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  • Writer's pictureMalvika Patil

Applying for an M7 MBA? Read This First

Updated: Feb 1




What are the M7 business schools?


In no specific order, the M7 business schools are:

  1. Harvard Business School

  2. Columbia Business School

  3. Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania

  4. Stanford Graduate School of Business

  5. Northwestern Kellogg School of Management

  6. MIT Sloan School of Management

  7. Chicago Booth School of Business


What makes a school reach M7 status?


Historically, M7 refers to a group of American business schools whose deans and key staff would informally meet twice a year to share information. Some sources say that this network continues to meet semi-annually to discuss all things related to elite MBA programs.


These schools consistently sit at the top of the rankings and produce some of the world’s best business talent. Naturally, this closed group has achieved a sort of mythic status, with pundits suggesting that the “M” stands for “Magic” or “Magnificent.” This status also means that its graduates build tight, lucrative networks and often enter high-impact roles post their MBA.


As an aside, think about this a bit like the Ivy League. The true “Ivy League” is actually an American Football league among similar-sized schools in the Northeastern United States. All eight of the Ivy League schools are exceptionally good and offer top-notch programs, but this does not correlate to their global ranking. Similarly, the M7s aren’t the world’s top 7 business schools based on rankings, but operate as an elite, private club nevertheless.


Why Pursue an M7 MBA?


Given that the M7 group rank among the top MBA programs in the world, the “M7” title is strongly correlated with:

  1. High salaries post-MBA: $190-220k three years after graduation

  2. Competitive application process

  3. Excellent brand recognition

  4. Strong recruitment programs

  5. Prestigious alumni network

  6. Excellent outcomes in popular post-MBA tracks like Finance, Consulting, and Tech


Cost of an M7 MBA


The M7 schools are some of the priciest schools in the world, with total costs - including tuition, living expenses, healthcare (it is the US, after all), and more - averaging at $227,000. While this is a hefty amount, remember that all of the M7 schools have strong endowments and alumni donation profiles. This means that a significant number of candidates receive scholarships and financial aid packages. Candidates also benefit from great salary packages post their MBA.


Admissions to M7 MBAs


Needless to say, getting admitted to an M7 MBA program is difficult. These schools receive thousands of qualified applicants, and the competition is invariably fierce. Their average GMAT score median is approximately 730 over the past few years, with average GPAs from 3.5 to 3.8. Their acceptance rates are also relatively low, ranging from 6% at Stanford to 26% at Kellogg.

School

GPA

GMAT Median

Acceptance Rate

HBS

3.7

730

12.5%

MIT Sloan

3.62

730

12.1%

Columbia

3.6

729

15.7%

Kellogg

3.7

729

26%

Wharton

3.6

733

18.2%

Stanford GSB

3.76

737

6.2%

Chicago Booth

3.6

729

22.6%


Note that admissions rates often vary because many applicants send in applications to Stanford and HBS just to do so, even if they aren’t qualified. Likewise, Kellogg and Booth have higher acceptance rates because their applicant pools tend to be more self-selecting, as is the Chicago location.


This is not to say that you need to be academically exceptional to apply. M7 schools know that it’s not always about ticking boxes on paper; the best leaders of tomorrow come from a wide range of backgrounds. People who are good risk-takers seldom have perfect profiles.


So if you are a candidate with interesting stories that show determination, resilience, and outside-the-box thinking, consider applying for an M7 program.


M7 School Values


The M7 schools practice a range of differing approaches to business education.

  1. HBS is known for its case study-based teaching method and focus on large-scale leadership.

  2. Stanford GSB has a flexible curriculum and emphasizes 1-on-1 leadership, mentorship and coaching.

  3. MIT Sloan has a quant focus and is known for presenting its students with challenging analytical problems that require unique solutions.

  4. Wharton offers a number of rigorous major choices and features a huge student and alumni cohort.

  5. Kellogg focuses on management, offering different “pathways” so that students can specialize in specific subjects.

  6. Chicago Booth has its signature “Chicago Approach” that values multidisciplinary learning and encourages a data-driven approach.

  7. Columbia plays on its unique location in the heart of New York City, which gives students access to diverse faculty, guest lecturers, and student community.


They may be part of the M7 group, but each school has a distinct culture and history. It’s quite likely that you’ll be able to find a school that fits your goals and values among the M7s.



The M7 vs. Non-M7 Debate


The M7 title is linked to prestigious schools and great outcomes, but many other schools offer the same benefits without necessarily being M7. A minor exception is INSEAD, which is often considered in line with the “bottom four” of the M7: Kellogg, Columbia, MIT, and Booth, making it an unofficial “M8.”


With that in mind, focus on the quality and fit of different schools rather than aiming for an M7 school because of its brand name. Don’t be afraid to widen your net! Some schools that featured in this year’s FT Top 10 MBA rankings include Cornell Johnson, Berkeley Haas, and Yale SOM, none of which are M7s.


In short, while it’s hard to go wrong with an M7 MBA, don’t overlook other non-M7 schools that offer equal or better networks, outcomes, and education.


Realistically, however, the more widely-accepted view is that the M7 brand is non-negotiable. Someone who’s accepted into an M7 school is almost certainly bound to take this offer over a similarly ranked non-M7 school.




Are you applying to an M7 school? Sign up for MBAconsultant.com - our self-paced online program for bespoke application guidance.


Going the traditional consulting route? Contact us for a free 20-minute consultation to discuss your M7 application.



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