Harvard Business School vs. Stanford GSB

Why would you choose one over the other? Interested in hearing your thoughts on how the two business schools compare to each other

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Comments (25)

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jul 15, 2020 - 11:50am

There are so many threads on this haha. A pretty recent one actually. Moral of the story - neither one will provide more opportunity than the other.

I would pick GSB:

1) Much harder to get into. Exclusivity is kinda cool I guess

2) smaller class means same access to top opportunities that HBS students get, but less competition between classmates

3) no grade disclosure - I do not want to deal with another academic experience focused on fighting to beat the curve, keeping up with try-hard classmates, and dealing with students trying to screw others over to get better grades. I think a non-disclosure environment would be such a cool academic experience at a top school

4) Curriculum flexibility - GSB allows you to customize your schedule much more than HBS does. I don't want to be forced to take a principles a finance class...

5) Broad array of teaching methods - I think the case study method is cool, but I don't think it's ideal for every course. 2 years of almost exclusively learning via case studies where half of your grade is participation, sounds rough.

6) Palo Alto is such a nice place to be. Not a big fan of cold weather lol

At the end of the day, I'd give a leg for either opportunity. I just feel like GSB would provide a more enjoyable experience that is better suited for me.

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Jul 15, 2020 - 6:57pm

I was shooting for GSB for many of the above-mentioned reasons. Although, I didn't get in and will be attending HBS (can't complain lol)

HBS obviously carries a very, very strong legacy, but tough to argue that GSB is not on a better trajectory given its competitive position and adaptability relative to the massive, slow-changing Harvard machine. There is also a tangible difference in culture between the schools that does lead to a vastly different experience.

Jul 15, 2020 - 9:55pm

congrats on hbs my dude

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  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jul 16, 2020 - 9:09pm

Congrats on HBS! Any sense for what the next two semesters will look like (virtual vs in person)?

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jul 18, 2020 - 7:33pm

Would absolutely take HBS, not because of any material difference in prestige, but because Palo Alto sucks compared to Boston. Not even on the same level, despite the better weather. The whole region below SF is very sterile.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jul 18, 2020 - 8:06pm

Lmao I went to Stanford undergrad, the whole Palo Alto/Menlo/Mountain View area sucks for social life unless you're in your 40s. SF is good but it's no NY.

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jul 18, 2020 - 8:17pm

I'd take GSB. As noted, both schools open the same doors, so I'd prefer the more enjoyable (relative) experience. I'm also interested in PE post-mba, and GSB has an incredible placement track record. I believe the con of a smaller alumni base given the smaller class size is far outweighed by the pros that come with a small cohort.

  • Associate 3 in Other
Jul 19, 2020 - 10:01am

I haven't lived in the bay area (spent a lot of time there for business/leisure though) and lived in Boston for awhile--Boston/Cambridge is the best area out there for a college or grad student, in my opinion.

It feels like every other person is in their 20s with a top degree/pursuing a top degree. It's a great city with tons to do and very small/manageable/walkable compared to pretty much any other large US city. It has its drawbacks like anywhere else, but if I could get a world class education at HBS and get to spend 2 years in Allston/Cambridge, I'd jump at it.

Palo Alto is awesome too, but isn't my personal style and I feel like I'd get bored there more quickly. Totally understand it will be better for others, but I wouldn't knock Boston.

Jul 19, 2020 - 10:55am

Have lived in both areas and would take the Boston area over Silicon Valley in a heart beat. So much more history, culture ( real culture). The original melting pot. Totally different vibes. Full disclosure - from the northeast so I connect with that vibe. Although both are quite liberal, it's acceptable to have alternative views in the northeast. SV is so open minded it turns out to be the most closed minded environment I've ever seen. Try smoking a cigar in public (at the park) in the Bay Area. Almost impossible to do.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jul 19, 2020 - 10:03pm

Try smoking a cigar in public (at the park) in the Bay Area. Almost impossible to do.

From Mass myself so I agree with your post, but can you expand on this part? I hate smokers myself but I've never actually seen someone try to shut down someone else lol

Jul 19, 2020 - 10:08pm

You just can't do it. It's against most of the city and local ordinances. People look at you like you're a serious felon. How could you? Why would you do that? ...How bout because I enjoy it.

Seriously - I have family out there. Used to live there and then visit a few times per yr for over 20 years. It's become ridiculous. The people I know there are so left you can't even discuss things with them. They literally can't fathom someone thinking something different than their viewpoint. Over generalization or maybe not...

Jul 29, 2020 - 12:14pm

Made a similar, albeit different choice (HLS vs SLS). I chose HLS and don't regret it. In contrast to a lot of people on this thread, I think Harvard's bigger class size is a huge advantage. Greater diversity among the student body makes for more interesting class discussions, and the buyside network you build at HBS is just going to be larger than it would be at GSB. Alumni loyalty among the Harvard professional schools is also extremely high, so the size is also an advantage later in life if you want to lateral to a different/niche area of finance or investing.

As to Boston vs Palo Alto, I think Boston wins hands down but to each their own.

Wrt recruiting advantages, I can't speak to the business schools. But often SLS people make the same arguments about recruiting for elite NYC law firms (I.e. everyone wants SLS grads, and because so few want to go to NYC they have an easier time recruiting for the top firms compared to HLS). On the law side, the numbers don't support that contention. Even when adjusting for class size, Stanford doesn't come close to Harvard's placement at Wachtell, Cravath, S&C, etc... If it were really easier to get Wachtell (which pays $390K starting btw) from SLS, why do they only have 3 associates at the firm, when HLS has 32?

Finally, it's also worth considering where you want to end up after graduating. At SLS, for example, the vast majority of grads stay in California. If you know you want to be on the East Coast, be conscious that at GSB you may not have as many familiar faces following you to NYC.

Jul 29, 2020 - 5:27pm

Eh relevancy can be debated here but the underlying considerations are similar enough that I thought sharing my perspective would be (somewhat) helpful.

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