Path to a Top MBA School?

Let's say someone went to Kelley for their undergrad, got a really good GPA and got into the IBW. What are the next steps to get into a top MBA program, such as HYP or Wharton? How is the path different if the person doesn't make the IBW?

Comments (9)

Most Helpful
Apr 28, 2020 - 9:32am

I'll give you the honest truth. Assuming you've broken into investment banking, realize that many individuals with two years of analyst and buy-side experience, respectively, will be pushing for elite graduate business programs. For better or worse, the admission teams at most elite business schools hold an idyllic vision of a class's profile meaning that their admission decisions will seek to create a class that is diverse across applicant profiles and professional backgrounds. As such, barring unique wrinkles to applicants' profiles, the number of seats "reserved" for those with investment banking and private equity experience will be capped in any given year. This holds true for any well-represented cohort, such as consultants, engineers, or accountants, applying to business programs.

What does that mean for you? First, be realistic. Many UMM and MF platforms have a history of sending employees to some of the schools that you've mentioned. Admission teams are able to parse through the quality of one's investment banking and private equity experience, especially at elite programs, quite easily. Will it be impossible to gain admission to one of these programs should you not come from the "most coveted" of analyst and buy-side tracks? No, but, again, you must realize that there are a finite number of spaces "reserved" for investment bankers, especially if you come from an overly represented demographic.

As such, think of other ways to ensure that you cover your bases, including a strong GPA, a 730+ GMAT score, and consistent community involvement. When you get around to applying, take the time to visit schools, network, and demonstrate a level of introspection and reflection in your applications as well.

Ironically, if the true end goal is to ensure admission to an elite program, one would have reason to argue that spending 3-4 years doing something radical, such as fighting COVID-19 outbreak in east Africa, coupled with an impressive GPA and GMAT would strengthen one's candidacy given the uniqueness of this work eperience. Business programs love to tout the uniqueness and diversity of their incoming classes.

If you do come from an underrepresented background, most of what is typed above begins to become less applicable.

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  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
Apr 28, 2020 - 10:05am

Princeton doesn't have an MBA program. Yale's is not at the same level of prestige as the undergrad.

The "top" MBA programs are known as the M7: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Booth (UChicago), Kellogg (Northwestern), Sloan (MIT), and Columbia.

Apr 28, 2020 - 10:06am

Alright. Is it plausible that someone that went to IU and got into the IBW would be able to get an MBA from one of those schools?

  • Intern in IB - Ind
Apr 28, 2020 - 10:50am

I'm sure it's happened, and I'm sure people have come from "lesser" backgrounds and done so. A lot also depends on where you place from IUK and how you spend your ~4 years after grad.

Way too early to worry about this, but I think this will answer what you're trying to get at: M7 MBAs are not exclusively reserved for ivies and top targets. If you have a solid resume, great GMAT, you will be fine. IUK is a good school anyway.

Apr 28, 2020 - 10:47am

Of course it is. There are a ton of people from no-name schools at all of the elite programs. A quick search of these programs on LinkedIn will most likely show that 3-5 Indiana alumni are in each starting class. Indiana, even without IBW, will be more than sufficient in gaining admission. Focus on your profile, the quality of your work product, test scores, and community involvement and everything will work out.

For what it is worth, I am not intending to suggest that Indiana is a no-name school.

Apr 28, 2020 - 3:26pm


Let's say someone went to Kelley for their undergrad, got a really good GPA and got into the IBW. What are the next steps to get into a top MBA program, such as HYP or Wharton? How is the path different if the person doesn't make the IBW?

If you are already in IBW, go to the best bank and PE firm you can, get a 750 and you will be competitive for all. If you end up as an associate at GTCR or BDT or another 1B+ PE fund you should be fine.

Look up "[insert business school] private equity associate Indiana LinkedIn" and you will find all the people who have taken this path.

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