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Business School Research

Harvard Business School is one of the most sought after B-schools in the world. It is also one of the schools with the lowest acceptance rate. While IIMA in India boasts of an acceptance rate of just 0.1%, among US B-schools, HBS has the lowest acceptance rate after Stanford. The rate has historically hovered around the 10-12% mark. The class of 2017 has seen a slight dip in acceptance to 11%, the result of an increase in application volume.

Standing out from 9600 other applicants requires strategic thinking and the power of storytelling. We will teach you how with our essay guide.

Note: When we mention a year, we refer to the year of graduation – the class of that year. The year of admission would be 2 years prior.

Class Size

Over the past 10 years, class sizes have fluctuated from a high of 889 in 2009 to a high of 941 in 2011. The class of 2017 saw 937 enrolled students. Although there are no targets as such, the growth of the class size is three per year.


Diversity is not just a buzzword for...

Algebra Method Benjamin FranklinThere is a myth on how we make decisions and the information we collect to reach a conclusion. Analysis paralysis is often associated with the vast amount of information that is under our disposal. The truth is different. We are not paralyzed by the additional information but by the narrower choices that we have reached after eliminating several other equally viable options.

The time invested to reach the fewer choices is high and we are not ready to go through the process again to consider other equally viable options that we had earlier eliminated thus increasing the stake to pick one option over the other.

Chip and Dan Heath explain in their new book, Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, about Moral Algebra technique that Benjamin Franklin recommended for decision-making. It is a modified Pros and...

HEC Paris MBAWe interviewed Benoit Banchereau, the Director of Communication, Development and Admissions for the HEC Paris MBA. The interview covers questions related to the MBA program, Post-MBA trends, unique courses, visa policies for International students, and what makes HEC Paris MBA different from Insead.

1. F1GMAT: What is the biggest misconception about HEC Paris MBA Program?

The biggest misconception about the HEC Paris MBA program is that most of the students on the program are French. This is not the case. Due to the international approach at HEC Paris MBA, the student body is made up of 90% international students from over 40 nationalities. All students are also given the opportunity to learn French, which will help them if they choose to remain in France after their MBA.

2. F1GMAT: HEC Paris full-time MBA has given emphasis on Career Management and Leadership Development. How is the curriculum structured to give students the ability to choose their career path?

Our curriculum, which was redesigned in partnership with Bain and Company has two phases; the Fundamental Phase and the Customized...

The first year focuses on the foundation of General Management: Finance, Leadership, Marketing, Operations, Human Resource Management, and Informed Decision Making.

First Quarter Courses (Autumn)

Ethics in Management

Post-2008 Financial crisis, MBAs were labelled as the “Wall Street Crooks,” even worse, one of Stanford’s own MBA - Mathew Martoma, was sentenced to a 9-year jail term for profiting his company a whopping $276 million in a single transaction through insider trading. It is not just that Martoma profited through unethical means, he even lied his way through MBA Admissions.

Although Ethics in Management as a required MBA course might be in the pipeline before the 2008 crisis, the course provides a framework for making ethical decisions on a day-to-day basis, and in, group decisions where ethical perceptions of people collide. To avoid scenarios where group decisions override ethical decisions, the course offers guidelines for ethical analysis, to overcome ethical dilemmas, and to deal with the practical issues of convincing people, who have to make a decision between choosing an ethical decision that generates lower profit or an unethical decision that accumulates a windfall profit.

Financial Accounting

Reading and understanding corporate financial statements can be completed as...

European MBA not Good for Career Switching“Millennials will leave, because they get bored! They want to learn & grow” proclaimed a speaker, and MBA marketers agreed in Chorus. Mr. X just completed 1-year in a European IT firm, post-MBA, in the same pre-MBA role that he despised. He is not leaving anywhere. He is stuck in a bad loan, and a career risk that will cost him another 3 to 5 years (the average time required to earn a return on investment from an MBA). This despite tall promises by Business School marketers about career switching. Mr. X did not find the right job offers despite the early finance focus in the MBA program. As a last minute effort to avoid the shame of returning to his home country without a job and over 55000 euros in debt, the candidate took the IT job.
3-Month Post-MBA Job Offers: Numbers Lie

A column that MBA applicants often see in brochures and ranking publications is the % job offers within 3-month of graduation. Most European schools score upwards of 80%, but time has come for applicants to question the usefulness of this data. Mr. X might have also been included in that percentage. He was forced to accept a job offer within 3 months.

Last time, I...

Tier-2 General Managment ProgramWhen I was working with a technology multinational, six years back, a Manager used to come to our desk and ask us one question “What is the Status?” During the initial part of the project, the question seemed cute, but while we were in the middle of a breakthrough, animatedly discussing the pros and cons of a solution, the interruptions began to affect our productivity. After responding to the annoying question in the same way as last time – “We are working on the solution,” my colleague gushed “I would like that job.” He created nothing. The only job he did was reporting. This was during the cusp of the 2008 Financial Meltdown, and General Managers were in great demand. Add to it, he was an MBA. With the Financial meltdown, he was among the first group of Managers who were fired. These rare breeds of Managers, who are valued during a market boom, and looked down upon during busts, are what we call “Middle Managers.”

Zappos move to “Holacracy” – a self-governing, flat organization structure where there are no Managers has been reported with suspicion, for one the motivation to climb the ladder is removed from the career path. When productivity becomes the only metric to measure...

Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA) was founded in 1967 by the Government of India in collaboration with business visionaries. Today, it has cult status among Indian B-school aspirants and has grown into an EQUIS-Accredited internationally recognized management institution. Indian School of Business (ISB) was founded by a group of eminent industrialists and academicians in association with Kellogg and Wharton. The first student intake was in 2001, and in just a decade, the school is now nipping at the heels of IIMA for the title of India’s best B-school in most international rankings.

Although Indian B-schools rankings do not rate the AACSB-accredited ISB, students both in India and abroad have a fuzzy perception of how these two MBA behemoths compare with each other. Some say it is like comparing apples and oranges; which is partially true, but we have undertaken the challenging task of sizing them against each other.

Do note that in India, MBA degrees can only be given by universities. That is why B-Schools here offer management diplomas equivalent to an MBA, and both IIM and ISB call theirs – PGP or Post Graduate Program.


MBA Research Utility ValueBenjamin Franklin showed us the power of Moral Algebra method. We adapted the method for MBA Research and demonstrated how you can choose when it comes to two equally good MBA programs. The method works when the choices are limited but while interacting with MBA Applicants through our MBA Admissions Consulting service, we asked the applicants to cite the reasons for shortlisting the MBA programs. Some were rational reasons, reached after extensive research while many were irrational conclusions reached through faulty assumptions. When the reasons for selecting the MBA program are flawed, Admission consultants cannot successfully strategize and guide the MBA applicant through the Admission process. Deep down, applicants know that they have selected the MBA programs based on reputation (one of the several factors that should influence your selection) and not on extensive attribute matching – a process we highly recommend.

We falsely put...

MBA Research Career Switch Entreprenurship 2015 TrendsFor prospective MBA Aspirants, understanding the competition is crucial before developing a strategy for MBA Application. To gauge the competition in a particular school, it is important that you identify the nationalities and region of MBA applicants targeting the school and analyze the factors that influence their choices.

Business Schools are not going to back down from their search for diversity in nationality, gender, and profile. Whether your profile captures experience diversity depends on how you spin your story and position your personal brand, but regions and nationalities are reserved by the school based on a hidden quota system for each application cycle. In a year, if the majority of MBA Applicants from Asia-Pacific were targeting the 2-Year Full-time MBA program, and you are one of the applicants from the region, it would be wise to mix your top 5 MBA program list with a few premium 1-Year MBA programs. The report is your first data point, and we at F1GMAT are here to summarize the trends for you.

Increase in MBA Application (Aspiring Entrepreneurs)

It might be an uncertain job market, the Entrepreneurial eco-system in...

When you look at the jobs with the most satisfaction or meaning – Clergy or religious head features in the top followed by Surgeons, Teachers/Education Administrators, and interestingly Chiropractors while Cooks in Fast Food restaurants, Fashion Designers and Host/Hostesses in Restaurants feature at the bottom.

Alumni from Graduate Management programs features somewhere in the middle. Although they can’t compete with Surgeons on the median salary ($299,600) or job meaning (94%), the progression in the career from Entry Level to C-Level executives increases their job satisfaction. The closest these Alumni have reached on job satisfaction with Surgeons is at executive or C-Level with 93% of them reporting satisfaction with their job profile. The work, although challenging, becomes more meaningful at the executive level. Not far from the well-defined career structure is the self-employed graduate program alumni, who report 90% satisfaction with their current responsibilities.

Job Satisfaction – By Career Level (Graduate Management Program)

Job Satisfaction At Each Career Level

How much do they value the Graduate Management Program?


Duke Fuqua MBA vs UNC MBAThe rivalry between UNC and Duke is not limited to College basketball; the competition as a favorite MBA destination is much fiercer. While the casual researcher favors UNC for the good-looking crowd, serious applicants should consider five factors: ranking, curriculum, location, class profile, and post-MBA jobs.


According to US News, Duke is at #14 while UNC is just behind at #19 for the best Business School. The surprise however was with the 2014 BusinessWeek ranking where Duke Fuqua was ranked #1 in the 2-yearly ranking, rising five positions from the 2012 position. In terms of ranking parameters, BusinessWeek considers Student Satisfaction and Employer Survey on equal weightage (45%), validating further on Duke’s edge over UNC, which was ranked #12th in the top 100 rankings.


UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA’s core curriculum is comprised of 13 core courses, majority of which (10) are completed during the first-year fall semester. The spring of second year is mostly devoted to elective courses with students getting the opportunity to pick from over 125 courses every year. The electives are clustered into 10 concentrations:...

Apply MBA Know your CompetitionApart from differentiating your application by shortlisting relevant life events, and writing from your heart – two techniques that we have taught in Winning MBA Essay Guide, you have to consider the application volume, and competition from other equally qualified applicants. GMAC’s 2014 survey of 469 MBA programs and 259-specialist Masters (non-MBA) program spread across 32 countries (the majority distributed in 41 states in the US), has revealed the trends in application volume.

Fall in Volume (1-year Full-time MBA)

Never has your chances been better to apply to European based 1-year MBA programs. For the first time in 5 years, majority of 1-year MBA programs (60%), of which over 80% are from Europe has reported a steady decline in application volume. The decline is the result of low interest from foreign applicants. If you are an International MBA candidate, this is the year to target the top European MBA programs.


Stanford MBA Class ProfileStanford Full-time MBA is a 24-month program with the 2016 class setting a new record in the history of Stanford GSB for the largest class with 410 students. The diverse group of students for the latest class was chosen through a rigorous MBA Admission process that accepted applications from 7355 aspirants with an acceptance rate of 5.5%. The sparks of innovation that Stanford is known for has to do with the talented group of MBA candidates but the environment - the pleasant “The Knight Management Center Campus” in Bay Area, Northern California,  is the perfect fertile ground for new ideas. The vicinity to some of the best innovators in the world – Intel, Google, Facebook and Apple, lends an inspiring learning experience for MBA candidates.

Download F1GMAT's Analysis - Stanford MBA Curriculum

Stanford MBA Class profile

For the Class of 2016, Stanford Full-time MBA program received 7,355 applications,...

Harvard MBAHarvard Full-time MBA is a 24-month program with the latest class enrolling 913 students in the Boston Campus. The full-time MBA is a residential program with a focus on hands-on experience through the Case Study Method and FIELD projects. By encouraging students to exercise their knowledge on real-world problems, Harvard Business Schools has created a learning environment that encourages Entrepreneurship and leadership. Even though the class size is huge compared to other top MBA programs, the school leadership has set up small learning groups of 80-90, to  mimic the efficiency of lean teams.

Harvard MBA Curriculum

The Harvard MBA Curriculum is divided into Year One Spring & Fall, and Year Two Spring & Fall schedules. During Year One Fall, HBS MBA students follow a common curriculum - Finance 1, Financial Reporting and Control, Marketing, Leadership and Organizational Behavior (LEAD), Technology and Operations Management, FIELD Foundation in Leadership and Field 2: Global Intelligence.

Year One - Fall


Picking Backup MBA ProgramsMost applicants have completed their GMAT preparation. They are ready to send their GMAT test scores to five Business Schools. One common mistake that we have seen applicants committing while selecting their top five schools is that they don’t put too much thought into selecting the last Business School in the list. Often the thought process is to pick schools based on unrealistic expectations or with very little ambition.

Here are 4 Reasons why picking a Backup program might be counterproductive.

1) Brand Still Matters

The fifth Business School in the top five list would be a low ranked tier-2 Business School. Applicants get a sense of security to know that they would be admitted to at least one school even if they were rejected by four other schools.

If applicants had a choice of picking the fifth Business School based on merit, they would not have followed this process. This is an interesting behavior. You are not a failure if five top schools reject you. A considerable number of re-applicants get into top...

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