Get to Know the M7 Business Schools and Find Your MBA Match

M7 business schools

Embarking on the MBA journey is an exciting yet challenging endeavor. When considering the “Magnificent Seven” aka M7 business schools—Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Wharton School, Chicago Booth, Columbia Business School, Kellogg School of Management, and MIT Sloan—prospective students often find themselves faced with the daunting task of choosing the best fit for their MBA aspirations.

Each institution boasts a distinct personality, catering to different strengths and preferences. In this blog post, we explore the unique characteristics of each of the M7 business schools, helping you navigate the sea of options to find your perfect MBA match.

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Harvard Business School 

M7 business schools

Harvard Business School (HBS), the oldest M7 member, has built a legacy as the bastion of leadership and general management. HBS is renowned for its Case Method approach, fostering an immersive and experiential learning experience.

Despite its intimidating reputation as a top-tier institution, HBS fosters a remarkably collaborative environment. The case method encourages students to discuss, share perspectives, and learn from each other. With a larger class size of around 930 students per year, the community at HBS remains diverse, vibrant, and conducive to building lifelong connections.

The school’s culture emphasizes leadership, and its alum network includes some of the world’s most influential business leaders. HBS is ideal for candidates seeking a broad understanding of business fundamentals, strong leadership development, and a vast network of high-profile connections.

Harvard Business School boasts one of the lowest admission rates among M7 business schools. With an acceptance rate of around 11%, gaining entry into HBS is highly competitive. The selective admissions process ensures that those who get admitted are part of a distinguished and accomplished cohort.

What is HBS looking for in applicants?

“Habit of leadership, analytical aptitude & appetite and engaged community citizenship, are what HBS is looking for in its applicants,” shares Andrea, a former HBS Admissions Officer and HBS MBA on the Stacy Blackman Consulting team.

Harvard Business School (HBS) is all about bringing together a mix of qualities in its student body. First, they value academic excellence and want candidates who’ve excelled in their undergrad studies and other educational pursuits. Then, there’s the leadership potential aspect, where they’re looking for people who’ve shown they can lead in different areas, like work, school, or extracurricular activities.

Making a positive impact and having meaningful work experience are also big deals—they appreciate candidates who’ve made a mark in their communities or workplaces and who’ve spent a few years in the workforce.

You’ve got to bring some analytical skills, as seen in your test scores and academic and work achievements. Interpersonal skills are a must, too, because teamwork matters in the business world. HBS also values passion and authenticity—they want applicants who are genuinely passionate about their goals and can lay out a clear plan for the future.

HBS by the Numbers

  • Applications received in 2022-2023: 8,149
  • Enrolled students to the Class of 2025: 938
  • 45% Woman
  • 39% International
  • 4.9 Years of work experience
  • Median GMAT: 740
  • Median GRE (V&Q): 163/163
  • US News & World Report 2023-2024 Ranking of the Best Business Schools: 5

Stanford Graduate School of Business

M7 business schools

Renowned for its proximity to Silicon Valley, Stanford Graduate School of Business stands out as the go-to destination for those who envision themselves as innovators and disruptors in the business world. Stanford GSB thrives on its reputation as an innovation hub, attracting individuals passionate about entrepreneurship.

Despite being academically rigorous, Stanford GSB is known for its supportive and collaborative atmosphere. The smaller class size, around 435 students, contributes to a close-knit community where students collaborate on projects and ideas. Stanford GSB’s focus on personal development and sharing experiences creates an environment where students lift each other toward success.

Stanford GSB maintains an acceptance rate of approximately 6%. This low admission rate reflects the school’s commitment to assembling a cohort of exceptionally talented individuals passionate about driving change and innovation in the business world.

What is the GSB looking for in MBA applicants?

“Stanford seeks outstanding and diverse people who seek a transformative experience at the GSB and in turn, seek to transform lives, organizations and the world — that is, to make a significant impact,” shares a former Stanford GSB Admissions Officer on the Stacy Blackman Consulting team.

Stanford GSB is looking for MBA candidates with a mix of qualities that make them stand out. Intellectual vitality is a primary focus, valuing individuals with curiosity, open minds, and a dedication to personal and professional growth. Leadership potential is crucial, with a preference for candidates who have made notable impacts in their careers through work achievements, entrepreneurial ventures, or organizational contributions.

Beyond academic and professional realms, Stanford GSB places significant importance on personal qualities and contributions. They seek candidates with unique perspectives, experiences, and personal attributes to enrich the MBA community. A solid commitment to social impact is highly appreciated, whether demonstrated through volunteerism or a compelling vision for positive change.

Teamwork is paramount, and Stanford GSB looks for candidates with a collaborative spirit who can contribute to a supportive learning environment. Given its pivotal role in the business world, effective written and verbal communication is emphasized.

Lastly, Stanford GSB values candidates who have engaged in self-reflection, uncovering their motivations and authentic selves. The aim is to create a vibrant community where everyone’s unique contributions unite to make Stanford GSB an enriching place to pursue an MBA.

GSB By the Numbers

  • Applications received in 2022-2023: 6,190
  • Enrolled students to the Class of 2025: 431
  • 46% Woman
  • 36% International
  • 5 Years of work experience
  • Average GMAT: 738
  • Average GRE (V&Q): 164/164
  • US News & World Report 2023-2024 Ranking of the Best Business Schools: 6

University of Pennsylvania Wharton School

M7 business schools

If finance is your forte, UPenn’s Wharton School—the oldest business school in the United States—is likely your haven. Known for its strong finance focus, Wharton also has a collaborative atmosphere that might surprise some. Despite its competitive reputation, the school places a high value on teamwork, reflecting the collaborative nature of the business world.

The school follows a hybrid teaching model—some classes are case-based, others are lecture-based, and many combine both methods. The Wharton academic program focuses on skills and technical abilities. Even a marketing or strategy class will require “running the numbers,” and most students have strong quantitative backgrounds and abilities.

With an admission rate of around 20%, Wharton is committed to building a diverse and collaborative community of future business leaders.

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What is the Wharton School looking for in MBA applicants?

When considering applicants, Wharton emphasizes a unique blend of qualities. Academic excellence holds significant weight, as reflected in strong academic records during undergraduate and, if applicable, graduate studies, along with competitive standardized test scores (GMAT or GRE). Leadership potential is crucial, requiring candidates to demonstrate leadership in various professional, academic, or extracurricular contexts, showcasing their ability to inspire and influence others.

“Solid applicants across all dimensions with emphasis on strong performance in GMAT and professional experience is what Wharton seeks in its applicants,” shares Meghan, a former Wharton Admissions Officer on the Stacy Blackman Consulting team.

Professional experience is also a crucial factor. Wharton favors candidates who possess a few years of post-undergraduate work experience. The institution values diverse professional backgrounds, recognizing the enriching contributions that individuals with varied career paths can bring to the MBA community. Additionally, given the collaborative nature of the business landscape, Wharton seeks applicants who excel in teamwork and collaboration.

The AdCom team appreciates applicants who have a global perspective. Therefore, they consider candidates with international experience or exposure to global business issues as assets. Effective written and verbal communication skills are essential in the business realm, so the AdCom evaluates those as well through application essays and interviews.

Wharton also values candidates who have positively impacted their workplaces and communities, emphasizing achievements and contributions. Lastly, interpersonal skills, including emotional intelligence and the ability to work effectively with others, are qualities Wharton looks for in successful candidates.

Wharton by the Numbers

  • Applications received in 2022-2023: 6,194
  • Enrolled students to the Class of 2025: 874
  • 50% Woman
  • 31% International
  • 5 Years of work experience
  • Average GMAT: 728
  • Average GRE (V&Q): 162/162
  • US News & World Report 2023-2024 Ranking of the Best Business Schools: 3

University of Chicago Booth School of Business

M7 business schools

The Chicago Booth School of Business prides itself on its analytical approach to business challenges. With a flexible curriculum that allows students to tailor their MBA experience, Booth is perfect for analytical thinkers who enjoy digging into data and solving complex problems. The school’s strengths lie in finance, entrepreneurship, and economics.

One of Chicago Booth’s significant interests is diversity, and ideally, students will graduate having learned much about foreign business and social cultures. Chicago is an active and engaged community, reflected in its alumni network of 40,000 graduates from over 90 international countries.

Booth prefers to expand the boundaries of the typical business school curriculum. Unlike most schools, there is no strict core class requirement. Students can choose the classes they want to take, when, and at which level to take them. That means Booth students can skip taking classes they don’t want.

Instead, students work closely with guidance counselors and career coaches to select the classes that best complement their interests. Only one course is required over their two years. This flexibility also allows students to get more from the business school experience and investment.

Chicago Booth maintains an admission rate of approximately 23%. The school’s flexibility in curriculum design attracts candidates with diverse backgrounds and interests, contributing to a vibrant and dynamic learning environment.

Chicago Booth may be your ideal fit if you thrive in an intellectually challenging environment and appreciate the freedom to customize your academic journey.

What is Chicago Booth looking for in MBA applicants?

According to the former Booth AdCom members on the Stacy Blackman team, Booth looks for applicants who demonstrate alignment with its discipline-based approach and’ pay-it-forward’ mentality. It seeks students who will be involved in the institution’s growth and value a wide array of viewpoints.

Successful Chicago Booth MBA applicants have intellectual curiosity, strong analytical skills, and leadership potential. The school values candidates with diverse professional backgrounds, a collaborative mindset, and top-notch communication skills. Booth appreciates individuals with a few years of post-undergraduate work experience, a global perspective, and a fit with the school’s unique culture characterized by intellectual rigor and collaboration.

 The admissions process is holistic, considering each applicant’s overall profile and alignment with Booth’s values. Successful candidates demonstrate a commitment to positively impacting the business world and contributing to the vibrant Booth community.

Booth by the Numbers

  • Applications received in 2022-2023: 4,184
  • Enrolled students to the Class of 2025: 637
  • 42% Woman
  • 36% International
  • 5 Years of work experience
  • Median GMAT: 730
  • Average GRE (V&Q): 162/163
  • US News & World Report 2023-2024 Ranking of the Best Business Schools: 1

Columbia Business School

M7 business schools

Nestled in the heart of Manhattan, Columbia Business School (CBS) reflects the energy and pace of the business world in New York City. While Columbia’s academics are certainly on par with other top-tier schools, its status as the only Ivy League business school based in Manhattan draws the most accolades from graduates.

Columbia is known for its strong ties to the finance and consulting industries. It is the place to be if you’re seeking a fast-paced, dynamic environment and aspire to make it big in the world’s financial capital. The school’s emphasis on real-world application and its diverse student body contribute to a vibrant and bustling atmosphere. Graduates from the program have well-rounded interests, international connections, and a solid network of alumni willing to help them explore all their options.

One unique thing is that CBS offers an accelerated 16-month January entry option or J-term. Each year, about 200 students enter that term. They take the same classes, participate in the same clubs, and receive the same degree as those entering in August.

CBS has an admission rate of around 18%. The school’s competitive nature aligns with its location’s fast-paced environment, attracting ambitious individuals who aspire to succeed in the heart of the business world.

What does Columbia Business School look for in MBA Applicants?

CBS is looking for MBA candidates who will truly stand out. They’re seeking individuals committed to excelling academically, displaying strong leadership qualities, and making a substantial impact in the business realm.

“With Columbia, it really is a holistic approach, but the fit is very important,” shares a former CBS Admissions Officer on the Stacy Blackman Consulting team.

“Top Columbia focus points for application include involvement outside of work/classroom and leadership or potential for leadership. They want to be certain that you’re going to fit into its tight-knit community and super involved student life. Logical and attainable career goals are important as well.”

Even though each applicant brings their unique strengths to the table, CBS has a few key traits they value. First and foremost, they prioritize academic excellence. Demonstrate your exceptional performance in undergrad and showcase impressive GMAT or GRE scores.

Leadership skills hold significant weight as well. Whether you’ve led in the workplace, in academic settings, or through extracurriculars, CBS wants to see how you’ve inspired and guided others.

Columbia values a diverse range of professional backgrounds, as that variety contributes to the richness of the MBA community. Being a team player is also essential in the business landscape, and CBS highly values candidates who can collaborate effectively.

Additionally, CBS highly regards community contributions, emphasizing a candidate’s commitment to making positive impacts professionally and societally. AdCom also wants to ensure applicants have well-defined career goals and demonstrate a strategic vision for their post-MBA trajectory.

Columbia Business School by the Numbers

  • Applications received in 2022-2023: 5,895
  • Enrolled students to the Class of 2025: 900
  • 44% Woman
  • 47% International
  • 5 Years of work experience (average)
  • Average GMAT: 730
  • US News & World Report 2023-2024 Ranking of the Best Business Schools: 11

Kellogg School of Management

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management stands out for its collaborative culture. The school strongly emphasizes teamwork and interpersonal skills, making it an excellent choice for individuals who thrive in a supportive community.

While the class is comprised of driven, high achievers, and the environment can be intense, it is not cutthroat-competitive. Kellogg’s unique culture is partially a result of its policy of interviewing all applicants, which emphasizes the personal aspect of the application more than almost any other school. The admission rate at Kellogg is around 26%.

People often incorrectly peg Kellogg solely as a marketing program. While it has a stellar marketing curriculum, it is a well-rounded MBA program with fantastic resources in all major (and minor) business subjects. The goal is to provide students with the tools to become effective managers and business leaders.

Kellogg’s focus on experiential learning and diverse student body foster an environment where collaboration is ingrained in the school’s DNA. If you value teamwork, interpersonal skills, and a close-knit community, Kellogg School might be your perfect match.

What does Kellogg look for in MBA applicants?

Like other leading business schools, the Kellogg School of Management seeks diverse and accomplished MBA applicants. “The admissions team reviews applicants holistically,” explains SBC consultant Beth, the former director of full-time admissions for Kellogg.

“They’re going to look at your resume to see your career progression. Have you gotten a couple of promotions? Are you on track or ahead of your peers in terms of advancement? They are going to consider your career goals and your career focus. Do you have an idea in mind of where you’re headed?”

Kellogg MBA program

Kellogg typically considers specific factors when evaluating applicants. Academic excellence is crucial, as demonstrated by a competitive GPA and proficiency in quant coursework in undergrad. The AdCom also wants to see strong GMAT or GRE scores to confirm applicants’ analytical abilities.

While there’s no hard work requirement in years, Kellogg values diverse professional backgrounds. Leadership potential and positive impact are highly regarded in professional or personal pursuits. Teamwork and collaboration are also critical, reflecting Kellogg’s commitment to a collaborative learning environment.

Finally, the admissions team looks to assemble a diverse class so applicants who can contribute unique perspectives in the classroom have a leg up in admissions.

Kellogg School of Management by the Numbers

  • Applications received in 2022-2023: 4,187
  • Enrolled students to the Class of 2025: 529
  • 48% Woman
  • 39% International
  • 5 Years of work experience (average)
  • Average GMAT: 731
  • Average GRE (Verbal & Quant): 163/163
  • US News & World Report 2023-2024 Ranking of the Best Business Schools: 2

MIT Sloan School of Management

MIT Sloan School of Management is where business meets technology and innovation. With a curriculum that seamlessly integrates business and technology, Sloan is the go-to place for aspiring tech industry leaders. The school’s emphasis on analytics, entrepreneurship, and technology management attracts individuals passionate about leveraging technology for business success.

MIT Sloan has a competitive admission rate of around 14%. The admissions process’s competitive yet collaborative nature aligns with the school’s focus on innovation and technology management.

With a medium-sized class of around 486 students, Sloan fosters a dynamic and interactive MBA community. If you see yourself at the intersection of business and technology, MIT Sloan offers an unparalleled playground for your aspirations.

What does MIT Sloan seek in MBA Applicants?

MIT Sloan seeks applicants who can navigate problems of progressive complexity and adapt to ambiguous situations. They also value independence of thought, humility, and consideration for others. MIT Sloan looks for the exceptional in academic, professional, and civic arenas and good citizens with great attitudes.

“I always sensed a special something, a spark, in the candidates I recommended for admission that set them apart: it’s a sense of self not everyone has,” says a former MIT Sloan AdCom officer now on the Stacy Blackman team.

MIT Sloan School MBA candidates should be committed to academic excellence, demonstrated through robust grades and strong GMAT or GRE scores. A collaborative attitude is paramount. MIT Sloan values individuals who can seamlessly integrate into team dynamics, prioritizing collective success over individual achievements. The capacity to function adeptly within a group setting is as vital as any individual achievement.

MIT Sloan

Innovation is also a critical pillar in the evaluation process. Beyond technical competence, candidates should demonstrate creative thinking and a capacity to develop groundbreaking ideas. MIT Sloan seeks individuals who transcend conventional boundaries and contribute to pioneering developments in their respective fields.

Finally, the MIT Sloan AdCom wants to see a compelling demonstration of passion and an unwavering dedication to their professional trajectory.

MIT Sloan School of Management by the Numbers

  • Applications received in 2022-2023: 5,349
  • Enrolled students to the Class of 2025: 409
  • 46% Woman
  • 40% International
  • 5 Years of work experience (average)
  • Median GMAT: 730
  • US News & World Report 2023-2024 Ranking of the Best Business Schools: 4

So, which of the M7 business schools is the right fit for you?

Each institution has a unique personality and strengths in the vast landscape of M7 business schools. Whether you thrive in collaborative environments, value close-knit communities, or seek a dynamic and competitive atmosphere, understanding the culture of each school is crucial.

By aligning your goals, values, and aspirations with the strengths of a particular school, you can find the perfect match that will not only nurture your academic and professional growth but also provide an unforgettable MBA experience.

So, take the time to explore these distinctive personalities, envision your future, and decide which of the M7 business schools resonate with your unique ambitions. Your journey to business leadership starts with choosing the right path—make it a rewarding one!


Stacy Blackman Consulting offers multiple services to meet your MBA application needs, from our All-In Partnership and Interview Prep to hourly help with essay editing, resume review, and much more! Contact us today for a free 15-minute advising session to talk strategy with a Principal SBC consultant.

Here’s a snapshot of the caliber of expertise on our SBC team.

SBC’s star-studded consultant team is unparalleled. Our clients benefit from current intelligence that we receive from the former MBA Admissions Officers from Harvard HBS, Stanford GSB and every elite business program in the US and Europe.  These MBA Admissions Officers have chosen to work exclusively with SBC.

Just two of the many superstars on the SBC team:
Meet Erin, who was Assistant Director of MBA Admissions at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) and Director of MBA Admissions at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

Meet Andrea, who served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at Harvard Business School (HBS) for over five years.

Tap into this inside knowledge for your MBA applications by requesting a consultation.


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