Number 7 representing the M7 business schools

What are The M7 Business Schools?

May 4, 2021
Part 1. IntroductionPart 2. What Does ‘M7’ Mean?Part 3. Ranking the M7 SchoolsPart 4. Ranking by Specialization Part 5. The Class Profiles of the M7 Business SchoolsPart 6. The Average Salaries and Tuition of M7 SchoolsPart 7. Industry Choices for Students of M7 Business SchoolsPart 8. The Alumni Base of M7 SchoolsPart 9. Conclusion Part 10. FAQs


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 tell you everything you need to know about the elite set of M7 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 the M7 schools. Keep reading to discover how the prestigious group of M7 business schools could benefit you and your career.

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? Depending on who you ask, you will get two different answers – it means ‘magnificent 7’ to some and ‘magic 7’ to others. Either way, its meaning is clear. The M7 business 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 puts it for Forbes, “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.”

The M7 Schools:

1. MIT Sloan School of Management

2. Harvard Business School

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

What does this mean for students interested in pursuing MBA degrees? The M7 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 will give you the prestige and recognition of having studied at an exclusive and elite institution. 

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:

M7 business schools overall ranking

A note about these rankings – this table only shows the rankings of the M7 against each other. These publications typically form rankings based on all major business schools. In some cases, schools are ranked above those in the M7. Schools outside of the M7 are not taken into account for this article. 

As you can see, the rankings are pretty mixed. US News won’t even choose a definite first. But there are a few trends – Stanford 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 are world-class business schools. Ranking M7 business schools 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. Some schools have better results for certain 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 by Specialization 

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

M7 business schools ranking by specialization

You might notice some substantial differences between this table and the first one. Stanford is now swinging between 7th and 1st in different common areas of MBA study, Columbia is coming up in the rankings, and each of the schools has at least one area in which they are dominant. This should already be giving you a clearer picture of which school would be the best option for you. Columbia might be less highly rated overall than the other M7 schools, but it’s second in consulting. If you’re only interested in a consulting career path, Columbia 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

Class profiles of M7 business schools

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! Let’s talk through these details and emphasize the salient features that are really going to impact your M7 MBA experience. 

There are a lot of similarities, which can give you a good idea of the standards that are generally expected at any M7 Business school. 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. 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. If you feel that an M7 MBA is right for you but lack the test scores to get yourself a place, don’t fret! Read our case studies of successful applicants to top business schools, some of whom didn’t reach the averages that this table describes.

Aside from their test scores, most successful applicants to M7 business schools are around 27-28 years of age and have 4-5 years of work experience. This gives you an idea of the sort of person the schools are looking for in their applications process – young but with enough experience to benefit from the advanced instruction that the world-leading experts at these institutions offer. If that doesn’t sound like you, remember that these are only averages – in the actual classes, there is a huge amount of diversity by more or less for every measure. Additionally, if you wanted to improve your chances for a successful application, read into our case studies and see how you can get the work experience you need to be an ideal M7 candidate. 

Speaking of diversity, you’ll see that all the M7 schools have a healthy amount of it. As you might expect, it varies – you might feel a little different from your classmates as an international student at Wharton or a woman at MIT – but there is a significant presence of International, women, and minority students at all 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 a thousand 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 percent. Your takeaway from this should be that getting into these schools is hard. A lot of people want an M7 MBA, but not a lot of people get them. So, if you want to be a successful applicant, it pays to be well prepared. Check out our guide to the application process for all the top business schools, including the M7, to give yourself the best chance of success. 

The Average Salaries and Tuition of M7 Schools

What you can expect to earn after studying at an M7 business school:

average salary and tuition at M7 business schools

They’re not called world-class for no reason – graduates of M7 MBA programs have an average salary of at least $135,000 a year, with the higher-end candidates stretching even higher. Getting into one of these programs means that you are almost guaranteed to start earning $100,000+ a year after graduation. Of course, this is offset by the large price tag. For example, $81,000 a year for Wharton is no small amount. You should definitely 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 graduate employment. 

Industry Choices for Students of M7 Business Schools

Your expectations for what your salary will be upon graduating from an M7 MBA program depends on what field you plan on entering with your degree:

Industry Choices for Students of M7 Business Schools

This table gives more information on graduate specialties at each M7 business school, building on the earlier table showing the M7 ranked by their specialty. This table shows the industries that graduates from each of these M7 MBA programs enter. This 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. 

The Alumni Base of M7 Schools

A final piece of data to consider for the M7 business schools is their alumni data. In the world of business, connections matter. Entering into a community of business people who share common experiences could give you a vital edge. This is why alumni data is relevant. 

The Alumni Base of M7 Schools

Despite the alumni base being an important factor to consider when choosing between business schools, the alumni data for M7 schools can actually 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 20,000 alumni of MIT and the 95,000 of Wharton could be enough to make your choice more clear.


The key points that you should take away from this article are that the M7 business schools are very beneficial to get into and very difficult to get into as well. It doesn’t matter how much you want that $222,000 a year salary; if you are unprepared, you could find yourself receiving a rejection letter. With that said, if you are motivated enough, the information in this article should help you choose which M7 MBA would best suit you and your desired career path. Focus on which M7 school would be best for the outcome you want. For example, you might not value MIT as highly as other M7 business schools, but if you want to use your MBA to work in consultancy, it could be your best option. You also need to make sure that your test scores are competitive enough to warrant entry to an M7 MBA program – a high GPA and solid GMAT score will help you get into the school of your choice.


1. Should I only try to apply to an M7 business school for my MBA?

The M7 business schools are definitely not the only worthwhile business schools. Looking at the rank lists provided by the publications mentioned in this article will give you a long list of additional prestigious business education institutions, apart from the M7, to consider. The M7 business schools are located in the U.S. There are many great schools outside of the U.S. For example, the Saïd Business School in Oxford. Several schools across the pond offer world-class programs without being a part of the M7 group. That said, the M7 schools carry a lot of weight. In addition to the high average salaries of M7 grads, the subjective impact of the prestige these schools carry could become a significant factor in helping you advance your career. These benefits make an M7 MBA well-worth the effort. Consider these benefits when applying to schools.

2. What do I need to be able to get into an M7 business school?

To be one of the lucky few who get into these elite institutions, you need to stand out. Good test scores and GPA will 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 in your resume, essay and interview. Check out our guide on writing a killer MBA essay if you need help writing a strong essay. 

3. How do I find scholarships for business school?

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. There are several websites dedicated to providing students with scholarship resources. 

4. 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 rankings of the school by specialty and the most common industries that graduates go into by school. This should give you a good idea of the M7 school that would benefit your career the most. 

5. What is the cost of an M7 MBA?

Tuition varies by school, but for an M7 MBA program expect at least $140,000 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. 

6. Where are the M7 business schools located?

The M7 business 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 (Chicago, IL), Booth (Chicago, IL)

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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