Top B Schools under GMAT and Their Specializations

For anyone aspiring to get into a business school, the first hurdle is the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test). Forget about the other hurdles downstream if the GMAT is not successfully scaled.

But how high must you jump to clear it?

How high can a GMAT get?
There is no specific number but a “ballpark figure.” And, according to an article in, that ballpark figure is in the mid 600s. An applicant’s chances of getting into the top B schools under GMAT diminish greatly for scores below that.

The problem, according to GMAT consultants, is not in passing that ballpark figure. The problem comes in two faces: First, top B schools limit the number of applicants they accept in any given year, and, Second, they attract, like magnets, the best and brightest. These two put pressure on applicants to jump higher to get noticed by the screening committees of the B schools they are applying into

It is basically supply and demand kind of thing or the futures market where prices swing according to perceived future demands.

To give you an idea how competitive GMAT scores can be, below are the top ten GMAT average scores, in 2012, among the top 25 B schools in the U.S. (

Stanford University 713
Wharton (U-Penn) 713
MIT (Sloan) 710
Columbia University (NY) 709
Harvard University 708
Kellogg (Northwestern) 703
Duke University (Fuqua) 703
Yale University 703
University of California, Los Angeles (Anderson) 701
Berkeley (Haas) 700

Before losing your marbles over the immensity of competition in these schools, bear in mind that they are just the top 10. You still have 15 other B schools, just as good, to choose from.

Besides, these schools may not be as good, or the best, in the specialization you are planning to pursue.

For example, though Harvard University is, inarguably, the best B school, world-wide, you may get a better return of your money if you plan to take, say, Entrepreneurship, somewhere else. .

By the way, Harvard University is, according to B school analysts, the best business school not for its excellent campus, or its immense library, its program, number of
tenured professors or whatever. Analysts believe that Harvard has its reputation anchored on two things ( These are:
– Value of the school’s brand (how others perceive the quality of the school);
– The network of contacts you build as a student.

So rather than drive yourself crazy over your GMAT preparation to get into the top B schools, your MBA goals will better be served by looking for those that match your specialization.

What are the Top B schools under GMAT specializing in?
Things are never created equal. This is as inviolable as the Laws of Nature that govern our lives. It is true for the top B schools under GMAT as well. Below are the specializations common among the top B schools listed above (

– Accounting
– Economics
– Entrepreneurship
– Finance
– Health Administration
– Human Resources
– Information Systems
– International Business
– Leadership/Management
– Media/Entertainment Management
– Non-Profit Management/Public Administration
– Organizational Behavior
– Real Estate
– Supply Chain Management

Kellogg (Northwestern) leads the pack with all except Supply Chain Management.

MIT (Sloan) and Harvard have the least at five each, albeit, slightly different. For example:

MIT has Entrepreneurship, Finance, Information Systems, Leadership/Management, and Real Estate.

Harvard, on the other hand, has Entrepreneurship, Healthcare Administration, International Business, Leadership/Management, and Non-Profit Management/Public Administration.

How do they rank in their specializations?
This can be a subject of much contention. To illustrate the point, let’s take the top five specializations and see how top B schools rank against each other, regardless of GMAT average scores (

– Entrepreneurship:
This is led by Babson College (Olin), followed by Stanford University, then Harvard. Babson College, based in Boston, is not even among the top B schools under GMAT.

– International Business:
First is Thunderbird’s Garvin School of International Management, followed by Wharton (U-Penn) and third is University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business (

– Leadership/Management:
This is a toss up between Harvard Business School and Stanford., however, chose the latter as the better B school in Leadership/Management based on how well the students fared, job-wise, a couple of years after graduation.

There is no mention of a third placer.

– Finance
Wharton (U-Penn) is at first, followed by University of Chicago (Booth) and New York University (Stern).

– Non-Profit Management/Public Administration.
The honor falls on Bloomington (Indiana University), with Maxwell (Syracuse University) in second place and Humphrey (University of Minnesota – Twin Cities) coming in third.

The above information can serve an applicant two ways:

First: The heavens do not fall on applicants who are not inclined to run the rat race of higher GMAT scores. There are other top B schools that they can comfortably manage, GMAT score-wise;

Second: You can get a better return of your money if you take the time and effort to do a little research to find which B school is better vis-à-vis your desired specialization.

About Joseph Dabon

I am a retired engineer with half of my life spent in corporate corridors of multinational companies. My last job as that of Process Engineering Manager for the Far East of a large watch-manufacturing company based in the U.S. Currently I am an article and freelance writer and a blogger. I blog about Online Business, and happiness and fitness, I guest post in some online business blogs and hold the level of Expert Author, Diamond with Ezine.

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