In Consulting, Which B-School Is No. 1?

by John A. Byrne on Print Print

Which business school is number one in sending MBAs into the consulting industry? Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, according to a new survey of more than 4,500 consultants by Harvard Business School, whose case study teaching method was made for consulting, is second. Chicago, Wharton, and Michigan round out the top five, says Vault.

But is Kellogg really number one?  Probably not. It’s far more likely that Harvard would have gotten the nod if prestigious McKinsey & Co. had participated in the survey. McKinsey has been one of Harvard’s top three employers for decades and also recruits more MBAs from top business schools than any other firm. Yet, Vault concedes that only 20 McKinsey consultants answered their survey through LinkedIn.

Among the Class of 2009, for example, McKinsey hired 50 MBAs from Wharton, 46 from Columbia, 26 from Kellogg, 23 from Chicago, 21 from London, 15 from Berkeley, and 10 from Michigan. Though Harvard does not report these statistics, it is estimated that McKinsey hired as many as 100 Harvard MBAs alone in 2009. So the consulting giant’s absence from the Vault survey raises significant credibility issues with the results. Concedes Carolyn Wise, Vault’s senior education editor: “McKinsey is a feeder of students for Harvard and a very strong employer of Harvard MBAs.”

In contrast, Boston Consulting Group hired 31 MBAs from Wharton’s Class of 2009, 23 from Kellogg, 21 from Columbia, 10 from London, nine from Chicago, five from Michigan, and four from Berkeley. Bain, another prestige strategic consulting firm, carted away 20 Columbia MBAs, 19 from Kellogg, 18 from Wharton, 16 from Chicago, 10 from Michigan, and six from London.

Vault also crunched its numbers by major cities and regions of the U.S. In Silicon Valley, for example, Stanford was number one, followed by Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, MIT’s Sloan School and then, surprisingly, by Michigan’s Ross School of Business. In the southwest, Emory’s Goizueta School of Business tied with Harvard for having the most MBAs employed in consulting. “Emory is extremely strong in Atlanta and Charlotte,” says Wise.  “It really dominates which is something you may know, but it is astounding that they are not a more prominent, national school. That is true for both the business and the law schools.”

The most significant conclusion? Wise says it’s the fact that the top 10 schools produce the lion’s share of consultants. “It was a ski slope-style curve,” she adds. “After the top 10 to 14 schools, it really dropped off. The biggest takeaway for me is the rush toward the most elite business schools. Degrees from lower-tiered MBA programs do not have the value they used to. If you want a job at a top consulting firm, you need to focus on the most elite school you can get into.”

One thing to keep in mind while looking at these lists: Vault did not adjust for the size of the MBA program, even though its ranking is merely derived from the total number of MBAs in consulting from each school. So Dartmouth, MIT, and Stanford, whose annual output of elite MBAs is on the lower side, does not do as well as the larger schools, such as Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, Chicago, and Columbia.


Vault’s Top Ten Schools for Consulting
1. Northwestern (Kellogg)
2. Harvard Business School
3. Chicago (Booth)
4. Pennsylvania (Wharton)
5. Michigan (Ross)
6. Columbia
7. Duke (Fuqua)
8. MIT (Sloan)
9. Stanford
10. New York University (Stern)


Vault’s Top B-Schools for Consulting in New York
1. Harvard Business School
2. Columbia
3. New York University (Stern)
4. Pennsylvania (Wharton)
5. Northwestern University (Kellogg)


Vault’s Top B-Schools for Consulting in Boston
1. Harvard Business School
2. MIT (Sloan)
3. Dartmouth College (Tuck)
4. Pennsylvania (Wharton)
5. Chicago (Booth)


Vault’s Top B-Schools for Consulting in Atlanta
1. Emory (Goizueta)
2. Harvard Business School
3. Duke University (Fuqua)
4. Pennsylvania (Wharton)
5. UNC (Kenan-Flagler), Virginia (Darden)


Vault’s Top B-Schools for Consulting in Washington, D.C.
1. Virginia (Darden)
2. Pennsylvania (Wharton)
3. Northwestern (Kellogg)
4. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)
4. Georgetown (McDonough)
4. Harvard Business School



  • G_repl

    what do you know about Kellogg?  

  • McKConsultant2

    I was an ex-BA and graduated from HBS. It seems like all my classmates from HBS had McKinsey, BCG and Bain interviews. Sometime I question the selectivity of top consulting firm

  • Jim

    I know I am a little late here, but I wanted to ask whether this comment is still valid.  I checked IE’s employment report (´S/ie_international_mba_placement_report_2011.pdf) and it appears that BCG is listed at number 7 under “Top Employers”. 

    Then again, although McKinsey, BCG, and Bain are listed as companies attending their career fair, it did not appear that any of these three firms had a custom recruiting page for this school on their site.

    Still, it seems the school is upwardly trending so I’m not quite sure what to think. 


  • Jim

    For some terrible reason they included a strange character in the URL – so I’ve included it below.


    If that doesn’t work, you can always go to:

    and click the link to the report there.


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