Darden

  • Esuric

    Damn MIT is white AF

  • Alexandre Tabet

    The M7 is fictitious. I realize the term generates great buzz in some quarters, but it is very misleading. Other than impressionable and pretentious 20-something MBA applicants and students, nobody adheres to such a notion. Employers would not be caught dead using such juvenile terminology. Business schools like Fuqua, Haas, Ross, Stern, Tuck, Yale SOM etc…are just as well respected by employers as several “M7” programs. MBAs, like any graduate programs, have their own specific strengths. For example, Ross is considered extremely strong in Management and Strategy, which is why major consulting firms, and industrial giants recruit there so aggressively. For those interested in working in such domains, Ross makes better sense than some of the “M7” programs. Stern is a very fertile finance hunting ground. Haas cannot be beaten, except maybe by Stanford, for those looking to break into the Silicon Valley/Startup sector, etc…

  • Stanford

    Agreed. That first table is all wrong. Booth’s yield this year is 60% but here they have only 52%?!?!

    Applicants: 4,674
    Admits: 970
    Acceptance rate: 970/4,674 = 20.8%
    Enrolled: 582
    Yield: 582/970 = 60%

  • bschoolhopeful1993

    M7 grouping is overblown, here and other places around the net.

    Tuck, Haas and Yale are in line with Booth, Kellogg, Sloan, CBS from acceptance rate, GPA/GMAT, salary metrics, basically all the quantitative and thus reliable factors.

    Much more important distinctions are between H/S, and to a lesser extent, W, compared to the rest of the top 10, and then from the top 10 down to the Ross, Fuqua, Johnson tier.

  • roger

    Exec education numbers are included. today (1/11/18) HBS lists 46,228 MBA alumni and 83,790 total alumni

  • Stanford

    Stanford’s acceptance rate is NOT 5.1%. They had 8,173 applicants and 418 enrolled. 418/8173 = 5.1%. You are assuming a 100% yield rate. Acceptance rate is accepted/applicants, not enrolled/applicants.

  • acheema

    FYI the class profile for MIT Sloan on their website states 42.3% female…the P&Q table above says 33%

  • Oddities

    How does $34M for HBS scholarship grants equate to 58% of its Total Gross Tuition, whereas $17M for W equates to ~15%? Compare the numbers across schools…something is off. And how is W’s total living alumni only ~35% of HBS’s total alumni when W is almost the same size and has been in existence for about the same amount of time?

  • JohnAByrne

    There’s a reason why the HBS number is wrong. It has to do with the 2+2 program and deferred admits. So you can’t simply take the current admit number and apply it to the enrolled number as you can do at other schools.
    Sent from my iPad

  • Randy Magallon

    Berkeley Haas is actually better and superior to Chicago Booth, Northwestern Kellogg and Columbia. Look at the stats.

  • Shaun

    A pretty big flaw of these analyses is that they fail to ever look at the metrics in comparison to those outside the M7 (apart from the rankings, which by definition are comparative).

    Yes it might demonstrate that the M7 are “magnificent” in absolute terms but without the comparison it’s hard to see how you’ve proved that the M7 have remained the M7 at the expense of any of the challengers.

    As I say the only convincing analysis is probably the rankings which do seem to show this to some extent.

  • HarvardWinsAgain

    Wow Booth has the highest % of students with Scholarships?

    But Harvard has more money! What gives?

  • HarvardWinsAgain

    Just like Kellogg and Stanford, MIT’s acceptance rate looks off too. At 6.9% and since their number of applicants based on available data is ~5798 that means they accepted ~400, which is approx equal to their class size. They had 100% yield as well?

  • HarvardWinsAgain

    Kellogg’s acceptance rate looks off. too at 10.4% at since their number of applicants based on available data is ~4595 that means they accepted 478, which is equal to their class size. They had 100% yield too?

    Someone at P&Q does not know how to use Excel.

  • HarvardWinsAgain

    Stanford’s acceptance rate looks off. at 5.1% at since their number of applicants based on available data is ~8173 that means they accepted 417, which is equal to their class size. They had 100% yield?

  • Jacob Spot

    You have the incorrect figures for Kellogg and MIT Sloan’s acceptance rates – no way that Kellogg is 10%, it has always been one of the easiest M7 schools to get into at over 20%. I am guessing that for both Kellogg and Sloan to calculate acceptance, you divided class size by application volume, which is not equivalent to acceptance rate (there is yield).

  • Error in table

    John, you’ve got Wharton’s US News rank wrong in the table – it’s ranked no. 1, not 2.