Harvard vs. Stanford MBA: Ranking, Class Profile & Curriculum

GDP USA Growth rate 2008 to nowIn a span of just 10 years (1999 to 2009), the US Economy went through two booms and busts. The 2001 bust was the result of irrational exuberance that you see when new technology has not found a foothold on the market. Speculators jack up the price. Real investors play along. And then all go to the dust. 2001 was the period when taking the Business online no longer was a lottery for exponential growth but became the new reality of doing Business.  

The 2008 financial meltdown nearly brought down world economies, prompting the govt. to offer a $700 billion bailout – the largest Financial Rescue plan in US history. Officially called, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, the plan bought non-performing loans in auto, mortgages and college tuition. The turnaround happened when the Congress passed the Recovery Act in Feb 2009. It took a year for the Act to see results when private employers outperformed govt. recruitment, adding 17.6 million jobs from March 2010 to Nov 2017 at an average of 190,000 jobs. 2008 also triggered the longest period of high unemployment rate – a trend that was reversed only in June 2015.

In such a dynamic time, it is only fair to evaluate two sought-after MBA programs that have gone on to create one of the longest lasting rivalries.  If you want to measure where the economy is headed, analyze the recruitment pattern in these two top programs.


Ranking has always been a tricky criterion for school selection. Many have less than 30% alumni survey response. However, the top 5 MBA programs are often fairly consistent in most ranking publications. This has been the case for Harvard and Stanford MBA program in the four ranking publications we have considered – Financial Times, The Economist, US News and Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

Ranking Harvard MBA vs Stanford MBA
On average, Harvard outperformed Stanford by over a point and 3 quarters.

Ranking: Harvard > Stanford

Class Profile

If you feel that Stanford and Harvard are two sides of the same coin, the percentage of Humanities/Social Sciences students in the class is a clear differentiator.

Harvard vs Stanford MBA Class Profile
Stanford’s reputation as a sanctuary for technologists and budding Entrepreneurs is justified, but the initiative of the Stanford Humanities Institute to recruits 50 high school students for a 3-week university level course, is a signal on the strong belief the University has on the power of Humanities education. Apart from the ability to think at multidisciplinary levels, write thoughtful memos and arguments, and communicate with colleagues whose first language might not be English, Humanities degree, helped Silicon Valley Founders (LinkedIn, Pinterest, Slack, Instagram, Salesforce, AOL, and Paypal) differentiate and lead.  Most career switchers from Technology and Finance prefer Consulting. Harvard clearly believes in balancing Business education with STEM to fit with this post-MBA trend.

On diversity, women candidates are finally inching closer to finding equal representation in MBA programs. The international student representation has remained 35% for most top programs, including Harvard. Stanford is a much-preferred program for International applicants, especially those with permanent residence or dual residence, who along with applicants from foreign countries added 41% representation in the latest class.

Harvard vs Stanford MBA GMAT GPA and Other stats
On entry criteria, both the programs have high barriers - GPA score of 3.7+ and average GMAT Score that is 737 for Stanford, and a 730 median for Harvard although the latter accept applicants with relatively lower GMAT Score (low 600s if the experience and leadership compensate).

International Students:
Stanford > Harvard
Women: Harvard > Stanford
GMAT Score: Stanford > Harvard
GMAT Range: Harvard > Stanford

Course Structure

Harvard vs Stanford MBA Curriculum StructureBusiness Schools have been experimenting with flexible and traditional cores. Stanford has a traditional core structure with courses in Finance, Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Strategy, Organizational Behaviour, Decision Making, Marketing, HR and Information Management incorporated into the mandatory schedule.

Harvard is strategic with Finance, Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Technology & Operations incorporated in the core while offering students hands-on experience early on in the first couple of terms itself.
Stanford MBA has 10 elective themes compared to Harvard’s 9. But if you watch closely, there are six overlaps:

For Stanford vs. Harvard MBA Full Analysis: Download Comprehensive MBA Research Guide

Harvard vs Stanford MBA Complete Analysis

Author : 

The above post is an excerpt from Comprehensive MBA Research Guide (Chapter: Harvard vs Stanford MBA)

Full-time MBAHarvardStanford
Average Ranking2.254
Humanities (or Social Science)16%44%
GMAT Range580-790610-790
Average GPA3.713.74
Average GMAT730737

Getting into Harvard MBA is Not Like Catching a Shooting Star

Most applicants have this strange notion that you cannot get into Harvard MBA program without climbing Mount Everest, or leading a start-up to an IPO. 

Trust us, we evaluated a few Harvard MBA Admits. They are like you, but with one difference.

They are Masters at Personal Branding.

We will teach you:

1) How you should start the essay knowing that extroversion and passion are valued in Harvard MBA?

2) How you should demonstrate Active Learning?

3) How you should demonstrate confidence in decision-making?

4) How you should demonstrate your succinct communication skills?

5) How you should demonstrate your potential as an effective FIELD team member?

Also Included in the Essay Guide:

1) Six positioning tips that you should consider for your essay.

2) Two Sample Essays

Download F1GMAT's Harvard MBA Essay Guide 2016-17

2020 MBA Research Guide - Choose your MBA

"I attended three MBA Tours in US and Canada. I could just scratch the surface compared to what the guide has included. Thank you guys for the amazing book"

F1GMAT's Comprehensive MBA Research Guide will teach you how to select MBA programs through a bottom-up approach. 

Articulating your Post-MBA Goals and Career Path is the FIRST step. Which program will give you that hike in Salary, Switch in Career, Change in Location or Job Satisfaction?

We cover them all through our extensive analysis. 

Pages: 506

+ How to Choose the Best MBA Program: Factors to Consider
Define Post-MBA Goals
Pick your Path: Generalize or Specialize
Use Moral Algebra Method 
Use Multi-Attribute Utility Theory
Understand the Top 5 Risks
Measure MBA Career Service Team's Effectiveness
Use Bookending to Calculate MBA Admission Chance
Use Net Present Value to Calculate MBA Return on Investment
Don't Fall for the Mere Exposure Effect
Best Practices to find the truth in MBA Information Session or MBA Tour

Comprehensive MBA Research Guide:
Top MBA Programs by 19 Specializations:
+ General Management
+ Finance
+ Consulting
+ Marketing
+ Strategy
+ Operations Management
+ Supply Chain Management
+ Luxury Management
+ Information Systems
+ Hospitality Management
+ Accounting
+ Energy
+ Non-Profit
+ Wine
+ Sports
+ Sustainability
+ Leadership Development
+ Military &
+ International

+ Top MBA Program Ranking
Top 20 MBA Programs - Tuition Fee  
Top 31 MBA Programs in United States – Total Cost & Salary

Top 60 MBA – GMAT and GPA (Average & Median)
Top 20 European MBA Programs - Tuition Fee, Total Cost & Salary    
Top 20 European MBA Programs (Based on Actual Salary Increase)    
Top 20 European MBA Programs (Short-term return on investment)    
Top 20 Affordable European MBA Programs    
Top 10 MBA in UK – Salary & Fee   
Top MBA Destinations Based on Happiness Index    
Top MBA Destinations based on Innovation Index    
Top 10 MBA Job Markets based on Cost of living and Purchasing Power    
Top MBA Destination: By Economy    

+Comparisons - Top MBA Programs
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Harvard vs. Stanford MBA

+ MBA in France (2018)
Top Industries in France   
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  Class Profile   
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Scholarships in France
External Funding 

+ MBA in the UK (2018)
Top Industries in the UK   
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  Class Profile   
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Scholarships in the UK
External Funding 

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+ Germany: Industry Trends, Post MBA Jobs and Salaries (2020) (NEW!)
  • Manufacturing  
  • IoT and IIOT   
  • Technology   
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  • Post-MBA industries (German Top Schools)   

Download F1GMAT's MBA Research Guide (2020)

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