MBA at Harvard vs MBA at Stanford: Which is Better and Why?


Samarpita Goswami
Updated on May 10, 2023 07:54 PM IST

If you are in a dilemma choosing between Stanford vs Harvard MBA then, scroll through the article for a detailed overview of the courses, eligibility criteria, lucrative salary packages, etc. to find out which is better: pursuing MBA at Harvard vs MBA at Stanford.

MBA at Harvard vs MBA at Stanford: Which is Better and Why?

Stanford vs Harvard MBA: The two top business schools worldwide are, plain and simple, Stanford and Harvard. Nothing compares to obtaining the coveted MBA letters from Stanford or Harvard in terms of reputation and position. 

Therefore, it is not unexpected that many Stanford applicants also apply to Harvard, and vice versa. When Harvard declines candidates it admits (approximately 9.2% of those who receive an offer), the majority of the applicants head west to Stanford, which only accepts 8.9% of students.  The same is true when accepted candidates reject Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB). They invariably make their way to Harvard Business School (HBS).

It seems that there will perpetually be pervasive stereotypes about these two prestigious universities, such as the idea that Harvard is the place you ought to attend if you are interested in ascending a more conventional corporate ladder to the top of a Fortune 500 business, while Stanford is the place you ought to attend a career in technology or entrepreneurial endeavours.

A bird’s eye view of the business schools will bring out the differences between the two. So, let us first look at a quick comparison between MBA at Harvard vs Stanford and then move on to discuss each factor like Harvard MBA fees, curriculum, etc. in detail. 

Stanford vs Harvard MBA: Overview

Harvard Business School (HBS) stresses leadership and focuses on broad skill sets by aiming at academic excellence. Innovation and ingenuity gain acceptance at Harvard where the students are willing to bring a positive change to the world with their degree and foresight. Stanford Graduate School of Business (Stanford GSB), on the other hand, looks for talented students who are remarkably intelligent and have a wow factor in them that allows them to push themselves beyond limits and take risks that others fear. They focus on learning and resilience among students. Let us now look at how Stanford and Harvard differ from each other in terms of their business schools:

Point of Differences

Harvard MBA

Stanford MBA

Location Boston, Massachusetts Stanford, California
Campus (in acres) 40 8,100
Facilities Nine Global research centres, Library, 150 Career programs, Sustainable Residential campus, Career coaching, Scholarships Athletics, Libraries, Museums, Copy services, Emergency Planning, Smoke-free environment, Wheelchair accessible office locality, Alumni career services, Scholarships

Average GPA



Acceptance Rate



Score Range

TOEFL - 109, IELTS Academic - 7.5 bands, PTE Academic - 75

TOEFL - 100, IELTS Academic -7 bands, PTE Academic - 68

Other Admission Criteria

Most students have four years of working experience


Required Documents

Academic Transcription, MBA Statement of Purpose, Letter of Recommendation

Letter of reference, MBA SOP

Average Annual Tuition Fees 



Graduation Rate 96%


Median Salary per annum (in USD) 150,500 158,000
Top Recruiters Alibaba, Adobe, Discovery Inc, eBay, Facebook, Linktree, Walmart, Walt Disney Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, HSBC, American Express, McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group

Stanford vs Harvard MBA: Course Curriculum

MBA at Harvard University spans two years and the goal here is to deliver a basic understanding of fundamentals. The semesters are divided into fall and spring semesters. The course begins with an emphasis on activities related to leadership skills. Small teams are created where everyone pursues the same courses. The courses include finance, marketing, leadership, interpersonal skills technology, strategy and etc.

In the second year, students choose elective courses that deepen their knowledge of the curriculum. Students choose 5 courses from a bank of more than 100 courses per semester. Towards the finale of the MBA, the students participate in the Immersive Field Course where they have to perform on-ground assignments. 

MBA at Stanford GSB is also a two-year residential course, which aims to provide global perspectives and develop the general knowledge of management of the students. Their curriculum features elective courses that require to have managerial skills. The courses feature the core courses of macroeconomics, marketing, optimisation and simulation modelling, human resource management, and others.

The second year of MBA at Stanford is more colourful in terms of course diversity. Further, a student's experience is enriched through dual courses, seminars, events, and other activities with other business schools at the university.

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Stanford vs Harvard MBA: Admission Requirements

The business schools are very strict in terms of eligibility as they are aimed at churning out the best applicants. Find out the eligibility criteria for MBA at Stanford University vs Harvard University:

Admission Requirements for MBA at Harvard Business School

  • The candidate must have a GPA of 3.7 or above.

  • GMAT/GRE score is mandatory. However, the minimum score is not mentioned in the admission criteria. 

  • Must have academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, and statements of purpose.

  • The candidate must be proficient in the English language with a score of at least 7.5 bands score in IELTS, TOEFL score must be a minimum of 109, and PTE scores must be 75 or above. 

Admission Requirements for MBA at Stanford GSB

  • Students must possess a bachelor's degree from a recognized institute.

  • The average GPA is 3.96 out of 4, which one should obtain in order to be able to apply for a Stanford MBA.

  • The minimum TOEFL score requirement is 100, the IELTS score should be 9 bands, and the PTE score should be 68 or above.

  • The minimum GMAT score should be around 738.

  • One should also submit their academic resume, MBA Essays, and Letters of Recommendation (LORs). 

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Stanford vs Harvard MBA: Rankings

The rankings by various agencies show the competitiveness of the two schools. No one is ready to leave an inch of soil for the other. Find out how Harvard and Stanford compare against each other in terms of global rankings. 

Ranking Agency (2023)

Harvard Business School

Stanford GSB




US News and World Report






The Economist



Financial Times



Alumni Network for MBA at Harvard vs MBA at Stanford

The alumni network for MBA at Harvard Business School is strong. Apart from funding the school, they provide support for the personal and professional aggrandizement of the graduates throughout their lives and career. When choosing a college this can be a parameter to look forward to. As a member of the alumni, you can join 85,000 like-minded people who have graduated from Harvard Business School. Being a member you can get lucrative discounts on programs and publications and it will be a lifelong experience of learning. 

The Stanford GSB shares the vision of committing to its community and the GSB alumni gather to share their expertise, cherish their alma mater and contribute to their communities. The community supports the career aspirations of the graduates while they are in school as well as after that through coaching services, programs and webinars, and online content and tools. 

Stanford vs Harvard MBA: International Scholarships

Harvard Business School believes that investment in education is a value for the future. Therefore, they support international students with need-based scholarships. They provide them as gifts that are not to be returned. The value of a scholarship at HBS for international students can range between USD 40,000 a year and USD 80,000 in total. Additional funds can also be received by students through HBS Complementary Fellowships. 

Stanford GSB also offers need-based scholarships to international students, whose criterion of selection is the financial need of the student. The fellowship amount is USD 42,000 per year and USD 84,000 in total. Apart from this, there are other funding programs such as the Stanford GSB BOLD fund, Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program.

Stanford vs Harvard MBA: International Student Life 

Student life at Harvard Business School is enriching and fulfilling at the same time. In the first year, new joiners are welcomed with cultural and academic activities over a two-day period. There are several student club fairs ranging from rugby, and hospitality to aerospace, and negotiations. Short Intensive Programs (SIP) are held to help students think about career choices and develop practical skills. In the second year of their study, students get the opportunity to explore opportunities for entrepreneurship. Students engage in Immersive Field Courses that concentrate on real business problems. 

Stanford GSB, on the other hand, promises life beyond the boundary walls of the classroom. Students here benefit from the diversity of the community and the extracurricular activities. There are clubs and organisations for everything like Asian Business Students Association, Basket Ball Club, Women in Management, etc. They have resources to guide them with housing, visa, and other advice. North California with its weather and beauty is one of the best places to live in.

Stanford vs Harvard MBA: Cost of Education and ROI 

The Harvard University MBA fees are USD 73,440 per annum. As per university data, 96% of Harvard MBA graduates received jobs within 3 months of graduation from Harvard Business School in 2021. The overall median salary package that they received was USD 150,500 which includes base salary, sign-on bonus, and related compensations. The median sign-on bonus was USD 30,000, whereas, the median performance bonus was USD 37,000.

When it comes to Stanford Graduate School of Business, charges USD 74,706 per annum as international tuition fees for an MBA. In addition, 96% of the graduates received offer letters from recruiters in 2021 and recorded a median salary of USD 158,000.

Stanford vs Harvard MBA: Career Prospects

Whatever your goal, you have to consider your learning preferences and pick an MBA programme that best suits them. The case method at HBS, one of two top-ranked MBA programmes, requires students to study and discuss 500 cases throughout the two-year programme. 

The approach known as a case study provides a chance to comprehend the difficulty of arriving at decisions with minimal information and get knowledge from multiple perspectives to make the best choice. HBS might not be for you if it turns out that the technique does not fit your desired learning style.  

If you appreciate the range of different learning styles, Stanford's versatile teaching approach can provide you with whatever variety you require. Stanford grants lecturers the opportunity for developing a teaching strategy that improves learning for its students. 

In contrast to the case technique, the team's choices are assessed during the post-simulation discussion. Stanford may be the appropriate programme for you if you enjoy the artistic aspect of education.  

Stanford vs Harvard MBA: Teaching Methods

A key component of an MBA programme is career accomplishments. Although you will notice that a larger proportion of HBS MBA graduates take offers in the domains of consulting, finance, and technology, these are common industries for most programmes. As a result, you ought to spend more time considering what you learn in the course and how you might use what you learn in the workplace. 

In addition to the three industries mentioned previously, HBS has an impeccable track record in the speciality of general management. After all, they mandate that all prospective MBA students complete the programme's fundamental prerequisites during their first year. HBS encourages MBA applicants to complete their studies with a solid understanding of management, so irrespective of your career objective, there are many other industries where you can prosper.

With nearly 28% of the graduating class working in the IT industry, GSB is an emblem of technology. As an outcome, and considering its geographical position, it is not surprising that Private Equity/Venture Capital, which employs 24% of the student body, is the second-favoured industry for MBA graduates. 

The business school's reputation in technology and its proximity to Silicon Valley's inventions are absolutely important to prospective students. Stanford University may be the best programme for you if you have always wanted to be inventive and imaginative. 

Stanford vs Harvard MBA: Values & Culture

Discovering the best match and an atmosphere that promotes both professional and personal development requires a conscious awareness of your values and how they relate to those of the institution. Values often serve as the cornerstone that distinguishes business schools, and as a consequence, it draws an exclusive set of students who foster a culture of their own. 

HBS praises leaders who recognise that changing the world can only be accomplished in a group of involved individuals. Through clubs and groups, HBS provides a wealth of possibilities for interaction, as well as students take part in a wide range of events that promote solidarity. 

Since students spend the entirety of the first-year curriculum immersed in their cohort's HBS MBA background, this develops bonds that inevitably foster partnerships and chances to lead and have a lasting effect on the wider community. HBS use subtle terminology to describe its principles, implying that an involved individual is a member of a group that supports and enhances its surroundings. 

GSB, on the contrary, recognises the value of the community but also looks for innovative, principled, and observant leaders who transform the trajectory of humanity. This is a group of action-oriented people that like to work together and change the way things are via stewardship.

A bunch of optimists that embrace endless potential and are inspired by the concept of confronting conventional wisdom through inventiveness, which results in significant change, has developed as a result of the personalised and adaptable MBA programme at GSB. Compared to HBS, there is a broader cultural emphasis on originality here.

An MBA is going to be the turning point in your career. Hence, before settling on MBA at Harvard vs MBA at Stanford, take a critical look at all the points of difference, evaluate the ROI and make a decision based on your goals and capabilities. That said, getting into either of the two, can certainly accelerate your career and grant you unparalleled access to everything in the business world.  

If you are still confused about choosing MBA at Harvard vs MBA at Stanford, then contact our academic counsellors at and we will get back to you as soon as possible!

Still Confused Between HBS and SGSB?


Is HBS cheaper than Stanford GSB?

Yes, Harvard Business School (HBS) is a little cheaper than Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) in terms of tuition fees. Harvard charges USD 73,440 per year whereas, at Stanford, you need to pay USD 74,706 per year. Apart from the tuition fees, international students have to pay for accommodation and other living expenses.

Is it harder to get into Harvard or Stanford for MBA?

Both Harvard and Stanford are difficult to get into for MBA. However, a comparative analysis of the acceptance rate at both universities will show that Harvard Business School is more selective than Stanford. According to recent statistics, HBS has only accepted 9.6% of applicants, whereas, Stanford has accepted 17.2% of the applicant pool.

Is Stanford GSB better than Harvard Business School for MBA?

No, Stanford GSB is not better than Harvard Business School for MBA. Both business schools are equally renowned and top the ranking lists. The quality of theoretical and practical knowledge provided by them is extremely valuable for business leaders. Both business schools impart life-changing opportunities to their students.

Is the GMAT score requirement higher at Harvard than at Stanford?

Both Harvard and Stanford do not specify any GMAT score criteria for MBA admissions. They accept applications from students with GMAT scores within varying ranges and then conduct the selection process based on GMAT scores as well as other criteria. The GMAT score range at Harvard was between 590 and 790 for the 2023 batch and 738 is the average score at Stanford for 2023.

Is the graduation rate higher at Harvard Business School or Stanford GSB?

No, both Harvard Business School and Stanford GSB have the same graduation rate of 96% according to their latest statistics. The high graduation rate at both schools is indicative of the hard work of students, teachers’ commitment and other strong resources of education.

Are employment opportunities after MBA at Stanford better than MBA at Harvard?

The employment opportunities after MBA at Stanford and MBA at Harvard are good as graduates from both institutes are well-received by top employers. They receive hefty packages from companies such as Apple, Meta, Amazon, Boston Consulting Group, Alibaba, Google and other multinational corporations and businesses.

Is the GPA requirement higher at Stanford than at Harvard?

Stanford and Harvard do not specify a GPA requirement for entry into MBA courses. However, statistics received from the business schools show that the average GPA at Harvard was 3.69 and at Stanford was 3.78 for the 2023 batch. Students who wish to study at these business schools must work hard to achieve a high GPA.

Is the MBA class size bigger at Stanford than at Harvard?

No, the MBA class size at Stanford is not bigger than at Harvard. Harvard Business School inducts double the number of students as Stanford. Harvard accepted applications of 1,010 students for the 2023 batch, whereas, Stanford accepted only 426 students. With more students being admitted to Harvard, the chances to get into Harvard are better than into Stanford.

Do you need more work experience to study MBA at Harvard than at Stanford?

Stanford GSB and Harvard Business School do not specify any work experience requirements for MBA. So, you can apply to either of them even if you do not have any work experience to show. However, the average work experience of the class of 2023 at Harvard is 5 years while at Stanford, it is 4.8 years.

Is the percentage of international students higher at Harvard than at Stanford?

No, for the MBA batch of 2023, the percentage of international students is higher at Stanford than at Harvard. At Stanford, 47% of students hail from other countries, whereas, at Harvard, international students form 37% of the student body. Both the business schools provide a welcoming atmosphere for international students to thrive.

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