School v. School: Harvard Business School or MIT Sloan?

harvard or mit

When selecting an MBA program, it can be difficult to cut through the fog to make the best long-term decision. For elite schools, the veil of prestige casts a long shadow. For lesser-known schools, it’s often a question of how much bang you’re getting for your buck. Allow our School v. School series to do the heavy lifting for you and present an in-depth comparison. Let’s consider the distinctions between Boston’s best: Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan.

Harvard Business School

Located in the Allston neighborhood of Boston, Harvard Business School’s 40-acre campus is “the only top business school in the United States with a self-contained, residential campus,” steps away from the downtown area of the city. HBS is famously one of the first MBA programs in the world. It also boasts one of the largest total student populations, with a grand total of 1,871 enrolled students.

HBS Full-Time MBA

For many, HBS is the crème de la crème of MBA programs. U.S. News and World Report ranks it as the best in the country. HBS offers only one type of MBA degree: full-time. The program lasts a typical two years, with the first summer break reserved for an internship or internships. Due to the large student body, incoming students are divided into groups of 90 who will take the same coursework for a year’s time. Each segment represents the diversity of the incoming class.

Why HBS?

  • The FIELD Foundations program (Field Immersion Experience for Leadership Development) helps students develop an awareness of their leadership styles by interacting with their “team” through intimate workshops. The program, which intends to build emotional intelligence, is unique for its personalized approach to business training.
  • The Case Method was first established as the primary method of instruction at HBS, and many students cite it as a highlight of their time at HBS. The Case Method puts students in the position of the decision makers by presenting scenarios written by HBS staff themselves.
  • HBS offers six joint degree options for students looking to expand into additional fields, such as law, medicine, and engineering.
  • HBS routinely tops MIT when it comes to domestic and global MBA rankings.

Harvard vs. MIT MBA Rankings

Harvard Business SchoolMIT Sloan School of Management
U.S. News & World Report (U.S.)14
The Economist (Global)319
Financial Times (Global)59
Forbes (U.S.)38
Bloomberg Businessweek (U.S.)13

What Is Missing?

  • There’s a hefty price tag for a HBS education: estimated at $106,800 annually, including tuition, room and board, materials, and healthcare.
  • Outside of the U.Ss, starting salaries for international positions tend to be lower, despite Harvard’s reputation in the States.
  • Harvard’s employment rate after graduation trails slightly behind MIT: 91 percent vs. MIT’s 93 percent.
  • Out of 273 faculty members at HBS, only 70 are women; about 25 percent.

MIT Sloan School of Management

Situated in nearby Cambridge, the Sloan School of Management campus is “surrounded by biotech companies, tech giants, startups, and research labs.” MIT Sloan has a compact center for its MBA students, which revolves around a newly built facility called E62. Here, you’ll find the entire faculty and most academic programs. Its population of full-time MBA students hovers around 800, while 500 additional students are completing alternative post-baccalaureate business degrees.

Sloan School of Management Programs

Unlike HBS, MIT Sloan offers three kinds of MBA programs: the two-year, full-time MBA degree; 20-month Executive degree; and 12-month Sloan Fellows Program. The full-time MBA degree stands out for its Sloan Innovation Period (SIP), a full-immersion learning experience that occurs in the middle of each semester. Students take a week-long hiatus from classes to attend lectures, travel abroad, visit host companies, and more.

Why Sloan?

  • The Global Entrepreneurship Lab is one opportunity that MBA students shouldn’t miss. Students act as advisors for start-up companies in markets around the world, delivering insight on topics such as “strategic growth, new market entry, pricing, marketing, benchmarking, fundraising, and financial strategy.”
  • The Leaders for Global Operations caters to students interested in a dual degree in Engineering and Business. This two-year curriculum “places students in research internships at elite partner companies.”
  • Sloan’s MBA class is made up of a larger international student base compared to Harvard; 39 percent, as opposed to 35 percent at HBS. This isn’t a significant gap, but it does show MIT’s commitment to diversity.

What Is Missing?

  • According to Forbes, Sloan has a lower median base salary after graduation at $125,000. HBS grads average around $135,000.
  • Unlike the HBS environment, not all students on campus are earning full-time MBA degrees. If you’re someone who enjoys working with the same student body throughout your degree, prepare for a bit more cross-section here.
  • The current tuition and full cost for the MIT Sloan MBA is slightly higher than HBS (regarding non-married single students with no children).

Harvard vs. MIT MBA Cost

Harvard Business SchoolMIT Sloan School of Management

When all is said and done, both MBAs are extremely cutting-edge programs that any ambitious prospective b-schooler would salivate over. Both Harvard and MIT offer a similar urban setting, as they exist in the same tightly packed university community in Boston. Additionally, both have the same acceptance rate (11 percent). For a final push, be sure to read up on faculty leading the way both at Harvard and MIT.



About the Author

Jonathan Pfeffer

Jonathan Pfeffer joined the Clear Admit and MetroMBA teams in 2015 after spending several years as an arts/culture writer, editor, and radio producer. In addition to his role as contributing writer at MetroMBA and contributing editor at Clear Admit, he is co-founder and lead producer of the Clear Admit MBA Admissions Podcast. He holds a BA in Film/Video, Ethnomusicology, and Media Studies from Oberlin College.

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