M7 MBA programs are to business education what the are to legal education or what are to undergraduate education – they represent the most elite, hardest-to-get-into business programs in the US. Three of the M7 MBA schools are Ivy League (Harvard, Columbia, UPenn); the rest are some of the in the US, including Stanford, and the University of Chicago. The M7 MBA schools are supposed to the best, but are they worth it for you? That’s what this article will try to answer by giving you detailed information about each of them and whether an M7 MBA program is right for you.
Acceptance Rate: 11.5%
Median GPA: 3.73
Median GMAT: 740
The birthplace of the MBA, Harvard Business School is always high on , so, it’s no surprise it is also an M7 MBA school. Harvard has flexible , as it will accept both the . You can also choose from several different joint degree programs that can combine JD/MBA, DMD/MBA or even an MD/MBA. As a pioneer in business education, Harvard is also renowned for its case method approach, emphasis on leadership development and its extensive alumni network.
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Acceptance Rate: 6.9%
Median GPA: 3.77
Median GMAT: 738
Median GRE: 277
Close to 90% of all graduates from the Stanford Graduate Business School receive an employment offer, making it not only one of the , but also, a respected member of the M7 MBA schools. Stanford Graduate School of Business is known for its innovation and focus on entrepreneurship. The school’s location in Silicon Valley, coupled with its commitment to social impact, attracts students with diverse backgrounds and ambitions.
Acceptance Rate: 14%
Median GPA: 3.6
Median GMAT: 728
Median GRE: 324
The Wharton School of Business at the is also a member of the Ivy League, but Wharton also stands out for its high employment rate (96%) for graduates, as well as the various interdisciplinary and joint-degree programs, such as an program offered through the . The Wharton School is also known for its strength in finance, while its global reach and extensive resources make it an excellent choice for those aspiring to leadership roles in various industries.
Acceptance Rate: 13%
Median GPA: 3.6
Average GMAT: 729
The final of the Ivy League schools among the M7 MBA, Columbia Business Schools avails its MBA students of several experiential learning programs, as well as access to its various specialized centers and research institutes, such as the Decision, Risk, and Operations Division that specializes in operations management.
Acceptance Rate: n/a
Median GPA: 3.7
Average GMAT: 731
Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management is among the highest-rated MBA programs in the US thanks to its progressive, ever-evolving curriculum that offers several for you to earn your degree. You can choose from Evening and Weekend classes to complete your MBA, along with choosing the accelerated one-year MBA program. Kellogg is also known for its collaborative and student-driven culture that focuses on teamwork, leadership, and experiential learning.
Acceptance Rate: 15.2%
Median GPA: 3.6
Average GMAT: 728
Not only is the Booth School of Business a member of the M7 MBA programs, it is also one of the with a truly global reach; Booth offers programs in three different continents (North America; Europe; and Asia). Its employment is also quite high (96.7%) and you can opt to take classes full-time and part-time.
Acceptance Rate: 15.2%
Median GPA: 3.61
Median GMAT: 730
The MIT Sloan School of Management created one of the first Executive MBA programs in the US, so it’s place among the M7 MBA programs is well-deserved. The school sits at the intersection of business and technology, and you can expect to receive an interdisciplinary MBA education at Sloan. The school offers seven distinct MBA certificate programs in subjects such as Finance and Sustainability Development.
“M7 MBA” refers to a group of seven prestigious business schools in the US that are widely recognized for their outstanding MBA programs, unique academic courses, research experiences, professional opportunities and global influence. But how did these programs, out of the hundreds of business schools in the US, enter the rarefied air of the most elite MBA programs in the US?
M7 MBA: Why are they the Best?
History and longevity have a lot to do with it, as many of these M7 MBA schools have been around since the creation of the Master of Business Administration degree program. Harvard is where the first MBA program in the US was created; Stanford, Booth and MIT were instrumental in creating the Executive MBA program; and Stanford helped create MBA programs in other countries, including in Peru and Mexico. The M7 MBA schools have all made some contribution to the advancement of business education, which is why they are so highly revered among business leaders, both in North American and overseas.
How well-known are M7 MBA programs? Almost half (49%) of all the full-time MBA students at the Chicago Booth School of Business were born outside of the US, so these schools are not only for students from the US or Canada; they attract students from all over the world because of their reputations for excellence.
Chicago Booth is an outlier though, as only 39% and 40% of the students at Stanford and Harvard are international students, but the fact that so many international students are drawn to Chicago Booth is no accident. The school is one of the few M7 MBA schools that has Executive MBA programs that span three continents; you can earn an Executive MBA from any of the school’s two overseas locations – London or Hong Kong – as well as at its primary location in Chicago.
M7 MBA: Academic Programs
We also shouldn’t discount the academic rigor and innovative curricula at M7 schools that benefit from both tradition and innovation, as M7 MBA schools design their MBA coursework around the changing business environment, and constantly try to improve their academic offerings. For example, MIT Sloan tries to discourage the individualistic, self-interested, profit-driven philosophy typical of conventional business thinking by arranging all of its incoming MBA students into cohorts.
Within these cohorts (named after bodies of water, Baltic, Atlantic, Pacific, etc.) you’ll learn to collaborate rather than compete, which is the entire motivation behind such an arrangement. MIT Sloan is also one of the few programs whose core MBA courses are a blend of traditional, business-minded courses (Data, Models, and Decisions; Financial Accounting) with more humanist-based approaches to business through courses such as Communication for Leaders and Leadership Challenges for an Inclusive World.
MIT Sloan is only one example of the dynamic learning environments that M7 MBA programs try to foster with the goal of instilling critical thinking, strategic decision-making, and a deep understanding of various non-traditional business domains. We also have to factor in where M7 MBA schools are located, which is another reason why they are so large in terms of student population and yearly applications.
M7 MBA: Location
M7 MBA schools are strategically located in influential business hubs such as Boston, Silicon Valley, Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York City. This geographical advantage provides unique access to industry leaders, internship opportunities, and a vibrant business ecosystem. The exposure to real-world challenges and the chance to apply theoretical knowledge in practical settings can significantly enhance your learning experience. You can see the benefits of location at Stanford, where many of its graduates, unsurprisingly, enter the technology sector (30%), while the finance sector is the most popular (33%) and consulting being the third-most popular industry (15%).
M7 MBA: Alumni Network
But another reason why the M7 MBA programs stand out is because of the thousands of graduates and alumni they have created over their long and esteemed history. Many of the graduates of these programs have gone on to found important businesses, become leaders in Fortune 500 companies, or have distinguished themselves in other ways, lending further credibility to these school's elite reputations. In fact, 57% of the employment opportunities that Stanford graduates found after graduation were from Stanford-associated sources, including the alumni network (37%) or the school’s online job posting site (13%), so the importance of the alumni network and the imprimatur of the “Stanford” name cannot be overstated.
M7 MBA schools are worth exploring as you look for , as going to an M7 MBA school can bring a wealth of benefits, which we’ll talk about later. However, as with any other professional or graduate program, choosing a school solely for its reputation and prestige is inadvisable. You must also consider other factors, such as the cost, the employment rate after graduation, alumni networks and whether the school aligns with your particular career goals and aspirations.
If you want to go to an M7 MBA school, getting in won’t be easy. We showed the for each of these schools, along with the median GMAT scores, which are extraordinarily high, mostly because these programs are not among the . However, you should note that the median GMAT score listed for many of these M7 MBA schools is not an indication of the score you should try to get.
While 740 is the median score for students entering Harvard Business School, the actual range of GMAT scores the school accepts runs from 500-790, so, while you should strive to score as high as possible, falling within this range can mean that you also have a chance to getting in, as long as other parts of your application are stellar. Your academic performance prior to applying also weighs heavily in admissions decisions.
Pros of M7 MBA Schools
1. Global Reputation
Graduating from an M7 MBA school provides immediate global recognition, enhancing your marketability and credibility in the business world. Your will stand out from the rest and you’ll have more opportunities to join reputable, international firms, or stay close to home, which is the kind of flexibility an MBA from an M7 school can confer. But you can also leverage an M7 MBA schools’ international reputation during your studies. You can benefit from the extracurricular opportunities, internships, externships that many of these international schools have created to bolster not only their reputation but your educational opportunities.
2. Extensive Alumni Networks
M7 MBA schools boast influential and extensive alumni networks, offering unparalleled opportunities for mentorship, networking, and career advancement. Many M7 MBA schools encourage the use of its alumni networks by setting up alumni meetings or organizing social activities that can help you connect with established business leaders who went to the same school as you. These kinds of connections can help you either get your career started or to find the right investors for your project or start-up.
3. Faculty Excellence
While we mentioned how important alumni networks are to your future success, we should also mention how some alumni from the same M7 MBA program or others end up becoming teachers and professors at M7 MBA schools. This means that you will learn directly from people who have excelled in specific fields or have the technical expertise that you will need to be able to excel in a modern, transnational business environment.
4. Tight-Knit Community
While competition and self-interest may have marked business programs of the past, the updated and revised curricula of most of the M7 MBA schools takes the opposite approach. Instead of competing against each other, most M7 MBA schools try to get you to see yourself as part of a close-knit community rather than solitary captains of industry. We talked about MIT Sloan grouping students into cohorts to foster a greater sense of collaboration, but “community” can also extend to the alumni networks these schools have. However, getting you to see your role in an interconnected, globalized world is also part of your education, where every business decision has a monumental impact not only for your organization but for society-at-large.
5. Comprehensive MBA Education
We talked about how academics play a major role in why M7 MBA schools are M7 MBA schools, as they all offer a broad and comprehensive MBA experience, equipping you with a well-rounded skill set and business acumen. Some of the M7 MBA schools emphasize aspects of business more than others (technical expertise over leaderships qualities, for example), but they all try to achieve a balance between educating knowledgeable business leaders who are also responsible, community-minded, and conscious of their impact.
1. Intense Competition to Get In
The prestige of M7 schools comes with a price—the intense competition for admission. Only 4% of all MBA students in the US attend one of the prestigious M7 MBA schools, which only goes to highlight their exclusive and elite nature. As we mentioned above, you have to make sure that every part of your application is outstanding, although we did not mention how important the is, as all of these programs hold admission interviews as their final step to get in. Regardless, these programs are highly selective, and demand you have exceptional academic and professional accomplishments for acceptance. If you don’t want to go through the stress, anxiety or meticulous preparation associated with the rigorous application process of going to an M7 MBA program, then you should find a less competitive, but equally excellent, non-M7 MBA program.
2. Higher Tuition Costs
The prestige of M7 schools often comes with a higher price tag, as is the case with any prestigious, highly-ranked educational or professional school. Tuition at these institutions is typically higher than the average, as you can see for yourself from the total cost-of-attendance we listed. This means having to take out loans, as you cannot always rely on to cover everything. Of course, you have to also consider your Return-on-Investment, as ironically enough, more expensive programs tend to be the ones that will guarantee a high-paying salary after graduation (the median starting salary at Stanford, post-graduation, was $175,000) so you have to do the math on whether you will be able to pay back your loans afterward. But, as a comparison, the MBA program at the University of Washington Foster School of Business – a public, state school – costs $80,016 (for Washington residents); but this figure represents the full-cost of the entire MBA program, not just one year, so it is a significant savings compared to only one year at an M7 MBA school.
4. Large Student Population
You should remember that many of the M7 MBA schools admit many more students than smaller, lesser-known MBA programs, which is why programs like MIT Sloan and Wharton arrange students into cohorts so you don’t feel lost in the shuffle among the hundreds of other students. But even with their attempts to create close-knit communities among their students, M7 MBA schools can’t compete with the smaller volume of students at Top 25 MBA schools who have smaller classes and more closeness between students, as well as between students and faculty.
5. Pressure and Workload
Getting in to an M7 MBA school can be stressful, as you might have an excellent application, and still not get in. But if you are successful in being admitted, you then have to contend with the academic rigor at M7 schools and the expectations can be demanding. The pressure to excel and meet high standards can create a challenging environment with a substantial workload that may not leave much time for anything else. Many M7 MBA schools, such as Chicago Booth, encourage their students to use their summer break to pursue research experiences, internships or work placements to get a foothold in the industry even before graduation, so you may not get time for yourself or friends, and family if you’re enrolled at one of these top MBA schools.
1. Excel Academically
Achieving stellar academic performance is paramount for M7 MBA admissions. There are few to no chances of , so you should upgrade your courses during your undergraduate or get another master’s degree before you apply to increase your GPA, if you have the time and resources.
2. Showcase Professional Excellence
Of course, getting into an M7 MBA school is not only about academic achievement; your professional accomplishments are also crucial. As a rule, most MBA programs, not only the M7 schools require you to have between two to five years of professional work experience, so that is something you should have even before you apply. But showcasing your individual professional achievements, such as winning promotions, participating in professional development courses offered by your employer, or any industry awards you received in this time should be front and center on your MBA application. If you can demonstrate quantitative progress or achievement at your job – increasing sales by a certain percentage; increase in new subscriptions, views, traffic or any other significant business metric – would be even better, as that demonstrates not only your skill and creativity but also your potential.
3. Ace the GMAT/GRE
A competitive GMAT or GRE score is a crucial component of your application, as you can see from the median GMAT scores at some of these schools. But, as we mentioned, you might have a chance if you score within the range of accepted students at each of these M7 MBA programs. To ensure you get the highest possible score in either the GMAT or GRE, you must invest time in thorough preparation, even going so far as to enroll in a to ensure you achieve a score that aligns with or surpasses the average for admitted candidates at M7 programs.
4. Craft a Compelling Personal Narrative
Your and all your other offer an opportunity to present a compelling narrative, but also why you think the particular program is germane to your academic and professional aspirations. You should use your essays and personal statement to clearly articulate your career goals, why an MBA is integral to your future career goals, and how the unique offerings of each M7 school align with your vision. You should write a unique, original essay for each school, if you apply to more than one, as authenticity and a well-defined purpose can set you apart.
5. Secure Strong Letters of Recommendation
All of the M7 MBA programs require you submit at least two letters of recommendation and you should choose recommenders who can speak to your professional achievements, leadership potential, and character. As you might be applying to these M7 MBA schools as a working professional and not a recent graduate, you can choose professional references, but if you also have academic references that you can ask, you should also ask them – if the school allows or permits it. Always pay attention to the school’s rules on who you should ask, but whomever you ask make sure to give them your essays or speak to them candidly about why you want to enter this program, so they know your motivations and can speak to the qualities you have to fulfill your mission.
6. Nail the Interview
Getting to the interview stage of the application process for M7 MBA schools is a monumental achievement and bodes well for your future acceptance, but only if you do well during the interview. If you are invited to interview, you should approach it with thorough preparation. You should study common and practice delivering them through so you are comfortable with the format of being front and center so you don’t get nervous on the actual day. You should try to be as open and friendly as possible, dress professionally, and try to find common ground with your interviewers, whether through taking about your goals, experiences, and motivations or showcasing your interpersonal skills, passion for the program, and how your unique attributes align with the school’s values.
1. What are the M7 MBA schools?
The M7 MBA schools comprise the best MBA programs in the US, according to their academic programs, networking and alumni opportunities, innovative curricula, and their success in getting graduates into high-paying jobs. Some of the M7 MBA programs include Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School, and Stanford Graduate School of Business.
2. What GPA do I need for M7 MBA schools?
Your GPA is an important factor (but not the only one) in getting into an M7 MBA program. You should try to have at least a 3.5 or higher, as the median GPA for many of these programs tend to be over 3.5.
3. What GMAT score do I need for M7 MBA schools?
Getting a high GMAT or GRE score is another essential element of getting into an M7 MBA program. You should strive to get a score above 700, which might be difficult, as the average GMAT score is only 652. You can try to take the GMAT multiple times to get your score up, but if you have multiple attempts and don’t get into that range, business schools might look favorably on your determination and persistence, even if it didn’t pay off in the end.
4. How hard is it to get into M7 MBA schools?
It is incredibly hard, even for excellent students. Stanford received over 6,000 applicants the last application cycle; Harvard received an astounding 8,000 applicants from all over the world, so there is a high demand to get into these programs, which is why they are so selective.
5. Do the M7 MBA schools change?
No, similar to the Ivy League or the T14 law schools, there is not much change which schools become M7 MBA members, and their ranks stay fairly consistent.
6. How can I get into an M7 MBA school?
You can get into an M7 MBA school if you check all the boxes, and we mean all the boxes, which includes a high GPA, high GMAT or GRE scores, excellent letters of recommendation, relevant and impactful work experience, amazing interview performance, and a clear, creative vision for what you want to achieve with your MBA.
7. Is it worth it to get into a M7 MBA school?
In some ways it is worth it, in other ways, it is not. M7 MBA schools tend to be the most expensive, even though non-M7 MBA schools also offer high-quality, MBA programs at a fraction of the cost. But the sheen of an M7 MBA education can certainly open more doors than going to regional or state MBA programs that have less cachet in the business world.
8. What are some of the best non-M7 MBA schools?
In the US, the MBA programs at Berkely Haas, Duke University, Notre Dame, and the University of Michigan all have well-regarded MBA programs with similar qualities to the M7 MBA schools.