My DD is choosing between HBS (Harvard) and GSB (Stanford) for her MBA in 3-4 years. Which should she choose and why? She is interested in consulting and global entrepreneurship.

In three to four years she will be deciding? I’d wait and see how things go in the next three to four years.

They are both terrific schools…if she gets accepted!

Deferred admission. She’s been accepted to both and needs to accept and deposit at one later this month.

Either will open all the relevant doors.

IMO there is a huge continental divide (he he) in the cultures of the two schools, and that is the most significant differentiator. The HBS culture is exactly the stereotype. Does that appeal to her? That’s your answer.

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Congratulations to your daughter.

Which MBA program does your daughter prefer & why ?

Does the student have flexibility in choosing the number of years to defer enrollment at both of these programs ?

Does HBS permit more than a 2 year deferral period ?

An open ended deferral period seems unlikely. What are the parameters for each program ?

Without more information, it would probably be better to commit to the program which offers the more flexible deferment period option.

P.S. “consulting & global entrepreneurship” is a very broad area and shows one reason why applying to MBA programs prior to having 2 or more years of post-undergraduate degree work experience as the student’s interests are likely to develop over these early full-time work years.

P.P.S. Both appear to offer flexibility regarding deferment period.

I agree with collegemom that there are different cultures at these schools, and your D must see herself succeeding and happy in either culture to consider attending. Of these two choices, I lean GSB for entrepreneurship but that’s just an n of 1, from someone who went to Kellogg :wink:

She is leaning towards GSB. I think she likes the culture better and that there is more hands-on learning, whereas HBS is all case method. It doesn’t help that all of her consulting buddies seem headed to HBS so she is questioning why.

She will defer 3-4 years regardless and both are allowed. She is guaranteed a 3 year deferral because of her fellowship and would just request a 4th. She knows what she wants to do post MBA and it is at the intersection of consulting and global entrepreneurship. I just don’t want to say more than that. Both are strong in both areas and would prepare her well for what she wants to do.

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Maybe all of her consulting buddies do not have the same option. Regardless, if your daughter prefers Stanford GBS and must decide soon,then Stanford is an outstanding choice.

Possibly for the same reason that they are mostly choosing the same brands in everything from shoes to coffee: brand mystique is real! It might also be that the HBS cultures suits them better?

Well…these schools certainly have very different weather!

Does she want to be near the Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific?

I’m not sure where you live, but these two schools are on opposite coasts. Any chance she might want to experience a different part of the country?

I’d be looking at the things other than the quality of these two business schools because both are excellent.

Maybe consider location location location.

Congratulations on two very prestigious options for your daughter!! On a previous thread (primarily discussing undergraduate) you expressed an opinion…

“No one has shown that connections and experiences at an elite school like Harvard dictate outcome. Folks like to believe that to be true, which is the same as saying that prestige matters a whole lot. I’m very skeptical of that based on my experience attending two elite schools, working in an elite industry for decades, what I’ve observed of my DD’s and similar cohort scholarship outcomes, and just reviewing the directories of my alma maters. All have led me to the conclusion - prestige matters far less than many think.”

Given her two options are at the apex of prestige do you view post grad as different? Given your extensive background in a “prestige” industry and at 2 prestige schools plus your personal relationship with her, I am sure you are better suited them anyone to advise her.

I would hate to confuse the issue having very limited knowledge about one of the schools and not knowing your daughter. First rule of case study is making sure you have the fact pattern down cold.

I am sure either way she will be a success but of course you know that.

Yes, I’ve always said grad school prestige can matter a lot - law and business, for example. For undergrad, not so much. For that reason she only applied to GSB and HBS. That discussion you quoted from was about undergrad, although some folks like to show how grad school prestige matters to confuse the issue under discussion.

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I don’t mean to be one of those “some people” but a recent Forbes article found…

“23.2% of MBA admits to HBS secured an Ivy League undergrad degree, and the top three feeder schools are Harvard (46), University of Pennsylvania (39) and the West Coast’s Stanford (35).”


“ More than one third (37%) of Stanford’s class of MBAs earned their undergraduate degrees from a traditional Ivy League university”

Certainly does seem those super elite B Schools admissions committees think undergrad prestige matters. Glad your daughter blazed another path. Based upon the numbers and her background she must be truly exceptional.

If she doesn’t want to be surrounded with 2/5 of her peers from Prestige type schools she will likely prefer Harvard with 1/4.

Stanford because of her previous success with fellowships, she is highly likely to get the Knight Hennessy fellowship which is an awesome program and would fund her. Harvard doesn’t have anything similar.

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I like your thinking! That is definitely a consideration. Her MBA will be company sponsored, but another fellowship would give her more post-MBA flexibility. I don’t know about highly likely, but the KH does seem to like previous fellowship winners. There is also a great new fellowship that would cover 1/2 of HBS (her friend won it this year to attend HMS), which she’s thinking about.

Decision update: Stanford GSB!


Congratulations to your daughter! Having rejected Harvard twice she now has the perfect response to the Harvard braggart who mentions his/her pedigree boastfully.

She obviously is exceptionally smart and polished. Did she have any specific additional “hooks”?