The best of the best. The crème de la crème. The summit. Despite increasing competition from global MBA programs, the United States of America continues to lead the world in MBA education.
These are big names, with big reputations, but not all of the best MBA programs are created equal. Each school focuses on specific strengths and has their own specializations. With this in mind, let’s take a deep dive into America’s top MBA programs to find out where everyone stands.
The Wharton School of Business at The University of Pennsylvania is the best MBA program in the USA in 2019-20 according to the prestigious U.S. News and World Report rankings. With a heavy quantitative focus, Wharton is best known for its finance offerings, but nearly every department in the school ranks high. There is also a heavy emphasis on student involvement through club activities and experiential learning through practicum initiatives. These programs offer opportunities for leadership, giving students practical experience in management. Wharton is the perfect school for an ambitious candidate focused on finance, entrepreneurship or healthcare.
Harvard Business School
If you know of one university on Earth, it’s probably Harvard, and with good reason! With a prestigious reputation dating back to America’s colonial period, Harvard is the iviest of Ivies and the granddaddy of the entire Ivy League. Harvard Business School, meanwhile, was one of the first business schools and has more than a century of experience forging leaders of industry with its distinct case method, in which students learn by tackling real-world business problems (“cases”). This may all sound a bit elitist, but don’t be intimidated—with it’s massive endowment, HBS can afford to seek the best candidates no matter how much money or social prestige they walk through the door with. If you’re competitive, entrepreneurial and a proven leader, you may have what Harvard is looking for.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has tech right there in its name, and so for students looking to combine technology and business on the east coast, Sloan is the perfect fit. Known for its challenging curriculum (even by top business school standards) and collaborative culture, Sloan is a forward-thinking school with an eye on tomorrow’s challenges. Most notably, Sloan emphasizes sustainability and offers a formal certificate on the topic—programming which appears to be a real shift in direction for the school and not a token gesture. Whether you’re an engineer looking to turn entrepreneur, a quantitative wiz with an eye on solving tomorrow’s problems, or even someone with an eye on finance, Sloan will provide opportunities and lessons to take you to the next level.
Columbia Business School
Is Wall Street calling? Then so is Columbia. With a Manhattan location “at the center of business” (as the school likes to brag), you couldn’t ask for a better starting point for a career in finance. In addition to allowing for incredible internship and networking opportunities, Columbia’s NYC digs mean it attracts a diverse and prestigious array of guest speakers – in finance, but also from a wide range of other industries. Additionally, student-centric options such as the January Term (which allows students to complete their MBA in 16 months) and StartUp lab (an on campus incubator) make Columbia a perfect fit for those who know what they want and want to get there fast. And if that destination happens to be on Wall Street, all the better!
With its global brand and small class size, Yale’s School of Management has an impeccable reputation. It stands out for its emphasis on leadership and the nonprofit sector, plus a highly interdisciplinary curriculum eliminating traditional divisions between various fields. Yale has great opportunities for growth and networking as well, both within the cozy MBA class and in the larger Yale community. It’s a particularly attractive school for those seeking joint degrees, and attracts a large number of candidates seeking an MBA for work in non-traditional sectors such as government. Prestigious yet non-traditional, tight-knit yet innovative, there’s far more to Yale than its Ivy League reputation suggests. Candidates looking for a unique program slightly removed from the traditional MBA “greed is good” ethos will feel right at home.
Stanford’s Graduate School of Business is the top Silicon Valley B-school. The entire venture capital industry literally began on Sand Hill Road, bordering Stanford’s campus, and GSB has always been at the intersection of technology and commerce. It is a natural home for MBA students seeking to launch the next great technology company. With incredible guest speakers from companies like Apple (located in nearby Palo Alto), Twitter, Google, and more visiting campus, Stanford’s connections in tech are unparalleled. Just as importantly, the school prides itself on innovation in the classroom and a typically Californian emphasis on new ideas and cutting-edge developments. That translates to small class sizes and a culture that assumes every student will go on to change the world. If you’ve got big dreams and want to use business and technology to make them a reality, Stanford GSB is the school for you.
UC Berkeley Haas
The other great Silicon Valley B-school, Haas has a well-earned reputation for social responsibility and technology, befitting its Berkeley environs. From green tech to clean tech and everything in between, Haas has been emphasizing the intersection of innovation and responsibility since long before it became a trend. Additionally, the school has cultivated particularly deep ties with Asia, both in terms of business opportunities and its diverse student body. All of this adds up to the perfect school for entrepreneurial students interested in clean tech, healthcare, social ventures and non-profits.
Known for its quantitative focus, Chicago Booth is the country’s second oldest business school. It has deep connections with the (in)famous “Chicago school” of economics, and encourages students to execute rigorous analysis and always question assumptions. Functionally, this translates into an emphasis on graduate research, new ideas, and data (lots and lots of data!). With only one required class, a Booth MBA is also extremely flexible, meaning that students that thrive outside of a structured environment will find lots to love here. Self-starters who know what they want to do can pick and choose the program that’s right for them, whether that means pursuing the school’s plethora of finance options or going further afield to explore marketing – another school strength.
Kellogg is known, first and foremost, for marketing. Though the school is careful to avoid pigeonholing itself, its reputation as the premier MBA for marketing-oriented careers means that it attracts many professors and students interested in the field. This dovetails perfectly with the school’s student-centric, collaborative atmosphere, and with the substantial variety of specific program options, students have every opportunity to make their MBA their own. If you’re looking to get involved in student clubs and are looking for something other than the typical finance-focused B-school, Kellogg has a lot to offer.
Healthcare administration is often cited as Duke’s specialization, and the school is often the top choice for healthcare-focused MBA candidates. However, while the eight percent of graduates that go into the healthcare field is the highest among all top MBA programs, it’s far from the majority of the program. This elite school is also known for its “Team Fuqua” culture, and that team spirit is not just empty words. Team projects are abundant and students are encouraged to truly collaborate on a deeper level. Fuqua also emphasizes the energy sector, particularly alternative energy, making it an attractive option for those with their eyes on this field. So pack your bags and give Duke’s campus a visit: they’re geographically pretty removed from most of the other schools on this list, so they’d love to see you in person.
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