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Should I Consider Chicago Booth and Wharton for Marketing?

You may be surprised to learn that the University of Chicago Booth School of Business is making inroads into an area that its crosstown rival (Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management) is known to dominate: marketing. Through the James M. Kilts Center for Marketing—named for the Chicago Booth graduate who was formerly CEO of Gillette and Nabisco (and is now a partner at Centerview Partners, which he co-founded)—Chicago Booth offers students roughly a dozen marketing electives. In particular, the school is growing its experiential opportunities in the marketing field, with students taking part in marketing management labs (semester-long consulting projects) at companies that in the past have included Abbott Laboratories, Bank of America, and Honeywell International. Further, professors in the department saw opportunities for increased practical involvement and created “hybrid” classes such as “Digital Marketing Lab” and “Lab in Developing New Products and Services” that involve a lecture component but also allow students to work on shorter-term consulting projects. In addition, students can apply for Kilts Fellowships, which provide scholarship funds and a two-year mentoring relationship.

Another potentially overlooked destination for marketing-driven MBA applicants is the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, which might be best known for its reputation in finance (as its original name, the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce, would imply). Nevertheless, the school prides itself on the breadth and depth of its expertise in a multitude of business areas.

For instance, consider these facts about Wharton’s highly regarded marketing program:

  • Wharton has “the largest, most cited, and most published marketing faculty in the world,” according to the marketing department’s website.
  • The school’s marketing department was ranked #2 in the 2023–2024 U.S. News & World Report MBA rankings by specialty.
  • A Wharton marketing professor developed conjoint analysis, a tool that has helped shape 20th century marketing practices.
  • The Wharton Marketing Conference brings together approximately 300 students, faculty members, alumni, and leading marketing experts to explore various themes central to the industry. The latest conference—held virtually in October 2021 with the theme “Rewriting the Playbook”—featured a fireside chat with the co-founders of True Places. Panel discussions included such topics as “Marketing within Data Sensitive Industries” and “Building Engaged Content Communities,” with panelists and speakers hailing from such companies as Peloton, the Kellogg Company, Curology, and TikTok.

Indeed, to dismiss Wharton as simply a finance school would be a mistake.

For a thorough exploration of what Chicago Booth, Wharton, and other top business schools have to offer, check out our free mbaMission Insider’s Guides.



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