Face-Off: Wharton School vs. Chicago Booth

Wharton MBA application

The school selection process for MBA applicants can seem overwhelming. With so many great business schools, how do you decide which one is right for you? SBC’s blog series Face-Off teases out the strengths and differences between two similarly ranked B-schools. Plus, we’ll highlight noteworthy elements of their admissions processes. The first item of business today is the Wharton MBA application versus the Chicago Booth MBA application.

We have former Admissions Officers from every top US and European program—including Booth and Wharton—on our consulting team. We thank them for the thoughtful advice below.

How do the admissions requirements and selectivity compare between the Wharton School and Chicago Booth?

From an application perspective, Booth gives candidates more freedom to be themselves. It also has a more holistic approach. Meanwhile, the Wharton MBA application reflects a more structured approach.

Overall, the Wharton School is more selective than Chicago Booth. According to our data here at Stacy Blackman Consulting, almost every applicant accepted into both chooses Wharton.

Wharton MBA application

Given Wharton’s higher yield, Booth takes a very personal approach to its application process. It wants to ensure candidates genuinely want to attend Booth and don’t treat it as a backup school. “Show up, engage, make yourself known. Showing up means a lot to Booth. They track the frequency in their system. This is true for all applicants, but especially over-subscribed candidates,” shares a former Booth Admissions Officer on the SBC team.

(Listen to B-Schooled Podcast Episode #83: Spotlight on Booth)

Recent admission trends at Booth have shown more flexibility with admit profiles. This reflects a more diverse class by industry, academic records, and employer history. The program tends to attract more collaborative students. After all, collaboration is a cornerstone of Chicago Booth’s pay-it-forward culture.

Meanwhile, the Wharton MBA tends to attract more competitive types, and the MBA experience will reflect this intensity. Still, the team-based discussion component of the Wharton MBA application exists for a reason. That is, to weed out folks who can’t play well with others. The Wharton group interview offers a preview of the energy prospective students will step into on campus from day one.

(Listen to B-Schooled Podcast Episode #42: Wharton Team-Based Discussion Interviews)

How do the MBA curriculums compare, given that both are known to be quant-oriented?

We often hear from applicants that they apply to Booth mainly because of its flexible curriculum and student culture. Students begin their journey with the hands-on experiential course known as LEAD. It’s the only required component in Booth’s curriculum and is designed to help students identify their strengths and opportunities as a leader.

Upon completing the course, students integrate those insights into an active, intentional, and ongoing process of leadership development.

Wharton, meanwhile, primarily relies on its brand, alum network, and career opportunities. As for the MBA curriculum, Wharton requires six fixed core classes as well as flexible core classes to match one’s learning style, interests, and goals.  The flexible structure of the core course allows students to take more electives in the first year to prepare for an internship, global experience, business venture, or other interests and defer some core requirements to the second year.

There is a perception that these are primarily “finance schools.” How do the MBA Class of 2022 career outcomes between Chicago Booth and Wharton stack up?

Compare industry placement per the data points below:

  • Booth placement into Consulting: 35.5% relative to Wharton’s 24.3%
  • Wharton placement into Financial Services: 38.6% relative to Booth’s 25.1%
  • Booth placement into Tech: 14.9% relative to Wharton’s 16.9%

Post-MBA career location varies per the data points below:

  • Wharton placement into the Northeast is 43.1% relative to Booth’s 29.2%
  • Booth placement in the Midwest is 30.9% relative to Wharton’s 3.5%
  • Wharton placement into the West is 24.5% relative to Booth’s 20.1%

Both business schools rank highly. How else should MBA candidates weigh them up?

Both programs consistently rank in the M7. They offer a comparable education. Principles in accounting, finance, and marketing are basically the same at Wharton and Booth. The difference between the programs is perception.

The Wharton brand holds more cache globally. As a result, Wharton attracts a stronger student class. It also has higher yield rates, applicant volume, and average starting salary.

“A few years ago, the elite candidates were only applying to HBS and GSB. Wharton has found its way to the trifecta,” explains Stacy Blackman. Booth isn’t yet at this level by perception. But fit is everything. Student culture and post-MBA career location preferences are integral to fit, which vary between the programs.

Both schools have high-caliber cohorts. Wharton tends to attract a more competitive applicant pool so the MBA experience will reflect this intensity. The upside of this relative admit flexibility (compared to Wharton) by Booth is that the program attracts a more collaborative student class.

“Wharton is a *hyper*-social environment. From day one, there is constant activity and a never-ending social calendar. Extroverts will love it. Introverts with strong social skills will find a balance that works for them. But introverts without social graces would find it stifling,” shares a former Wharton Admissions Officer who works at Stacy Blackman Consulting.

To conclude, the key differences between the programs may be:

  • perception of brand
  • experience (Booth) versus prestige (Wharton)
  • geographic placement for post-MBA position

“If you define quality as a collaborative culture, Booth likely wins. If you define it as prestige of a student’s past work experience, Wharton likely wins,” says Esther Magna, Principal at Stacy Blackman Consulting.


Request a free MBA advising session with Stacy Blackman Consulting to learn how we can help with your complete MBA applications. 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 Wharton, Booth 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 Anthony, who served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he dedicated over 10 years of expertise.

Meet Kim, who was an Senior Associate Director of Admissions at Chicago Booth.

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

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