The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (// HWOR-tən; also known as the Wharton School or simply Wharton) is the business school of the University of Pennsylvania, a private Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Wharton was established in 1881 through a donation from Joseph Wharton. It is the world’s first collegiate school of business. Wharton's MBA program is ranked No. 1 in the world according to both Business Insider and QS, while Wharton's undergraduate program is also ranked No. 1 in the United States by U.S. News & World Report and Forbes.
The Wharton School awards Bachelor of Science in Economics degrees at the undergraduate level and Master of Business Administration degrees at the postgraduate level, both of which require the selection of a major. Wharton also offers a Ph.D. program and houses or co-sponsors several diploma programs either alone or in conjunction with the other schools at the university.
According to Forbes, approximately 90% of billionaires with business background in the finance industry obtained their master's degree in business from one of three institutions: Wharton, Harvard Business School or Columbia Business School. MBA students from the Wharton School earn an average base-salary of $125,000, according to comprehensive employment data provided by Wharton to U.S. News & World Report.
Wharton has over 95,000 alumni in 153 countries, with notable alumni such as Donald Trump, Warren Buffett, Elon Musk, Steven A. Cohen, Sundar Pichai, Aditya Mittal, John Sculley, Ruth Porat, Michael Nutter, Neel Kashkari, Michael Moritz and Anil Ambani. Its alumni include the CEOs of Google, Apple, CBS, General Electric, Boeing, Pfizer, Comcast Corporation, DHL, UPS, Pepsi, Time, Inc, BlackRock, UBS AG, Wrigley Company, and Tesco.
Joseph Wharton, a native Philadelphian, was a leader in industrial metallurgy who built his fortune through the American Nickel Company and Bethlehem Steel Corporation. As Wharton's business grew, he recognized that business knowledge in the United States was only taught through an apprenticeship system, and such a system was not viable for creating a wider economy during the Industrial Revolution. After two years of planning, Wharton in 1881 founded the Wharton School of Finance and Economy through a $100,000 initial pledge, making it the first business school established in the United States. (ESCP Europe, established in 1819, and a few other business schools were established in Europe prior to Wharton's founding.) The school was meant to train future leaders to conduct corporations and public organizations in a rapidly evolving industrial era. Wharton was quoted as saying that the school was meant to "instill a sense of the coming strife [in business life]: of the immense swings upward or downward that await the competent or the incompetent soldier in this modern strife".
From the founding of the school, he defined that its goal was "to provide for young men special means of training and of correct instruction in the knowledge and in the arts of modern Finance and Economy, both public and private, in order that, being well informed and free from delusions upon these important subjects, they may either serve the community skillfully as well as faithfully in offices of trust, or, remaining in private life, may prudently manage their own affairs and aid in maintaining sound financial morality: in short, to establish means for imparting a liberal education in all matters concerning Finance and Economy". The school was renamed the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce, in 1902, and formally changed its name to simply, Wharton School, in 1972.
Early on, the Wharton School faculty was tightly connected to an influential group of businessmen, bankers and lawyers that made up the larger Philadelphia School of Political Economy. The faculty incorporated social sciences into the Wharton curriculum, as the field of business was still under development. Albert S. Bolles, a lawyer, served as Wharton's first professor, and the school's Industrial Research Unit was established in 1921.
Wharton professor Simon Kuznets, who later won the Nobel Prize in Economics, created statistical data on national output, prices, investment, and capital stock, and also measured seasonability, cycles, and secular trends of these phenomena. His work laid out what became the standard procedure for measuring the gross national product and the gross domestic product, and he later led an international effort to establish the same statistical information for all national economies. Professor Lawrence Klein, who also won the Nobel Prize in Economics, developed the first econometric model of the U.S. economy, which combined economic theory with mathematics, providing another way to test theories and predict future economic trends.
Wharton professor George W. Taylor is credited with founding the academic field of study known as industrial relations. He served in several capacities in the federal government, most notably as a mediator and arbitrator. During his career, Taylor settled more than 2,000 strikes. In 1967, he helped draft the New York State civil service law which legalized collective bargaining in that state but which also banned strikes by public employees—legislation widely known today as the Taylor Law.
Wharton professor Wroe Alderson (1898–1965) is widely recognized as the most important marketing theorist of the twentieth century and the "father of modern marketing". Wharton professor Paul Green is considered to be the “father of conjoint analysis” for his discovery of the statistical tool for quantification of market research.
Wharton professor Solomon S. Huebner is known widely as "the father of insurance education." He originated the concept of "human life value", which became a standard method of calculating insurance value and need. He established the goal of professionalism in the field of insurance, developed the first collegiate level program in insurance and chaired the Department of Insurance at Wharton, and contributed greatly to the progress of adult education in this area. Wharton professor Daniel M. McGill was widely regarded as the “dean of the pension industry”, whose research contributed to shaping the modern retirement system both in the public and corporate sectors.
In 1946, after ENIAC was created at Penn, Wharton created the first multidisciplinary programs in technology management with the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Wharton faculty began to work closely with AT&T, Merrill Lynch, MasterCard, Prudential Insurance and the New York Stock Exchange in analyzing the strategic and commercial implications of information systems.
Wharton created the first textbook on foreign trade, and it led the privatization of national industries in Turkey, Poland and surrounding Eastern European nations.
The Wharton School's first business professor was an attorney, Albert Bolles. At the time, there were no other business schools and no business professors could be recruited elsewhere. Bolles, a lawyer by education and training, and business journalist by career, seemed to be the best option for Joseph Wharton. Bolles started his career as a lawyer in Connecticut in the second half of the 19th century. After resigning from his law firm, he started pursuing a new career in business journalism and was promoted to the editor role of Bankers Magazine, a trade publication, in 1880. Upon joining the Wharton School, he began teaching business with classes on the law of governing finance and on the processes of commercial banking. Bolles' instruction in finance was influenced by his previous experience in Bankers Magazine: he stressed conservative business practices, drawing on business history as much as he could. In his classes, inflationist Congressmen were "self-interested debtors". Besides teaching, Bolles advocated for several national reforms, including the uniform banking law. Wharton historian Steven A. Sass wrote about him, "Bolles thus fulfilled Joseph Wharton's pedagogic expectations and…got the new school off to a respectable start by the spring of 1883". In 1884, the first five business students were awarded a Bachelor of Finance degree. One graduate, Shiro Shiba, returned to Japan where he would become a member of the Diet, the Japanese parliament, and another, Robert Adams, Jr., later was named U.S. Ambassador to Brazil.
Classes in business and finance abounded at the Wharton School, but it was lacking in any other areas of business interest. Edmund James, with a doctorate from the University of Halle in Germany, reinvigorated the school's curriculum, starting classes on political finance and administration. Later in 1885, James argued for redesigning the course of study at Wharton with elements of German higher education. He wanted to include training in banking, railroading, merchandising, manufacturing and other similar branches, and expand the course's length to four years from the initial three. Joseph Wharton in November 1893 pledged an additional $75,000 to the school in order to implement James' ideas in the school's curriculum. A more comprehensive study plan was then rolled out. Between 1895 and 1915, James started teaching at Wharton the new fields of finance and management as they were developing in the business world. The Wharton School improved its reputation from a bunch of academic "misfits", and some of its alumni rose in the U.S. business world. During this period, the school continued to attract additional faculty members and expand its research programs.
Wharton began awarding MBA degrees in 1921. In 1942, during World War II, in the same fashion of other schools, Wharton's full-time faculty dropped dramatically from 165 to 39 by 1944. According to school historians, members of the faculty were called upon for special posts. In 1959, Wharton adopted the curriculum which is now taught in most major business schools: the program was changed with liberal arts education doubling to almost half of the curriculum, and the social sciences department was moved to the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences in 1975. Since then, Wharton faculty have focused exclusively on business education.
Official historical names of the institution include the Wharton School of Finance and Economy, from 1881 to 1901, and the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce, from 1902 to 1971.
The Philadelphia campus of the Wharton School has four primary buildings, Jon M. Huntsman Hall, Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall, Vance Hall and Lauder-Fischer Hall. In addition, the Steinberg Conference Center houses the Aresty Institute of Executive Education.
Jon M. Huntsman Hall is the Wharton School's main building. The building is a 324,000 square foot structure with 48 seminar and lecture halls, 57 group study rooms and several auditoriums and conference rooms. It was constructed through a donation from Wharton alumnus Jon M. Huntsman. It also has a 4,000 square foot forum, as well as a colloquium space on the top floor.
Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall is a joint 180,000 square foot structure comprising two adjacent halls. It was built in 1952 and expanded in 1983 through a donation from Wharton alumnus Saul Steinberg, and houses the offices of several academic departments at the Wharton School. It also contains lecture halls, conference rooms and common areas for faculty and students.
Vance Hall is a 107,000 square foot structure built in 1972 to house Wharton's graduate programs, administrative offices, lecture halls and meeting areas.
Lauder-Fischer Hall houses the Joseph H. Lauder Institute for Management and International Studies, and focuses mainly on international business teaching and research initiatives. The Lauder Institute was founded in 1983 by Wharton alumni Leonard Lauder and Ronald Lauder.
In 2014, the Wharton School launched the Student Life Space in Philadelphia's central business district. It is a 20,000 square foot space with conference rooms, meeting rooms and over 20 group study rooms. It also serves as an incubator space for startup companies.
San Francisco campus
In 2001 Wharton launched a new campus in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco campus serves as a hub on the west coast for its students and alumni. As of 2012, the campus is open to executive MBA students and to full-time MBA students, who can decide to spend the fall semester of second year of the MBA program in San Francisco in the Semester in San Francisco Program. For the full-time MBAs, the Semester in San Francisco Program focuses on entrepreneurship, technology, and venture capital.
Prospective Wharton candidates apply in their senior year of high school either through the early decision (ED) process or regular decision (RD) process. Unlike many other undergraduate business programs where students transfer in after their freshman or sophomore year (University of Virginia's McIntire, Emory's Goizueta, UC Berkeley's Haas), Wharton applicants apply specifically for Wharton during their senior year of high school. These candidates are then grouped with a pool of applicants separate from those applying to University of Pennsylvania's College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), or School of Nursing. Each of the other three schools forms its own separate pools of applicants too.
The legacy status of applicants, defined as having a parent or another direct relative who attended the same academic institution, may be taken into consideration in the admissions process. This correlation has been observed in a number of empirical studies conducted on the nation's most elite schools, with a particular focus on Ivy League universities. Leading universities in the United States cite stronger alumni connections and continued support as the primary reasons for this practice.
Graduation and employment
Wharton undergraduate students fare well in the recruitment process, with many leading firms conducting on-campus interviews. In 2013, 407 employers participated in the on-campus recruiting process; each student received an average of 12 interviews. More than 60% of Wharton's typical undergraduate class of 600 students go into financial services, with the top sectors being investment banking, sales and trading, investment management, and the buy side. The next most common industry after investment banking is management consulting, which hires approximately 30% of the students. A number of students enter marketing, sales, and the technology industry, particularly in Silicon Valley.
In 2013, Wharton undergraduate students earned an average first-year compensation of $103,820, including an average starting base salary of $67,986, an average signing bonus of $9,311, and an average annual bonus of $26,523. These figures were the highest of any undergraduate business program in the United States. The top starting base salaries reported by students, not taking additional compensation into account, were $110,000 in finance, $100,000 in management consulting, $112,000 in marketing, $100,000 in general management and $96,000 in real estate.
The school offers two paths, an MBA for full-time students and an MBA for executives. Students can elect to pursue double majors or individualized majors. During their first year, all students pursue a required core curriculum that covers traditional management disciplines—finance, marketing, statistics, and strategy—as well as the leadership, ethics, and communication skills needed at senior levels of management. Students pick electives in the second year.
According to the most recent statistics released by U.S. News & World Report, Wharton had the highest average salary and post-graduation employment rate of any business school in the United States.
Wharton MBA students may pursue a dual degree with the Lauder Institute, Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, or with one of the graduate schools at the University of Pennsylvania.
Wharton co-sponsored the Executive Master's in Technology Management Program (EMTM) with the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science. Graduates received a master of science in engineering (MSE) in the management of technology from the School of Engineering and Applied Science. The EMTM Program ended in August 2014.
Wharton offers doctor of philosophy degrees in finance, applied economics, management and other business fields (as opposed to some schools, which grant DBAs). It takes approximately four to six years to complete the doctoral program.
On December 5, 2003, Wharton enacted a policy of declining to actively participate in the rankings of business school programs, citing student privacy concerns and the methodologies employed.
Wharton is widely regarded as one of the world's top institutions for business education. In 2014–2015, the U.S. News & World Report ranked Wharton's undergraduate program first, MBA program first, and executive MBA program also first, making Wharton the only school to ever be ranked number one in all three categories simultaneously. The undergraduate program at the Wharton School has been ranked number one by U.S. News & World Report every single year since inception. The Financial Times has ranked the Wharton School first in the world in every single year between 2000 and 2009, and again in 2011, conferring Wharton with the best overall performance in the rankings. The Wharton School has also been ranked number one by Bloomberg Businessweek four times in a row. In 2016, the school's MBA program was ranked #27 worldwide for social and environmental impact by Corporate Knights magazine.
Wharton is well known for its standing in finance education. The school has been listed first on the U.S. News & World Report's "best finance programs" list each consecutive year from its commencement. Similarly, Wharton has maintained its top position in the finance specialization rankings of the QS Global 200 Business Schools Report 2013/14, prompting QS to declare that "Wharton reigns supreme in finance, topping the table again". The New York Times has deemed Wharton's undergraduate population as "the closest thing that exists to a Wall Street farm team", while Poets & Quants has described Wharton as offering the "single best degree" for an education and career in finance, marked by an "intense, competitive culture" within the student body.
Wharton also receives high reputation scores from academics and recruiters each year.
The Wharton School has been ranked first for its Executive MBA Program in 2011, 2012, and 2013 by Poets & Quants, in an integrated ranking system that takes into account data provided by U.S. News & World Report, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times.
Academic research rankings
Based on publications in 24 of the world's leading peer-reviewed journals, Wharton holds the top position in research productivity among business schools, and a report by Indiana University indicated that the Wharton School has held the top rank in research productivity each year since 1986, when compilation of this information first commenced.
The Wharton School adheres to grading curves and is known for its competitive culture, its students receiving the highest aggregate competitiveness index score in the Princeton Review's study of 295 business schools. In order to promote a more collaborative atmosphere, the Wharton Graduate Association maintains and annually reaffirms a grade non-disclosure policy, consisting of two main principles. The first is to "refrain from disclosing GPAs, specific class grades, class ranking, or transcripts to potential employers until a full-time position has been offered". The second principle permits and encourages students to disclose general academic honors and distinctions. All employers adhere to this policy throughout the recruitment process at the Wharton School.
The Wharton School has over 100 active student clubs. Wharton students also organize 19 business conferences each year.
The Wharton alumni network currently has more than 92,000 members in 80 regional clubs worldwide. In addition to the annual Wharton reunion held on campus, Wharton partners with its alumni clubs to organize multiple Global Alumni Forums each year.