Business schools offering MBA programs today are well-oiled machines, often with operations spanning continents. This should come as no surprise: they have had 188 years of practice, after all.
In 1819, the French economist Jean-Baptiste Say founded the École Supérieure de Commerce de Paris, the first school to offer a business studies course. However, although the origins of the business school can be traced to this Parisian institute, its evolution would begin in earnest across the Atlantic.
The University of Pennsylvania established the Wharton School in 1881. Joseph Wharton, a Philadelphia steel magnate, wanted the university to create a school that prepared young men for a new, complex economy.
The Wharton School became the first collegiate business school, and inititally offered only undergraduate classes.
On the cusp of the 20th century, the Amos Tuck School of Administration and Finance at Dartmouth College was established. It was the brainchild of the international financier Edward Tuck, who made his fortune in railway stocks.
Tuck was the first graduate business school, and the degree it conferred is the closest ancestor to today’s MBA degree.
A timeline of the business school’s history:
1819 The Ecole Supérieure de Commerce of Paris, now the ESCP-EAP European School of Management founded. It was the world’s first business school.
1881 The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania established. It is the first collegiate business school and then accepted undergraduates only.
1900 Amos Tuck School of Administration and Finance at Dartmouth College founded. Tuck is the first graduate school of management in the US. It was the first institution to confer advanced degrees in commercial sciences, although they were not called MBAs.
1907 HEC Montreal founded. The École des Hautes Études Commerciales is Canada’s first management school.
1920 The University of Chicago Graduate School of Business offers a PhD program in business.
1921 The Harvard Business School, founded in 1908, becomes the first business school to offer a Master of Business Administration degree.
1943 Chicago offers the first executive MBA degree program.
1964 University College Dublin becomes the first university in Europe to offer the MBA degree.
1968 The Asian Institute of Management in the Philippines is founded. It offers one of the first MBA programs in Asia.
1994 CEIBS, a joint venture between the European Commission and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation, is established in Beijing. It is the first business school to be located in China.