Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

Planning to venture abroad for your higher education? Before you take the final call, it’s important to familiarise yourself with all the top colleges for your course of study. In this blog, let’s focus on one of the most prestigious schools in the circuit – The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

To begin with, this elite institution can be called the first ever collegiate business school. With a legacy of business education stretching back more than 130 years, The Wharton School has created an MBA programme designed to give students all the tools needed to be successful leaders and make a difference in the world.

And, talking of reputation, Wharton, of course, is to Finance what Harvard is to General Management or Northwestern is to marketing.

Ever wondered what precisely are those few things that you can expect from Wharton? Take a look:

  • Wharton offers prospective MBA applicants either a two-year, full-time programme or a two-year Executive MBA programme.
  • The school also gives students the option of pursuing an MBA/MA through the well-regarded Lauder Program.
  • Wharton is distinctive among leading programmes for its high percentage of international students, mandatory yet flexible majors, and rigorous quantitative training.
  • There’s an impressive variety of financial electives here taught by some of the best finance faculty in the world. Even during the 2010-2013  financial crisis, some 41% of Wharton’s Class of 2012 headed into the financial services industry, up from 38.5% a year earlier.

Learning is an interesting process at Wharton, with a few unique initiatives from the B-school.

  • Teamwork and leadership are at the heart of the Wharton MBA programme. The mandatory pre-term immersion programme is Wharton’s unique approach to help students come together and learn from one another.
  • All students are assigned to a six-to-seven-person Learning Team. Together, students spend three weeks completing coursework, attending Learning Team retreats, and developing a plan for their MBA curriculum.
  • Learning Teams will also attend required courses together during the first part of the MBA programme.

When it comes to directing their own education, students are encouraged to forge their own path. That might mean choosing a dual degree (as 30% of Wharton students do), or creating an individualised major focusing on a subject the student is passionate about, or just taking advantage of the more than 200 electives offered for MBA students.

The Wharton School offers many global immersions and exchange opportunities, and requires all students to take a global management course. However, they do not have the requirement to participate in international work or study programmes that many other top-ranked business schools do.

Nonetheless, the alumni network for Wharton business school is comprised of more than 90,000 graduates in 150 countries, combined with an international student population that ensures all students learn to work closely with a diverse group of talented individuals.

Wharton Curriculum and Pedagogy

Teams: Upon entering the Wharton MBA programme, first-year students are immediately divided into Learning Teams of approximately five to six students. The teams are chosen with professional and personal diversity in mind. When classes begin, multiple Learning Teams are brought together to form cohorts of about 70 students.

Curriculum: Wharton students complete most of the core curriculum with their cohort fellows and work with the same faculty for their first year; they are better integrated into the Wharton learning community as a result. Wharton adds another layer of group activity through clusters which are groups of approximately 210 students from three cohorts.  These students share faculty and administrative resources as well as social elements of the programme, like group community service projects. Course material at Wharton is delivered through a mix of lectures, case studies and field study.

Term: Pre-Term commences for first-year MBA students in mid-August, three weeks before the formal beginning of the programme. All students are required to participate in Pre-Term activities, which include preparatory courses in key subjects such as financial analysis.  In addition, the first core course of Wharton’s curriculum, Foundations of Teamwork and Leadership, is taught during Pre-Term. Wharton students also attend a two-day Learning Team Retreat at an offsite location, where they are first introduced to the other members of their Learning Team and the second-year student who will serve as their Leadership Fellow.

Semester: Wharton’s MBA programme operates on a semester system, with the fall semester running from late August through mid-December and the spring semester lasting from mid-January to early May. Students must earn a total of at least 19 and no more than 21 credit units over their four semesters at Wharton. Both semester-long and quarterly classes, which last for about six weeks, are offered each semester.  The core curriculum is comprised of nine courses, though students may waive courses through pre-term exams or the demonstration of other relevant qualifications.  Since 2012, students have been able to choose from two or more options to satisfy the requirements of most core courses, allowing them to select the subject track that interests them most within each core discipline. MBA students also have the option to fulfil certain core requirements in either their first or second years of study.

While Wharton provides students with nearly 200 elective courses to choose from, those seeking to further expand their studies may take up to four credit units at another University of Pennsylvania graduate school or may spend a semester studying abroad at one of Wharton’s 17 international exchange partner schools.

MBA students are required to tailor their studies by choosing a major or double major from among 18 areas of study and completing at least five credit units in each major area. The 18 major options include the “individualised major,” an opportunity for students to complete their majors in an area not adequately covered by the more standard offerings.  Nearly 5% of students choose to pursue this path, while about 30% of students opt to double major.  Students wishing to pursue Wharton’s Health Care Management Program must note their interest in this programme at the time of application; the programme provides supplementary academic and professional resources to help students gain the necessary education in all areas of health care.

Concentrations offered at the Wharton MBA include:

  • Accounting
  • Actuarial Science
  • Business Economics and Public Policy
  • Entrepreneurial Management
  • Environmental and Risk Management
  • Finance
  • Health Care Management
  • Individualised Major
  • Information: Strategy and Economics
  • Insurance and Risk Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Marketing and Operations Management (Joint Major)
  • Multinational Management
  • Operations, Information and Decisions
  • Organisational Effectiveness
  • Real Estate
  • Statistics
  • Strategic Management

Clubs, Conferences & Competitions

Wharton students can get involved in extracurricular activities across more than 100 student-run organisations, including professional clubs, culture-based clubs, intramural athletic organisations, and community service and special interest associations.  For example, the Wharton Global Health Volunteer Program sends volunteers to developing countries to consult on healthcare services.  Meanwhile, the Outdoor Club organises outdoor activities such as hiking, camping and biking that are open to Wharton students, partners and faculty.  Most MBA student activities are managed by the graduate programme’s student government organisation, known as the Wharton Graduate Association.

Each year, Wharton typically features over a dozen conferences led by students.  These include the Global Business Forums, the Annual Wharton Women in Business Conference, and the Restructuring and Distressed Investing Conference, among others. MBA students can also take advantage of Wharton’s competition offerings. For instance, the Wharton Business Plan Competition has helped student entrepreneurs receive thousands of dollars in funding and national media coverage for over a decade.

Wharton Application Deadlines for the Fall 2017 intake

  • Round 1: September 27, 2016
  • Round 2: January 5. 2017
  • Round 3: March 28, 2017

Note: To be considered for a round, you must submit a complete application by 5:00 pm Eastern Time (ET) on the day of the deadline. International students are strongly advised to submit their applications by Round of the application deadline.

Wharton MBA application for the Fall 2017 intake

The Wharton application process is online. The application documentation includes:

  • Background information: Background information includes contact information (e.g., mailing address and phone number), date of birth, academic degrees earned, professional experience, and family information.
  • Resume : A one page résumé containing your employment and education background must be uploaded to your application.  Wharton is interested in your functional job skills, breadth and depth of experience, demonstrated leadership and management skills, as well as your potential for growth. Wharton specifically states that it is more concerned with what you have learned in your positions than in your length of time in the workplace.
  • Application Essays: The Wharton application has two mandatory application essays, which are included below for your reference:
    • Essay 1: What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)
    • Essay 2: Teamwork is at the core of the Wharton MBA experience with each student contributing unique elements to our collaborative culture. How will you contribute to the Wharton community? (400 words)
  • Recommendation Letters: Wharton requires at least two letters of recommendation submitted either online or via hard copy.
  • While the recommendation questions for the Fall 2017 intake will typically be released in August 2017 – we believe that the recommendations will follow the 2016 intake pattern. Recommendation questions asked last year included:
    • How does the candidate’s performance compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (300 words)
    • Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (250 words)
    • (Optional) Is there anything else we should know?
  • GMAT/GRE scores: Applicants to Wharton are required to take the GMAT or the GRE. Scores may be self-reported, but should you receive an offer of admission, official scores will then be requested for verification. The GMAT code for the Wharton MBA Program is G56-97-73.  The GRE code is: 6802.
  • Transcripts: Transcripts of all academic work completed at the baccalaureate/undergraduate level and beyond, whether or not for credit or a degree, are required. Grades or marks may be self-reported on our online transcript template; official documents required upon admission and matriculation.
  • Application Fee: The application fee for the 2017 application has to be released as yet. The application fee for the 2016 intake was USD 265

Wharton MBA recruitment

Wharton’s MBA Career Management Team offers a multitude of resources for MBA students seeking employment, including career education programmes and mock interviews.  Wharton students benefit from one-on-one advising in addition to employer information sessions, on-campus recruiting and job fairs, and varied opportunities for engagement with alumni.

Recruiting for summer internships begins during the Focused Recruiting Period in January, a week-long session that takes place while first-years are still completing core courses, and on-campus recruiting for full-time positions starts up around the first week in October.

Students can also go on international and domestic career treks hosted by student clubs and MBA Career Management to meet with firms in many industries.

There have always been jobs galore for Wharton graduates and these numbers bear testimony to that fact:

  • Close to 98% of the members of the Class of 2015 who sought employment after graduation had secured at least one job offer by the end of September 2015.
  • The most popular post-MBA industry for 2015 graduates was Financial Services, with a little over one-third of the class joining such firms.
  • Over 26% of graduates took jobs in the consulting industry. Technology, consumer products and retail, and healthcare were the next most common post-MBA industries, representing roughly 11%, 7.5% and 6% of the class, respectively.
  • Graduates also found work in real estate, media and entertainment, manufacturing, energy, social impact and professional services sectors.
  • Nearly 16% of the Class of 2015 accepted positions outside of the US, with Asia, Latin America and Europe being the most popular non-US locations.
  • 42% of 2015 graduates took jobs in the Northeastern US, while the West and Mid-Atlantic welcomed 22% and 8.6% of the class, respectively.
  • Approximately 4% of the class each accepted posi­tions in the Midwest, Southwest and South.

Recruiting companies for the Fall 2015 intake include:

  • AB Bernstein
  • Accenture
  • Alcoa
  • Amazon
  • American Express
  • Amgen
  • Anheuser-Busch INBEV
  • Bain & Company
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  • Beekman Group
  • Blackrock
  • Blackstone Consulting Group
  • BRF Citadel Investment Group
  • CITI
  • Credit Suisse
  • Davidson Kempner Capital Management
  • Davis Polk & Wardwell
  • Davita Healthcare Partners
  • Deloitte Consulting
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Estee Lauder Companies
  • Evercore Partners
  • Fidelity Investments
  • Franklin Templeton Investments
  • Genentech
  • General Mills
  • Goldman Sachs & Company
  • Google
  • I.G. Capital
  • Highbridge Capital Management
  • International Finance Corporation
  • P. Morgan
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Kraft Heinz Company
  • Liberty Property Trust
  • Lincoln International
  • Mastercard Worldwide
  • McKinsey & Company
  • Medtronic
  • Metalmark Capital
  • Microsoft Corporation
  • Moelis & Company
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Parthenon Group
  • Partners In Performance International
  • Perella Weinberg Partners
  • Pfizer
  • Pimco
  • Prudential
  • Rowe Price Group
  • Tellapart
  • Tencent
  • Tpg Capital
  • Uber
  • Unilever Plc
  • University Of Pennsylvania Health System
  • Vanguard Group
  • Wells Fargo Securities
  • ZS Associates

Median Salary Post the Wharton MBA (Class of 2015)

 United States

  • Mid-Atlantic: $120,000
  • Midwest: $ 140,000
  • Northeast: $ 125,000
  • South: $140,000
  • Southwest: $ 140,000
  • West: $ 125,000


  • Asia $113,333
  • Africa NA
  • Canada NA
  • Europe: $ 125,000
  • Latin America: $ 115,000
  • Middle East: $ 115,000

Class Profile

  • The Wharton MBA programme received 6,590 applications during the 2015-2016 admission season, but the Class of 2018 includes just 861 students, making Wharton’s one of the most selective MBA programmes.
  • Of those 861 students, 43% were women.
  • 30% of the class identifies as US minorities, which includes students of African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic American, Native American and multiethnic backgrounds.
  • 32% of the Class of 2017 are international students, and a total of 73 countries are represented in the class.
  • The Class of 2017’s average GMAT score was 732 and enrolled students had an average of five years of work experience.

The undergraduate and professional profiles of Wharton students are quite diverse.

  • The largest portion of the class, 42%, majored in the humanities and social sciences, while majors in business and engineering, math, and science constituted 29% and 25%, respectively.
  • In terms of industry experience, 23% of students had backgrounds in consulting, followed by both government, military and nonprofit and investment banking at 11% each, and private equity/venture capital and consumer products/retail/healthcare/energy at 10% each.
  • Another 6% of students had professional experience in the investment management industry.

Funding your Wharton MBA

The tuition for first-year students in the academic year of August 2016 – May 2017 is $105,265, broken down as follows:

Cost of Attendance Budget
Academic Year 2016-2017
Tuition and Fees (Includes $2,000 Pre-Term fee) $73,634
Health Insurance $3,348
Room and Board $22,444
Books and Supplies $1,352
Miscellaneous $4,487
Total $105,265



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