How the Harvard MBA Compares To The Stanford MBA

For the last three years, Harvard Business School (HBS) and Stanford Graduate School of Business (GBS) have led the Financial Times’ ranking of the world’s best master of business administration (MBA) programs. Stanford came in first in 2012, and Harvard topped the list in 2013 and 2014. In this year’s ranking, Harvard is still first, but Stanford is in fourth place after London Business School and University of Pennsylvania: Wharton.

According to the Times Higher Education, the ranking “is based on a number of different factors including gender diversity and the international spread of students, but the heaviest weighting is placed on alumni salaries.” Based on the 2015 FT ranking, alumni from HBS and GBS have the highest salaries with $179,910 and $177,089, respectively—and they had the highest salaries in previous years as well. So what are the advantages and disadvantages of each program, and how do Harvard and Stanford compare?


“To educate leaders that make a difference in the world,” is the mission of the HBS MBA program. Harvard’s MBA program was founded in 1908 as the first program of its kind. The MBA takes two years: the goal of the first year courses is to provide students with a foundation in “broad-based fundamentals.” During the second year, students can choose from over 90 courses in ten different categories. HBS emphasizes its “focus on real-world practice […] using the case method, which puts students into the role of decision makers every day.”

Today, there are more than 76,000 HBS alumni living in 167 countries with nearly 50 percent of alumni working in general management, 23.4 percent in finance and 23 percent in professional services. Famous HBS alumni include Facebook (FB) Chief Operating Office Sheryl Sandberg and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Alumni in particular praise HBS’s alumni network and the quality of the student population.

“Change lives. Change organizations. Change the world,” is GBS’s slogan, and its mission is “to empower the worlds brightest students, to act – to take steps that will change the world.” A look at GBS alumni reveals that many have made an impact, such as Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) founders William Hewlett and David Packard, whose garage served as the birthplace of both HP and Silicon Valley. Stanford has close ties with Silicon Valley as other alumni went on to found Google (GOOG) and Yahoo (YHOO).

During the first year of the two-year MBA program, students will build their “general management knowledge and gain global experience.” Students can personalize their curriculum in their second year and can choose from over 70 courses in 18 different categories. The school maintains a small 6-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and has several Nobel laureates on staff.

The key difference between HBS and GBS appears to be that HBS graduates are slightly more focused on finance and professional services while GBS graduates seem to prefer entrepreneurship. This is illustrated the high portion—56 percent—of HBS alumni working in finance and professional services. Furthermore, HBS graduates make out a high number of CEOs: 25 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are alumni from HBS – by far the largest percentage of any business school. GBS alumni, on other hand, have an entrepreneurial focus. The Financial Times notes that GBS alumni have one of the highest “startup survival rate[s]” as Stanford is among the best in entrepreneurial teaching and its proximity to Silicon venture capital firms...

Read full story: Investopedia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *