Leading Firms in MBA Admissions Consulting

by Greg Spielberg on Print Print

MBA admissions counseling has become so common that there are now as many as 300 firms around the world with more than 500 consultants helping applicants get into the best business schools. The average MBA applicant applies to 3.2 schools, so someone who signs a comprehensive consulting package with a firm generally pays about $6,000 to get help with applying to three MBA programs.

The explosion of the business is an outgrowth of the Internet, which allows consultants easier access to potential clients, the increasing numbers of people eager to get a prestige MBA degree, and the growing popularity of undergraduate consulting which has made it ever more natural to seek advice when pursuing a gradate degree.

The vast majority of the players are one-person boutiques, such as Sanford Kreisberg of Cambridge Essay Service in Boston who pretty much specializes in helping applicants get into Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton (See “The Rebel Savant of MBA Admissions Consulting.”) But MBA consulting has become such a large and lucrative business that a few highly sophisticated and professional service firms have emerged. These companies have dozens of consultants on staff (usually part-time contractors) and work with clients around the world. The largest of them is The MBA Exchange, with 40 consultants, many of them former admission officials from the top schools.

One advantage these larger firms have is that they match clients to consultants. If you’re from India, you’re more likely to get a consultant who specializes in Indian applicants and may even speak Hindi. If you’re a private equity analyst, you might get a consultant who once worked with PE types and knows how to best position them for a given school. If you’re applying to Stanford, you might get a Stanford MBA or former admissions officer from the school to guide you through the application process.

Here’s a brief and incomplete directory of six of the leading players, which together employ a total of some 120 consultants, in order of the number of consultants they have on staff.


Dan Bauer, founder and managing director of The MBA Exchang

Dan Bauer, founder and managing director of The MBA Exchange


Founded by Harvard MBA Dan Bauer in 1996, The MBA Exchange says it has helped more than 2,300 applicants unlock the doors to get into prestige business schools. The company claims a 97% success rate, a number that is verified by an accounting firm that conducts an audit of its client business. Before launching his firm, Bauer’s career includes management positions with Citicorp, MasterCard International, and DDB Needham Worldwide.

Based in Chicago, the firm has some 40 consultants all over the world that includes MBAs from all the top schools including nine MBAs from Harvard, a half dozen from Wharton, and three from Stanford. More importantly, perhaps, among its consultants The MBA Exchange boasts former MBA admissions officials from Columbia, Kellogg, Wharton, Chicago, Michigan and UCLA with inside knowledge of how elite admissions offices work. Its consultants are either fluent or conversational in Hindi, Mandarin, Marathi, Gujarati, Italian, Spanish, and French. One differentiating service is that customers can have sessions with a career coach who had worked with Chicago’s Booth School of Business.


One-application package: $4,400

Two-application package: $5,100

Three-application package: $5,800

Four-application package: $6,500

Five-application package: $7,200

Six-application package: $7,900

Contact Info:

Phone: 888.305.5553

Website: The MBA Exchange

For a free evaluation of your chances of getting into a top-ten school


Stacy Blackman, founder and president of Stacy Blackman Consulting

Stacy Blackman, founder and president of Stacy Blackman Consulting


Founded in 2001 by Kellogg MBA Stacy Blackman, this firm is among the largest in the business, with 30 consultants. Blackman counselors  have worked in the admissions office at Columbia, Fuqua, Kellogg, INSEAD, Tuck and Wharton. Most of the on-staff consultants hold degrees from top MBA programs including six from Stanford and Harvard, five from Kellogg, four from Wharton, two from Booth, and one each from Anderson, Columbia, Haas, Rice, Ross and Tuck.

The firm claims that with comprehensive clients, those who have bought its full package of services from $3,750 for help with a single application to $7,700 for five schools, it has a 92% success rate in getting applicants into at least one of their four top schools (at least in terms of clients it had heard back from).


One-school package: $3,750

Two-school package: $4,950

Three-school package: $5,950

Four-school package: $6,850

Five-school package: $7,700

Hourly fees: $270

Contact Info:

Phone: 323-934-3936

Website: StacyBlackman.com


Jeremy Shinewald, co-founder of mbaMission


Founded in 1999 by University of Virginia MBA Jeremy Shinewald, mbaMission works exclusively with MBA candidates. All 19 senior consultants have degrees from top MBA programs including seven from Harvard, three from Wharton and Columbia, two from Darden, and one each from Booth, Haas, Ross and Stern.  Before starting the firm, Shinewald was a speechwriter for the ambassador of Israel and a student member of Darden’s admissions team.


One-school package: $3,500

Two-school package: $4,750

Three-school package: $5,550

Four-school package: $6,350

Five-school package: $7,200

Hourly fees: $250

Contact Info:

Phone: 646-485-8844

Website: mbaMission.com


Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted.com

Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted.com


Founded in 1994 by Linda Abraham, the firm has worked with more than 3,500 applicants to business, law, medical and other graduate programs. Accepted has 14 editors, including founder Abraham. Four of them bring insider perspective from  such admissions offices as Cornell University’s Johnson School of Business and  Duke University’s Law School.


Accepted’s has an unusual pricing approach: its consulting packages differ in price by school. If you’re applying to Columbia Business School, for instance, the consulting fee is  $2,425, while help with an application to New York University’s Stern School is $3,075 and an application to MIT’s Sloan School of Management is $3,625. On two or more applications, there is a $1,000 per school additional fee. For a la carte services, Accepted charges a $260 hourly rate.

Contact Info:

Phone: 310.815.9553

Website: Accepted.com


Chioma Isiadinso, co-founder of EXPARTUS

Chioma Isiadinso, co-founder of EXPARTUS


Founded in 2002 by Chioma Isiadinso, a former Harvard Business School admissions board member and assistant director of admissions, and her husband, Obinna Isiadinso, a Harvard MBA. She spent three years as an admissions official at Carnegie Mellon University before going to Harvard. EXPARTUS is based in New York and serves the MBA market. Isiadinso, a regular contributor to Poets&Quants, is also the author of The Best Business School Admissions Secrets.

The firm has eight admissions consultants, including those with MBAs from such tops schools as Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia. “We don’t take on every client that applies,” says Isiadinso. “I put every prospective client through a consultation to understand their story, ensure there is a fit, before taking them on.” The company claims a success record of 85% to 90% for clients “gaining admission to their dream schools.”


$350 for an initial one-hour consultation

Contact info:

Phone: 212-802-7580

Website: EXPARTUS.com


Graham Richmond, co-founder of Clear Admit

Graham Richmond, co-founder of Clear Admit


Founded in 2001 by Wharton MBAs Eliot Ingram and Graham Richmond, the firm exclusively consults MBA applicants. Four consultants have experience in admissions offices at such elite schools as Wharton, Columbia Business School and Dartmouth’s Tuck. Four of the six members of the senior management team, including founders, have degrees from top MBA programs, including three from Wharton and one from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

The firm maintains an aggressive outreach program around its website, with daily posts that are largely reproductions of press releases from business schools and pick-ups of published stories from both traditional media and blogs. Richmond is currently president of the Association of International Graduate Admissions Counselors, the primary trade association of MBA and other graduate school admissions consultants.


One-school package: $3,500

Two-school package: $5,000

Three-school package: $6,000

Four-school package: $7,000

Five-school package: $8,000

Hourly rate: $275

Contact Info:

Phone: 215-568-2590

Website: ClearAdmit.com

Return to main story: “Suddenly Cozy: MBA Admissions Consultants and Business Schools”

  • AnonymousMBAer

    I used MBA Exchange, Jessica Burlingame was my consultant, and I really enjoyed working with her. I got into Columbia (my top choice). Jessica was very knowledgeable and responsive and the company’s pricing was competitive. Would recommend.

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