Study in Boston | TopMBA

Boston is at the corner of history and modernity, inextricably linked to America’s dawn. Here, you’ll find Plymouth Rock, where the Pilgrims first landed, and patriot Paul Revere’s house. But you’ll also discover a bustling city, rich in business opportunities, including those in the booming software industry. 

Fondly referred to as Beantown, Boston is home to the U.S.’ first subway system, lighthouse, public park, and college, Harvard University. In fact, in its mere 48 square miles, Boston houses more than 85 private colleges and universities and a student population of more than 250,000. This means the city has the second highest number of students in North America and the most diverse population in the country.

An interesting blend of old and new, Boston boasts a vibrant cultural scene and lively nightlife fueled by its young population and renowned colleges devoted to the fine and performing arts, such as the Berklee College of Music, The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. 

Professional sports are a religion here. Bostonians are passionate sports fans and professional, championship-winning basketball, baseball, hockey, and football teams call Boston home. Mess with the Boston Red Sox or New England Patriots fans at your own risk. 

Boston is loaded with business schools, including the best-ranked ones in the world. By far, the biggest names are Harvard Business School, ranked first in the QS Global MBA Rankings 2018, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, which is ranked seventh on the same list. HBS’ address is in Boston, but Sloan is actually in nearby Cambridge. Still, it’s close enough to count among Boston’s treasures.

Harvard Business School

Despite the shared prestigious reputation and remarkable histories, MIT Sloan and HBS are significantly different. You’ll find some of the smartest, most innovative people at both programs but the cultures on campus make them unique.

Harvard is the arbiter of the case study method, which is widely used to teach business fundamentals at top business schools. Some see it as a rigid style of teaching; others find it most appropriate. Former students have said the case study prepares them well for their long-term careers. Once students read case studies about various happenings at companies, they have to discuss, analyze, and dig into the story, players, and consequences.

What makes Harvard’s case study teachings stand out is the cold call. Professors pick a random person to begin the classroom discussion about the latest case in question. That person must outline the biggest takeaways from the case. He or she must be prepared. On occasion, someone who has not read the case gets called on, and it's excruciating for everyone.   

As you might expect, the HBS student body has a reputation for being competitive. In talking to former students and alumni, however, you will learn the stereotype of cutthroat HBS students is more fiction than fact. As is the case at any business school, students develop lifelong friendships and solid networks among their classmates. Meeting with students and alumni is one way to decipher what the people are really like on campus. 

Harvard’s administration has made great effort to increase diversity on campus and create a level playing field, especially for men and women. The school recently experimented with unexpected methods to create gender parity, which sparked discussion when the results appeared in The New York Times. Women make up 42 percent of the Class of 2019.

While some of the ideas seemed out of left field, the school made a concerted effort to address a problem that has been plaguing b-schools for years. In 2016, HBS launched the Gender Initiative to bring together disparate research about inequity in business and address how women are underrepresented in leadership.

Harvard is a good fit for anyone who wants to pursue the world’s leading business education in the heart of a beloved historic city. Of course, you also have to be able to get in, which is no easy task. The school enrolled 928 students among the 10,351 applicants to the Class of 2019, according to the HBS website. A mere 11 percent were admitted.

MIT Sloan School of Management

On par with Harvard for its distinguished students and alumni, Sloan is known for being part of a university that attracts the world’s most promising engineers. As a result, there is a push to bring together inventors and businesspeople. At a time when entrepreneurship is flourishing, Sloan’s campus has a palpable excitement.

Talking to professors and students, you will quickly see how giddy they are about changing the world with new products and services. Those involved with the entrepreneurship teachings and incubators on campus will tell you Sloan students want to do more than just make money. They want to use their wit and ingenuity to solve some of the world’s biggest problems, such as lack of clean water or access to education.

Sloan students have a reputation for being innovative yet grounded. The class boasts an average GMAT score of 722 and undergraduate GPA of 3.49.

More business schools

Harvard and Sloan are not the only programs in the Boston area. Because this city is loaded with universities, applicants have many MBA programs from which to choose. Another strong contender is Boston University Questrom School of Business, which is 32nd in the QS global ranking and is known for its use of hands-on learning with a sprinkling of case studies throughout the program. The school also boasts of providing students with the ability to customize their degree through specializations and the like.

At 46th in our MBA ranking, Northeastern University D’Amore School of Business offers a six-month, paid corporate residency as part of its MBA program, which sets it apart from competitors. The point is to provide MBA students with more hands-on experience than they would gain at a summer internship, which usually lasts six to eight weeks. This can be vital to career changers, who usually make up a large chunk of MBA classes.

Boston College Carroll School of Management is ranked 53rd. The school offers experiential learning opportunities, as well as chances to work on real-world consulting projects through class. All students take a specialization.

Boston is booming right now. Its economy has been on an upward trend since around 2010 after recovery from the Great Recession began. The biggest industry in and around the city is healthcare and social assistance. Along with professional, scientific, and technical services and accommodation and food services, healthcare added the most jobs to the city between 2010 and 2015, according to Technology and construction have both seen tremendous growth recently. Of course, higher education remains an important part of the city’s economy. (Boston ranks joint 13th in the QS Best Student Cities ranking.)

A number of companies have also moved their corporate headquarters to Boston recently, including GE and Reebok. In fact, the footwear industry is a big player in Boston with Converse and New Balance also having a presence in the area. While Boston is not New York, it has a strong finance and insurance industry.

The area’s highest wages come from the finance industry with an average pay of $4,248 per week. Career placement data can give you an idea of what MBAs who choose Boston schools end up pursuing. About 31 percent of the HBS Class of 2017 entered financial services, 23 percent went to consulting, and 16 percent chose technology. The median base salary was $135,000.

At MIT Sloan, about 32 percent of the Class of 2017 entered consulting, followed by about 26 percent who joined software or internet firms. In fact, the largest employer was tech giant Amazon, which hired 30 graduates. The median base salary for Sloan grads was $125,000. Both schools rank among the top for ROI in the United States, according to the QS ROI Report 2018.

Frankly, Boston offers a wealth of opportunities for studying business. It is a mecca of higher education. While it does not offer the same pile on of investment banks and financial services organizations as New York, it has a burgeoning economy that makes it among the most successful U.S. cities in recent years. The city’s economy continues to show signs of growth and an evolution that should excited anyone with interest in business.