M7 MBA Programs: Everything You Need to Know in 2020
What are the M7 business schools?
Talk about diversity! Seven distinct, vivid cultures – each with its own history, values, characteristics, opportunities, and challenges.
While these M7 programs all value diversity, together they also represent diversity.
What makes the M7s so magnificent?
Of course, there are other elite MBA programs. These 7 have a history together that continues –their deans connected with each other years ago and formed a group to regularly meet and share information. Eventually these meetings grew beyond just the deans to include others within their admissions offices, creating a consistent flow of information. Meetings and discussions address a range of issues, including best practices for components of the admissions process and responses to current events that directly impact MBA admissions.
A deeper look at the M7s
Harvard Business School
Immersion could be the keyword for the Harvard Business School experience. The cornerstone of the program is the case-study academic approach: students read the case and then intensively analyze it both before and in class. The aim is to train students in real-world, complex decision-making. By continuously engaging with classmates from different functions and industries/sectors in these case discussions, students radically expand their perspectives, thought processes, and knowledge. This immersive experience is heightened and enhanced by the smarts, passion, and ambition of HBS students. Outside of class, these high-achieving, high-energy students participate together in many club and volunteer activities. The two years just fly by, and suddenly you’re graduating, when it seems like you’ve just started at HBS, thanks to the nonstop immersion and engagement.
Average GMAT score: 728
Average GPA: 3.70
Acceptance Rate: 11.5%
What HBS is looking for in applicants:
Given the case approach, HBS seeks students who will carry their weight and contribute fully in the classroom – people who have something to say and the ability to communicate it. Further, they must be able to listen, respond thoughtfully, and adapt to new ideas as the dialogue progresses. Beyond the requisite high accomplishment, people who enthusiastically and capably engage.
For more on this, check out our blog series, What HBS is Looking For?
More HBS Resources:
Stanford Graduate School of Business
Transformation, nothing less – that’s what Stanford is about. With its Silicon Valley connection and “mythology” (as one student puts it on the website), innovation, change, and entrepreneurship shape the Stanford program. Its small, elite cohort goes on an exploratory journey together, and many emerge in a different place than they expected starting out. This journey integrates the personal and the professional – in Stanford’s multifaceted pedagogical approach, building business and leadership skills is tied to understanding and defining your mission, your vision. Beyond the MBA classroom students learn from and engage with numerous guest speakers who represent the cutting edge in their fields and are encouraged to access Stanford’s various other top-notch programs, including law, medicine, engineering, humanities, and sciences. During the program Stanford students form a robust, mutually supportive network for testing out ideas, boundaries, and one’s own assumptions and inclinations.
Stanford GSB Average GMAT score: 734
Stanford GSB Average GPA: 3.70
Stanford GSB Acceptance Rate: 6.9%
What Stanford GSB is looking for in applicants:
Given the above encapsulation of the program, Stanford wants people who will be excellent “fellow travelers.” People who have – and bring to the program – a point of view, a unique perspective. Risk-takers. Change agents. At the same time, they deliberately remain a “work in progress” – always open to new information, ideas, situations and willing to change accordingly. They relish exploration and collaboration.
For more on this, check out our blog series, What Stanford GSB is Looking For.
More Stanford GSB resources:
“We welcome wicked problems.” That quote from the MIT MBA website captures what’s special about the MIT Sloan MBA. The MIT cohort learns how to develop robust solutions that can weather uncertainty, ambiguity, and change. And they take pleasure in that learning. Sure, the adcom wants leaders, of a sort – “anti-leaders” – people who become leaders organically by drawing others along the journey to solve a wicked problem. The MIT MBA roots its approach in two concepts that intertwine: invention, entailing creativity and agility, and data-driven analysis, entailing rigor and objectivity. These concepts align with the broader MIT university. Just as a robust process involves iteration, this program supports its pedagogy with ongoing experiential learning opportunities – practice – to reinforce and deepen the learning and ensure the students grasp topics in a real-world context. In essence, the MIT MBA program graduates people who are able to see around corners and are prepared to make constructive use of whatever they encounter. They will probably lead others in the process, but that’s a result of their zeal and/or vision to tackle a compelling problem.
MIT Sloan Average GMAT score: 727
MIT Sloan Average GPA: 3.58
MIT Sloan Acceptance Rate: 14.6%
What MIT Sloan is looking for in applicants:
Can you be guided by the data? MIT seeks students who are open to going where the data leads, even if it contradicts their preferences or assumptions. MIT also seeks people who possess both vision and practical skills. Who are creative and analytic. That doesn’t mean they expect (or want) these qualities 50/50. But, if, say you veer toward creative and visionary, you should still show a record of concrete impact and achievement. Needless to say, in such a program, curiosity and collaboration are also sought.
More MIT Sloan Resources:
The Wharton MBA program is big – almost 900 enrolled students, multiple opportunities for joint degrees and certificates (from law and veterinary medicine to the Lauder program and Harvard Kennedy School), 18 majors, innumerable electives including courses across the 11 other campus schools, and clubs too many to count in several broad categories: professional, athletics, social and special interest, community service, and international and cultural. YET – Wharton does not sacrifice quality for quantity. Each of those many majors is deep and rigorous. Moreover, its tiered structure of 5-6-person Learning Teams at the core selected to be diverse in multiple dimensions, surrounded by Clusters of 70 or so, encircled by Cohorts of about 200, ensures some consistency and drives dynamism throughout the learning process. Especially with the Learning Teams and Cohorts, what you learn from teammates and classmates will help you to and take full advantage of the program’s vast resources – and in turn you can share what you discover about the program with them – your “2 cents” about a class or a major or a club might open a magical door for someone who otherwise would not have encountered it among the abundance of opportunities. While bigness and abundance characterize this program, Wharton has devised the perfect learning structure that personalizes and optimizes it for students.
Wharton Average GMAT score: 732
Wharton Average GPA: 3.61
Wharton Acceptance Rate: 23.1%
What Wharton is looking for in applicants:
Wharton wants applicants who, along with being high performers, are actively engaged in activities and/or interests that contribute somehow – it doesn’t necessarily have to be community service, but some clear and consistent engagement outside work that positively impacts others. Finally, given Wharton’s extensive opportunities and resources, it is essential that applicants show they are resourceful – Wharton does not want its abundance squandered.
More Wharton Resources:
Kellogg School of Management
Teamwork and management remain hallmarks of the Kellogg MBA program – teamwork is a means to the ends of learning content and skills, growing as a leader and manager, preparing for your goals, and contributing to the Kellogg community. Kellogg’s renowned strength in management underpins the academic program with two management-focused majors, “Management Science” and “Managing Organizations,” along with numerous other traditional functional majors. Complementing these pillars of business training, Kellogg has innovated by offering also “Pathways,” which are cross-functional sets of courses that address timely topics, including, to mention a few new ones, “Technology Management,” “Energy and Sustainability,” and “Asset Management.” Students can mix-and-match majors and pathways, benefiting from the accumulated wisdom of the scholars and experts who devise them. Kellogg has innovated in another area as well: it is one of the first US MBA programs to offer a one-year program (for people with some academic business foundation). Not least, Kellogg is renowned for its abundant global opportunities, which are taken by almost half of the students.
Kellogg Average GMAT score: 730
Kellogg Average GPA: 3.64
Kellogg Acceptance Rate: 27.0%
What Kellogg is looking for in applicants:
Kellogg greatly values work experience that shows exemplary people skills: leadership, teamwork, collaboration, communication and that also presents a record of impactful accomplishment. As Kellogg’s student body is particularly strong in philanthropic activity, including this element is a way to show fit with the program.
More Kellogg Resources:
Academic and intellectual rigor balanced by curricular flexibility – this intriguing balancing act is the valuable gift of the Chicago Booth MBA program. Intellectual culture is paramount at Booth – a reflection of the identity of the broader university to which it belongs. In the Booth MBA program, ideas are important – having them, sharing them, challenging them, testing them – and acting on them when the time is right. Booth has unrivalled depth among MBA programs in quantitative and analytic rigor. This is a fantastic asset both for students who want to refine existing strengths in these areas and, also, for students seeking a rock-solid foundation in them. Booth’s flexibility means students tailor their own learning program to their needs, which puts the onus on students to understand what they need. Although students need not take a major, many Booth students do, in fact often pursuing a few, and Booth has compiled a fascinating array of majors that includes both standard items like “Accounting” and “Marketing Strategy” and less common ones like “Behavioral Science” and “Econometrics and Statistics.”
Chicago Booth Average GMAT score: 730
Chicago Booth Average GPA: 3.58
Chicago Booth Acceptance Rate: 24.2%
What Booth is looking for in applicants:
Because of the program’s flexibility, Booth looks for people who have the self-knowledge, critical thinking skills, and resourcefulness to make the most out of it and use it productively. And because the program values ideas, it looks for applicants who will go beyond practical career training to explore new topics, areas, disciplines, and who will challenge themselves intellectually.
(for more on this, check out Identifying and Articulating Fit With the Booth MBA: Do Your Work Experience and Career Goals Jibe With Booth’s Mission?)
More Chicago Booth Resources:
Columbia Business School
Its New York City home is integral to Columbia’s MBA program and the program’s identity. Right on its website landing page, the first lines cite the benefit of being “at the very center of business.” Thanks to this location, along with its renowned full-time faculty, Columbia attracts adjuncts and speakers who are thought leaders in many areas of business and beyond, because so many either reside in/near NYC or visit frequently. Because Columbia’s ongoing interaction with the city makes it such a dynamic program, it builds student community from the start through the cluster program – clusters comprise 60-75 diverse students who take all first-year classes together. As for academics, CBS’s depth in finance is unique: along with a “Financed” major, it offers majors in “Private Equity” and “Value Investing.” Other highly acclaimed specializations are “Social Enterprise” and “Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Management” – the latter strengthened by the plethora of major pharma companies within a couple hours’ drive. The NYC location also reinforces and amplifies the “Entrepreneurship” resources, given the city’s strong tech and fintech ecosystem.
CBS Average GMAT Score: 732
CBS Average GPA: 3.60
CBS Acceptance Rate: 16.4%
What Columbia Business School is looking for in applicants:
Beyond strong professional and academic track records, Columbia wants people who have a plan – for taking advantage of the CBS resources, for engaging with the surrounding city and its endless opportunities, and for pursuing their defined goals. Because it’s easy to fade into the background in the immensity of NYC and the dynamism of Columbia University, CBS also wants students who can and do forge bonds with peers.
More CBS Resources:
A final words about the M7s
Given their distinctive personalities, deep and comprehensive resources, and continuous adaptation to rapid economic, social, and technological change, these 7 MBA programs continue to lead in the MBA space. As different as they are, many applicants can find their needs met by several if not all of them – each program will provide a positive life-changing experience in its own unique way. Exploring these programs in depth is a perfect way to kickoff your MBA process, as you will be inspired to create and deliver your absolute best application presentation.
The Accepted team has guided hundreds of applicants to acceptance at the M7s.
Cindy Tokumitsu has advised hundreds of successful applicants, helping them gain acceptance to top MBA and EMBA programs in her 20 years with Accepted. She would love to help you too. Want Cindy to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
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