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The world’s top 10 business schools

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Although famous entrepreneurs have shown us they are no necessity, a business school degree can be a ticket to success.

In the end, it’s all about which degree and institute is the best fit for you. Unless you grow up dreaming of attending one specific business school, the numerous institutes to choose from will astound you.

The usual “Best business schools” lists online come up with outdated resources, alumni salaries and top Canadian MBAs, when what you really need is an objective overview of all your options. 

The Financial Times provides a yearly ranking of the global top 100 MBAs, based on a survey from both the schools and their alumni, which is a good place to start. But what sets the top ten business schools apart, and what are they looking for in potential candidates?

We summed up the ten business schools you need to know about. Are you an alumni of one of them? Raise your hand and share your experience in the comments.


1. Harvard Business School 

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Facts: Harvard has become a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity. More chief executives and presidents have had their MBAs issued by Harvard than any other school. A number of 65 CEOs on the Fortune 500 list have Harvard MBA’s – the second highest was Stanford with a mere total of 27 degrees.

What they want:

“Genuine business talent cannot be narrowly defined. Instead of looking for an ‘ideal’ candidate, HBS invites applicants who bring a variety of skills, accomplishments, and aspirations to form a very special community.”

Habit of leadership – from organising a classroom to running an independent business, they are looking for evidence of your potential.

Analytical aptitude and appetite – Their case and field-based methods of learning depend upon the active participation students who can assess, analyze, and act upon complex information within often-ambiguous contexts.

Engaged community citizenship – As a large section of the student experience requires active collaboration, they look for candidates who exhibit highest ethical standards and respect for others.

2. Stanford Graduate School of Business 

Location: Stanford, California, United States

Facts: A staggering percentage of Stanford graduates start their own businesses. Students graduating from Stanford Business school often gain a median starting rate of $125,000, $5,000 more than that of a Harvard graduate. If a start-up is what you’re aiming for, this is the place to be.

What they want:

“We seek the most promising students in terms of intellectual distinction and professional merit. We base this judgment on the totality of information available. No single factor—whether your college performance, essay, test score, interview, letter of reference, or work experience—is decisive.”

Intellectual Vitality – Stanford believes in the power of ideas to shape the future, so they want to see your passion, dedication and genuine interest in expanding your intellectual horizons throughout your application.

Demonstrated leadership potential – Your personal character matters not only because integrity is the cornerstone of any academic community, but also because of the vast responsibility our society reposes in leaders of businesses and social-sector organisations.

Personal qualities and contributions – To understand how you will contribute to and benefit from the Stanford community, they want to know about you: your experiences, beliefs, passions, dreams and goals. 

3. University of Pennsylvania: Wharton 

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Facts: Wharton is the finance king of business schools, so if finance is your field of choice, don’t look any further. There’s an impressive variety of financial electives here, taught by some of the best finance faculty in the world. Even with Wall Street in decline, some 41 per cent of Wharton’s Class of 2012 headed into the financial services industry, up from 38.5 per cent a year earlier.

What they want: 

“At Wharton, we’re looking for the best and brightest candidates from around the globe, across different industries, and with an appetite to share their perspectives and learn from one another inside and outside the classroom.” 

Driven – Candidates should be motivated and focused on getting to wherever it is they want to go, and for whom the Wharton MBA is a vehicle – a means really to help them get there – not an end.

Highly engaged – with each other, with faculty and with staff and both inside and outside the classroom. 

Engaged in communities, industries and geographies of their interest – Wharton believes the philosophy of students attending because they have ideas and visions of how to make the people, processes, organizations, and communities around them better.

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