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Comparing The World's Best Business Schools | 6 Simple Steps

You can choose between the world's best business schools by asking yourself six simple questions, says Alex Min, CEO of The MBA Exchange

Tue Mar 10 2020


How do I choose between the world's best business schools when applying to my MBA?

Dear BusinessBecause,

I know that I want to do an MBA, but I'm unsure where. There are so many business schools to choose from that it's difficult to know where to start!

What advice would you give for building a list of schools to target?

This week's Applicant Question was submitted by an anonymous reader.

The Answer

This week's Applicant Question is answered by Alex Min, CEO of The MBA Exchange. 

There’s no shortage of alternatives when choosing business schools for your target list. 

The sheer number of MBA programs is staggering. Drawing from our experience advising more than 5,000 MBA applicants over the past three decades, The MBA Exchange offers a way to break through the clutter and confusion by answering six key questions.

1.  What are my career objectives?

While it’s difficult to articulate exactly what you want to do 15 to 20 years from today, most individuals can identify one scenario that would be satisfying and attainable with an MBA education. 

The reality is that you’re going to need to frame a career objective for your upcoming applications and interviews, so why not get a head start? 

Having a sense of what you’ll be doing in the future provides a foundation for targeting some business schools and disregarding others.

2. How can the school help me succeed?

Next, you can assess which MBA programs offer the most relevant and valuable support for your goal. 

For example, say you envision becoming chief marketing officer at a consumer goods corporation. 

Including business schools such as Northwestern Kellogg and Duke Fuqua makes excellent sense. 

Or, if you plan to become a Wall Street investment banker, schools such as Wharton, MIT Sloan, and Chicago Booth merit consideration. 

To evaluate whether an MBA program aligns with your likely future, read the annual employment report to confirm whether a significant number of recent grads entered your desired industry. 

Then, take a hard look at the elective curriculum, faculty profiles, campus clubs, and annual conferences to confirm the fit.

3. Who has attended and why did they do so?

Beyond the 'rockstar' alumni featured on a school’s website, it’s important to get an idea of typical individuals who attended the school. 

You can do this on a macro level by searching LinkedIn for alumni working in your preferred industry. 

A more insightful way to evaluate current and past attendees is to engage with them directly. 

If you don’t already know such individuals, tap your personal and professional networks for an introduction. 

Otherwise, approach officers of student clubs and alumni chapters through their websites. 

You’ll find most to be receptive and eager to help you learn about their alma mater. At the same time, you’ll get a feel for the intellect and personality of people who may become lifelong friends and allies.

Got a Question of your own?


4. Why should the school admit me?

Identifying MBA programs that serve your priorities is essential, but you also need to consider the likelihood of being accepted there. 

For starters, compare your undergraduate GPA and standardized-test score with the middle 80% of recent admits. 

If your stats are within this range, you’ll have a reasonable chance for success. 

However, given admission rates as low as 7% to 25% at top-tier business schools, being statistically qualified is not enough. 

Factors such as professional impact, non-work leadership, diversity status, cross-cultural awareness, personal history, and interview skills will help determine the outcome of your admission campaign. 

So, it’s beneficial to get an objective, expert evaluation of your overall competitiveness from a professional admissions consultant before including a school on your target list.

5. Where else should I apply?

Once you evaluate and rank MBA programs according to fit with your candidacy, it’s wise to group them according to probability of your admission. 

A practical approach is to categorize schools as either 'Stretch', 'Possible', or 'Likely.' 

Then, just as you would allocate financial resources to various investment vehicles according to risk and reward, allocate your MBA applications by category. 

For some candidates, targeting any program other than 'Stretch' is not motivating.  For other individuals, the value proposition at 'Likely' programs is still compelling.

6. If this is the only school to admit me, would I attend?

This challenging question is the final one when deciding whether to include an MBA program on your target list. 

However, by the time you address it, you will have gained a solid understanding of each school based on your answers to the previous questions. 

Dig deep and predict how you’ll feel if and when accepted.Then, finalize your list and launch your MBA admissions campaign with focus, clarity, and confidence.

Ask an Admissions Expert a Question


Next week, you'll have the chance to ask Maria Carulli, head of admissions for the International Executive Masters at MIP Politecnico di Milano, anything you like about getting into business school.

Prior to her current role, Maria was in charge of recruitment for Europe, within the international marketing and sales team. 

In this capacity, she also worked with careers services for MIP's full-time MBA.

Got a question you'd love Maria to answer? Submit your question

Student Reviews

Duke University Fuqua School of Business




On Campus

Supportive atmosphere

The professors at Duke university exhibit exceptional commitment to the success and well-being of their students by ensuring their academic growth and fostering a supportive social atmosphere. Moreover, the entire community is recognized for its amicability and inclusiveness.




On Campus


The people or the students are without a doubt Duke's greatest asset. While all students are driven to succeed, they are also enthusiastic about a variety of hobbies. You run across a huge lot of diversity. It is the ideal example of a school with well-rounded students and the ideal balance of campus life in a metropolis.




On Campus

Happy to school

All I could ever hope for is Duke University. That really epitomizes the "work hard, play hard" philosophy that elite colleges frequently pursue. Even though you'll have a lot of schooling to complete over the week, it's simple to keep focused because all of your friends are putting in similar amounts of effort. Many events taking place on and around campus on the weekends provide a great way to unwind. The combination of demanding academics and traditional college fun strikes the perfect balance.




On Campus

Good schooling

Living, eating, learning, and developing who you want to be as an adult are all fantastic at Duke. I participated in student athletics, and I couldn't have asked for a better interaction with the faculty and other students. I appreciate all of the help I get from the Duke community more than anything. Furthermore, the teachers take the time to get to know you, and the lectures are diverse and demanding (if you do the same). I'd give it a 10 out of 10.




On Campus

Beautiful School, Nice Classes

DU remains one the greatest and best universities that I have ever stepped in. The school is beautiful and neat. The classes are spacious and also very nice. I enjoyed attending my Lectures in those lecture halls. I also loved the Lecturers because of the good work they did. The university also has very good dorms that are given to students on first come first serve basis and they are affordable





Amazing experience

I received my B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Global Health with a minor in Chemistry from Duke University. I was able to grow as a student, scientist, and global health advocate with the help of my friends, professors, and other mentors I met along the way. A lot to learn if you look and ask, a great place to learn for those who want to learn.





whirlwind of growth and change

An amazing 2 years, with covid and everything else happening Duke has been a place of growth for me. The courses , classes were one of a kind, online and on campus. But the valuable lessons learned in the classes are irreplicable. The students are amazing here, so much diversity , I had no problem fitting in. The teachers are down right brilliant and so helpful. Don't be afraid to ask them anything. Graduated with my MBA with Duke and now my future awaits.




On Campus

One of the best for Business students

Graduated with an MBA. The classes were very insightful and engaging. The staff are very easy to deal with. The teachers and students, are truly amazing people. Grateful to all the people I've met along the way at Duke. I've learnt a great deal that will help me in my future endeavors. The campus itself is a marvel, it is beautiful.




On Campus

The university campus is awesome

I graduated with a masters degree in Religious Studies from Duke University. One thing I really liked about the university is its huge campus. It is spread in a large area with a lot of greenery and also have the facilities of reading rooms for single person also. My department building was very well taken care of. The library is immensely populated with books for all your needs. The faculty is very nice to students. The classes are equipped with latest technology to cater the needs of students. The University also provides room rentals for international students. They are very well maintained and priority is given to the International students for a comfortable stay there. There are weekly events conducted by the University as well as Student clubs for the entertainment of students. Anybody can take part in them and show their talents. I enjoyed my degree and I graduated in 2021 and was very happy that I had graduated from a reputed University.