Wharton School is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Living in Philadelphia means cheaper rent, restaurant, and consumer goods. Despite the cost advantages, the purchasing power is only 5% higher than New York - a hint of the higher PayScale an NYC-based MBA candidate earns and the influence of the investment banking industry.
According to US News Business School ranking, Wharton is #3 while Columbia is placed at a distant #9. Columbia couldn’t balance the deficit in the Economist Full-time MBA rankings. The difference is maintained in Financial Times Global MBA ranking where Wharton is at #3 and Columbia at #7.
The recommended budget for one year in Columbia is $110,914, and for Wharton, it is $119,000, but on adding the transportation component of Columbia which is not included in the budget, the total two-year cost for Columbia is $1,000 more than Wharton Full-time MBA at $224,528.
The enrollment rates are similar at both Wharton and Columbia with Wharton attracting 500 more applicants last year. The competitions to get into the programs are high with the former attracting candidates with GMAT Score (middle 80%) in the range of 700-770 while the latter received applicants who scored in the 690 to 760 range.
Both the MBA program attracts applicants in the 27-28 age group with 5 years of experience.
MBA candidates from the Consulting background was similar with Wharton taking on a 4% lead, while PE/VC and Non-profit/govt candidates found Wharton a better program.
GPA: Wharton > Columbia MBA
Women: Wharton > Columbia MBA
Non-profit/Govt Background: Wharton > Columbia MBA
Consulting Background: Wharton > Columbia MBA
PE/VC Background: Wharton > Columbia MBA
Media/Marketing/Entertainment Background: Columbia > Wharton MBA
The core courses at Wharton is divided into fixed and flexible core. The mandatory core is covered in just 6 months with a focus on leadership and communication alongside developing the fundamentals of microeconomics and marketing.
The elective range offered at the two MBA programs are similar (200+). Columbia MBA provides a wider array of elective theme, diverging from the standard – Marketing, Retail, and Entrepreneurship, into themes that are valuable in a post-MBA function - private equity, Decision, Risk and Operations, Leadership and Ethics, and Healthcare.
Breadth of Electives: Wharton > Columbia
Access to University courses: Columbia > Wharton MBA
Global Immersion Program (GIP)
At Wharton, the GIP is an elective program that introduces students to business leaders, government officials, and Wharton alumni in an international location. The objective of the program is to get an overview of the economic, cultural, and geopolitical factors that influence the Global Economy.
Columbia Full-time MBA program has separated international study tours from Global Immersion program by requiring that students have a deliverable at the end of the trip. Both the program has designed the immersion to widen the student’s view of global Businesses and find first-hand the challenges of running a Business in a different culture.
On the number of destinations, Columbia is a far superior choice.
Global Immersion Program (Value): Columbia MBA > Wharton MBA
Columbia MBA NYC Immersion vs Wharton MBA Global Modular Courses
Wharton makes up for the limited destination in the immersion program with the Global Modular courses, which is an 8-13 course collection conducted internationally in collaboration with partner schools in Brazil, China, India, Israel, Italy, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. As part of the course, students must visit the client location, work with locals and collaborate with the Wharton undergraduate and EMBA participants. The teamwork and international perspective bring a multifaceted view on solving complex Business problems.
In addition to the Global Modular courses, for those Wharton MBAs who want to experience social impact, the Wharton Global Impact consultants project and Field Action projects are two additional avenues to solve interesting unstructured problems and experience the impact of a consulting engagement.
Columbia MBA’s selling point is the NYC experience. The strategy is reflected in the Immersion program that the school has to offer. Luxury brands, Technology, Real Estate, healthcare and Media/Tech are some of the popular NYC Immersion programs for 2018 spring with Leadership, and Government & ethical choices the two function-based themes designed for the experiential learning program.
Diversity of Experiential Learning: Columbia MBA > Wharton MBA
It all comes down to the median base salary. Wharton MBA is ahead by $5,000 but the total median salary is exactly the same ($150,500).
Entrepreneurship is not the preferred path for both the MBA programs as only 2-4% start their own Business or continue in Entrepreneurship after the MBA program. Employer-sponsored students are represented close to 10% at Columbia MBA, indicating the attractiveness of the program for career enhancers (mostly from Finance).
Now comes the specifics of the industry.
Management Consulting was the largest represented group for both the program (close to 1/3rd of the class) with the median base salary touching $147,000. New York’s strength in Media was represented in the latest Columbia MBA placements where close to 16% chose the industry despite below median base salary.
Preparing students for the Financial Services industry is what made the program attractive for most students to both the program as close to 35% of the class choose the industry. Among the sub-industries, Private equity/VC placements were higher at Wharton MBA (8.2%) while Investment Management (13.7%) attracted more interest at Columbia MBA. Both the program had equal standing for Investment Banking/Brokerage (13-14%).
All the traditional powerhouses in Consulting (PwC Strategy &, AT Kearney, McKinsey, BCG and Bain) Finance (Citi, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch) and Technology (Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Samsung) recruited at Wharton and Columbia MBA.
Merit-based scholarships are not available at Wharton, but fellowships on nationality, need and merit, totaling over 20 are available for the full-time MBA program.
13 Need-based scholarships at Columbia MBA program does not require a separate application, except a preference for funding to meet the tuition fee and other expenses during the program.
Notable among the need-based scholarships is the Lord Irvine A.S. Laidlaw ’65 Scholarship that benefits 100 full-time students (first and second-year students) from 20 countries, every year, helping 10% of the class with limited means but unlimited ambition an equal footing to be part of the prestigious Columbia Full-time MBA program.
In 2015, Lord Laidlaw announced a $2M scholarship, with $1M allocated to fund 10 students ($100,000 each) through the Laidlaw Centennial Scholarship Challenge Fund in the form of current-use scholarships. The remaining $850,000 is utilized for the Laidlaw Scholarship Fund and the $150,000 to encourage students to take part in the Global Immersion programs.
For candidates with a flair for teaching and research, Columbia Business School has the option for students to join the professors as a Teaching assistant, apply separately for Research Assistant posts and even offer tutoring services on subjects where they have excelled. The hourly rates for the tutoring services ranges from $30 to $50 depending on the number of students in each class and the hours required for the course.
Although Wharton consistently ranks for supporting Military applicants, Columbia is challenging the position, driven by the new scholarship funds, apart from the Yellow Ribbon program and financial assistance from the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
The Pat Tillman Foundation Military Scholars program needs special mention as the Foundation in addition to awarding $10,000 each, opens up opportunities for the scholars to take part in international conferences, and develop vocational skills while completing their full-time MBA program.
It is a close fight, but when it comes to the diversity of industries and the class, Columbia MBA is ahead.
On Finance sub-industries, both the program offers near equal opportunity with Wharton preferred by PE/VC and Columbia MBA by Investment Management candidates.
Median Base Salary: Wharton MBA > Columbia MBA
Total median salary: Wharton MBA = Columbia MBA
% receiving signing Bonus: Wharton MBA > Columbia MBA
% entering Entrepreneurship (continuing): Columbia MBA > Wharton MBA
% Career Enhancers: Columbia MBA > Wharton MBA
% Private Equity/Venture Capital: Wharton MBA > Columbia MBA
% Investment Management: Columbia MBA > Wharton MBA
2018 MBA Research Guide - Choose your MBA
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.
+ 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: Includes Top MBA Programs by 19 Specializations:
+ General Management
+ Operations Management
+ Supply Chain Management
+ Luxury Management
+ Information Systems
+ Hospitality Management
+ Leadership Development
+ Military &
+ Top MBA Program Ranking
Top 20 MBA Programs - Tuition Fee (2018)
Top 31 MBA Programs in United States – Total Cost & Salary (2017)
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 (2018)
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
Wharton vs. Columbia MBA (2018)
MIT vs. Stanford MBA (2017)
Haas vs. Ross MBA (2018)
Kellogg vs Ross MBA
Booth vs Wharton MBA
MIT Sloan vs Tuck MBA
IMD vs. INSEAD MBA (2017)
IIMA vs. ISB (2017)
+ MBA in France (2018)
Top Industries in France
Top MBA Programs in France
+ MBA in the UK (2018)
Top Industries in the UK
Top MBA Programs in the UK
Scholarships in the UK