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10 business schools you’ve got to have on your radar

Irrespective of your GMAT score, your post MBA career goals and your penchant/hatred for saas-bahu serials, if you are an Indian MBA applicant there are a few schools that you’ve GOT to have on your radar. And it doesn’t matter if you are eligible or qualified to get in. The fact is most of your peers will be talking about it before, during and after you complete your MBA course from another university. So spend a little time getting to know these top MBA programs. Here’s MCB’s take on it.

  1. Harvard Business School (HBS) – A 100 years in the MBA business and the strongest brand in the market are good enough reasons to keep the Harvard flag flying high up there.
  2. Stanford Graduate School of Business (Stanford GSB) – Did you know it’s tougher to get into Stanford than it is to get into Harvard? Reasons – a rock solid brand that’s respected globally, an opportunity to interact with brilliant (and nice) classmates and get some vitamin D (and Vitamin $ in the form of venture capital funds for your new venture) in sunny Silicon Valley.
  3. Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton MBA) – After IIM (Indian/IT/Male), the next most common acronym, if you can call it that, in bschool world is H/S/W. And the ‘W’ in there stands for Wharton. Very ‘fact-based and data-driven’. Also quite strong in finance (and entrepreneurship), if that’s your cup of tea.
  4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – ‘Mere paas Harvard hai, Stanford hai, Wharton hai…kya hai tumhare paas..haain?’. ‘Bhai, mere paas, Maaaa…ssachusetts Institute of Technology hai, bhaai’. Nuff said.
  5. London School of Business (LBS) – The strongest non-American MBA brand out there. Bang in the middle of London with easy access to all the top employers in the city. It offers a 16-month option if you are in a hurry to hit the job market faster.
  6. INSEAD – The chhotu-sa town (in comparison to France) of Fontainebleau came on to the global map and junta started getting inquisitive (with questions like ‘how the heck do you pronounce the name of the school and the town?’) because of this one institution. With a campus in Singapore, it’s spread its wings into Asia.
  7. Indian School of Business (ISB) – C’mon guys. Let’s go beyond patriotic rhetoric and accept the fact that this is THE best international bschool (being unapologetically judgemental here) we have back home that can compete with the old-timers out there. It’s cracked into the top rankings in a very short time and we’ve got high expectations and hopes for apna strongest desi contender. Give it time and breathing space though as others in the same league have had a long run-up to reach where they are.
  8. Indian Institute of Management (IIMA PGPX) – After proving their mettle in the traditional 2-year MBA space, they’ve now moved into the 1-year MBA domain. The idea – leverage a dhansoo brand and some kick-a** resources (including some superstar professors and strong industry connections) to reinvent the management education game. Will they be as successful as the other global 1-year MBA programs? Only time will tell.
  9. National University of Singapore (NUS) – An Asian program that allows Indian applicants to learn management in an international setting without burning a huge hole in their pocket, well at least in relative terms. The low investment and attractive RoI makes it quite popular among Indian applicants. Singapore is a commercial hub that hosts many domestic and global companies.
  10. ??? – Complete this one for me please. Are there any Indian or international business schools that you feel a strong spiritual connection with? Why?

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Sameer Kamat
About Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Follow me on: Instagram | Linkedin | Youtube

37 thoughts on “10 business schools you’ve got to have on your radar”

  1. True, Pranjali. And this query warrants a nice, long explanation.

    Most Indian MBA applicants who’ve already done their research and are in the process of submitting applications are aware of these schools. However, we get a lot of candidates (including students who haven’t graduated) at a very preliminary stage reaching out to us with very basic queries that the rest of the veterans out there will tend to take for granted.

    Some of the queries we get:

    – ‘What is an MBA?’
    – ‘Do you think it will help me?’
    – ‘I did not do well in CAT, I want to go abroad as my friend told me it is easier to get an admit and scholarships abroad. Is it true?’
    – ‘I’ve only heard of Harvard and Stanford. What are the other good schools for Indians?’
    – ‘After I spend so much, will the school guarantee a job?’

    One stand we can take is to ignore them as they aren’t our potential clients and it might make more sense for us to conserve our energies and focus on candidates who are more likely to sign up for MCB services. We don’t want to take that stand.

    We are hoping to make this a platform to reach out to those who will not be paying us anything, but are still hanging around on our blog for credible information and topics/issues/concerns that may divert a little from our primary focus. If all this sounds a little vague right now, please hang on till we publish the next blog post. All I can share right now is that it’s from a brave girl based in Bangalore who hasn’t let her personal challenges come in the way of her dreams.

    Coming back to your original query, apart from catering to the information requirements of the ‘power users’ we are trying to widen the scope to ensure we aren’t marginalising the early birds who need a little more direction for their research efforts. It’s a balance we’ll have to strike between the extremely basic content and the advanced stuff.

    Appreciate your frank comments, Pranjali. Keep ’em coming.

  2. Yep.. okay.. i get your point.. :))
    I have some people coming up to me and asking why the GMAT has such a strong Verbal component. Wouldn’t it be simpler to model it like the CAT? So i completely get your point and now understand where you are coming from.
    Since i eagerly await your blog posts, I was disappointed with this information ( but I now understand the wider audience that you need to cater to) and completely agree with your point now!!
    What about publishing some offbeat schools as a next post (just a suggestion) and that would really excite some of the more ‘mature’ players in this game.. On a very selfish note, it will help me shortlist some schools for my hubby as well;)
    Right now I have Duke, UNC , Ross, Darden and Emory (safe??) on the radar for him. Would love to hear more from you on these and other schools.
    Kudos Sameer Bhai!! Keep Rocking the MBA world!!

  3. Surprised to not see IIPM in the lists here..
    IIPM is probably the best thing to have happened to Indian candidates who want a less-serious but well rounded MBA complete with US trips and a free laptop.
    Also Prof. Arindam is looking at synergies with his Bollywood connections. I like my college gatherings to have a Bollywood celebrity or two.
    And also, what about IIPM’s tie-ups with several top B-schools in the world? Even top-notch B schools like Cambridge Judge Business School, Imperial college do not have tie-ups with Wharton and the likes of it.
    Tchay.. 🙁

  4. I would put Oxford/ Cambridge (with all due respect to their uniqueness as 2 different b schools)though I am not sure about inclusion of PGPX yet mainly because it caters to a different age group/aspiring applicants and more in the league of EMBAs. I guess with ISB launching EMBA program then you will have to include that also in the list which wont be logical, I guess.

    Though I buy your argument favoring NUS but in order to make the list more interesting/international I would replace it with HEC, Paris or Melbourne Business School primarily because of their legacy, strong presence of Indians and brand value in the respective country/regions.

  5. Hey,
    Great initiative!! Just wanted to check what you guys thought of Kellogg and Univ. of Chicago – they are regarded pretty high up there ..maybe just after the H/S/W trinity.

  6. my two cents on this article..

    I feel the ranking should have a mix of colleges – Top-10, 20 & 30, to make it more useful. In its present form, the ranking throws no surprises.
    Take for instance, tepper, which has good brand in India, or a school like GA tech, which is great for placements. Most prospective students do their bit of research to hunt for such schools that are able to “satisfy” majority of their selection criteria like brand value, ROI, schol etc. Moreover, its hard to miss out Babson, 54th rank but No.1 in entrepreneurship.

  7. Maybe you guys could add a couple of other things :

    1. Brand perceived in India vs brand perceived abroad –

    For example – Tuck is highly regarded in the US but not very well known internationally.

    2. Also, specializations would be useful to rank schools in and the kind of profiles that the majority of students graduating from end up with – Consulting, Industry, Banking etc.


  8. ‘The founder of IIPM, Dr Malay Chaudhuri believes in developing a three-dimensional personality of students.’

    This is a very profound statement. Babson, Tuck or even Oxbridge (where Priety Zinta visits regularly for guest lectures) does not believe in developing a 3-d personality of students.

    Business-week cannot filter a college when it is just looking at big branded colleges like Kellogs, Whartons and Harvards.

    IIPM is taking a beaten path and will win in the long run. Its like Rahul Dravid.

  9. @ sameer sir ,,,,,,,

    i thought University of Chicago BOOTH would figure sumwer in da list…………
    wud u pls elaborate ………………..

    • @Rajpandian sir
      Chicago Booth is a great school, no doubt. Valued highly by MBA recruiters. But purely in terms of ‘brand recall value in india’ (if there ever was a parameter like that), I am not sure if it would be way up there.
      Plus this is a completely subjective and shamelessly biased list that makes no pretences of following any scientific or statistical methodology.
      So yeah…have fun with it, go ahead and submit your own Top-10 lists.

  10. Great Lakes Institute of Management. I joined Great Lakes after rejecting an offer from NUS and post the job that I got, am not complaining at all. If any student can fully utilise the resources (such as contacts of the H/S/W proffs on campus), then even sky is just a stepping stone to an unfathomable limit. I would endorse Great Lakes, while many would like to disagree.

    • Guys it is good to feel passionate about your college but recommending among these top ivy schools is bit too much! Even in India this college is not in top 5 for 1 yr MBA Programs.

  11. @ college kumar : IIPM, u have got to be kidding me. It is a scam of the first order and bucketful of lies. All they do is advertise well. Have you ever seen an advertisement from schools which are good in an Indian context like MDI, SP Jain , FMS, NMIMS or JB. Let alone be comparable to IIM’s. Ironies of IIPM

    1. Dean (Mr. A Chaudhari) says he doesn’t beleive in rankings and still goes on to advertise the same that he has received. It came to a point when Outlook had to withdraw its rankings from IIPM in 2005.

    2. IIPM has NO official tie ups or credit transfers to any of the IVY league schools. They use the professors and facilities during the visit , which doesnt mean a tie up. It only means a client supplier relationship.

    3. The companies that IIPM boasts of coming on campus do not come there. I would love to see the audited placement results of IIPM with average and median salaries coupled with the job positions offered.

    4. To lay final nail on the coffin, go to the website of or do a random survey top HR recruiters or agencies in India and ask them for the Top 20 bschools in India. And you will know the truth..


  12. College Kumar is probably some online-marketing guy from IIPM itself, trying to create buzz for his college. But given Sameer’s background and knowledge, I am quite surprised that he has not said anything about this. ( Could be that he is into some agreement with IIPM )
    I do agree with Vedant, that IIPM is a scam. One of my known associates informed me about the usual practice of ‘placements’ at IIPM. It is a very simple procedure, where IIPM and company wins, but the candidate losses. IIPM approaches a company and asks them to recruit their student(s) on training / probation basis for a period of 6 months, where IIPM will pay the salary during that period. After 6 months, the company is free to keep them or throw them. No points for guessing what happens after 6 months.

    • Sumegh sir,
      The reactions are getting interesting. It took a little while longer than I thought for someone to start pointing fingers at me 🙂
      Rather than spilling the beans on College Kumar (btw, he’s far from what you think he is), let’s make this a little more interesting by sharing some tidbits about Shri Kumar:
      – He’s NOT an online-marketing guy.
      – He has NO association with IIPM (and just for the record, neither does MBA Crystal Ball*)
      [Do you think we’d have approved Vedant’s comment and yours if we did have anything fishy going on?]
      For those who are still raising eyebrows at College Kumar’s comments, here’s a little to-do for you — Go back to both his posts and see if you can read between the lines for any traces of humour or sarcasm. I think only one person who’s commented here actually ‘got it’. College Kumar sir’s skill and potential are way beyond our little site.
      Btw, Vedant has spoken to me after posting his views. if you have doubts, you are free to do the same (number/email ID available on this page).
      *All our formal associations (mainly with international GMAT prep and admission consulting companies) are clearly and transparently displayed on our site.

      Damn! And I started off by thinking I’m not going to get defensive out here.

  13. Hi Sameer,

    I am one of those guys hanging around to see some new posts published. After wandering around online to get some information on B schools I finally found one from an Indian prospective (laut ke buddhu…. ?). You have good material here (although IIPM fiasco was hilarious) and for an IIT (Indian / IT / Male), need sites like you to keep our hopes up. Currently 25% of my journey is complete because I have given the GMAT and all and looking forward to your site for the next 75.


  14. Hi Sumegh/Vedant,

    I know I would not be a reliable source, but I do not have any affiliation with any school.

    Sameer is a balanced moderator. (Although I am a bit sore about my comments on Knewton being rejected)

    Also, regardless of what you have to say, IIPM is as good as IIT Bangalore.Period.

  15. Too predictable, Sameer. These schools are just an eclectic mix of names already known to the regular novice MBA aspirant. The point about why they should be on the radar eluded me…

    • BTDT bhaiyya (behenji?),

      I agree. In fact, I’d extend that logic and say that the comments for this post are more interesting that the post itself 🙂

      You’ll find a more elaborate rationale on choosing this rather obvious topic in the second comment (response to Pranjali’s point). I know many of our regular readers won’t find too much value in this list. But incidentally, this post gets the maximum number of hits, comments and eyeballs. I guess there are still folks who think it’s worth a read, if not for the groundbreaking revelations, then for the confidence boosting realization that they are ahead of the race compared to most others still starting out.

      But your point noted and appreciated, sirji. Hang in there, we’ll try to balance out the almost nonsensical with the semi-nonsensical as we go along.

  16. I am surprised Columbia did not make it to this list. CBS is one of the best schools when it comes to finance. Also, its location in NY makes is one of the best in terms of eminent speakers sessions. And I am not saying this just because I got in for the 2 yr full time MBA course there (overjoyed !!), but because it was my top school… 😀

  17. I thought Kellog School og Management , NU would feature somewhere here. Kellog has a huge Indian student community ( probably the largest in US) . , and has a great brand-value for their MBA ( not so much for the undergraduate).

  18. wait a minute,
    the list is good but indian schools barring proper iims( in-terms of quants cannot be in the list by any stretch of the imagination).
    Here goes the list:
    1) harvard/stan/wharton( any order)
    2)lbs,cambridge,oxford,mit,dartmouth,columbia,berkley( in terms of money columbia and lbs take higher spot among these). No body can mess up with reputation of oxford and cambridge ( they are the elite of elite and even if you have a degree in making coffee/(oops italian baristas object) it is worth every penny)
    3) yale,cornell,insead, imperial,chicago( yale,imperial higher ranking among them)
    4rest of all london,europe,usa( duke,john hopkins, austin, some south schools i left),spain has couple,london has few manchester,cass,edinburgh etc
    4) iims— iims quants are excellent but facilities are lot to be desired.

    And 720 is not easy. It takes hard work. lot of hard work
    I rest my case!

  19. I am a marine engineer by profession with 4 years of exp in shipping industry.. Currently I am working with BP shipping (the oil major) for past 3 years.. My job profile includes operation and maintenance of various machines (Diesel Engines, Boilers, Steam Turbines, Pumps, etc) on board and carrying out routine cargo watches during loading and unloading of cargol.
    My acads include:
    X: 78% (2002)
    XII: 80 (PCM)% (2004)
    (awarded as Mr. Augustine for an all round performance in class XII, St Augustine School)
    IIT Screening AIR: 10775 (2004)
    IIT Mains AIR: 6603 (2004)
    AIEEE AIR 3603 (2004)
    UPTU SEE State Rank: 562 (marine engg): 70% (Class of 2008, MERI, Kolkata)
    (Awarded for excellency in all aspects at the end of college training)
    Have some college level certificates in swimming.
    Good appraisals in the company.
    I am planning to appear for GMAT .. How much score should I target..??

    also can u suggest which specialization should I opt for.. ??

    Which area of specialization would be best suited to my profile..??

  20. The one school which is consistently ranked very high worldwide and is power-house of finance and economics is Booth School of Business at University of Chicago, it ranks higher then Wharton in several rankings. It should be in top five business schools worldwide, and certainly in top 10. Will appreciate if you carry out further research and update this article.

  21. Judging by the purpose of writing this article I would place IESE on 10th as that completes the geographical reach that most indian business school aspirant go to.

    US- H/S/W/Sloan
    France- INSEAD
    India- ISB/IIM A

    This list seems convincing by all parameters! US has around 50% of the schools among top 30 and so does this list.


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