MBA Class of 2015: Harvard vs. Wharton

by on July 24th, 2013

Only two of the world’s most selective and elite business schools have revealed the makeup of their incoming MBA classes this year: Harvard Business School and Wharton.

So how does the Class of 2015 compare to each other?

There are some obvious differences that relate less to current circumstances and more to the history and cultures of these two giants in MBA education.

Students with financial backgrounds: Wharton has 39%, Harvard 30%

As you would expect, Wharton will welcome more students with financial backgrounds next month. Class of 2015 students with finance jobs on their resumes represent nearly four out of every ten MBA candidates at Wharton, some 39% of the total. Compare that to HBS which admitted 30% of its students with work experience in the finance industry.

Beneath the overall numbers, however, is some more interesting detail. The largest percentage of financial types at Harvard hail from private equity and venture capital firms–16%–versus Wharton’s 12% from those two financial sectors.

Generally, HBS’ class boasts more diversity in its work backgrounds, with 11% coming from high tech and communications versus 6% at Wharton. Consulting is a bit of a wash, with 19% of Harvard’s incoming class composed of consultants and 20% of Wharton’s incoming students from consulting companies.

GMAT ranges suggest that HBS is admitting on a more holistic basis than Wharton

When it comes to GMATs, there’s another rather compelling trend. Harvard seems far more willing than Wharton to accept students with lower scores, suggesting a more holistic view of candidates than Wharton. The admit with the lowest GMAT score this year at HBS–a score of 550–is 80 points below Wharton’s bottom of 630. This year, Wharton increased its average GMAT score by seven full points to 725, a point higher than Harvard’s average of last year (Harvard has not yet released its average for the Class of 2015. The HBS median is 730.)

To put together its Class of 2015, Harvard could chose from among 9,315 applicants–more than 3,200 candidates than Wharton’s 6,036. So even though Harvard will enroll 941 students vs. Wharton’s 845, the HBS acceptance rate is just 12%, versus an estimated 21% at Wharton.

A Tale of Two Business Schools — Harvard vs. Wharton


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