For years, one of the most popular game shows ever was Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? The long-running show, which also led to the entertaining movie Slumdog Millionaire, captured the imagination of millions ever since it aired in syndication in the early 2000s.
But let’s face it, a million isn’t what it used to be, and for most graduates of the top MBA programs, it is mere chump change. If you want to really get serious about net worth, you need to look at billionaires–not millionaires.
So which of the world’s business schools produce the most billionaire MBAs? Predictably, Harvard Business School sits comfortably on the top of the wealth creation game. With an estimated 64 billionaire alumni, Harvard’s MBA program has produced nearly three times more billionaire graduates than that of Stanford University, according to a tally by Wealth-X back in 2014. Among the Harvard MBAs in the billionaire club is none other than Michael Bloomberg, who earned his MBA from HBS in 1966 and is currently worth an estimated $48 billion.
U.S. BUSINESS SCHOOLS DOMINATE THE LIST MOST BILLIONAIRE MBA ALUMS
Stanford could lay claim to 23 super-rich MBA grads, followed by Columbia Business School (14), Wharton (12), Chicago Booth (10). American business schools dominate the list, taking seven of the top 10 spots. Only three institutions are based outside the United States: INSEAD in France, International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland, and London Business School in the United Kingdom. The first non-U.S. business school, INSEAD, to make the list comes in at sixth place with nine billionaries (see table below).
It’s notable that schools known for having strong reputations in finance tend to dominate the top ten because, despite the emergence of technology in the last quarter of a century, more billionaires earned their wealth in finance than any other field. The fact that four of the top ten schools are in the northeast reflects the strong showing of New York as the epicenter of wealth. New York remained the dominant billionaire city, with a solid rise in its billionaire population in 2019. There was a net increase of eight billionaires in 2019, lifting the total to 113 individuals,
Wealth-X, an ultra-high net worth intelligence and prospecting firm, tracks the rich on an annual basis, creating a census of the world’s billionaires. While the organization has not updated its MBA list, you can expect all the numbers to have gone up and the top ten business schools to have remained the top ten. In the latest net worth census published in 2020, the number of billionaires in the world rose by 8.5% to 2,825 individuals, while their combined wealth was boosted by 10.3% to total $9.4 trillion.
ONE IN FIVE OF THE WORLD’S BILLIONAIRES HAVE AN MBA DEGREE
Roughly 21% of the world’s billionaires who have pursued tertiary-level education have an MBA, according to Wealth-X. Nearly half of these individuals obtained their MBAs from the 10 institutions that make the list. Some of their names are well-known. Consider Philip Knight, the founder and chairman of Nike, Inc., who earned his MBA from Stanford in 1962. His estimated net worth in 2020 is roughly $29.5 billion, according to Forbes. That makes his very generous gift to his MBA alma mater of $105 million in 2006 seem puny.
The same cannot be said of David Booth who ponied up the largest single gift to a business school ever, a $300 million naming gift to the University of Chicago’s business school in 2008. He co-founded Dimensional Fund Advisors in 1981, ten years after graduating with his MBA from Chicago in 1971, applying academic theory to real-world investing. His current net worth is just $1.8 billion.