If you are only looking for a quick answer, let’s address the basic questions first. What is the meaning of M7 business schools? Which bschools make up the list?
M7 is a term used to refer to an informal group of 7 top business schools. Here’s the elite M7 business schools list:
- Harvard Business School
- University of Pennsylvania – Wharton School of Business
- Stanford Graduate School of Business
- University of Chicago Booth School of Business
- MIT Sloan School of Management
- Columbia Business School
- Northwestern Kellogg School of Management
While we are on the topic, and you have a little more time and curiosity, let’s put up a few more related questions:
– What is the relevance of M7 business schools? Is it another MBA ranking?
– How is the M7 different from the ivy league?
– Should you have an M7 or nothing application strategy?
– What sets the M7 MBA programs apart from the other top universities?
We’ll address these in the following sections.
M7 business schools – Another ranking?
Across the world, the top MBA programs see a huge number of applications each year, while the number of seats remain more or less the same. That is why these schools have such low acceptance rates. But that doesn’t dampen the interest levels of MBA aspirants who wish to join the best and most reputed business schools in the world.
This brings up another challenge. How do you define the best business schools?
A popular approach is to refer to the various MBA rankings published by the familiar names in the business – Financial Times, BusinessWeek, Economist, US News among others. But there are issues that come with them.
The first set of issues is related to the ranking methodology. We won’t get into the details of this (since it’s a topic we’ve covered in another blog post). In short, it has to do with the fact that each ranking uses a fixed set of parameters and tries to squeeze in every participating school into that ranking framework.
If you ignore all of that and decide to go ahead with one of these business school rankings, the other practical issue that comes up is how the hell do you choose from a list of 100 MBA colleges that are included in that ranking?
This is where candidates start getting creative. Based on the strength of their profiles, they target a subset from that list. That’s how you get the Top 10, Top 25 and Top 50.
Another problem. These lists (including the smaller sets) aren’t permanent. There’s a constant churn in what you’d call a Top 10 bschool since the rankings change each year.
What if you consider yourself extra special vis-a-vis the other applicants? These generic labels of Top X programs cease to sound invigorating enough to get you working on their long-drawn application processes.
The M7 fills that gap.
It is not a ranking. It hasn’t been created by any publication or by applicants. The M7 is a self-selected group of business schools created with the purpose of collaborating closely. Key members including the deans, admission officers, career teams meet regularly to share knowledge, experiences and wisdom.
The list does not change from year to year. And unlike the ivy league university list which refers to 8 American universities, the M7 is the only fixed list of (you guessed it) American business schools. So much for a modern, globally inclusive concept!
Whether it stands for the Magnificient 7 or the Magic 7 or something else is anybody’s guess (nothing official about it, remember?).
Is graduating from an M7 school worth it?
Sure, it is. The reason these bschools have chosen each other in the almost secretive group is because they consider the others in the group members to be as good as they are. P&Q has an in-depth article on M7 statistics.
However, if you were to go with an M7-or-nothing application strategy, you may be giving the group a little too much credit than you should.
By virtue of being a very small group, the M7 excludes more good schools than it admits. Among those are Dartmouth Tuck, Duke Fuqua, Cornell Johnson, UCLA Anderson, Darden, Michigan Ross, NYU Stern, UC Berkeley Haas, Yale SOM.
There are many MBA programs that do not figure in the M7 list, yet they can be a great option if your career objectives fall in sync with the program strengths. If you were to have a look at US News’ specialty ranking, you’d discover that Babson is well-known for entrepreneurship; Tepper ranks high for information systems; similarly Smeal and Broad figure among the top for supply chain and logistics.
While these names may not be considered in the super-elite list, they may offer you bigger scholarships and you may still get into many of the top companies you had on your wishlist.
So, it’s worthwhile considering a program based on its merits and what it has to offer instead of just focussing on the labels and rankings or going by public perception.
M7 program fees
The program fee is another aspect to consider. The staggering cost of an MBA from an M7 school may sometimes be a deterrent to many applicants. The total costs involved including the tuition fees and cost of living can go very high in the range of $180,000 to $200,000. These schools do offer scholarships to some of the admitted students. But while applying, you cannot go in with the assumption that you’ll get a scholarship when you aren’t even sure of an admit.
Finally, before investing your time and money, spend some time researching the programs that can provide you with a good ROI. Though the M7 MBA salary may be higher and these programs may help you land the top jobs in areas related to finance, consulting or private equity, there are other good programs outside the M7 that can provide you with comparable salaries and an equally great ROI.
So, you need to keep your options open and not be overly obsessed about getting into an M7 school. Just being an M7 school doesn’t make it the best school that will meet your career requirements. Have a more practical approach and choose a school that’s the right fit for you based on the parameters that matter most to you.
Go ahead and create your own Fantastic 4, Sadistic 6 or the Naughty 9 list of schools to apply to. If they can keep it informal and secretive, so can you.
Here’s some more information on how you should select business schools.
– How I got into an M7 MBA with scholarship
– M7 MBA admit in Round 2 after 4 rejections for Ivy League grad
– How I got int the one-year MBA program at Stanford GSB
– Second MBA degree from MIT with scholarship after 30
– Chicago Booth Executive MBA admit for Architect
– Wharton MBA with low GMAT score