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B-School Chart of the Week: Comparing Pre-MBA Careers at HBS and Wharton

Although quantifying a school’s profile certainly does not tell you everything, it can sometimes be helpful in simplifying the many differences between the various MBA programs. Each week, we bring you a chart to help you decide which of the schools’ strengths speak to you.

Thus far, Harvard Business School and UPenn Wharton are among the few top-tier MBA programs to have already published profiles for their incoming Class of 2015. So, we thought doing a side-by-side comparison would be interesting. Both schools boast large programs, with Wharton receiving 6,036 applications for a target incoming class size of 845, and HBS receiving 9,315 applications, from which 941 students were admitted. And although most business schools try to balance their classes with a diverse composition, some distinctive patterns often emerge. One notable factor of diversity can be seen by looking at the incoming students’ pre-MBA industries.

For example, UPenn Wharton breaks its finance-related backgrounds into separate categories (12% investment banking, 4% investment management, 8% other financial services). At a glance, this conceals the fact that—once aggregated—Wharton’s class shows a distinctive bias in the direction of finance, compared with just 14% of HBS’s incoming class who are coming from the same background. By contrast, more students in aggregate come from the technology sector and from industries such as consumer products, retail, health care and energy at HBS than at Wharton. Because schools often categorize industries differently, drawing direct comparisons is not always easy, and of course, many students will be career changers. Still, these figures can be useful in presenting a general overview of career emphasis and the sorts of classmates you can expect to meet at your target school.

Wharton vs. HBS Class of 2015




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