Duke Fuqua vs. Yale SOM

So, I'm having a hard time at a present on deciding right now between Duke Fuqua and Yale SOM (matriculating this fall 2014) for my MBA and wanted to see what everyone thinks. Pre-MBA I worked in a policy role for the US Government, and post-MBA I would like to get into strategy consulting (ideally MBB). Undergrad I went to a top 50 school in a major East Coast school and studied Poli Sci / IR.

As far as my research has gone, Yale has momentum (for whatever that is worth, the new building, Dean Snyder, etc), but isn't as strong as Fuqua in terms of consulting placement. But I do like Yale's interdisciplinary approach and GND policy. Fuqua people seem to be a lot more chill, whereas the people I met at Yale SOM were a bit more serious, but tended to have slightly more impressive backgrounds.

What does everyone think?

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Comments (24)

Feb 26, 2014 - 9:18am

please dont do som

happy to give advice; no asking for referrals please
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Feb 26, 2014 - 9:35am

i have it on good authority that at least a handful of recruiters thinking very little of SOM
i know it was founded like in 1975, but yale really just jumped on the bandwagon with the whole business school thing, and in my opinion just wanted to make more money

this obviously doesn't discount the education quality- but i really feel like anyone who chooses yale over fuqua is simply doing it for the name value rather than the education value

realistically though, both places should be enough to get your foot in to whatever MBB consulting gig you want to apply for

happy to give advice; no asking for referrals please
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Feb 26, 2014 - 1:46pm


From what I heard, MBB recruiting is through the roof at Duke Fuqua this year. Something like 40-50 kids going to MBB

I'd love to see the details behind this because this sounds way too high.

Also, I know for a fact that Duke did not place many MBB interns in its go-to location (Atlanta) this year, especially compared to Darden.

That said, I'd probably go to Duke anyways, but keep in mind that lots of Fuquans end up at Deloitte.

Feb 26, 2014 - 10:53am

Thanks for everyone's feedback thus far. As someone who also would perhaps like to work internationally (Europe) down the line, is there much of a difference? Obviously Yale is more widely known, but it seems Fuqua has really gone full bore after the globalization mission...

Feb 26, 2014 - 11:21am

I agree with BGP. Go with Fuqua and don't look back. Even if Yale does have momentum, what matters most in your situation is your placement immediately following b-school. The gap between Yale and Fuqua is just too wide at the moment and Fuqua is making a major international push.

Also -- I understand the value that a prestigious undergrad program can have internationally. This could potentially make a difference when speaking with "locals." However, when recruiting at MBB or any other international firm, every office is going to be well aware of how schools rank. You think over the last 20 years Bain Brazil has never picked up the phone and called Bain Boston to ask if MIT is better than HBS? International firms have very streamlined MBA recruiting processes and generally don't get "tricked."


  • 1
Feb 26, 2014 - 11:47am

Though I agree that Duke is perceived to be the better program, I think it's a mistake to choose a school based solely on MBB placement. I would also consider if MBB doesn't work out (and it doesn't for a lot of people), which school would I rather be at. This comes down to some mix of career opportunities outside of MBB, fit, and geography. I think geography could be particularly important in this decision - if my goal was to end up in the southeast or mid-atlantic, I would rather go to Fuqua/Darden than any school in top 15 outside of HSW (this certainly includes Yale). If northeast, I think Yale has an edge.

For the record, I think "momentum" in reference to business schools is an extremely overused term. All of the other top programs say they have "momentum" too, so I think that forecasting rankings into the future based on momentum is difficult at best and more likely impossible.

I am a big believer in fit, particularly when we are talking about programs outside of HSW. Would spend more time thinking about your visits and where you could really see yourself being happy for the next couple of years.

Feb 26, 2014 - 12:43pm


Bud Fox Gecko:

Fuqua by far. SOM is all non-profits

Less than ten percent of SOM grads end up at non-profits.

Certainly was my understanding earlier on in the program, maybe it's changed recently but for the most part..still a new program with less alum than fuqua in finance..

Feb 26, 2014 - 1:23pm

@graham2829 I totally agree that fit should be a large part of the decision, but at some point, you have to decide which is the better investment for your career. If your goal is strategy consulting, the simple fact is that Fuqua places significantly better at the best strategy consulting firms in the world. To be honest, Yale probably places the worst at MBB of all the top ~15 schools. If OP wanted to do banking, this would be a totally different conversation.

I think fit is incredibly important, and wouldn't recommend to anyone that they go to a school they're not comfortable with. However, if your primary goal is to get into a specific field upon graduation, that has to be the main driver of your decision. Once the gap is narrowed or non-existent, then I think the decision is all about fit/experience.

I also am not so sure geography matters. Not only is Duke a relatively northeastern school despite its location, but Yale is also like the 6th best b-school in the northeast (H, W, Sloan, Tuck, Columbia). Looking at last years employment report, Fuqua sent 30% of its class to the northeast, compared with 19% to the south. Obviously, that's not as many as SOM in the northeast, but still a strong portion of the class.

Feb 26, 2014 - 2:00pm

My personal opinion (which I know many would disagree with) is that you are putting too much of a premium on MBB. I would love to know how many kids apply to school saying they want to go into MBB vs. how many actually get offers. Additionally, you could very well get to school and realize that you are more interested in the smaller boutique firms. I realize that's a blasphemous statement on this site where prestige is king. When making my decision, I looked at MBB placement, but I also looked at placement at other consulting firms, and placement in GM programs. Call me overly risk-averse, but I wanted to make sure that career plans B and C at my school of choice looked pretty damn good before dropping $200k.

Agree specific field should be primary driver. SOM sent 40% of their last class into consulting - and avg. salary is very comparable to Duke's. In other words, your prospects for consulting are very good at both.

I think you bring up a great point about SOM being +/- #6 in the NE. I suppose a better way to frame my initial comment would have been to say that if you want to end up in the south, Duke is a much better option. If NYC is your goal, probably not a huge difference.

Full disclosure, if it were me I would go to Duke, and I did not apply to either of these schools, but know several graduates of both.

Feb 27, 2014 - 7:02am

Regarding MBB, while this is the ultimate goal, I'm definitely open to smaller Strat firms like Parthenon or even 2nd tier firms like Deloitte S&O. Additionally, I've heard a significant amount of "aspirational" talk around Yale SOM. Basically, new amazing building + Dean Snyder + larger class sizes (going from 265 to 300 students) + the Yale brand = Top Ten. Does anyone buy into this? On one hand it could be great should SOM jump in the rankings, but on the other this won't likely affect me, correct? Also somewhat concerning is some GM programs like Samsung's Strat group recruit at Duke, but not Yale which is somewhat worrying given GM rotational programs are my backup to consulting.

In the interest of getting both sides, does anyone think SOM is the better choice?

Feb 26, 2014 - 2:39pm

@graham2829 I think we actually totally agree on things, just are saying them differently. To me, MBB is just a starting point for those with the goal of doing something in strategy. Basically, I saw MBB placement overall (as well as first round interview rate) to be easily comparable metrics across the schools I got into.

As you said, it's also important to look at Plans B and C. Odds are that Plans B and C are more accessible if your school is crushing MBB recruiting. For example, at Tuck, odds at that it's relatively (key word relative) to get a job at Parthenon, because 20% of the class is going to MBB alone. For me, it was extremely important to look at MBB hiring numbers, and next boutique strategy numbers. For others, they may be more interested in Deloitte or Accenture for Plan B. Either way, I think both Plan B's are likely easier to get if your school is does better at MBB placement.

You're absolutely right about a solid percentage of SOM going into consulting, with a strong average salary. I just think that if your primary goal is to work at MBB, you have to go to the school that gives you the best chance, so long as 1) it also has decent backup plans and 2) it's a reasonably good fit.

Feb 27, 2014 - 7:28am

For the most part, the rankings don't matter. Blasphemy for WSO, I know.

Both schools are in the same stratosphere of MBA programs. What should matter to you is what the program is going to give you - by this I mean things like access to recruiters you want (cough MBB), location/culture at the school, education style and opportunities (case v. lecture), and any potential scholarship awards you received (though, given your first post, this seems not to be an issue).

The whole notion of momentum is useless. You're attending a program for a very short time, while impressions on a school take a very long time to change. The rankings tend to fluctuate more quickly than actual perception - how else would USNews sell a rankings book every year? Actual perception takes years to change. Hell, some of the old timers I work with still tell me that Kellogg is a top 3 MBA program...because when they were going through that phase in life, Kellogg was. Well guess what - they're guys that are doing some of our hiring now, so when they see YSOM/Fuqua, even with all its momentum, its still the YSOM/Fuqua of old. And for better or worse, they're really what drives the movement of schools relative to one another via their selection of MBA students.

Basically, there is no way to game the system - you can't buy low and sell high when it comes to MBA ranking/prestige. Go to the school that best satisfies the criteria i listed above, and don't look back. MBB recruiting is tough no matter which school you are at - no one is going to hand you a job at one of those firms because you went to a particular school.

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