The M7 B-Schools: Everything You Need To Know

The M7 is an aspiration more than a reality for a huge number of prospective MBA students

In 2022, only around 7,700 applicants out of an army of more than 40,000 applicants earned admission to an MBA program at one of the vaunted M7 business schools. Only about 4,700 enrolled that fall.

In other words, anyone’s chances of obtaining admission to an M7 is vanishingly small. Yet stories about the M7, individually or collectively, are consistently among the most popular at Poets&Quants. The fact is, folks like to read about elite places they will never see.

News about the Magnificent 7 — Harvard Business School, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Columbia Business School, MIT Sloan School of Management, Northwestern Kellogg School of Management, or Chicago Booth School of Business — draws eyeballs. As the vast majority of P&Q‘s readers are prospective MBA students rather than current ones or alumni, the popularity of these stories underscores more than the aspirational appeal of the M7: We think it also highlights the stability that this self-selected group of schools provides in a chaotic graduate business education landscape.

Change is the only constant in business and business education. The M7 is the north star of MBA aspirants, existing at a consistent level of superior quality and career assurance. In a world of unknowns, the M7 B-schools remain islands of stability.

SEE POETS&QUANTS’ REVAMPED SCHOOL PROFILES FOR ALL OF THE M7:

HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL

THE WHARTON SCHOOL

COLUMBIA BUSINESS SCHOOL

STANFORD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS

CHICAGO BOOTH SCHOOL OF BUSINESS

NORTHWESTERN KELLOGG SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT

MIT SLOAN SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT

The M7: By The Numbers 

2022 Data (2021) Harvard Wharton Columbia Booth Kellogg Stanford MIT Average
Acceptance Rate 14.4% (12.5%) 22.8% (18.2%) 19.7% (15.7%) 30.1% (22.6%) 31.4% (26%) 8.6% (6.2%) 14.8% (12.1%) 20.3% (16.2%)
Yield

85.5% (82.7%)

62.0% (67.0%) 56.7% (64.8%) 48.5% (54.4%) 38.2% (42.2%) 80.3% (93.6%) 51.5% (54.4%) 60.3% (65.3%)
Applications

8,264 (9,773)

6,319 (7,338) 5,643 (6,535) 4,352 (5,037) 4,187 (4,632) 6,152 (7,367) 5,349 (7,112) 6,374 (6,828)
GMAT Average

*730 (*730)

733 (733) 732 (729) 729 (732) 729 (727) 737 (738) *730 (*730) 731.4 (731.8)
GPA Average

3.70 (3.69)

3.60 (3.60) 3.60 (3.50) 3.60 (3.60) 3.70 (3.70) 3.76 (3.78) 3.62 (3.59) 3.65 (3.64)
GRE Average

326 (326)

324 (324) 322 (N/A) 327 (325) N/A (327) 327 (330) 325 (325) 325.4 (326.2)
Women 46% (46%) 50% (52%) 42.5% (41%) 40% (42%) 48% (49%) 44% (44%) 40% (44%) 44.4% (45.4%)
International 38% (37%) 35% (36%) 51% (48%) 49% (39%) 38% (36%) 44% (47%) 46% (43%) 43% (40.8%)

*median; (2021 data in parentheses)

THE M7 HAS AN OUTSIZED IMPACT ON GRADUATE BUSINESS EDUCATION

What can be said about the M7 that hasn’t been said already? They are seven distinct schools, each with their own areas of renown and expertise — and challenges. Collectively, they are leaders in gender and racial equity in higher education; beacons for the world’s most talented young leaders; home to the most elite faculty and thought leaders; sources of the most groundbreaking research and initiatives. And vectors of a mind-blowing level of philanthropy.

The group was created after a legendary meeting of the seven schools’ deans many years ago, details of which have intentionally been kept murky. What emerged is a union that to this day impacts every level of the seven schools and other schools that do business with them — which is most of the world’s top B-schools, and thus the vast majority of the graduate business education universe.

The M7 framework impacts more than the twice-yearly meetings among the seven deans; it also affects meetings among vice deans, admissions directors, career management directors, even PR and marketing types, as well as partnerships and programs between the schools that have created student leaders for decades.

What is new about the M7? For the prospective MBA applicant, the schools release a mountain of data every year that we slice, dice, compare, and contrast with previous years; from this, trends emerge. As we begin a new school year when a flood of Class of 2025 MBA class profile and employment data will imminently be available (and which already has begun to trickle out), we offer this collection of the available numbers from the previous MBA Classes at the M7 — a window into the elite of the elite. (You’ll also find links throughout this story to our past coverage.)

M7 Application Volume Through The Years 

School 2021-22 Apps 

2020-21 Apps

2019-20 Apps

2018-19 Apps

2017-18 Apps

2-Year Application Trend

5-Year Application Trend

Harvard 8,264 9,773 9,304 9,228 9,886 -15.4% -16.4%
Wharton 6,319 7,338 7,158 5,905 6,245 -13.9% +1.2%
Columbia 5,643 6,535 6,971 5,876 6,029 -13.7% -6.4%
Booth 4,352 5,037 4,909 4,433 4,289 -13.6% +1.5%
Kellogg 4,187 4,632 5,813 3,779 4,471 -9.6% -6.4%
Stanford 6,152 7,367 7,324 7,342 7,797 -16.5% -21.1%
MIT 5,349 7,112 6,350 5,200 5,560 -24.8% -3.8%

THE M7: LEADERS ACROSS THE BOARD, DATA-WISE

The easiest way to measure the greatness of the M7 is through data. Employment data from the M7 MBA Classes of 2022 and profile data from the Classes of 2024 contained in this story, like the data from previous stories and prior classes, are a snapshot of some of the world’s most talented leaders in their incubation. The Class of 2022 data is particularly interesting as a portrait of those who started classes in a pandemic environment, with studies that were conducted partly or entirely online. Compared to their predecessors, what were class GMATs, GREs, and GPAs? What were the levels of women and international students admitted at each school? What industries did they matriculate to, and what did they earn? Here is where you will find the answers.

Let’s talk trends. One historical way in which the M7 have led the world: women. Though it wasn’t an M7 school that finally broke the gender equity barrier by enrolling 50% of women, it was M7 schools leading the way to that threshold. Six of the seven have for several years had at least 40% women in their full-time MBA programs; all do now. For three years in a row — including the cohort that begins classes this fall — Wharton has boasted at least 50% women, leading all ranked U.S. B-schools.

The M7 lead by example in racial representation, as well. According to the most recent data from U.S. News, four of the M7 have greater than 30% non-White representation in their MBA programs, and a fifth — MIT Sloan — has more than 27%. And they lead in international composition, with all seven schools boasting at least 35% foreign students, led by Columbia’s remarkable 51% in the Class of 2024.

Class Sizes At The M7 Schools 2022-2024

School

Class of 2024 Enrollment

Class of 2023 Enrollment

Class of 2022 Enrollment

2-Year Change

3-Year Change

Harvard 1,015 1,010 732 +5 +283
Wharton 877 897 916 -20 -39
Columbia 629 614 782 +15 -153
Booth 621 620 621 -1 Even
Kellogg 503 508 559 -5 -56
Stanford 424 426 436 -2 -12
MIT 408 450 484 -42 -76

THE M7 FACE CHALLENGES, TOO 

If it’s reported in class profiles, the M7 probably lead in it:

  • Graduate Management Admission Test scores: All the M7 schools are at or near 730 in average or median, and Stanford GSB led all schools in 2022 with a 737 class average;
  • Graduate Record Exam scores: Of the five schools that report this data, all are above 322 cumulative scores; only six other schools in the U.S. top 50 can say the same;
  • Undergraduate GPA: All seven schools boast class averages of 3.60 or greater (led once again by Stanford at 3.76).

But the M7 have their challenges. They are not immune to larger forces bearing down on graduate business education, a fact reflected in application volume to their MBA programs. All seven saw drops in apps between 2021 and 2022, and five have seen steady declines in the five years since the 2017-2018 application cycle. One of the two schools that are up in that span is the one school to report its 2023 class profile data so far — Wharton — and it reports a third year of decline.

As apps have declined, so have class sizes. The one big exception to this has been Harvard, but its class size expansion is temporary, the result of efforts to offset the coronavirus-impacted Class of 2022; Harvard did not participate in the pandemic-fueled boom on MBA applications because its final deadline for applicants to the Class of 2022 was in January before the outbreak of COVID. So expect HBS to have a much smaller class in 2023, meaning most or all of the M7 will have contracted since the enrollment of the MBA Class of 2022.

These are challenges faced to some degree by B-schools everywhere. How the M7 overcome them will doubtless serve as an example for other schools to follow.

See the next page for tuition, total cost, ROI and industry choice data for the M7.

AND DON’T MISS POETS&QUANTS’ PAST COVERAGE OF THE M7: 

RANKINGS, RATES, ROI & MORE: THE M7 BY THE NUMBERS

HOW THE M7’S MAGNIFICENCE WAS TESTED IN 2020

THE M7: STILL (MOSTLY) THE MOST MAGNIFICENT OF THEM ALL

NEW M7 DATA, FAMILIAR MAGNIFICENCE 

M7 SCHOOLS: THE 2018 DATA IS IN & THEY REMAIN MAGNIFICENT

THE M7, ELITE OF THE ELITE, BY THE NUMBERS

PLUS THESE DATA-PACKED STORIES:

MBA APPLICATIONS AT THE TOP U.S. B-SCHOOLS

ACCEPTANCE RATES, YIELD & MORE AT THE TOP 50 U.S. MBA PROGRAMS

AVERAGE GMAT SCORES AT THE TOP U.S. MBA PROGRAMS 

UNDERGRAD GPA AVERAGES AT THE TOP 50 U.S. MBA PROGRAMS

AVERAGE GRE SCORES AT THE TOP 50 U.S. MBA PROGRAMS

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