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SBC’s Legendary “Smackdown” Series: Program Intel for Chicago Booth vs Northwestern Kellogg

Introduction

2024 versus 2021: What has been changing?

Admissions: What does Booth seek?

Admissions: What does Kellogg seek?

Application Essays, Tips & Candidate Evaluation

Five Tips: Booth MBA application Process

Five Tips: Kellogg MBA application Process

Admitted to Both, How to Decide?

Admissions Stats, Demographics & Class Size

Jobs, Pay and Employment Location

Culture

Rankings

Booth Program Options

Kellogg Program Options

Geography

Facilities

Program Focus

Curriculum

 

Introduction

Chicago Booth and Northwestern Kellogg have long been fierce competitors. In this Chicago Booth vs Northwestern Kellogg MBA smackdown, you’ll learn how these programs are similar and how they are different with insights from MBA Admissions Officers and other valuable perspectives. Read about insider admissions tips, critical perspectives on each program, and application nuances. We worked closely with the former Booth and Kellogg Admissions Officers on our Stacy Blackman Consulting team. We reviewed this smackdown with Executive Directors and Admissions Officers at both programs and incorporated their knowledge and advice. We also highlight feedback from former Stacy Blackman Consulting clients, who received offers from both Booth and Kellogg, and how they navigated their admit decision along with their reflections on their b-school experiences.

Years ago, the differences between the Chicago Booth School of Business and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management were far more dramatic than they are today. Booth was often considered the analytically-rigorous school, which struck a balance between leadership development and a data-oriented, rigorous curriculum. Kellogg was often considered the school for poets, the place where teamwork and collaboration in an MBA program were refined. Today, there are some similarities between the programs. Both programs continue to seek well-rounded candidates with strong academic attributes and depth of character; as well, both programs boast a team-focused culture and environment. Booth is much more than a finance school and Kellogg is much more than a marketing school.  Both institutions offer world-class academics in just about every discipline and can pretty much allow MBA graduates to go anywhere they want. 

 

2024 versus 2021: What has been changing?

Here are the areas that are evolving, since our last smackdown update in 2021:

  1. Starting average salary is now $180,000 on average (median) for Booth or Kellogg grads– and that is a huge jump of about $30,000 (up from $150,000) since 2021. 
  2. Student class representation. Kellogg increased its student representation of admits from Engineering/Math/STEM undergraduate degrees from 29% in 2021 to 38% in 2024. Booth has seen a steady increase of students with engineering backgrounds–20% in 2021 to 25% in 2024–and a more than 4% increase of students with military backgrounds/veteran status within the same timeframe.
  3. Industry career placement. With about 33% of graduates placed in the finance industry at Booth, the program represents a heavier emphasis on finance; 22% of Kellogg grads joined the financial sector in 2023. Still, in the latest graduating Class of 2023, the largest single group of students (39% for Booth and 42% for Kellogg grads ) went into the field of consulting, and those datapoints are higher (e.g., 6% higher placement to consulting now at Kellogg compared to 2021). Tech industry placement has decreased for both schools–23% in 2021 to 16% in 2023 for Booth and from 28% in 2021 to 17% in 2023 for Kellogg. 
  4. New programs. Booth launched new programs in 2023–Master in Management (MiM) and Master in Finance (MiF) programs, and continues to expand its joint-degree offerings with the University of Chicago in law, computer- and applied science, health administration, public policy, and other areas of study.

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Admissions: What does Booth seek?

We asked the former Booth admissions officers on the Stacy Blackman Consulting team to profile what Booth seeks. Their consensus is:

Booth looks for applicants who demonstrate alignment with their discipline-based approach and ‘pay-it-forward’ mentality. They seek students who will be involved in the growth of the institution and value a wide array of viewpoints. Booth loves diversity of thought. Booth students embrace the opportunity to learn and grow from each other’s unique perspectives. 

The former Booth admissions officers shared what Booth does not want:

Booth works very hard to formulate essay questions that can only be answered for Booth. It’s always clear when an essay has been repurposed, so spend the extra time to answer their questions. 

 

Admissions: What does Kellogg seek?

We asked the former Kellogg admissions officers on the Stacy Blackman Consulting team to profile what Kellogg seeks. Their consensus is:

Kellogg is looking for leadership, strong academic record and a track record of involvement. Leadership can be demonstrated at work, during undergrad, and/or through extracurriculars. Depth (long-term commitment) and breadth (involved in many activities) are valued.

The former Kellogg admissions officers shared what Kellogg does not want:

“Every applicant talks about the ‘people and culture’ being the main draw to Kellogg. Since ‘culture’ is a given, Kellogg Admissions is looking for applicants who go beyond that.” 

 

Application Essays, Tips & Candidate Evaluation 

The Booth and Kellogg essay prompts vary, with both sets of prompts embody intrinsic, holistic, and/or value-based attributes. While they may change each year, sample Kellogg essays and sample Booth essays from successful admits are instructive to applicants. 

Sam Sherman, a past Stacy Blackman Consulting client who was accepted to both Booth and Kellogg and opted for Booth shared his insights. “Booth really stands out for its pay-it-forward culture. Second-year students make it a priority to mentor and support first-year students as they dive into internship recruiting. Whether it’s facilitating broad career exploration or conducting tactical resume reviews and mock interviews, students play a vital role in helping one another succeed in the job hunt. Booth is also special in its flexible curriculum [in] that it allows students to pursue their individual areas of interest in great depth. In my first year, I already had the opportunity to take Money and Banking, an advanced economics course, with Professor Kroszner, and I plan on kicking off my second year with App Development to further my knowledge in technology and product management. The flexible curriculum will help me make the most of my two years in the MBA program, which truly flies by!”

Malavika Chugh, a past Stacy Blackman Consulting client who was accepted to both Booth and Kellogg, shared about the application differences, “In my mind, the Booth application focused on various life experiences we have had, whether academic or personal in a way that felt quantitative, while Kellogg’s application focused more on the ‘why’ and ‘what did you learn’. Writing essays for Kellogg was an extremely introspective exercise, while the Booth application solidified my perspective on my achievements thus far.”

Booth extends invites for interviews to every individual who is admitted and Kellogg has historically tried to interview every single applicant. Booth has, and Kellogg recently added, a video-based essay requirement that the applicant will receive after submitting their application. A representative from Booth’s MBA program shared about their video requirement, “The intention is to gain a better sense of who they are, and how they think, through an informal question.” If invited to interview at Booth, the school asks candidates to submit a 60 second video that answers one of two questions. One former Kellogg admissions officer on the Stacy Blackman Consulting team advises on the Kellogg video essay: “Be confident. You are probably comfortable using FaceTime or Zoom, and these are not hard questions. Don’t rehearse so much you are racing through a complicated response or sound like a robot reciting a memorized pitch.” 

Is there a way to know your odds? We asked that question of a former Booth Admissions Officer on our Stacy Blackman Consulting team. She said, “The truth is that no one in the world, except for the Deans of Admissions at these institutions, knows your odds. Although it’s tempting to try to figure it out, it’s exponentially more productive to direct that energy toward your essays, engaging with the community, or your application. Be sure to have a deep appreciation for the unique qualities of whatever school you have targeted. Then, make sure to speak to those specific components in your application. This includes your essays, your interview, as well as in discussions you have with anyone connected to the school.” 

 

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Five Tips: Booth MBA application Process

Meg, a former Booth Admissions Officer who is on the Stacy Blackman Consulting team, shared five tips for the Booth MBA application process:

  1. Take the 10,000-foot view: does the combination of all your application components add up to showcase a well-rounded candidate who can not only compete in the classroom, but who can work on teams, bounce back from setbacks, and work tirelessly to achieve success? Like all MBA programs, Booth is looking for more than a “perfect on paper” candidate. Resilience, grit, proven collaboration, and work experience with career progression are all key indicators of success within a program.  
  2. Your resume should be able to tell most of your story. While there are certainly nuances to everyone’s individual story, your resume should be a one-page summary of your life to date in a format that’s easily digestible. Your work experience should showcase a high-level of contributions to the organization that added value, were innovative/unique, or were above your current level. Your undergraduate and post-graduate extra-curricular activities and interests’ sections should showcase a multi-faceted individual who is comfortable in a multitude of settings.
  3. Answer the questions. Whether short-answer prompt or a long-form essay, every word should relate directly back to the question being asked. Essays are a test within a test. Admissions Committees want to see that you can tell your story in a compelling and concise fashion. A representative of Booth’s MBA program added, “The essays provide an opportunity for the candidate to share more of who they are in as few or as many words as needed.”
  4. Be true to yourself. Everyone has a unique and powerful story. It’s incredibly important to focus on conveying an authentic version of yourself as opposed to trying to deliver what you think the committee wants to hear. AdComs are looking for every possible opportunity to get to know you so that they can ascertain whether you’ll be a great fit for their community. You, in turn, must want the same. Your job is to know yourself and seek out schools where you can see yourself thriving. As much as this process can feel one-sided, the reality is that you should be vetting them as much as they’re vetting you. 
  5. Think deeply about your recommenders and prepare them accordingly. Admissions Committees rely heavily on the perspective of your recommenders. In many cases, and especially if that recommender has an MBA from a top program, that opinion can be the deciding factor for candidates. Make sure they are aware of what you believe your weaknesses are and be direct about asking them to highlight examples of your leadership, promotability, and collaborative nature in the workplace. If one of your recommenders isn’t your current supervisor, be able to have a reason for this. 

Five Tips: Kellogg MBA application Process

Caryn, a former Kellogg Admissions Officer who is on the Stacy Blackman Consulting team, shared five tips for the Kellogg MBA application process to increase admit odds:

  1. Consider Kellogg’s breadth of MBA offerings. Kellogg has a full range of MBA programs beyond just the traditional Two-Year (2Y) MBA program, including the One-Year (1Y) program, MMM, MBAi, and JD-MBA programs. If you are a good fit for any of these programs, it may be a more targeted way to apply to Kellogg and help set you apart from the masses applying to the 2Y program.
  2.   Leadership and collaboration. The ability to motivate a team to make an impact continues to be important. Kellogg’s essay 1 is a great way to demonstrate overcoming a challenge but be careful here not to only relay “I did this and I did that,” and instead use the space to show (versus tell) the reader how you lead. 
  3. Innovative thinking. Show where you questioned the existing way of doing things or came up with an out of the box solution. In light of COVID, there were most likely a ton of new ways you had to go about doing things this year. In your essays, demonstrate your ability to think innovatively and highlight the areas where you achieved new heights.
  4. In depth involvement. Highlight not just a laundry list of extracurriculars but be able to go deep into a cause that is important to you. Kellogg thrives on community and involvement. They are looking at past extracurricular activities as an indicator of involvement at Kellogg and beyond. Show AdCom clearly what you have done beyond just being a member or participant wherever you can. These should include traditional activities as well as more unique ways you found to be involved during this past year.
  5. Show Kellogg love. This is difficult to do within Kellogg’s essay set, but easy to convey within the interview (either video interview or in person). Demonstrating interest and knowledge of all things Kellogg are extremely important as Adcom wants to know that you can hit the ground running in your first weeks on campus. When relaying why Kellogg is the perfect program for you, be able to share details on particular classes and professors. Go deep into an extracurricular of interest and show how you plan to make an impact. A good rule of thumb: if you can easily substitute another school’s name for Kellogg, you need to be more specific!

Admitted to Both, How to Decide?

Sam Sherman, who chose Booth over Kellogg, shared, “I would recommend connecting with a variety of first- and second-year students to get a holistic perspective of the culture at Booth. Try connecting with student group leaders for the clubs you are interested in and with students who have recruited for your target industry (e.g., Banking, Consulting, Tech, etc.). You’d be surprised how informative a quick 15-minute call can be! When it comes to Booth and Kellogg, I believe the similarities far outweigh the differences. Both programs will equip you with the tools to be successful, so my recommendation would be to prioritize fit!”

Malavika Chugh, who chose Kellogg over Booth, shared, “I would recommend speaking to as many students as possible. The MBA opens up your world to a pool of extremely ambitious people from all walks of life, and research by talking to students is the most effective way of understanding what your experience could be like. Reach out to people in clubs you’re interested in, people who have done the case competitions you would want to do, and then make a decision! I was also lucky enough to visit both campuses – this gave me a very on-the-ground sense of what it would be like to spend two years here. You won’t go wrong either way, but it’s worth being intentional while making this decision.”

Admissions Stats, Demographics & Class Size

Kellogg is just as hard to get into as Booth. It’s worth noting that the average GMAT score for Kellogg and Booth’s applicant pool is high, at around 730 for each.

Class of 2025 Admission Stats Kellogg Booth
Average GMAT 731 728
GMAT Range 620-780 600-780
Average GRE 163/163 163/162
Average GPA 3.7 3.6

GMAT scores are based on the Classic edition, which has been replaced by a new score range for the next application cycle. 

Booth and Kellogg admit a high percentage of students who had majored in either business or economics when they did their undergraduate studies. At Booth, 14% of students have done their undergraduate studies in the liberal arts while Kellogg has retained more poets, with 25% of students who did their undergraduate work in the humanities. It’s surprising, however, that Kellogg brings in as many students with STEM backgrounds, given Chicago Booth’s long-standing draw for quants. Interestingly, Kellogg increased its student representation from Engineering/Math/STEM degrees from 29% in 2021 to 38% in 2024. Booth has seen a steady increase of students with engineering backgrounds–20% in 2021 to 25% in 2024–and a more than 4% increase of students with military backgrounds/veteran status within the same timeframe.

 

Undergrad Degrees* Kellogg Booth
Humanities 25% 14%
Engineering/Math/STEM 38% 25%
Business and Economics 50% 46%
*Estimated and doesn’t account for overlap

Chicago Booth enrolls a comparably-sized, two-year MBA class, having brought in 637 students for the class of 2025 compared to Kellogg’s 529. Additionally, Booth’s new Master in Management (MiM) and Master in Finance (MiF) programs, along with its Joint-MBA degrees and certification programs bring in roughly 300 students.  

But Kellogg makes up the difference in size—and then some—because of its accelerated one-year (1Y) MBA which begins in June of each year with roughly 130 students in each cohort and its MMM program with 65 students. MMM curriculum is a dual-degree combination of MBA and Master of Design Innovation that has a strong appeal to consultants and people oriented towards design-thinking. Data Analytics, Tech, Entrepreneurship are all hot now at both programs.

Both Chicago Booth and Kellogg are schools with very large enrollments. Of the top business schools, only INSEAD, Harvard, Wharton, and Columbia have total full-time enrollments that exceed Booth and Kellogg. Once you add the sizable part-time MBA programs that both Booth and Kellogg offer, these two institutions are even larger than Harvard, Wharton, and Columbia. In fact, there’s only one major school with a larger enrollment: New York University’s Stern School due to its massive part-time enrollment. Booth and Kellogg enroll nearly the same number of full-time MBAs, if you include Kellogg’s one-year MBA students, with Booth at 1,307 and Kellogg 1301. 

 

Enrollment Stats for Full Time Class of 2025 MBA Students Kellogg Booth
Enrolled MBA Students 1301 1307
International MBA Students 26% 36%
Women MBA Students 40% 41%
Underrepresented Minority* 14% 18%
LGBTQ+ 9% 12%

 

*Estimated based on adding according to Federal Reporting Guidelines:  Black / African American, Hispanic / Latinx, Multi-Race, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Other Pacific Islander. Booth also reported that 11% of their students are Veterans.

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Jobs, Pay and Employment Location

Both programs have comparable salaries of around $180,000 on average (median) upon employment with a median sign-on bonus of around $30,000 ($33,000 for Booth). When it comes to pay, employment rate, and placement, both schools provide solid on-ramps to lucrative MBA careers, as you can see from their employment reports.  

Booth Career Employment Report

Kellogg Career Employment Report

But the difference is more about career choice than it is a reflection on the demand for a school’s graduates. Key differences are with the career choices of finance versus tech. A heavier emphasis on finance, 33%, is still seen at Booth, a big difference from the 22% of Kellogg grads who joined the financial sector in 2023. In Booth’s latest graduating Class of 2023, the largest single group of students (39%) went into the field of consulting.

By location, both programs place similar numbers of graduates to each geographic region. 

Tech industry placement has decreased for both schools–23% in 2021 to 16% in 2023 for Booth and from 28% in 2021 to 17% in 2023 for Kellogg, and both have been offsetted by higher placements in consulting and finance industry in 2023. 

Industry: Jobs & Pay Data Kellogg Booth
MBAs employed 3 months after commencement 92% 96%
Consulting Industry 42% 39%
Finance Industry 22% 33%
Tech Industry 17% 16%
Health Care 3% 3%

 

Geography: Jobs & Pay Data Kellogg Booth
Northeast Location 24% 27%
West Coast Location 23% 22%
Southwest Location 7% 6%
South 4% 4%
Mid Atlantic 4% 4%
Midwest 32% 30%
International 6% 7%

 

Both Booth and Kellogg attract the top MBA corporate recruiters in the world and, just as importantly, both schools have best-in-class career services offices to help with job searches. Pretty much any recruiter who comes to Chicago visits both schools–not one or the other. So you’re exposed to an amazing array of world-class companies that actively recruit large numbers of MBAs. 

Culture

For years, Chicago Booth was known as a haven of sorts for quant jocks. By and large, the finance geeks dominated the student culture, while a highly acclaimed faculty continued to have a positive global influence and impact. Building on that strength, Booth delivers an  academic experience that encourages rigorous inquiry and leadership through collaboration in numerous fields, all through a unique, flexible curriculum.. 

In 2023, Chicago Booth marked its 125th year anniversary as a global leader in business education and research.Booth alumni–more than 57,900 strong–affect change in more than 120 countries around the world. As such, new graduates can expect a supportive, extensive, and growing network of global business leaders and changemakers.

 

Sami Syed, ’24 shared about Booth’s culture, “At Booth, I discovered a community unlike any other. The rigorous curriculum pushed me to think critically, tackle complex problems, and craft innovative solutions. Beyond the academics, it was the people—the professors, classmates, and alumni—who truly made my experience unforgettable. Their mentorship, guidance, and camaraderie enriched my journey and furthered both my personal and professional growth.”

 

“I feel incredibly lucky that I found what I’m doing now and I’m grateful to my younger self for making the decision to get my MBA from Booth without really knowing how it was going to play out, said Kathy (Klunzinger) Ganley, ’96, Mason Lane Art Advisory, Art Consultant. One of the biggest benefits of [Booth’s] MBA program was the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of people—her Booth classmates ranged from entrepreneurs to Navy SEALs. “That was where I really started to understand the value of collaboration, which is a large part of my work today,” added Ganley. 

 

Malavika Chugh shared about Kellogg’s culture, “Kellogg’s student culture feels like a warm hug! The MBA can be overwhelming in a multitude of ways – intensive classes, extra-curricular involvement, an abundance of choices for how to best spend your two years. Kellogg maintains a culture of openness and opportunity, where you have a strong support system to dive into things that sound interesting and fuel your personal & professional development. Even during the pandemic, I have been pleasantly surprised at people’s willingness to engage and make friends. I love the inclusivity of JVs (Joint Ventures) or partners at Kellogg. My husband has the opportunity to not only audit classes, but be a very active member of the Kellogg community and join me on my MBA journey even as I travel and meet new people. I also appreciate the continued focus on DEI, from students and administration, which is extremely important to me personally, and also relevant to the leaders of tomorrow.” 

A former Booth Admissions Officer who works on our Stacy Blackman Consulting team shared, “Booth has a special community. Unifying the community are its hallmarks: pay-it-forward mentality, discipline-based approach to learning, and the fact that they happen to have Nobel-prize winners teaching there. For me, I loved the fact that the students were encouraged, even expected, to be involved in the growth of the institution. Booth is a place that values tension in the classroom. Every year, Donna Swinford, Associate Dean of Recruitment and Admissions, and her team put together classes of students who don’t think alike. There are countless examples of diverse student groups uniting to lead initiatives that have ultimately made Booth a better place. The point is to have a diversity of thought. Booth students embrace the opportunity to learn and grow from each other’s unique perspectives. In doing so, they become better versions of themselves.” 

Chicago Booth’s defining culture is rooted in student success. World-class faculty bring scholarly work into the classroom in ways that are most useful to students, while students have the freedom to tailor their MBA experience to their own interests and career goals. This curricular flexibility is mutually beneficial, as students get to direct their learning and faculty get to teach classes where students have chosen to be. This creates a powerful dynamic where everyone at Booth is invested in the study of business. 

As the first university to grant a PhD in business to a woman, Booth has helped women become effective and influential global business leaders, and supports women-focused groups and initiatives, including the Chicago Booth Women’s Network (CBWN).

“I am filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the community of women I found at Booth who offered unwavering support, mentorship, and inspiration,” said Saron Strait, ’23. “Their friendship enriched my experience and challenged me to grow both personally and professionally. I am honored to have had the opportunity to learn and grow alongside a group of strong, brilliant, and compassionate women who I know will make a difference in the world. Even though we’re now spread all over the country, I know these relationships will endure long into the future.

”Kellogg is widely known for its smart and down-to-earth community. Put highly intelligent, yet friendly and outgoing people together, and you’re going to get a strong culture that approximates a sense of family. It was and still is a big part of the secret of Kellogg’s success. 

The Kellogg culture continues to be an inviting place for women leaders, as well. Advancing Kellogg’s long-standing commitment to training future women business leaders, they have established the Drake Scholar Network, a “powerful, intergenerational network of women students, faculty and alumnae fostered through Kellogg,” funded by a major gift from Ann M. Drake, Kellogg alum of 1984. 

 

Rankings

Booth tends to have the advantage in rankings, though both schools are nip-and-tuck on various lists. Kellogg and Booth are consistently ranked as top 7 MBA programs. As the rankings are so close, it’s pretty much a toss-up. Only two schools are consistently ahead of these two MBA programs: Wharton and Stanford. 

At Stacy Blackman Consulting, we don’t encourage clients to focus too heavily on rankings when they’re making their MBA program selections. In fact, placing a heavy emphasis on rankings can actually become a distraction for some applicants. Applicants would do well to focus more on a program’s culture, size, or the strength of its alumni network. Rankings change each year and vary by ranking reports, as you can see from the chart below.

Poets & Quants US News 2024 US News 2023 US News 2022 US News 2021
Northwestern Kellogg 12 3 2 3 4
Chicago Booth 11 3 1 1 3

 

Booth Program Options

Booth offers six different programs, including a full-time MBA program at the Harper Center in Hyde Park , and Evening MBA and Weekend MBA programs in downtown Chicago at its Gleacher Center. Booth’s Ph.D. program–the first doctoral business program in the nation that was launched more than 100 years ago–has 150  students across several areas of study. Significantly, Chicago Booth is the only US business school with global campuses, offering its Executive MBA and Executive Education programs in Chicago, London, and Hong Kong.

“Choosing Chicago Booth’s EMBA Program was a mindful decision both personally and professionally. I was born in the US, grew up in Taiwan, and was educated in Switzerland. Booth’s global EMBA Program has campuses across three continents where students have the opportunity to learn alongside an international and diverse cohort in all three locations; this resonated with me, said Stephanie Hwu, Executive MBA Student Chicago

Becton Dickinson, Senior Manager of Systems Engineering. “As a scientist, I was drawn to Chicago Booth’s commitment to data-driven decision-making and analytical rigor, making Booth my obvious choice for pursuing an MBA. My experience as a new parent has been truly exceptional. Booth’s flexibility and the immense support from the program office teams in Chicago and Hong Kong, my classmates, professors, and TAs made it possible to juggle motherhood and studies without compromising my career aspirations. The presence of many other parents in the program fostered a strong sense of community and understanding.”

Expanding on its distinct, data-driven offerings, Booth launched new programs in 2023–Master in Management (MiM) and Master in Finance (MiF) programs, and continues to expand its joint-degree offerings with the University of Chicago in law, computer- and applied science, health administration, public policy, and other areas of study.

Chicago Booth’s Master in Management

Booth launched a one-year (10-month) Master in Management (MiM) program for recent, non-business college graduates who are curious about the world of business and want to better prepare for careers where business and management education is valuable. With many college graduates having completed their undergraduate degree and being unsure about what to do next, Booth’s MiM program serves as a bridge between a student’s undergraduate experience and their desire to begin and build a successful career. Courses in economics, management, data analytics, accounting, and decision-making provide core skills, while electives allow students to tailor their studies in areas such as finance, strategic management, analytics, marketing, or entrepreneurship. With comprehensive career support, Booth’s MiM program provides the next generation of leaders with core business skills that they can combine with their undergraduate experience to boost their earning potential and enhance their competitiveness in the job market.

Chicago Booth’s Master in Finance

The Master in Finance program (MiF) at Chicago Booth is for accomplished recent college graduates in quantitative fields of study who are searching for a master’s degree that builds on their analytical aptitude, and allows them to start a career in finance with a competitive advantage over their peers. As part of Booth’s deeply collaborative community, students are supported at every level and take their MiF core courses as a cohort, allowing them to build a community that will support them during their master’s degree experience—and beyond. For some, the MiF program can be a pathway to an accelerated MBA option at Booth. This option allows MiF students to apply six courses they previously completed toward getting their MBA at Booth. Depending on which program format they choose, they could earn an MBA just 15 months after matriculation in Booth’s Full-Time-, Evening-, or Weekend MBA programs. Students can also engage with the broader graduate student University of Chicago community, including at events and student group activities, and explore other opportunities for growth.

Chicago Booth/University of Chicago Joint Degrees

Nine joint-degree and two certificate programs available through Chicago Booth and the University of Chicago allow students to tailor their program of study with the skills and knowledge needed to advance their careers. The MBA joint-degree programs and certificate programs are open to students in the Full-Time MBA program, while the university’s Obama Foundation Scholars Program is open to both Full-Time MBA and Part-Time MBA students. 

 

Kellogg Program Options

Kellogg’s offerings are just as broad: the school has an evening and weekend part-time program in Wieboldt Hall in downtown Chicago as well as in Evanston, along with its Executive MBA program with locations in Evanston and Coral Gables, Fl., and an equally large Ph.D. program. Its Full-Time MBA boasts several distinct options for earning a degree, including its newest MBAi program, an AI-focused program, the MMM, a dual-degree integrating business with design innovation and a one-year accelerated program. 

Kellogg’s Master in Management

Kellogg’s 10-month Master of Science in Management Studies (MiM) has long been regarded as the top U.S. master in management program for pre-experienced students. The 10-month program is designed for ambitious recent grads with a background in STEM, economics and liberal arts, and features an innovative curriculum taught by Kellogg faculty that blends academic rigor with real-world practicality. In the upcoming year, Kellogg plans to launch co-curricular activities derived from three of their strongest centers: family business, healthcare and real estate.   

One-Year Program at Kellogg

The one-year program is an excellent alternative for applicants who are slightly vulnerable in terms of “chances,” for reasons such as mature tenure or GMAT.  “We have seen through our Stacy Blackman Consulting client pool that the 1Y program is a bit less competitive than the traditional 2 year program, assuming of course that all the criteria are met,” commented a former Kellogg Admissions Officer who works on the Stacy Blackman Consulting team. For those applicants with a business undergrad and who don’t need an internship, it’s a really great program, especially as there is very little difference in brand power between the 1Y and two-year programs in the professional world. 

MBAi at Kellogg

In 2021, Kellogg launched its MBAi program, an accelerated five-quarter joint MBA, in partnership with the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University. The MBAi wholly integrates AI and data science with business-driving innovation. 

 

Geography

Chicago is a U.S. mecca of urban life and cultural experiences, with 77 different communities and almost one million people  from different backgrounds  just in the south side alone. 

Chicago Booth is located in Hyde Park, about a 15-minute train ride from downtown Chicago where the majority of Booth students live. Just steps away from Lake Michigan, Hyde Park is the site of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, national historic landmarks, and home to former President Barack Obama. It is a quiet neighborhood with the University of Chicago at its heart, along with museums, parks, cafes, restaurants, and diverse- and locally-owned shops. It hosts a thriving academic community who collaborate, innovate, and conduct research, and work to further deepen its connection to the south side and to the city. At the center of the university’s vast campus, Booth is home to the world’s preeminent academic business school faculty—ten of whom have received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, including one most recently in 2022. Booth faculty bring their transformative teaching, research, and leadership to students. 

Kellogg is in Evanston, Ill., about a 30-minute train ride into the heart of Chicago. Evanston, Ill., is an appealing and vibrant college town.

A past Stacy Blackman Consulting client shared, “While I love living in large metropolitan areas, living and studying in Evanston further encourages bonding within the Kellogg community. We make trips to Chicago (although reduced due to the pandemic) but also enjoy spending quality time together in Evanston and feel like we are a part of the same tight knit community.”

As the third-largest city in America, Chicago is an exciting place to be, with a thriving music scene, first-class restaurants and bars, and awesome cultural attractions, including the world’s second-largest art museum, the Art Institute. It’s a gorgeous place, with 31 miles of lakefront, including nearly 19 miles of bike paths and 33 beaches. The one very big downside: the winters can be brutal.

Facilities 

Chicago Booth’s Charles M. Harper Center (Harper Center) in Hyde Park, the school’s global headquarters serves as an incubator space where the Booth community formally and informally comes together. The $125 million, 415,000 square foot building, with a six-story glass Rothman Winter Garden atrium, houses several research centers and is surrounded by classrooms, study spaces, art, and cafes. The center supports a sense of community and belonging for students from all backgrounds; from diversity dinners to women-focused events to the Booth’s annual Pink Party, Booth students participate in cultural, regional, religious, and personal affiliation group activities throughout the year. 

Among Booth’s  many labs is Mindworks: The Science of Thinking in downtown Chicago. Launched in 2021, the Roman Family Center for Decision Research (CDR) with PIMCO Decision Research Laboratories created the world’s first interactive discovery center where students and  researchers gain scientific discoveries studying human behavior experiences. 

For years, Kellogg certainly lagged Booth when it came to having a beautiful home. That changed in 2017 with the opening of the school’s $250 million Global Hub on the shores of Lake Michigan. The ultra-modern, glass-and-steel structure with its four wings of nooks and crannies for students to study and hang out is a 415,000-square-foot marvel. The architectural brief for Kellogg’s Global Hub called for an “excessively public” building reminiscent of an academic village. There is a Collaboration Plaza on the first floor, with a three-story-high atrium and two glass openings that draw attention toward Lake Michigan and Chicago’s skyline. There’s also a 7,800 square foot design center, a wing with four design studios: a company-in-residence studio, an artist-in-residence studio, a tech studio where virtual reality-assisted brainstorming can occur, and a maker space where design prototypes can be built. The wing also houses Kellogg’s entrepreneurial initiative where students work on their startup ideas.

Program Focus

The most obvious difference is that Kellogg has long been known as the business school for marketing, while Chicago Booth has long had a reputation for finance. 

Booth’s study of marketing is distinctive, however, as the quant marketing group did data in marketing long before anyone else. Through its James M. Kilts Center for Marketing research center,faculty have access to a number of datasets, including Nielsen datasets, which they use to produce research and teach students both the art and the science of marketing. 

Booth students have access to several other resources and programming through its centers. The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation offers students PE/VC labs, capital award competitions for local start-ups such as the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge, the John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC) with the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation, and internships with PE/VC firms during the academic year. The Polsky Exchange in Hyde Park, a startup incubator, gives students the opportunity to work with numerous local ventures. Students can also access Duality–the nation’s first accelerator for quantum companies offered in partnership with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Argonne, and P33. 

At the Center for Applied Artificial Intelligence (AI) students study machine learning and behavioral science to determine how AI can best support human decision-making and improve society. Booth’s Healthcare Initiative allows students in different disciplines collaborate with partners across the university to address complex challenges facing the healthcare sector.

Throughout their MBA, Booth students have access to a wide range of career paths, and are encouraged to pursue their areas of interest. While consulting, financial services, and technology remain the top industry destinations, students are entering increasingly specialized roles in some of these sectors. Within technology, Booth graduates regularly secure roles in product management, operations, corporate strategy, investing, and corporate finance. In parallel, graduates are entering financial services firms to work in investment banking, private equity, venture capital, research, and real estate. In addition to foundational business courses, many Booth students take advantage of experiential learning and lab courses which offer hands-on exposure to private equity, venture capital, healthcare, product development, and social impact.

The footprint of Booth graduates reflects the diversity of employers and industries which hire Booth students as well as student interests and economic conditions. In 2021, 27% of Booth students landed on the west coast (23% of the class went into tech). In 2023, 22% went to the west coast (16% entered tech.) The east coast and Midwest remain top destinations for Booth graduates.  

While Kellogg graduates land jobs across industries, financial services firms are increasingly turning to Kellogg to recruit their next generation of talent, along with a steady interest from technology companies. Among the Two-Year MBA Class of 2023, 22% of students accepted jobs in this industry, a 35% increase over 2022. Within financial services, private equity is the top destination for Kellogg students, with 10% of the class accepting jobs in the field. 

Kellogg also has seen a growth in interest for its entrepreneurship programs over the last few years. Their entrepreneurship pathway offers a three-course Launch-Pad, which includes three 10-week courses including New Venture Discovery, New Venture Development, and New Venture Launch. Students may pick from 20 elective courses that can be industry-specific and cross-disciplinary. But all along the way, the courses are geared to train the venturing mind no matter if the goal is to launch a new venture or create innovation within a corporation. Kellogg’s entrepreneurial approach is highlighted by the Zell Fellows Program, which provides resources to 30 students armed with ventures every year. 2023 marked the 10-year anniversary of the program, which recently received a $25 million gift from the Zell Family Foundation to endow the program in perpetuity. Not to mention, students in the entrepreneurship program are also offered the opportunity through a program called NUVention to integrate with researchers and resources across the university as a whole to bring new ideas and products to life. In addition, the Levy Inspiration Grant Program, launched in Fall of 2022, provides the funding [$5,000] and co-curricular opportunity for students with entrepreneurial ambitions to travel abroad and immerse themselves directly in any market they wish to address, rather than studying a problem from afar. We featured a past client’s experience as an entrepreneur at Kellogg’s MBA program in this case study

Kellogg has, for several years now, offered a Winter Quarter immersion into the Bay Area ecosystem. The program features seminars and visits with local entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, offers MBA students a chance to take three courses (Cases in Venture Investment, Social Dynamics and Network Analysis, and Entrepreneurship: Building Innovation, Teams, and Cultures) as well as an internship over a full 10-week quarter in San Francisco.

Curriculum

Both schools’ offerings are based on the quarter system. Chicago Booth students typically take three to four courses per quarter and at Kellogg, students take between three and five courses per quarter (with three quarters a year). Booth requires a minimum of 20 courses plus one LEAD course for graduation; Kellogg requires a minimum of 20.5 courses.

Booth has one of the most flexible multidisciplinary curriculums among most business schools.. Its one required course for all MBA students, Leadership Effectiveness and Development (LEAD), focuses on  core management skills such as negotiation, team-building, and giving feedback. Other than that, students choose what courses to take and when to take them based on their experience, previous education, and goals. Some of these include the popular MBA concentration in entrepreneurship and the newest MBA concentration in healthcare. So you don’t have to sit through elementary accounting or basic finance, as examples, if you already have an undergraduate background in these areas. A representative from Booth’s MBA program added, “Students are not required to take courses in a lockstep order.”

Booth students benefit from the school’s educational partnerships. With the Chicago Urban League in 2014, Booth created the IMPACT Leadership Development program, which connects up-and-coming professionals with senior Black leaders throughout Chicago. Building on this effort, Booth’s Rustandy Center partnered with the Chicago Urban League again and Golub Capital in 2022 to launch the Golub Capital Social Impact Lab, which provides training and professional development to leaders of high-potential nonprofits serving communities of color. Additionally, Booth every year hosts the Management Leadership for Tomorrow Pre-Application Seminar welcoming Black, Latinx, and Native American students interested in business school for two days of virtual learning and networking.

Similarly, Kellogg’s MBAi program offers a curriculum that deepens students’ understanding of how technology and leadership intersect, and the school has continued to demonstrate its commitment in the area over the last few years by expanding its curricular offerings in the space. 

The MBAi degree, in partnership with the McCormick School of Engineering, has solidified itself as a unique and transformative initiative at Kellogg. Through courses tailor-made for the program, the MBAi equips students with expertise at the intersection of business and technology and addresses the need to fill the talent gap in the rapidly growing fields of AI and Machine Learning at large.  

Kellogg emphasizes the use of AI not only as a teaching tool but also as a way for students to understand its capabilities while emphasizing ethical and strategic usage.  

For example, Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work, which focuses on the organizational and managerial implications of AI and how it can be applied at the workplace, rather than in technical dimensions. Similar in nature is a class taught by Professor Adam Waytz, called Leading AI: Organizations, Ethics and Society, which prepares future leaders to think about the societal, ethical and organizational implications of A.I., and how to anticipate problems that might arise through the increasing reliance on the technology, and how to address them.   

Kellogg’s newest addition, however, is its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Pathway. With courses such as Moral Complexity in Leadership and The Business for Social Change, the pathway offers students a map to curricular resources for understanding how to integrate empirical research and DEI best practices into their managerial/leadership activities – which is more important now, than ever before. 

Check out our other MBA program smackdowns at the links below:

Check out our other Which MBA comparisons here.  For details on MBA program application deadlines, check out our comparison chart here.

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Reprinted from Poetsandquants, 2024

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