Harvard MBA vs Stanford GSB vs Wharton MBA: Which one is right for you?

When you talk of an MBAabroad, the obvious destination that comes to the mind is the USA which happens to the most popular destination of international management students. Not surprisingly while fancying your chances for a prestigious MBA in the USA, the three names that readily crop up are the Harvard University, Stanford University or the Wharton at Pennsylvania.They are considered to the Mecca of all business schools – a dream for any aspiring student. Let us first check out each individually before you seek an answer to which is better.

Harvard Business School: (HBS): Regarded as one of the best Business Schools in the world, it is located in Boston, Massachusetts. It offers flagship full-time MBA program affiliated to Harvard University.

Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB):Located in Palo Alto, California,underStanford University, it is one of the leading B-Schools in the world offering MS in Management besides MBA.

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania:Simply known as the Wharton, it is located in Philadelphia.  It is a private Ivy LeagueUniversity and considered to be at par with the HBS and GSB about MBA.

Stanford vs Harvard vs Wharton – Which is better:

Choosing one of the three is an onerous task to an international student. However, comparison can be made between them based on definite parameters to arrive at an informed decision.


  • HBS: The curriculum is fairly rigid and dependant on the case study method.
  • GSB: Their approach to business education is holistic and customizable.
  • Wharton: Like the GSB, their curriculum is flexible using a blend of teaching methods.

Classroom Ambience:

  • HBS: Ithas the largest intake of 950 students operating in a competitive atmosphere which helps them perform to potential.
  • GSB: The smallest intake of 400 students and are faced with an informal air about the campus.
  • Wharton:The student intake is next to HBS at 850. And the atmosphere is similar to GSB.

Selection of Students:

  • HBS: The emphasis is on academic credentials and achievements and not much on work experience.
  • GSB: Most difficult for admission; they look for candidates with corporate exposure and fitness for their program.
  • Wharton: It emphasises international cultural amalgamation among its students.

Placement Record:

  • HBS: It encourages a broader placement reach that is truly networked globally.
  • GSB: It encourages its students to a career in technology entrepreneurship, more so in the domestic market.
  • Wharton: It encourages their students into top rung consultancy firms or Wall Street.

Brand Value:

  • HBS:Internationally, HBS students enjoy an edge over the others, though the brand value of all the three is very similar. .HBS MBA is especially preferred in Asia.
  • GSB: The domestic market root for the MBA from this institute. The low acceptance rate at 5% is often cited as its superiority.
  • Wharton: There is a notion that Whartonites are more at ease as CFOsor leaders in the field of Finance rather than as the Executive leadership in business. This is far from true.

HBS or GSB or Wharton – What is the choice:

Choosing one of the three is challenging to an international student. It is all the more difficult as the brand value of the three is almost equal. Considerations of the various parameters so far discussed also do not give a tangible edge to any of the three. Campus comfort in the three can be anothercriterion, Stanford scores in this respect due to the warmth of Californian sunshine. Major rating agencies give HBS an edge as it is among the top two consistently, while the other two are not far behind.

Bottom Line:

There being hardly any distinguishing feature between the three, the cost factor can be considered to be the clincher. HBS, GSB and Wharton are all great business schools. Scholarships can be the mitigating factor for an international student choosing one of them at the cost of the other two.

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