We know, we know. It’s easy for one to get infatuated with one’s, uh, size. It can be a point of pride.
“Mine is bigger than theirs.”
This size thing. We’ve been told it’s important.
“No, really, it is bigger. I’ve measured it. Wanna see?”
Uh, no, thanks. Please put that thing away.
What we’re talking about, in case you are unclear, is the size of the alumni network.
Wharton likes to boast about its vast alumni network – from its website:
With 91,000 graduates, including world leaders in corporate, nonprofit, and government organizations, we have the largest alumni network of any business school.
91,000 alum. Wow!
Their class size is certainly up there: the Class of 2014 has 837 students.
This is second only to HBS, who has 900-plus students each year.
<screeeech!> Wait. Hold up there one second.
Aren’t BSers supposed to be good at math?
Shouldn’t you be asking yourselves, “How can that be?”
If HBS has more students graduating each year, then wouldn’t they have a larger alumni base? Simple math. Even EssaySnark can figure that one out.
“Well,” you point out helpfully, “Wharton’s been around longer than Harvard.”
True statement, as bschools go. Wharton was “[f]ounded in 1881 as as the first collegiate business school” while HBS didn’t come about until 1908. Does that account for the difference?
Well, no. It shouldn’t. Not when we’re talking about alumni networks. Meaning, networks of people. Who are presumably alive.
Just because you’ve been churning out graduates for more years doesn’t mean that those graduates are still around. As in, alive and kicking.
Turns out that Harvard has much greater transparency on this. They claim “101,817 graduates since founding” and then they break it down:
- MBA graduates since founding: 58,532
- living MBA alumni: 44,087
They even define which programs they have ever offered from which a graduate would be called an alumna/us (wow that was an awkward sentence, hope it’s grammatically correct!); see the first question in the FAQ on this page.
We spent a LOT of time on Wharton’s website and we just could not find that information.
So Wharton claims 91,000 “graduates”. We don’t know how they’re counting that number.
Is it everyone who’s graduated with an MBA, ever? They first started granting the MBA degree in 1921. Are they including even the men from that inaugural class? (You know it was only men.)
We assume they’re including their EMBA graduates in this figure. So adding them in, we’ll do some shorthand and say that there’s around 1,050 Wharton MBA grads each year – about 830ish (average) in the Philadelphia MBA and about 220 split between Philly and SF in the EMBA. The SF EMBA has been around for 20 years but we have no way of knowing how long the Wharton class sizes have been this large. Their regular MBA class size cannot have been in the multiple hundreds 50 years ago, can it? We’re struggling to figure out the math here.
The only other possibility is that Wharton is counting its undergraduates in its “graduates” total. Wharton, as you will recall, is one of the few business schools to also have an undergraduate program (you can go to U Penn and major in business for your bachelor’s at Wharton). This is why they can claim to be the oldest “collegiate” business school. Tuck actually holds the honor of being the oldest “graduate” business school.
Most top bschools are graduate programs only – master’s and PhD. Wharton’s got college kids in there, too. They currently have about 600 graduates coming out of their bachelor’s program each year. Are these kids being included in the total “graduates” figure that they cite?
If so… intrepid BSer, do you feel that an undergrad from Wharton is the same as an MBA? Would you consider those bachelor’s degree holders an equal in your “bschool alumni network”?
At this point we’re assuming that when Wharton says they have “91,000 graduates” they’re either counting dead people, or bachelor’s degree holders… and including either category is deceiving.
We take issue with the claim that they “have the largest alumni network of any business school.”
Harvard has more than 71,000 living graduates, and all of those are from a post-bachelor’s program. They have over 44,000 living MBA alum.
Wharton, care to clarify your numbers?
Not holding our breath. We doubt we’ll hear anything back about this.
This conversation is continued here: