Top Feeder Companies To Stanford

by John A. Byrne on Print Print

A mere half dozen of America’s most elite consulting and investment banking firms account for more than a third of the students in Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business Class of 2013, according to an analysis by Poets&Quants.

Stanford admits who have done a stint at consultants McKinsey & Co. at one time or another account for an estimated 10% of the class. The other five companies who had employed the most members of Stanford’s latest incoming class are Boston Consulting Group, Bain, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and J.P. Morgan/Chase. Together, these half dozen firms represent an estimated 33.9% of the 397 first-year students in Stanford’s MBA program.

It shatters the common myth that Stanford is the anti-establishment school versus Harvard. In fact, the admission stats show that Harvard is less Establishment than its West Coast rival. And Stanford’s heavy reliance on just six elite firms for more than a third of its MBA students is also a primary reason why Stanford’s starting salaries are as high as they are–former consultants and investment bankers tend to be among the highest paid graduates.


The data provides a rare glimpse into the educational and work backgrounds of the students accepted and enrolled at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Business schools keep this information close to the vest, never disclosing this information in typical class profiles. Yet, an applicant’s undergraduate and work backgrounds loom large in admission decisions, in some cases dwarfing the importance of other factors from grade point averages and GMAT scores to the quality of one’s essays or admissions interview.

Percentage of Class of 2013 At Five Top Schools From Six Elite Employers

Source: Poets&Quants estimates

The analysis shows that Stanford’s admissions staff relies more heavily on a handful of firms to filter applicants into its prestige MBA program than any of its top business school rivals (see table on left). The same six firms, for example, account for about half the percentage of Class of 2013 MBA students at Harvard Business School, where Poets&Quants estimates that 17.8% of the first-year students are from these same six companies. Stanford’s enrolled students from these super elite firms, in fact, is nearly four times the percentage of those at Columbia Business School, where an estimated 9.6% of the Class of 2013 have one of those six firms on their resumes.

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  • Mr. B

    Stanford is a top school –> People who are admitted to it and to other schools (with the exception of HBS) will always choose it…

    The stats should be % of admitted students – not % of class. I’m ex McK and I personally know 3 2014 McK MBAs that passed on CBS or Booth or HBS (or a subset of the three) to go to Stanford…

  • Mr. Actuary


    Have you thought about using LinkedIn instead of Facebook.  For example, on LinkedIn, you can type “MBA” as a search, and you can filter by school, previous company, current company, etc. You might be able to get m ore sophisticated data.  Just a thought,


    Mr. Actuary

  • JohnAByrne

    Mr. Actuary,

    We do use LinkedIn. Facebook is often a starting point for these feeder stories because many incoming classes form a Facebook group. So it becomes a relatively easy way to corral all the members of the latest class. However, in every case, we verify every name and usually collect employment and undergraduate data on LinkedIn. We also then supplement the Facebook list through more general LinkedIn searches. 

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