Top-Ranked B-Schools With The Worst Placement Records

When you look at the starting salaries for Santa Clara University’s Class of 2011 last year, you have to be impressed. Graduates with their freshly minted MBA degrees pulled down an average $97,625 in salary and bonus last year.

Pretty good for a tier-two business school, right? Except that at graduation nearly eight of every ten graduates of its full-time MBA program were unemployed.

In fact, of all the business schools ranked by U.S. News & Report last week, Santa Clara’s Leavey School of Business had the dubious distinction of reporting more unemployed MBA grads than any other ranked school, a placement record that effectively gave its graduates a 78.8% unemployment rate at commencement.

Three months after graduation, some 53.8% of the class remained unemployed, according to the school’s reported numbers to U.S. News.

Leavey Dean Drew Starbird says the numbers reported by U.S. News are somewhat misleading because Leavey is largely a school filled with part-time MBAs. The school currently has about 1,000 part-timers and only 150 full-time students. “The U.S. News data only represents the full-time students and that’s a small sample size,” he says. “So it’s a little bit misleading.”


What’s even more shocking about these mediocre placement numbers is that they occurred at a school located in the heart of Silicon Valley, where the unemployment rate is well-below the national average. Or as Santa Clara’s own website puts it, “one of the most dynamic business environments in the world.”

Says Dean Starbird: “The job market is quite good. We’ve had a dramatic increase in the number of companies recruiting on campus. The unemployment rate in Silicon Valley is low for technology jobs. It’s quite a bit better than it was last year and significantly better than two years ago.”

But the official stats the school gave to U.S. News doesn’t reflect that improvement at all. While most business schools reported improved placement numbers for their MBAs last year, things at Leavey got even worse. The “unemployment rate” for Leavey’s MBAs jumped 30 percentage points last year from 48.8% at graduation in 2010.


Almost everyone who goes to a business school for an MBA does so to get a better job, at higher pay, with more advancement opportunity. Yet an analysis by Poets&Quants shows that some 21 business schools ranked among the very best in the country by U.S. News reported that at least half or more of their MBA graduates were without jobs at commencement last year. And at 11 of those institutions, roughly a third or more of the MBAs were still unemployed three months after graduation.

Those are numbers you might expect in the midst of the Great Recession, but are shockingly surprising given the economy’s recovery and the turnaround at many business school campuses. Although unemployment has remained stubbornly high, most MBAs have done quite well, thank you. But not at these 21 schools among 102 ranked in the latest U.S. News survey.


Four of the ranked schools with the worst placement records are in California. Besides Santa Clara, there’s Claremont Graduate University’s Drucker School of Management, UC-Riverside’s Anderson School of Business, and Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business, where roughly 70% of the graduating MBAs were without jobs at graduation.

Also high on the list are two schools in New York: Fordham University’s business school, where 63% of the MBAs were unemployed at commencement last year, and Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business, where 61% of the Class of 2011 were without jobs at graduation.

How do these schools compare with the overall market? Not very well. U.S. News’ analysis of the job placement data handed over by 135 business schools showed that 78.8% of 2011 graduates were hired within three months of graduation—an effective unemployment rate of 21.2%. Not great, but not nearly as bad as these 21 schools. Moreover, the overall trend lines have been extremely positive. The 2011 numbers show a 4.1% growth in MBA hiring from 2010 and an 11.3% increase from 2009, according to U.S. News.

(See table of top-ranked business schools with the worst placement records on the following page)

  • rurugby

    I wish I went to a different school than Drucker. It was frankly even with a pretty big grant totally useless to me and a lot of debt. I currently work in a call center. The career center is totally useless.

  • lokesh kumar








  • Phil

    Some people don’t know that the unemployment rate doesn’t include people who are “not” seeking employment, but only those currently looking for work.

  • eight of every ten MBA graduates..! Ouch.

  • Jeff-Schmitt

    Hi, Jorge. Thanks for writing. We did a similar piece two months ago. Would this help you?

  • Jorge


    Can you do an update to this for 2014.


  • Ron

    I would like to see an up to date version of this article, annually would be ideal. Keeps programs honest ( sort of as lots of them game the employment data ). Either way it has a big effect and lets students know how their career opportunities are/ Also reflects on the brand !

  • JohnAByrne
  • Sally

    John would love to see this as an annual article. Also there must be a way of verifying employment numbers in the day and age of big data. If a program has no idea of where their students get employment what does that say about their career services !!

  • soylentcorp

    An MBA ’employed’ in the bay area includes Server at Red Lobster moving up to Manager…. at Red Lobster.

  • Lol

    Thesaurus much? Go SCU…

  • Former Drucker Grad

    I attended Drucker as part of my duel degree program (MA Org. Behavior; MBA) and it has really helped my career. I graduated with a few different job offers and had the pleasure of being hired at EA. Grad school is what you make of it. If you just sit back and expect your school to do all the work and place you somewhere you will be severely disappointed.

  • Anirudh Mehta

    Lund eko na place hua thare pe…

  • As a regional school, Pepperdine rarely gets its due outside of California, but its a solid school that will get you most jobs in the state.

  • Current Student

    Reading this article and seeing the focus metrics individuals are commenting on seem to be a bit off. I started my SCU MBA in Spring 2010 and since have increased my salary 2.5 times to over $150k due to networking, the skills and confidence gained during my MBA experience at Santa Clara.

    SCU professors have put me in contact with companies and individuals over the
    last 2 years resulting in my personal success. I embrace taking challenging classes to maximize my learning experience even if the work load is more demanding. Competitive Marketing Strategy with Desmond Lo taught me how to analysis, evaluate and prepare a marketing strategy, Small Business Entrepreneurship with Al Bruno taught me how to write a business plan and importance of cash flow management and Marketing Analytics with Xiaojing Dong taught me the analytical tools to make the right marketing decisions. I would
    have not learned as much in these topics (compared to learning from a book) without the case study format and class interactions. Plus the depth of guest speakers from VCs, Entrepreneurs to leading analytic individuals from the likes of Facebook have truly made my SCU MBA experience fruitful. From my experience, most people in this program are part time students working full time and the full time students are in a career transition point or trying to start their own venture. A career transition takes more time since that individual has to
    convince the prospective employer to take a leap of faith with an individual that may not have as much experience in a new discipline. I would focus on comparing students from MBA schools in 3, 5 or even 10 years after completing their MBA to see how their MBA experience attributed to their success.

    Your decision on the right MBA school should be on your personal 5 to 10 year plan. What type of people do you want to meet and what skills do you want to gain from your MBA experience in order to get that management position (or whatever position you want) down the road? I would evaluate an MBA school from the classes they offer, how they are changing the curriculum to accommodate the ever evolving economy and what network they have. Again, these attributes for a prospective MBA program should align with your personal vision of your career path.

    The SCU program lacks a network outside of the SF Bay Area and some classes could be revamped, but everyone program has its short comings and programs continue to improve with student feedback. SCU brings a strong focus on entrepreneurship and data analytics with a sound background in marketing and finance plus the leverage the Silicon Valley eco-system to enhance a student’s experience via guest lecturers and professors’ experiences with start ups. I am now empowered to start my own venture or continue to move up my multiple billion dollar organization using the business skills obtained at SCU. I look forward to graduating this Fall (2013) to truly see how my SCU MBA experience will
    create future opportunities.

    I apologize for the length response, but welcome comments and criticisms to further my learning experience.

  • inquisitor


    I got admit @ Santa Clara, University of South Florida Tampa and Texas Dallas for MIS Fall 2013

    When I leave for Fall 2013 I will have 2 years experience at Cognizant Technology Solutions as a mobile developer.

    I thought the placement of Santa Clara near silicon valley is a great opportunity for jobs.

    From reading this post I have doubts whether Santa Clara has better job opportunities compared to USF.

    Is there any statistics which take into count only those students looking for jobs after graduation excluding the ones who already have job in hand?

    Also I heard MIS at Santa Clara is not a STEM program, is that true?

    Please give your opinion


  • inquisitor


    I got admit @ Santa Clara and University of South Florida for MIS Fall 2013

    When I leave for Fall 2013 I will have 2 years experience at Cognizant Technology Solutions as a mobile developer.

    I thought the placement of Santa Clara near silicon valley is a great opportunity for jobs.

    From reading this post I have doubts whether Santa Clara has better job opportunities compared to USF.

    Is there any statistics which take into count only those students looking for jobs after graduation excluding the ones who already have job in hand?

    Also I heard MIS at Santa Clara is not a STEM program, is that true?

  • JustAGuest

    The author clearly stated that the poor placement record was for full-time MBA students. One of the reasons they are “full-time” is because of difficulty finding employment in the current market. Their hopes were that an MBA would open up doors. Unfortunately, this is not the case. I know of half a dozen full-time students who graduated last year and are looking for work. A quick look at broncolink will show that there aren’t many employers looking for MBAs at SCU for full-time employment. An acquaintance told me that only 50% of Haas MBAs find employment by graduation, so I guess 20% isn’t that bad.

  • Christine

    As a relatively new SCU MBA candidate, I have my share of annoyances
    with the program. Believe me. However, the perfunctory nature of this
    piece is baffling. I’m not sure if it’s simply easy fodder and
    digestible journalism, but it’s shamefully myopic.

    Leavey is a
    hub for Silicon Valley professionals seeking deeper business acumen, but
    this article fails to consider that nearly all of the candidates retain
    full employment throughout the duration of the program. This is an
    underlying premise, wherein many Silicon Valley powerhouses foot the
    bill for SCU MBA students in order to enhance their workforce and future
    value creation. Like many others, my intention is to hone a business
    acumen that will enhance my *current* position. I have no intention of
    graduating from the program and catapulting myself into a conventional
    job search.

    And this is why comparing apples and oranges is always a precarious conjecture.

    certainly did not expect to be defending Leavey like this, but consider
    for a moment that these “low” placement numbers are affected by the
    fact that a majority of Leavey graduates are already “placed.”

    nothing else, at least construct your case to reflect a thorough
    understanding of all sides of your argument. Blanket theses like this
    are up there with sensationalist journalism and vacant CNN headlines.

  • moomoo

    MBA is a general management degree. I was interested in finance, so I got a Masters in Financial Engineering and my CFA. For me that worked out better.

  • Concerned Student

    Completely agree. You need to apply to a big name school if you want a descent chance for a good job, however you will also have to pay about double. Santa Clara is probably best for people who want to move into Project Management, Program Management, or Marketing from a technical position. If you are currently unemployed, think twice before applying here. I don’t expect the employment situation to turn around by the time you graduate.

  • Concerned Student

    Recruiting and placement is terrible at this University. I know of many full time students that weren’t able to secure jobs shortly before or after graduating. If you are not willing to accept the fact that placement is terrible, you should not boast about the high post-MBA salaries as well because the “working” students probably came in with those too.

  • how can 80% be unemployed? 90+% of the students already have FT jobs. this report implies that upon graduation people actually lose jobs? or they quit their job? this is nonsense

  • MosquitoControl

    Top 60 in the US is not a good reputation.

    And the argument that many of these students are already employed is a strong one. These students are going to crappier schools because they have jobs already and the quality of the degree doesn’t matter – the company is paying for it and all that matters is that they have the letters, not where they came from.

    This is still a knock against the schools, as it implies they appeal to the undiscriminating customer.

  • Gordon

    John, thanks for posting this group of pathetic MBA programs whose students and alumni clearly are not supported by a respectably branded MBA to gain employment. Graduating without a job is brutal given the time and investment ! I think the title of the piece is misleading, “” Top MBA Programs ” should be Worst MBA Programs.

  • JJ

    The above pertains to the Pepperdine MBA. I’m not very clear about Thunderbird.

  • JJ

    I’m not certain where you’re from, but clearly you are misinformed. You’d be best advised to review the facts regarding the MBA program before making such comments. I currently attend one of the two top MBA programs in California and have heard nothing buy excellent things about the program, its students, and alumni. Seriously, do your research.

  • John Haydon

    As a SCU MBA candidate working full time, I can attest to the value of my education as it generates growth opportunities within my career.  Most of my cohort at SCU are also employed and looking to expand their responsibilities and opportunities at work.  As someone with my feet on the ground, I can state unequivocally that the majority of SCU MBA students are already employed.  Is school expensive?  Yes.  Is it rigorous?  Yes.  Is it a guaranteed entry ticket to a bigger salary, a Porsche, and a beach house? No… luck, hard work, talent, and networking are all part of success, and the SCU MBA has increased my personal propensity toward each of the aforementioned elements.  I can’t see this kind of manufactured criticism as anything but senseless MBA envy.

  • Amr, SCU INC Vice-Chair

    I recently graduated from the Santa Clara University MBA program. This list is extremely misleading as a vast majority of students who are attending the Santa Clara University MBA program are ALREADY employed full-time and therefore are not seeking employment.

  • Avtr2

    wrong again!

  • ChrisR

    $888 per unit at Santa Clara and no job in the end.. no surprise the Leavey School of Business suffered in the 2013 US News rankings!  I don’t see things turning around in California anytime soon.  If you must go to school in the Golden State make sure it’s a nationally recognized program with better placement. 

  • JohnAByrne


    I don’t see that trend, per se. But I do see more MBA students, especially from the top schools, generally being less interested in traditional MBA jobs in banking and consulting. They increasingly want to go to startups in biotech, the Internet, alternative energy companies, private equity and venture capital, and social enterprise organizations or have the confidence and gumption to do their own thing right out of school. There are still plenty of MBAs interested in banking, investment management, and consulting, but far less so than years past.


  • Dan


    I continue to read articles and hear statements regarding transition for top MBAs away from banking and consulting and into tech and NGO. They all seem to attribute it to these jobs being more rewarding and “fun”, which I use relatively because it is still work. Additionally, the fact that standard banking/consulting jobs have drawn the ire of the public lately hasn’t helped. 

    Are you drawing a similar conclusion in your studies? As a student entering a top 20 MBA program with the consulting focus, this is a trend I believe would actually benefit me, especially considering consulting firms have indicated an intent to ramp up hiring in the coming years. 



  • Jimmy

    Thunderbird belongs to the TOP 100 universities in the World (Shanghai Ranking) and Pepperdine appears often among the Financial Times Top 100 MBA in the World (which means around the US Top 60). So yes, they have good reputations.

  • Shg

    Lol @ Thunderbird and Pepperdine having solid reputations – are you serious? These two totally deserve to be on this list.

  • Bozo

    RPI and RIT have a LOT of internationals. Try to get a company to sponsor you for an H-1B visa…..I dare you…….

    I feel bad for these talented tech types and I believe that is what you are seeing in the stats

  • JohnAByrne

    Very good point. I suspect you’re right to some degree. There are probably some schools in the sample that are fudging their numbers, but we’ll never really know who they are.

  • Guest

    Is there any consideration that the numbers indicated here are reflective of the honesty of these universities, rather than a negative stat compared to their peers?  How do we know that some of the more prestigious programs don’t have similar unemployment numbers and are lying on the U.S. News survey?  That certainly would not be a first for b-schools trying to get ahead in the rankings.

  • Said Mohammad

    I have a very fascist like solution to the employment issues by Baruch and Fordham. Mayor Bloomberg should tax the employee and company that hires people who did not study or live in New York City from the age of 14 to 24. It’s only fair, can’t expect the boys and girls to receive a crappy education in the NYC Public School System then on top of that have their local jobs taken away from them by people from Wisconsin, Jersey, Connecticut, Mass……. Yeah, I know it will never happen, just an idea. 🙂

  • Vapedr

     I noticed that

  • Guest

    Claremont actually has a very good reputation, especially on the West Coast and the Western U.S. It’s definitely better than Pepperdine. You just don’t seem very familiar with the school.

  • Guest

    Nothing disdainful about it.  Alot of people think the MBA is a prestigious degree – it isn’t.  The institution is what gives it the prestige.  If people didn’t understand that before, they should after comparing schools on this chart to schools in the top 20.

  • Jay

    The overwhelming majority of the schools above are outside the USN Top 50. They’re ranked poorly for a reason.

  • Jimmy

    Don’t want to be disdainful: but you call the schools of the list above “Top Business Schools” ??Aboslutely no surprises on this list except maybe for Thunderbird and Pepperdine that have solid reputations. When you put 100 000 dollars on the table, stop to be paid for 2 years and quit a good job you should do it for something REALLY valuable.

  • Dean Drew Starbird

    The statement that “…at graduation nearly eight of every ten graduates were unemployed” at the Leavey School of Business is false and misleading. It was based on information that is incorrect and ignores graduates who are not seeking employment because they are already employed. Our own internal study shows that 85% of our students are employed while they are in our program. 

    Drew Starbird
    Dean, Leavey School of Business
    Santa Clara University 

  • Looplogic

    Ironic: Claremont (Drucker) school, which is second in the list above, is being advertised in the very same page as the best business school.