The M7 By The Numbers: What It Takes To Get In & What It Means For Your Career

M7 business schools

In the 2021-2022 MBA application cycle, only around 7,700 out of more than 40,000 applicants earned admission to an MBA program at one of the vaunted M7 business schools. About 4,700 enrolled that fall. That’s a 20.3% acceptance rate and a 60.3% yield.

A year later, in 2022-2023, applicants to the M7 dropped by about 500, while admits grew to more than 8,000 — increasing the collective acceptance rate at 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, and Chicago Booth School of Business to 21.8%. In two short years, the acceptance rate to an M7 had ballooned by more a third, up from an anemic 16.2%. Meanwhile, yield — the percentage of admits who actually enroll — fell at five schools, dropping collectively to 58.8%.

The bottom line: In two short application cycles, M7 acceptance rate jumped 34% and yield dropped 10%. Is this the start of an era of greater accessibility at the most elite business schools in the U.S., which are among the most elite in the world — or the tail end of a short window, of a kind we have seen before? For the time being, it sure looks like the M7 are easier to get into now than they have been for many years.

THE M7 BY THE NUMBERS: 2023 EDITION

2023 Data (2022) Harvard Wharton Columbia Booth Kellogg Stanford MIT 2023 Total/Average (2022)
Class Size 938 (1,015) 874 (877) 829 (844) 637 (621) 529 (503) 431 (424) 409 (408) 4,647/663.9 (4,692/670.3)
Acceptance Rate 13.2% (14.4%) 24.8% (22.8%) 22.4% (19.7%) 32.6% (30.1%) 33.3% (31.4%) 8.4% (8.6%) 17.8% (14.8%) 21.8% (20.3%)
Admits 1,076 (1,187) 1,533 (1,442) 1,215 (1,109) 1,364 (1,308) 1,439 (1,316) 521 (528) 947 (792) 8,095/1,156.4 (7,682/1,097.4)
Yield 87.2% (85.5%) 57.0% (62.0%) 56.2% (56.7%) 48.2% (48.5%) 36.8% (38.2%) 82.7% (80.3%) 43.2% (51.5%) 58.8% (60.3%)
Applications 8,149 (8,264) 6,193 (6,319) 5,430 (5,643) 4,184 (4,352) 4,316 (4,187) 6,190 (6,152) 5,317 (5,349) 39,779/5,683 (40,266/5,752)
Average GMAT *740 (*730) 728 (733) 730 (732) 728 (729) 731 (729) 738 (737) *730 (*730) 731 – 5 schools (732 – 5 schools)
Average GPA 3.73 (3.70) 3.60 (3.60) 3.50 (3.60) 3.60 (3.60) 3.70 (3.70) 3.77 (3.76) *3.61 (*3.62) 3.65 – 6 schools (3.66 – 6 schools)
Average GRE *326 (*326) 324 (324) N/A (322) 325 (327) *326 (N/A) 328 (327) N/A (325) 325.7 – 3 schools (325 – 5 schools)
Women 45% (46%) 50% (50%) 44% (44%) 42% (40%) 48% (48%) 46% (44%) 46% (46%) 45.9% (45.4%)
International 39% (38%) 31% (35%) 47% (51%) 36% (37%) 39% (38%) 36% (37%) 40% (40%) 38.3% (39.4%)
US Students of Color 49% 41% 43% 49% 42% 50% 56% 47.1%

Source: M7 business schools and U.S. News

*Median


THE NORTH STAR OF MBA ASPIRANTS

The M7 are seven distinct schools, each with its own area of renown and expertise, and each with its own recent set of challenges. Collectively, they are leaders in gender and racial equity in higher education; magnets for the world’s most talented young leaders; home to the most elite faculty and thought leaders; and sources of the most groundbreaking research and initiatives. They are also vectors of a mind-blowing level of philanthropy, with billions in endowments and large gifts by donors with the world’s deepest pockets. (Among many other things this allows the schools to employ marketing and data collection teams which give them a constant voice in higher education coverage.)

Poets&Quants writes a lot about the so-called Magnificent 7 business schools — see links to past stories below — because of all of the above and for the simple reason that news about these B-schools has always been a big draw. 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: It also highlights the stability of this self-selected group of schools in a chaotic graduate business education landscape. It should go without saying that getting into an M7 changes someone’s life, almost always for the better.

Change is the only constant in 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 are islands of stability — or were, until recently. With MBA applications down globally more than 8% since 2021, the M7 is also the proverbial canary in a coal mine, signaling when the air has gone bad and help is needed.

M7 MBA APPLICATIONS THROUGH THE YEARS

School 2022-2023 Apps 2021-2022 Apps 2020-2021 Apps 2019-2020 Apps 2018-2019 Apps 2017-2018 Apps 2-Year Application Trend 6-Year Application Trend
Harvard 8,149 8,264 9,773 9,304 9,228 9,886 -115 (1.4%) -1,737 (17.6%)
UPenn (Wharton) 6,193 6,319 7,338 7,158 5,905 6,245 -126 (2.0%) -52 (0.8%)
Columbia 5,430 5,643 6,535 6,971 5,876 6,029 -213 (3.8%) -599 (9.9%)
Chicago (Booth) 4,184 4,352 5,037 4,909 4,433 4,289 -168 (3.9%) -105 (2.4%)
Northwestern (Kellogg) 4,316 4,187 4,632 5,813 3,779 4,471 +129 (3.1%) -155 (3.5%)
Stanford GBS 6,190 6,152 7,367 7,324 7,342 7,797 +38 (0.6%) -1,607 (20.6%)
MIT (Sloan) 5,317 5,349 7,112 6,350 5,200 5,560 -32 (0.6%) -243 (4.4%)

Source: M7 business schools and U.S. News


MYSTERIOUS ORIGINS

The M7 was created after a legendary meeting of the schools’ deans many years ago, details of which have intentionally been kept mysterious. 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 that impact the entire graduate business landscape. As we begin a new school year when a flood of Class of 2026 MBA class profile and employment data will imminently be available, we offer this collection of the available numbers from the previous MBA Classes at the M7 — a window into the elite of the elite. Check out these links to our past coverage:

THE M7 B-SCHOOLS: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW (2023)

RANKINGS, RATES, ROI & MORE: THE M7 BY THE NUMBERS (2022)

HOW THE M7’S MAGNIFICENCE WAS TESTED IN 2020 (2021)

THE M7: STILL (MOSTLY) THE MOST MAGNIFICENT OF THEM ALL (2020)

NEW M7 DATA, FAMILIAR MAGNIFICENCE (2019)

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

THE M7, ELITE OF THE ELITE, BY THE NUMBERS (2017)

LEADING THE WAY WITH WOMEN 

The easiest way to measure the impact of the M7 is through data. Employment data from the M7 MBA Classes of 2023 and profile data from the Classes of 2025 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 2023 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 — and now, at Wharton for the last three years, maintaining it. Six of the seven have for several years had at least 40% women in their full-time MBA programs; all do now.

The M7 lead by example in racial representation, as well. According to the most recent MBA class profile data, all seven schools have greater than 40% representation of U.S. students of color. They also lead in international composition, with all but one school boasting at least 36% foreign students.

They’re also among the biggest classes, in terms of actual students in classrooms, of any schools in the world. See the numbers in the table above.

MBA CLASS SIZES AT THE M7: CLASSES OF 2022 TO 2025

School Class of 2025 Enrollment Class of 2024 Enrollment Class of 2023 Enrollment Class of 2022 Enrollment 2-Year Change 4-Year Change
Harvard 938 1,015 1,010 732 -77 (7.6%) +206 (28.1%)
UPenn (Wharton) 874 877 897 916 -3 (0.3%) -42 (4.6%)
Columbia 829 844 847 782 -15 (1.8%) +47 (6.0%)
Chicago (Booth) 637 621 620 621 +16 (2.6%) +16 (2.6%)
Northwestern (Kellogg) 529 503 508 559 +26 (5.2%) -30 (5.4%)
Stanford GBS 431 424 426 436 +7 (1.7%) -5 (1.1%)
MIT (Sloan) 409 408 450 484 +1 (0.2%) -75 (15.5%)

Source: M7 business schools and U.S. News


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 738 class average;
  • Graduate Record Exam scores: Of the schools that report this data, all are above 324 cumulative scores; very few other schools in the U.S. top 50 can say the same;
  • Undergraduate GPA: All but one of the schools boast class averages of 3.60 or greater (led once again by Stanford at 3.77).

The M7 have their challenges, of course. 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 saw drops again between 2022 and 2023; all have seen declines in the six years since the 2017-2018 application cycle. As apps have declined, so have class sizes overall, even as four of the seven schools reported year-over-year increases in their class sizes in 2023, and three have grown their classes overall in the last four years.

A particular sore spot has been job placement, and a particularly thorny industry has been tech. Where the M7 led the way to high MBA employment in tech two decades ago, they now are struggling along with the rest of graduate business education to place their grads in a beleaguered industry. The M7 are particularly vulnerable because so many people with the right profile to gain admission at a top schools have finance and tech backgrounds; with both industries suffering, it’s safer for these candidates to stay in their jobs and wait for more favorable conditions rather than take the risk of whiffing in post-MBA recruiting. See the table below for what that vicious cycle looks like in tech placement at the M7.

M7 TECH PLACEMENT 2019-2023

School MBA Class of 2023 Tech Placement MBA Class of 2022 MBA Class of 2021 MBA Class of 2020 MBA Class of 2019
Harvard 16.0% 19.0% 19.0% 19.0% 20.0%
Wharton 13.5% 19.4% 17.4% 16.9% 16.2%
Columbia 10.8% 16.0% 17.0% 19.8% 13.8%
Chicago Booth 15.5% 14.9% 14.9% 16.3% 20.7%
Kellogg 17.0% 21.0% 26.0% 25.0% 23.0%
Stanford 24.0% 30.0% 29.0% 28.0% 24.0%
MIT Sloan 24.1% 22.6% 25.0% 27.6% 30.7%

Source: School employment reports


The challenges faced by the M7 are to greater or lesser degree faced by B-schools everywhere. How the M7 overcome them will, as always, serve as an example for other schools to follow.

See the next page for breakdowns on tuition and cost, MBA pay and placement, and industry choices for M7 grads.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE M7 AND OTHER TOP B-SCHOOLS:

ACCEPTANCE RATES, APPLICATIONS, ADMITS, YIELDS & MORE AT THE TOP 100 U.S. B-SCHOOLS

HIGH & LOW GMAT SCORES AT THE WORLD’S LEADING MBA PROGRAMS

GRE SCORE AVERAGES AT THE TOP 50 U.S. MBA PROGRAMS

UNDERGRADUATE GPA: WHAT IT TAKES TO GET INTO A TOP-50 U.S. MBA PROGRAM

WOMEN AT THE LEDING U.S. & GLOBAL MBA PROGRAMS

THE U.S. MBA PROGRAMS WITH THE MOST INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

MINORITIES AT THE LEADING U.S. MBA PROGRAMS

AND VISIT POETS&QUANTS’ M7 SCHOOL PROFILE PAGES:

HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL

THE WHARTON SCHOOL AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

COLUMBIA BUSINESS SCHOOL

CHICAGO BOOTH SCHOOL OF BUSINESS

NORTHWESTERN KELLOGG SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT

STANFORD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS

MIT SLOAN

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