A Tale about Two Schools: Harvard vs Wharton

Undoubtedly, two best business schools in the world. But how to make a choice?...

Harvard and Wharton are the oldest American universities and the first American business schools, the two powerful smithies of powerful men of the whole planet and the alma mater of billionaires. These two giants in the field of business education have been competing for the pedestal in the world of MBA programs for more than a decade. Even if Wharton is considered by right as the best business school at least the USA, no ratings can shake the confidence of Harvard graduates in their exceptionality and to dispel the aura of prestige and power that reigns within the walls of this university and has inspired three dozen of Nobel laureates and several US presidents.

Oh, that Harvard 

It seems that only the name of one of the world's most famous Ivy League universities speaks for itself. Located in Cambridge, a university city of the state Massachusetts, Harvard can be considered a full-fledged town in the city, with its 5,076-acre campus and over 6,500 students. The educational possibilities of Harvard are unlimited: the most gifted brains of all countries of the world study the disciplines of almost all aspects of science, politics, business and art, and at the highest level: 3.9 billion endowments (the university's private budget) is the opportunity to constantly update the equipment, build first-class training campuses and select the best professorial staff. Sorry for always repeating the most and best in the description, but any authoritative ratings in the field of education will confirm the superiority and power of Harvard (since Wharton is a business school, it would be unfair to now list any ratings other than the MBA). So,

  • according to Forbes, the Harvard Business School is number three among business schools around the world;
  • according to the News and World Report – the first one, and according to the Business Vic version - the second one.

Unfortunately, even here there is a catch: the pleasure of obtaining a Harvard education is quite expensive: $102,000 (namely, the two-year MBA program), which is one of the most expensive educations. By the way, the Harvard Business School has its own territory, which is located in Boston.

Лаконичный Уортон

Сама по себе Уортонская школа бизнеса, это колледж, входящая в состав Пенсильванского Университета, еще одного из восьми в списке элитной Лиги плюща. Самая лучшая бизнес-школа США по версии Admission Hero, Уортон занимает топовые позиции влиятельных рейтингов с самого своего основания в 1886 году (вторая позиция по версии Financial, третья –The Economist и пятая по версии Forbes). Кампус Wharton Business School расположен в Филадельфии. Так же, как и в Гарвард, в Уортон могут попасть лишь лучшие из лучших (в Уортоне очень жесткий отбор – 20% подающих заявку зачисляются, причем минимальный балл GMAT в Уортоне выше, чем в Гарварде), и так же, как и в Гарварде, учеба в этом заведении не всем по карману - $105,000 за полную программу МБА.

Атмосфера в Уортоне насквозь пропитана конкуренцией и крайней целеустремленностью. Сама школа гордится тем, что в ней нет никакой «харизмы», лишь факты и цифры зарабатывают ей репутацию. Инновации, профессионализм и невероятные амбиции – вот, что составляет сущность этой школы.

И, кстати. Гарвард взрастил 8 президентов США, в том числе и Барак Обаму. Догадаетесь, кого подарил миру Уортон? Да-да, 45-го президента Америки – Дональда Трампа. Много лет назад он учился в стенах Уортонской бизнес-школы и делал свои первые шаги на пути к топу списка Forbes.

Так кого выберете ВЫ – Барак Обаму или Дональда Трампа? Гарвард или Уортон? Сравним.

Laconic Wharton 

The Wharton School of Business itself is a college that is part of the University of Pennsylvania, another one of eight in the list of the elite Ivy League. The best business school in the United States according to Admission Hero, Wharton has been taking top-ranked positions in influential ratings since its founding in 1886 (the second position in the Financial version, the third –according to The Economist and the fifth according to the Forbes version). The Wharton Business School’s campus is located in Philadelphia. As in Harvard, only the best of the best can be found in Wharton (in Wharton there is a very strict selection - 20% of applicants are enrolled, and the minimum GMAT score in Wharton is higher than in Harvard), and just like in Harvard, not everyone can afford the study at this institution - $105,000 for a full MBA program.

The atmosphere in Wharton is permeated with competition and utmost dedication. The school itself is proud of the fact that there is no "charisma" in it, only facts and figures earn a reputation for it. Innovation, professionalism and incredible ambitions – these constitute the essence of this school.

And by the way. Harvard nurtured 8 US presidents, including Barack Obama. Guess who Wharton gave the world? Yes, yes, the 45th president of America - Donald Trump. Many years ago, he studied within the walls of the Wharton Business School and took his first steps towards the top of the Forbes list.

So who will YOU choose - Barack Obama or Donald Trump? Harvard or ‘s harton? Let’s compare.

Campus  location and accommodation 

Boston vs West Philadelphia  

Both Boston and Philadelphia are among the few cities in the US that perfectly match the historical past and cultural diversity. By many measures, Boston may be a more dynamic and mobile city, but the Philadelphia cheese stake will easily compete with it. If you are good at movies, then I'll explain in a different way: Boston and Philadelphia are the same Good Will Hunting and Rocky, that is, two opposites and choosing one is extremely difficult.

Boston, in which proximity Harvard University located, is one of the most innovative cities in the world, in which the headquarters of corporate monsters such as Google and Facebook are located. This is both an academic Disneyland, and a small working class town. The population of Boston is hyper-erudite Americans, most of whom are either students or entrepreneurs. The city is full of expensive pubs and cafes, chic cultural centers where various events are held.  


Wharton is located in the very heart of Philadelphia, which allows students to quickly and easily travel to New York or Washington. The city itself is a compact and convenient place where you can find a plethora of first-class restaurants and entertainment centers. Many students who first come to Philadelphia are usually pleasantly surprised by the liveliness and energy of the city.


Separately it is necessary to say about the campuses of these two schools. Wharton owns the best facilities and the most modern technologies among all business schools worldwide. But in any case, it can’t be compared with Harvard. No school can. The Harvard Business School can be considered as a full-fledged university with 33 separate buildings on 40 acres along the Charles River. The gym is equipped according to the latest canons of fitness and bodybuilding, the richest library, the chapel are just some of the components of its campus. On the territory there is even the Institute of Strategy and Rivalry of the guru in his business, Michael Porter. It is also unlikely that there will be a business school, which will at least somehow correspond to Harvard in terms of the huge size of classrooms and training halls. On the other hand, if we compare Wharton with any other business school, it will not be easy to outrank it. The campus here consists of seven buildings, in the center of which there is Wharton Kuade - a favorite meeting place for students. One building can be proud of 48 classrooms, 4 computer laboratories, 57 training rooms for group work, 300 local auditoriums and numerous student cafes.

However, the winner in the section of location and campus possibilities will still be considered to be Harvard.

Cultural life

Wharton's advantage is that it is a small school inside the big one. In other words, Wharton students make up their own small community, which can be very useful when, for example, both you and your friends prepare for the same final exams on management. Nevertheless, it seems nowhere in America, even at Harvard (although Harvard students will argue to death about it), the sense of rivalry, and the rivalry itself does not reach such a climax as at Wharton. And what else did you expect. 845 people with an average score of 725 on GMAT, once the best at their schools, universities, cities or even states, should be able to show superiority here, above the same clever ones as themselves.

In Harvard, very often you study with other students, with whom you usually spend time (which is not surprising, with 130 available programs). Here, the exception are clubs and societies founded by the students themselves, for which membership some are even ready to kill, which again is not surprising since it is a direct ticket to a cloudless future (remember what extremes Mark Zuckerberg reached to get into one of Harvard clubs in the film "Social Network").

Regarding clubs, Wharton is also known for its communities, and if Harvard dominates in number, then Wharton - in content. Clubs at Wharton are deeply interconnected with pre-professional activities of students. One such example is, for example, the Wharton Society for doing business in China.

In any case, the competition in Harvard is not so clearly expressed, and the study is relatively easy and motivates the further disclosure of one’s talents and intellectual abilities, rather than the ability to win in the next race for barratry.

So what would you prefer? A purposeful spirit of will to victory or an open and gradual development and improvement of one’s capabilities? It's up to you to decide.

Winner not identified  


The most primitive difference between the two schools is that Wharton is a business school of facts and numbers, while Harvard approaches education from a more practical social point of view. So, for example, the main component of the program at Harvard is the consideration of success cases, that is, a detailed consideration of the most successful and outstanding business plans.

Lecture Halls at Harvard  

Wharton, on the other hand, studies the structure of the business, its theory and all the skills, including technical ones, which are somehow related to doing business.

Classrooms at Wharton

At the same time, Harvard offers a unique FIELD program that allows students to try themselves in any business and company in Boston during the internship, and, if you are lucky, then in the world. Wharton also has his own answer - a program called "Feedback", which gives students a chance to learn from the experience and behavior of established entrepreneurs, spending time with them toe to toe.

These two outstanding schools also have a slight difference in the direction of business education. Wharton is a top school for studying finance, while Harvard is more focused on consulting. The closest thing to finance that Harvard students can relate to is in the department of economics or statistics, but it's not even close to what Warton can offer you in terms of finance. Nowhere else you will get such deep and comprehensive knowledge of the financial market as at Wharton. As mentioned above, at Wharton they approach to the study finance from all possible sides, technical and theoretical. After passing the MBA program Wharton you will know your scope along and across and learn how to maneuver in it like a fish in the water.

Winner: Wharton

One-one, my friends. You probably expected something in the spirit of "every institution is unique in its own way" or "and friendship won" from the very beginning. But do not jump to conclusions. The next category will not be so lenient.

Prospects after graduation 


This may seem strange, but in the world of finance, Wharton has a slightly better reputation than Harvard, which is in fact considered to be the most exclusive and closed educational institution in the country, although possibly of the whole world. This is because Wharton School of Business is famous for its unsurpassed use of technical elements (quanta, programming skills) directly to finance. On the other hand, when it comes to consulting arena and management, the ability to create and maintain business connections, Harvard flies high in the sky, and perhaps Stanford can fly closer to it than the others. And, finally, if you weigh the benefits, then the winner in this category is Harvard.   


It is unlikely that you will find two other similar schools that invest the same amount of finance and effort in providing their students with a clear and brilliant future. Any significant MBA recruiter visits these two campuses first. More than 97% of Harvard and Wharton graduates usually have a prestigious job already three months after graduation, the average salary is usually $125,000. Not bad at all, right?

Anyway, Harvard owns more extensive financial ties, if we compare them with Wharton ones, and even students of the history department can count on an internship in the field of consulting with the necessary leadership qualities.

Winner: Harvard

Network of graduates

Do you think it's possible, just presumably, that somewhere else in the world there is a network of graduates which is more influential and powerful than Harvard graduates? It is very doubtful. No other university in the world has such a huge number of chairmen, leaders, presidents of international mega-corporations and successful entrepreneurs, as from Harvard. The list of such outstanding Harvard graduates includes: directors general of such companies as American Airlines, Anadarko Petroleum, Boeing, ConAgra Foods, CSX, Cummins Engine, General Electric, Hess, JP Morgan Chase, L.L. Bean, PPG Industries, Tata, Tenet Healthcare, Time Inc., Toys ’R’ Us, Liberty Media, Mastercard, Palm, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Vodafone Group, and New York Mayor Mile Bloomberg, Montreal Mayor Herald Tremblay, George Bush, well, and a solid part of lawyers, doctors, engineers, IT specialists and financiers, whose salary exceeds $130,000 per year. What is the benefit of this for students? Everything is very simple. The network of Harvard graduates does not just exist: Harvard is a kind of dynasty, family, home, therefore every graduate is ready to help and raise another one. Wharton, of course, can not hope to match the power and strength of the Harvard graduates network, but the network of the first US business school is considered the most extensive of the existing ones: 85,000 graduates in 140 countries (there are only 42,000 of Harvard graduates). In any part of the world, Wharton students can rely on support in the person of their predecessors. "Big Bumps" among Wharton graduates: the CEO of British-American Tobacco, Estee Lauder, Hershey, Hewitt Associates, Medtronic, Omnicom Group, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Northwest Airlines, Philips, Tiffany & Co., UPS, US Airways and Quaker Oats Co. Impressive, isn’t it? However…

Winner: Harvard

Yes. In the end, we still have to admit that each of these schools has something to offer their students. Although Harvard has won in this race, thousands of ratings around the world contradict each other over the superiority of one of these schools over another. Therefore, all we can wish you is courage to file documents, patience, in order to score the necessary points and make the appropriate CV, and of course, incredible luck, to have the honor of being in the list of students of at least one of these schools.