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When we start to work with a new client at EXPARTUS, a big part of the process is helping them determine which schools would be a good fit for their strengths and post-MBA goals. Most clients when they come in just say, “I want to go to a Top 3 school”, or “I only want to apply to M7 schools”.
And of course, we want to help our clients get into a top school. But it’s also important that we help them get into the right school. Because getting an MBA isn’t the destination – it’s the first step on the way to the real career goals you want to accomplish.
This article is a great starting point if you’re planning on going to business school in order to get into consulting – we’ve done the research, looked into the recruiting and the employment reports, and tried to contextualize the data for you. And I think you might be surprised by where some of the schools rank on the list (I know I was!).
But when we talk here about the “best” MBA programs for consulting, I don’t want you to just take this list and copy and paste and bam, there’s your list of target schools. Use it to inform your thinking. The right MBA program for you is the one where they will appreciate what you bring to the table, and they have the courses and network in place to help you launch a successful career. It’s also the place where you will fit in well.
MBB and Beyond
We’ve gone through the employment reports for twenty of the world’s top business schools to find out what percentage of their graduates go on to work in consulting. Where possible, we’ve included information about the top employers of MBA program graduates.
Unsurprisingly, top schools send a lot of graduates to top consulting firms (think MBB), but it’s also important to look at the depth and breadth of options for MBA candidates who are looking to get into consulting. For example, Yale SOM sends less than 30% of its students into the consulting industry – but 37% of its graduates go on to a consulting role.
The list is also a good reminder that just because a school is highly ranked, doesn’t mean it is the lead school in the area you wish to study post business school. No one would deny that Harvard Business School is an incredible school, it isn’t the number 1 MBA program when considering consulting as a career path: for the 2015 graduating class, only 1 in 4 students went into consulting.
The list below will give you a snapshot of the most popular MBA programs for consulting, and the consulting firms that graduates are hoping to get hired into. Read on for more about what these top schools offer for MBA candidates who are interested in consulting.
Top 5 MBA Programs for Consulting, by Industry
1. INSEAD (43%)
2. Columbia (35%)
3. Tuck (34%)
4. Kellogg (33%)
5. LBS (33%)
Top 5 MBA Programs for Consulting, by Function
1. INSEAD (44%)
2. Columbia (40%)
3. Tuck (40%)
4. Yale (37%)
5. Ross (36%)
Located in Fontainebleu, France, just to the south of Paris, INSEAD has not always been considered a top recruiting option for consulting firms. But in recent years, the school has pushed hard in recruiting top student talent, resulting in not only the number one spot on the Financial Times 2016 MBA programs ranking, but also the highest rate of consulting graduates of any MBA program in the world.
While most business schools send between one-fifth and one-third of their MBA graduates to the consulting industry, INSEAD sends nearly half. For the 2015 graduating class, 43% of INSEAD graduates were offered a consulting position by three months post-graduation.
There were other factors than sheer numbers that lead to INSEAD coming out at the top of this list. The school is a popular destination for career changers, as evidenced by the fact that 27% of former financial services professionals went into consulting after INSEAD, as did 37% of former corporate sector professionals and 34% of former technology, media, and telecommunications professionals.
The annual median salary for consultants, in US dollars, was $113,600 for 2015 graduates, plus the sign-on bonus (median $23,900; received by 74% of consultants) and performance bonus (median $25,000; received by 81% of consultants). North America, unsurprisingly, had the highest median salary at $140,000, with Africa/ Near/ Middle East and Western Europe close behind at $130,000 and $115,200 respectively.
MBA students at INSEAD are encouraged to think strategically throughout the program. The school offers 17 strategy electives, and seven courses focused on decision sciences. The school also boasts several faculty members whose teaching & research areas include Consulting and Coaching for Change, plus a Boston Consulting Group Chaired Professor of International Management.
INSEAD’s strong alumni network and well-defined Career Development Journey are an integral part of the school’s success in placing students in the career roles they are aiming for. Six of the top 10 employers for 2015 graduates were consulting firms – accounting for 80% of hires at the top 10 overall employers.
Columbia Business School’s prime New York real estate, located (as the school says) “At the center of business”, makes it a great choice for students who are looking to make a real difference in the world of business.
Columbia sends more than a third of their students into the consulting industry post-graduation, with 40% of graduates working in a consulting function regardless of industry. The median salary for Columbia grads hired into consulting is $140,000. Five of the top 10 employers of 2016 grads were consulting firms, accounting for 74% of hires at the school’s top 10 employers.
In addition to the experiential, internship, and networking opportunities afforded by Columbia’s New York location, the school offers more than 200 electives to help MBA students design a program that will launch them into their ideal careers. For students looking to make the leap into consulting, the immersion seminar in Management Consulting and Master Classes in consulting can be just the ticket.
Like Columbia, Dartmouth University’s Tuck School of Business sends more than a third of their students into the consulting industry post-graduation, and has 40% of graduates working in a consulting function.
The school offers several initiatives inside and outside the classroom to help consulting-minded students achieve their goals: second-year Tuck students can take an elective course called OnSite Global Consulting that gives students an opportunity to work on real-world projects.
Additional opportunities include elective courses like Consulting Project Management, Finance Strategy for Public Companies, Retail Pricing Strategies and Tactics, Consulting Project Management, and Corporate Development, as well as Tuck Community Consulting and the Tuck Consulting Club.
The median salary for 2015 Tuck graduates was $140,000 for students in strategic/ management consulting, and $125,000 for other consulting roles. Median additional compensation was $25,000 for all roles. The median salary by function was $140,000 for management consulting, and $122,500 for strategic planning.
Five of Tuck’s top 10 employers were consulting firms, accounting for 59% of hires at the top 10 overall employers. The school employs five Career Development Coaches, of which two have experience at McKinsey, and one has experience at Booz & Co (now Strategy&).
As a part of their re-branding and re-vitalizing effort, Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management has developed a cross-disciplinary teaching approach for their MBA program which includes four Strategic Initiatives that “give [Kellogg] graduates the ideal skill set to tackle the toughest questions, solve complex problems, excel in their careers, and lead positive, meaningful change.”
Six of Kellogg’s top 10 employers for 2015 graduates were consulting firms – accounting for 75% of hires at the top 10 employers and nearly 50% of all hires at firms hiring more than 3 Kellogg 2015 graduates. The median salary for graduate in both consulting functions and consulting industry roles was $145,000 for consulting, plus $25,000 sign-on bonus.
Students at Kellogg School of Management are given a lot of freedom to design a program that works toward their career goals, with a choice of seven majors and seven learning pathways. Students can choose as many pathways as they like, allowing them to dig down into a cross-functional narrative, including topics like Growth and Scaling, Health Enterprise Management, and Data Analytics.
As another international program on the list of best business schools for consulting, London Business School is well placed to help graduates enter the Western European Market. Like Columbia Business School, LBS is located at the heart of a bustling international center of business and finance, making it almost impossible to avoid exposure to the global marketplace.
The school capitalizes on this location with immersive elective courses like the Strategy Lab, which enables students to work on real projects for A.T. Kearney clients. The school also boasts 70+ elective course options, a business project entailing a live consultancy exercise for second-year students, and the Deloitte Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship.
In addition to typical summer internship opportunities, the LBS Summer Consulting team is open to 6 to 8 MBA students who provide hands-on consultancy services to a range of clients like BP, Heinz, Nokia, Reuters, Roche, and Virgin Management.
The median salary for LBS graduates is $121,852 for the consulting industry, plus $24,383 in other guaranteed compensation. Consulting industry hires have grown by 10% since 2007 from 23% to 33% in 2015. Five of the top 10 LBS employers for 2015 were consulting firms – accounting for 66% of hires at the top 10 employers.
Yale University’s School of Management is hardly an unknown name in the world of business, although it might be surprising to realize that when it comes to consulting, Yale sends fewer of its graduates into consulting as INSEAD does (29% compared to 43% for consulting industry; 37% compared to 44% for consulting functions).
For the class of 2015, just over a quarter of Yale MBA graduates went into external consulting positions, and a further 8.5% went into internal consulting positions, for a total of more than 37% of graduates going into consulting.
Yale’s median salary by function was $135,000 for external consulting and $110,000 for internal consulting, plus $30,000 in other guaranteed compensation. More than 30 different consulting companies hired 2015 Yale MBA graduates.
With an Ann Arbor location just west of Detroit, Michigan Ross is probably not the first school to come to mind when it comes to consulting industry heavy hitters.
But despite the school’s somewhat remote location, its dedication to extra-curriculars and elective courses make Ross a great choice for US students looking to break into consulting. After all, Ross sent 32% of its 2015 graduates into the consulting industry (vs. Harvard’s 25%), and 36% of 2015 graduates into consulting functions (vs. Harvard’s 27%).
Ross’ graduates in the consulting industry saw salaries of $144,000 for external consulting or $140,000 for internal consulting, plus $25,000 in signing bonus regardless of role. Six of the top 20 Ross 2016 hiring companies were consulting firms.
Electives for Michigan Ross MBA students include courses such as Advanced Analytics for Management Consulting and the Business Systems Consulting capstone project. Students are also able to join the Consulting Club for networking, professional coaching, and case practice sessions, or participate in a MAP course that includes seven weeks of full-time, hands-on work with a real project – requiring teams to stay onsite and choose projects that cross a number of sectors.
Here’s a look at the top 10 most prestigious consulting firms for 2017 (According to Vault.com):
If you are considering consulting for your post MBA career path you may find this list helpful. You can also check out the Vault.com consulting guide if you are trying to make a career switch into consulting.
1. McKinsey & Company (23,000 employees)
2. The Boston Consulting Group (12,000 employees)
3. Bain & Company (6,000 employees)
4. Deloitte Consulting LLP (33,000 employees)
5. Booz Allen Hamilton (22,500 employees)
6. PwC Advisory Services (46,000 employees)
7. EY (Ernst & Young) Consulting (40,000 employees)
8. Accenture (37,000 employees)
9. KPMG LLP (29,000 employees)
10. Oliver Wyman (4,000 employees)
The Full List of Top 20 MBA Programs & Consulting Stats
Here is the full list of data we pulled from employment reports for 20 of the world’s top business schools. You can pursue consulting at any of the top schools on this list. However, by doing your research early you will be able to identify the specific programs that are best suited to prepare you for a career in consulting after business school.
If you’d like to learn more about choosing the best MBA program based on your resume, experience, and career goals, as well as advice on crafting an effective MBA application, you can get in touch with EXPARTUS at [email protected]
|% of grads going into consulting industry||Industry Rank||% of grads going into consulting functions||Function Rank||Top Employers|
|Chicago||28% consulting||14||29% consulting||13||McKinsey (35), Boston Consulting Group (23), Amazon (19), Bain (15), Accenture (13), Google (12), Merrill Lynch (11), PwC (10), Deloitte (9), Morgan Stanley (9), Goldman Sachs (8), JPMorgan (8)|
|Columbia||35% Consulting||2||40% consulting||2||McKinsey (55), Bain (35), Boston Consulting Group (29), Deloitte Consulting (28), JP Morgan (14), Goldman Sachs (13), Amazon (9), Merrill Lynch (9), Citi (9)|
|Fuqua||32% consulting||6||34% consulting||6||Deloitte (24), McKinsey (12), Boston Consulting Group (13), Amazon (15), Microsoft (13), Bain (9), PwC (13), Goldman Sachs (7), Merrill Lynch (8), Citi (9), Accenture (7)|
|Haas||25% Consulting||16||24% consulting||15||Not available|
|Harvard||25% Consulting||16||27% Consulting||14||Not available|
|IE||19% consulting||19||21% consulting||16||A.T. Kearney, Google, Microsoft, Accenture, PwC, IBM, Citi, Axon Partners Group, Amazon, Credit Suisse|
|IESE||29% Consulting||9||31% consulting||10||A.T. Kearney, Accenture, Bain, Booz Allen, Falconi, Global Praxis Group, Indra Business Consulting, McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, Monitor Deloitte|
|INSEAD||43% consulting||1||44% consulting||1||McKinsey (102), Boston Consulting Group (72), Bain (52), Amazon (29), Accenture (24), Strategy& (24), A.T. Kearney (16), Apttus (14), Google (14), Microsoft (14)|
|Judge||29% Consulting||9||18% Consulting||17||Not available|
|Kellogg||33% Consulting||4||33% consulting||9||McKinsey (34), Bain (28), Boston Consulting Group (26), Deloitte (20), PwC (18), Amazon (16), Kraft Heinz (12)|
|LBS||33% Consulting||4||Not available||19||McKinsey (38), Boston Consulting Group (19), Amazon (16), Bain (15), Goldman Sachs (9), Microsoft (8), Strategy& (8)|
|MIT Sloan||32% consulting||6||34% consulting||6||McKinsey (31), Amazon (22), Boston Consulting Group (14), Google (14), Deloitte (13), Bain (12), Apple (7), Microsoft (7), Parthenon-EY (6), Boeing (5), Morgan Stanley (5)|
|NYU Stern||29% Consulting||9||34% consulting||6||Not available|
|Oxford Said||22% Consulting||18||Not available||20||Amazon, McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, PwC, Deloitte, Microsoft, BP, American Express|
|Ross||32% consulting||6||36% consulting||5||Amazon, McKinsey, BCG, Google, JP Morgan, Microsoft, Bain|
|Stanford||14% consulting||20||18% Consulting||17||Not available|
|Tuck||34% consulting||3||40% consulting||2||McKinsey (17), Bain (16), Amazon (11), Deloitte (10), BAML (9), Boston Consulting Group (8), Microsoft (7), Goldman Sachs (6), Parthenon Group (6), General Mills (6)|
|UVA Darden||29% Consulting||9||31% consulting||10||Not available|
|Wharton||27% Consulting||15||31% consulting||10||Not available|
|Yale||29% Consulting||9||37% consulting||4||Not available|
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