Why do business schools prefer engineering majors to business majors?

“4/4 of my friends who were accepted to HBS and Wharton were engineering majors in undergrad, while 4/4 friends who were business majors didn’t even get interviews (superstars with 720+ GMAT). Why do business schools prefer engineering majors?”
–Brian

The Harvard MBA says:

This shouldn’t be too surprising, given the first principle of business school, which is that MBA students are simply future alumni donors.

If you view every admissions decision through that lens, you’ll be pretty close to the truth.

The fact is that engineering majors are more likely to do well in business school, and in their careers afterwards, making them a more attractive choice.

1) Engineering majors are used to a heavy workload, and have strong quantitative skills.

Business school may considered less demanding than many graduate schools, but there is still a significant amount of math and financial modeling involved. Engineering students are more likely to do well, and you can’t become an alumni donor if you don’t graduate.

2) Once you have an HBS/Wharton degree, that serves as your business bona fides.

At that point, an undergrad business degree is meaningless, whereas an undergrad engineering degree is a major asset, especially if you’re looking for jobs in product management, engineering management, or operations.

Remember, business schools want successful alumni; unsuccessful alumni don’t endow professorships.

And in today’s post-Facebook world, every business school wants high tech entrepreneurs as alumni.

Majoring in engineering as an undergraduate isn’t always fun, especially around exam time, but its benefits persist long after graduation.

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