The World’s Most Popular MBA Programs

most popular MBA programs

Harvard Business School (HBS) campus.

What are the most popular MBA programs in the world?

You can answer that question in a variety of ways. Certainly, a school that receives more applicants per available classroom seat than any other would qualify. Stanford’s MBA program attracts 14.5 applicants per seat, better than any prestige MBA program in the world. (At roughly 8.9 candidates per seat, Harvard Business School falls behind MIT Sloan (13.1) and UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business (12.9).

Another way to get an answer is by measuring yield, the percentage of admitted applicants who actually enroll in the MBA program. Harvard sits atop this metric, nabbing 85.5% of its admitted applicants last year, better than Stanford’s 80.3% or Wharton’s 62.0%, though Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business unexpectedly beat all of them with 86.8% due to its strong appeals to Mormons.

In this analysis, however, we’ve chosen the most popular MBA programs by the number of times candidates listed their target schools in our highly popular Handicapping Your MBA Odds series. That’s where we calculate the odds of your chances of getting an admit at all your target schools. Since 2015, the series has attracted more than 4.6 million page views on hundreds of episodes.

The one obvious disadvantage of this approach is that candidates tend to want their odds assessed at the most selective programs, even when they might well be better off at other excellent business schools. That’s why we’ve included in our table below the data on both yield and applicants per available seat. In many cases, you’ll find that the programs lower down on this list have better comparable stats than some of the schools in the middle or near the top.

THE MOST POPULAR MBA PROGRAMS IN THE WORLD

Mind you, this is not a ranking of the best programs. Nor is it a ranking of the schools with the highest starting salaries or the best employment rates. It’s merely an indication of the MBA programs that are most in demand by some of Poets&Quants‘ readers over the past eight years.

There’s no surprise which school tops the list. It’s the renowned graduate business school located in Boston. Harvard Business School offers a rigorous and transformative MBA program known for its case method of teaching, exceptional faculty, a strong alumni network, and an emphasis on leadership development, innovation, and global perspectives.

But the surprises might well end there. The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia comes next ahead of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. That is an unexpected result. After all, Stanford received 6,152 applicants last year for its 424 available seats, an applicant-to-seat ratio far better than Wharton, which enrolled a much larger class of 894 students from only a slightly larger applicant pool of 6,319.

TRACKING THE MOST POPULAR MBA PROGRAMS IN THE WORLD

 

Rank & School Handicapping Index On Target List Applicant-To-Seat Ratio Yield
1. Harvard Business School 100.0 165 8.9 85.5%
2. Pennsylvania (Wharton) 81.2 134 7.1 62.0%
3. Stanford GSB 72.7 120 14.5 80.3%
4. MIT (Sloan) 61.8 102 13.1 51.5%
5. Columbia Business School 55.2 91 9.0 56.7%
6. Northwestern (Kellogg) 53.9 89 8.3 38.2%
7. Chicago (Booth) 52.1 86 6.9 48.5%
8. Yale SOM 36.7 60 9.3 38.8%
9. Duke (Fuqua) 33.9 56 8.9 54.9%
10. UC-Berkeley (Haas) 32.7 54 12.9 39.5%
11. Virginia (Darden) 29.1 48 8.6 34.1%
12. Dartmouth (Tuck) 28.5 47 8.0 37.6%
13. Michigan (Ross) 27.9 46 9.6 37.1%
14. London Business School 24.2 40 5.0 75.4%
15. INSEAD 21.2 35 5.4 76.2%
16. New York (Stern) 18.2 30 9.1 33.7%
17. Cornell (Johnson) 16.4 27 8.4 38.0%
18. UCLA (Anderson) 15.8 26 7.7 34.7%
19. Texas-Austin (McCombs) 12.7 21 8.5 34.5%
20. Georgetown (McDonough) 7.9 13 6.2 31.8%
20. Oxford (Said) 7.9 13 NA NA
22. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) 7.3 12 11.8 29.4%
23. North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler) 6.7 11 8.2 34.1%
24. Cambridge (Judge) 4.8 8 NA NA
24. Emory (Goizueta) 4.8 8 9.3 28.9%
24. Southern California (Marshall) 4.8 8 13.9 28.9%
27. Washington (Foster) 4.2 7 10.4 34.2%
28. HEC Paris 3.6 6 NA NA
28. Toronto (Rotman) 3.6 6 NA NA
30. IESE Business School 3.0 5 NA NA
30. Vanderbilt (Owen) 3.0 5 8.3 30.1%
30. Washington (Olin) 3.0 5 7.9 49.7%
33. ESADE 2.4 4 NA NA
33. IE Business School 2.4 4 NA NA
35. Babson College 3.0 1.8 4.3 37.0%
35. Boston College (Carroll) 3.0 1.8 4.6 38.7%
35. Indiana (Kelley) 3.0 1.8 11.0 38.7%
35. Notre Dame (Mendoza) 3.0 1.8 7.3 41.9%

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