Number 7 representing the M7 business schools

What are The M7 Business Schools?

December 15, 2023
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What Does ‘M7’ Mean?About the M7 Business Schools Ranking the M7 SchoolsRanking the M7 Schools by SpecializationThe Average Salaries and Tuition of M7 SchoolsIndustry Choices for Students of M7 Business SchoolsScholarships and Financial AidAlumni NetworksTips on How to Get into M7 Business Schools

What are the M7 business schools? Should you be looking to get an M7 MBA? What is an M7 MBA? 

These are questions you may have pondered as you prepare to apply to business school.

This article will give you everything you need to know about these seven  elite business schools. We’re going to take a detailed look at the rankings, requirements, and what you can expect to get out of an MBA at each of these top business schools. 

What Does ‘M7’ Mean?

You’ve probably heard the term M7 peripherally — maybe while browsing the internet or while conversing with a colleague. But what does M7 mean? 

You will get two different answers depending on who you ask — it means ‘magnificent 7’ to some and ‘magic 7’ to others. Either way, its meaning is clear: the M7 schools are among the top in the world. 

These schools regularly cooperate with each other, holding events to better their approach to business education. Their world-class education comes with significant benefits and attracts the best students and faculty. 

As John Byrne, the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Poets and Quants, notes, “it’s hard to beat the M7 schools with their formidable endowments, great faculty and the ability to consistently attract among the best students in the MBA applicant pool.”

What does this mean for students interested in pursuing M7 MBA programs? 

These elite business schools offer some of the best programs in the world. If you’re aiming for the top, going for an M7 MBA is a sure route to success. 

Not only will this almost certainly result in a higher average salary than other equivalent MBA programs, but it will give you the prestige and recognition of having studied at an exclusive and elite institution. 

So, what colleges form the ‘magic 7’?

The M7 MBA Schools

The M7 schools are as follows:

  1. Harvard Business School
  2. MIT Sloan School of Management
  3. Stanford Graduate School of Business
  4. Columbia Business School
  5. Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania
  6. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management
  7. University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business

Every business school is unique, and the M7 schools are no different. If you’re considering an M7 MBA, take a look below to find out more about each college and how they compare. 

About the M7 Business Schools 

Harvard Business School 

lecture hall filled with students at Harvard Business School

Source: Harvard University 

Harvard Business School is one of the finest business schools in the world. Its mission is simply to “educate leaders who make a difference in the world.”

Located in Boston, Harvard uses a 100% case study method to teach its students to ensure every student participates in its classes. Only around 14% of applicants are accepted to this school, and the majority of them have GPAs around 3.7 or higher. 

Tuition at this school is costly, at $73,440 a year, but it is well worth it considering how successful Harvard grads are! Its notable alumni include the founder of Bloomberg, Michael Bloomberg, and Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg. 

What Does Harvard Look For in Applicants?

Harvard seeks the following traits in its MBA applicants:

  • Leadership: Experiences in college extracurriculars, community initiatives, or everyday work tasks that show you value hard work, humility, and active involvement in meaningful conversations. 
  • Analytical aptitude and appetite: To enjoy lively discussion and debate and be capable of assessing, analyzing, and acting upon complex information within often-ambiguous contexts. Evaluation of these traits includes prior academic performance, GMAT or GRE results, and work experience.
  • Engaged community service: Students are expected to uphold the highest ethical standards, show respect for others, and contribute positively to the MBA Program.

MIT Sloan School of Management

MIT Sloan School of Management

Source: MIT Sloan

Situated in Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT Sloan School Of Management strives to make a difference in the world and be at the forefront of positive and innovative change. With an acceptance rate just under 15%, this school is highly selective. Students should aim for a GPA around 3.6 to be considered competitive. 

Some notable alumni from MIT include Robin Chase, the co-founder of ZipCar, and John W. Thompson, the current Chairman of Microsoft. As a school known for opening doors of opportunity for its students, it should come as no surprise that this school costs around $82,000 a year to attend.

What Does Sloan Business School Look For in Applicants?

Sloan strives to enroll students who will enrich the overall student experience. They are in search of insightful leaders with exceptional intellectual capabilities, driven individuals determined to make a lasting impact on the world. Sloan values students who embody independence, authenticity, and fearlessly creative qualities, referring to them as "true doers."

Stanford Graduate School of Business 

Stanford Graduate School of Business ​​

Source: Stanford University 

Stanford GSB’s mission is “to create ideas that deepen and advance our understanding of management and with those ideas to develop innovative, principled, and insightful leaders who change the world.” Only around 9% of dreamers get into this school to reap these leader-building resources. Of this selective group, the majority have a GPA around 3.8. 

You will spend your first year at Stanford building your general management knowledge and obtaining global exposure. In contrast, your second year is tailored to your needs and ambitions through seminars, electives, joint or dual degrees, and other Stanford courses. 

Stanford’s notable alumni include the first president of eBay, Jeffery Skoll, and the CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra. Tuition to attend this California-based school is just under $80,000.

What Does Stanford Business School Look For in Applicants?

Stanford focuses on these three prompts in the admissions process:

  • How you think: Beyond your grades and scores, reflect on instances where you took initiative to learn, solve challenges, or gain insights. Share what you discovered, how you communicated your learnings, and why it holds significance for you and others.
  • How you lead: Stanford believes “past actions are the best predictor of future actions.” They want to learn about how you have created positive change in the organizations and communities you’ve been involved in.
  • How you see the world: Utilize the essay opportunity to articulate your values, beliefs, identity, and aspirations. Highlight how your background has influenced your journey and shaped your dreams for the future. Stanford values this self-reflection as it contributes to a diverse and enriched class.

Columbia Business School

Columbia Business School

Source: Columbia University

Aside from being one of the six Ivy League business schools, Columbia Business School is one of the most selective business schools in the country. 

Located in Manhattan, New York City, Columbia’s picturesque campus and rigorous MBA program have produced successful alumni like James P. Gorman, CEO of Morgan Stanley, and Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and co-founder of Ellevest. Getting into this school is no easy feat; it has an average GPA of 3.6 and an acceptance rate of 19.7%.

Columbia is also one of the most expensive M7 schools out there, with an annual tuition cost that’s just under $85,000. 

What Does Columbia Business School Look for In Applicants?

Columbia seeks individuals who are intellectually driven and come from a variety of educational, economic, social, cultural, and geographic backgrounds. The admissions team seeks a track record of accomplishment, robust leadership skills, and the capacity to collaborate effectively in team settings.

Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

Source: Wharton School 

The Wharton School, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has a large MBA cohort of 895 students. The value of a Wharton MBA is undisputed; its MBA program consistently ranks among the top in full-time job offers and 20-year earnings. Getting into this school will require a GPA around 3.6. Only about 22.8% of students meet Whatron’s rigorous admissions standards.

Wharton has produced exceptionally influential graduates like the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett, Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, and Tesla CEO, Elon Musk.  

Despite having the highest tuition among all of these M7 programs at $87,370, Wharton's exceptional post-graduate outcomes more than compensate for the cost.

What Does Wharton Business School Look for in Applicants?

Wharton applicants should demonstrate:

  • Leadership abilities 
  • A passion for leveraging business for positive societal impact and the advancement of global economic well-being
  • Proficiency in mathematics, with a particular emphasis on calculus

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management

Source: Kellogg School

The Kellogg School of Management is one of the oldest schools globally; it was originally named The School of Commerce when it was founded in 1908 in Evanston, Illinois. Kellogg has the highest acceptance rate on this list, at 31.4%. Students hoping to join this esteemed school should maintain a GPA of 3.7. 

Kellogg’s MBA emphasizes teamwork and student involvement both inside and outside of the classroom. Its notable alumni include Peter G. Peterson, the founder of The Blackstone Group, and Charlie Baker, the governor of Massachusetts. Students can expect to pay around $81,105 a year for tuition at Kellogg. 

What Does Kellogg School of Management Look for in Applicants?

Kellogg values applicants who: 

  • Combine hard and soft skills when approaching business challenges.
  • Display a willingness to adapt to the changing business landscape with curiosity and innovation.
  • Believe in the value of robust, empathetic collaboration for enhancing work, perspectives, and results.
  • Welcome and harness the strength of diversity within teams and networks.

The particular skills they seek in students include:

  • Academic preparedness 
  • Work experience
  • Professional goals
  • Impact
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership

University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business

University of Chicago

Chicago’s Booth School of Business is the second-oldest business school in the country and is known for its flexible MBA curriculum. With an acceptance rate of 30.1% and an average GPA of 3.56, Booth is one of the easier M7 schools to get into. However, it is equally as expensive; annual tuition costs $80,961.

Booth only requires you to complete one mandatory class (Leadership Effectiveness and Development), meaning you can choose your learning priorities. Its alumni include Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

What Does Booth Business School Look For in Applicants?

Booth evaluates applicants on three major aspects:

  • Curriculum: Students’ curriculums should demonstrate preparedness, intellectual curiosity, and communication skills. They should also demonstrate an interest in current affairs, an interest in areas outside of their immediate environment, and a willingness to engage in debate. 
  • Community: Students should have experiences that demonstrate leadership, collaboration, philanthropic interests, interpersonal skills, unique perspectives, and a fit with Booth’s community.
  • Career: Applicants should demonstrate potential for success in the future. They can do this by showcasing past professional success, resourcefulness, direction, time-management, and realistic expectations for their MBA. 

Ranking the M7 Schools

Now that we have enticed you, let’s explore the M7 MBA program options in more detail. First off, let’s take a look at the overall rankings given to the M7 by major business news authorities:

US News Rank Forbes
Bloomberg Rank Financial Times Rank Fortune Rank
MIT 4 7 10 11 8
Harvard 5 4 6 4 1
Stanford 6 2 1 6 2
Columbia 11 7 5 1 6
Wharton 3 5 8 1 3
Kellogg 2 3 7 9 5
Booth 1 1 2 7 7

As you can see, the rankings are pretty mixed. But there are a few trends — Harvard is, on average, rated highly, while Columbia is generally at the lower end of the publications’ opinions. 

These trends shouldn’t discourage you from applying to any particular M7 school. It’s important to remember that each of these institutions is a world-class business school. Ranking the M7 MBA programs alongside each other doesn’t provide a definitive basis for choosing where to apply. 

Another thing you need to consider is what you are looking to get out of an M7 MBA. For example, some schools have better results for specific career paths. Other things to consider are varying tuition costs and requirements for entry. 

We’re going to lay out how all of these factors stack up against each other for every M7 school to give you the best picture possible of which would be the best fit for you. 

Ranking the M7 MBAs by Specialization 

An overall ranking for a business school can be a pretty vague piece of information, so let’s look a little closer: 

Ranking by Specializatiob MIT Harvard Stanford Columbia Wharton Kellogg Booth
Accounting 26 12 8 29 2 29 6
Finance 5 7 6 4 1 14 2
Marketing 31 7 4 5 2 1 6
Entrepreneurship 3 4 2 n/a 6 7 23

You might notice some substantial differences between this table and the first one. 

Stanford is now swinging between 8th and 2nd in different common areas of MBA study, and each of the schools has at least one area in which they are dominant. This should already give you a clearer picture of which school would be the best option for you. 

Kellogg might be less highly rated overall than the other M7 schools, but it’s first in marketing. If you’re only interested in a marketing career path, Kellogg might still be a good option for you.

Likewise, you might look at Stanford and like its overall score, but you might want to opt for a marketing focus rather than a consulting focus to play into its strengths and give yourself the best chance for success in your future career. 

The Class Profiles of the M7 Business Schools

The latest class profiles for the M7 schools are as follows: 

MIT Harvard Stanford Columbia Wharton Kellogg Booth
Class size 408 1015 424 629 894 503 634
Acceptance rate 14.8% 14.4% 8.6% 19.7% 22.8% 31.4% 30.1%
Median GMAT 730 730 740 740 740 730 730
Average GPA 3.59 3.7 3.76 3.6 3.6 3.7 3.56
Average Age 28 n/a n/a 28 28 28 28

Another note: The COVID-19 Pandemic (you might have heard of it) has meant a lot of business schools have had to change their programs, and the M7 are no different. As such, the information for some schools is a little outdated. Take these figures with a pinch of salt.

This is a lot of information, but don’t worry! There are many similarities, which can give you a good idea of the standards that are generally expected at any M7 Business school. Let’s explore these details and emphasize the salient features that are really going to impact your M7 MBA experience. 

This probably isn’t much of a surprise to you — these schools have a reputation for being the best and expect the best out of their students. All the M7 schools average at least a 3.5 GPA and 720 GMAT score for their candidates. Harvard and Stanford top the list with the highest academic averages amongst their accepted students.

If you feel that an M7 MBA is right for you but lack the test scores to get yourself a place, don’t fret! Andrea got into MIT with a GPA of 2.6, and Marcus got admits from Columbia and Wharton with a GMAT score of 660 with the help of an MBA admissions expert

Aside from their test scores, most successful applicants to M7 business schools are around 27 or 28 years of age and have four or five years of work experience. This gives you an idea of the sort of person the schools are looking for in their application process: young but with enough experience to benefit from these institutions’ advanced instruction. 

If that doesn’t sound like you, remember that these are only averages — in the actual classes, there is a huge amount of diversity for nearly every measure. 

Speaking of diversity, you’ll see that all the M7 schools have a healthy amount of it. There is a significant presence of international, women, and minority students at all of the M7 business schools. You should find somewhere to fit in no matter your particular circumstances. 

Finally, there are the class sizes and acceptance rates to consider. These are some of the most significant factors that could affect your choice of school. All the M7 schools run tight-knit programs with less than 1,000 students. 

There is a considerable gap between Stanford and Wharton, but that is less significant than the acceptance rate. As you might expect for such prestigious institutions, the acceptance rate for all of them is low. The rate for Stanford is an eye-watering 7%. 

Your takeaway from this should be that getting into these schools is challenging. A lot of people want an M7 MBA, but not a lot of people get them. But, if you want to be a successful applicant, it pays to be well prepared. 

Achieving competitive test scores, looking at MBA admissions guides, having strong letters of recommendation, and acquiring meaningful MBA work experience are all great ways to stand out from the crowd and improve your MBA profile

The Average Salaries and Tuition of M7 Schools

Let’s take a look at what you can expect to earn after completing an M7 MBA program:

Salary/Tuition MIT Harvard Stanford Columbia Wharton Kellogg Booth
Approx. Median Salary and Bonus $186k $198k $198k $194k $191k $189k $195k
Approx. Two-Year Tuition $164k $147k $160k $169k $173k $162k $162k

They’re not called world-class for no reason — graduates of M7 MBA programs have an average salary of around $190,000 a year, with the higher-end candidates stretching even higher. 

Getting into one of these programs means you are almost guaranteed to start earning $100,000+ a year after graduation. Of course, this is offset by the degree’s hefty price tag. 

For example, almost $87,000 a year for Wharton is no small amount. You should consider that this would be a significant financial investment. With that said, the earning potential of an M7 MBA means that you could be paying off the cost of the degree in your first year of post-graduate employment. 

Industry Choices for Students of M7 Business Schools

Upon graduating from an M7 MBA program, your expectations for your salary depend on what field you plan to enter with your degree. This table gives more information on graduate specialties at each business school:

MIT Harvard Stanford Columbia Wharton Kellogg Booth
Consulting 33.7% 25% 15% 33.6% 24.3% 38% 38.6%
Finance 19.9% 34% 38% 36.9% 38.6% 17% 32.6%
Technology 24.1% 16% 24% 16% 16.9% 24% 15.5%

The industries that M7 MBA graduates enter could be an important consideration for you to choose between the schools because different schools are more likely to help you get into different industries.

If you are interested in a different industry or something more specialized within one of the listed categories, consider looking up the employment reports for schools that interest you. 

Most of the schools publish detailed data concerning their graduates’ career paths, so you should be able to find information on your desired category, no matter how niche. 

Scholarships and Financial Aid

While you’re likely going to make a six-figure salary post-graduation, minimizing your MBA tuition expenses is crucial for a smoother career launch. Here are the scholarships and financial aid options offered by the M7 schools to make your MBA education more affordable. 

School Financial Aid Offered
MIT Incoming students are automatically considered for fellowships and scholarships. You may also apply for additional assistance through external organizations with the help of the Office of Graduate Education.
Harvard 50% of students receive needs-based scholarships ranging from $2,500-$76,000 a year; the average scholarship amount over two years is $46,000-92,000.
Stanford Need-based fellowships are offered; the average fellowship for Class of 2023 was $44,000 a year.
Columbia Full and partial-tuition fellowships are offered based on academic and professional experience. Needs-based partial-tuition scholarships are also offered; average award of $20,000 a year but ranges from $10,000-$30,000.
Wharton Incoming students are automatically considered for two-year fellowships based on their background, achievements, experience, and community involvement.
Kellogg Incoming students are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships. Needs-based scholarships are also available to US citizens and permanent residents.
Booth Incoming students are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships. The full-tuition Civics Scholars Program is also available for students who work in a designated nonprofit organization or for the government.

Alumni Networks

A final piece of data to consider for these top business schools is their alumni data. In the world of business, connections and networking matter. 

Entering a community of business people who share common experiences could give you a vital edge. This is why alumni data is relevant. 

MIT Harvard Stanford Columbia Wharton Kellogg Booth
MBA Alumni 120,000 48,277 32,819 39,000 100,000 60,000 56,000
Countries Represented 90 170 n/a 111 153 120 120

Despite the alumni base being an important factor to consider when choosing between business schools, the alumni data for M7 schools can be inconsistent and difficult to find. The above table should give you a good idea of what kind of network you can expect from each school. 

All of them have tens of thousands of graduates worldwide, with whom you might be able to form profitable connections. If you are struggling to choose between schools, the difference between the 33,000 alumni of Stanford and the 100,000 of Wharton could be enough to make your choice clearer.

Tips on How to Get into M7 Business Schools

Consider these tips to maximize your chances of joining one of these prestigious MBA programs:

  • Gain experience: Considering the majority of successful M7 applicants have 5 years of work experience, you should get your feet wet before entering this program. Gain some valuable professional, volunteer, and research experience to really boost your application.
  • Focus on academics: These institutions provide rigorous and comprehensive curricula. It's crucial to demonstrate your academic prowess and intellectual capability to excel in their programs. Maintain a strong GPA and achieve a competitive score on the GMAT.
  • Have clear professional goals: The M7 schools want to know exactly how you plan on using your MBA to better the world of business and the world at large. Have clear and realistic goals that you can discuss in-depth in your essays and interviews. 
  • Demonstrate leadership: M7 MBAs promise to shape you into leaders of tomorrow, but to do so, they expect you to already demonstrate leadership qualities. Ensure you seek and highlight leadership opportunities throughout your application!


Getting into a Magnificent Seven MBA program isn’t easy. That’s why we’ve put together some questions and answers for you to make this process as smooth as possible!

1. Should I Only Try to Apply to an M7 Business School for My MBA?

The M7 schools are extremely prestigious, but they are not the only good options. 

Looking at business school rankings will give you a long list of additional prestigious business education institutions to consider. Some great examples include the following: 

That said, the M7 schools carry a lot of weight. In addition to the high average salaries of M7 grads, the prestige these schools carry could become a significant factor in helping you advance your career. 

2. How Can I Get Into a Magnificent Seven MBA? 

To be one of the lucky few who get into these elite institutions, you need to stand out. Obtaining a good GMAT score and GPA will undoubtedly help your application, but world-class institutions like these are really looking for exceptional students. 

You’ll need to do all you can to impress the admissions committee with your business school resume, killer MBA essay, and MBA interview preparation and performance. 

3. How Does Admission to M7 Business Schools Compare to Other Business Schools?

M7 schools are generally more selective in their admission processes compared to other business schools. They often have lower acceptance rates, higher average GMAT scores, and stringent criteria for academic and professional achievements. For instance, they tend to only accept students with several years of professional experience. 

4. How Do I Find Scholarships for M7 MBA Programs?

You can find scholarships through special programs offered by business schools. Many corporations also set aside money to fund scholarships. Scholarships that you may come across can be based on merit, need, or essay. 

5. Which Is the Best M7 Business School?

To a great extent, this depends on what you are looking for in your MBA program because different M7 schools have different specialties. 

Look at the tables provided in this article showing the M7 school rankings by specialty and the most common industries that graduates go into by school. This should give you a good idea of which M7 school benefits your career the most. 

6. What Is the Cost of an M7 MBA?

Tuition varies by school, but for an M7 MBA program, expect to pay at least $160,000 in tuition over a two-year course. 

Taking into account living expenses and opportunity costs, you might be looking at upwards of $200,000 for an M7 MBA. 

The schools do all have scholarships available to help ease the financial cost of studying and the expected increase in wages you will experience thanks to having an M7 MBA should more than offset the cost of your investment. 

7. Where Are the M7 Business Schools Located?

The M7 schools are in various parts of the United States, meaning that you can pick many different cities and still enroll in a world-class M7 MBA. 

A full list of the schools and their locations is below: 

  • MIT (Cambridge, MA)
  • Harvard (Boston, MA)
  • Stanford (San Jose, CA)
  • Columbia (New York, NY)
  • Wharton (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Kellogg (Evanstan, IL)
  • Booth (Chicago, IL)

An M7 MBA May Be the Key to Your Dream Career

The M7 business schools are highly prestigious and, unfortunately, tricky to attend. Each school is unique and offers you a different curriculum, culture, community, and MBA experience. 

Researching each school’s average salaries, tuition, graduate employment specializations, and alumni base will help you choose which M7 MBA would best suit you and your desired career path. 

For example, you might not value MIT as highly as the other M7 schools, but it could be your best option if you want to use your MBA to work in consulting. Thus, MIT might be the best choice for you! 

You also need to ensure that your test scores are competitive enough to warrant entry into an M7 MBA program — a high GPA and solid GMAT score will help you get into the school of your choice.

Good luck with your applications! 

About Inspira Futures

At Inspira Futures, our sole focus is to get you accepted at your dream business school. Our team of experts consists of former admission committee members and alums from Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB, and other M7 schools. Our goal is to help you write great essays, ace interviews, and win scholarships. Without any stress or hassle. Our clients have gone on to secure admits at the world's top business schools while also being winners of some of the most prestigious scholarships like Stanford Knight Hennessy, HBS Baker Scholars, and many others.
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