B-Schools That Churn Out Consultants

by John A. Byrne on

Business schools that fill the most consultant suits

One of the most traditional of all MBA jobs is consulting. It’s one of the few industries where the degree is pretty much essential for both employment and advancement. And it’s an industry that has a hungry appetite for MBAs from world-class schools, year in and year out among the most aggressive recruiters at business schools.

Which top business schools produce the most consultants? The answer is an especially interesting one because the prestige management consulting firms are among the most discerning and demanding hirers of MBA talent in the world. Most MBAs hired by the consulting industry face a parade of challenging interviews in which their brainpower, analytical ability, stamina, presence and interpersonnel skills are put to the test.

The industry, led by such prestige global brands as McKinsey & Co., Bain & Co., Boston Consulting Group, and Deloitte Consuling, typically swallow up more MBA graduates in any given year than companies in any other industry. And they also dangle some of the highest starting salaries and bonuses before MBA graduates.

KELLOGG AND INSEAD PRODUCE MORE CONSULTANTS THAN ANY OTHER B-SCHOOLS

So which prestige schools are on top of this list? If your default answer is Harvard or Stanford, you’d be wrong. In the U.S., the number one supplier of brainy talent to the industry happens to be Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Last year, nearly four of every ten graduating MBAs (39%) accepted jobs in the consulting industry, and Kellogg’s top four employers were all prestige consulting outfits. McKinsey brought aboard 53 MBA hires, Boston Consulting Group, with 38 hires, Bain & Co. with 37, and Deloitte Consulting with 23. The next largest employer, Citigroup, hired not much more than half of Deloitte’s intake of Kellogg MBAs–12.

Only one non-U.S. school matched Kellogg in sending 39% of its grads to consulting. Is is INSEAD, with campuses in Fontainebleu, France, and Singapore, where exactly the same percentage of MBAs from the school’s 10-month program took consulting jobs (see table of top schools on next page).

How have Kellogg and INSEAD, two of the world class leaders in MBA education, become the largest single suppliers of talent to consulting? The answers are telling and provide powerful insights into both these schools.

KELLOGG’S SUCCESS CAN BE TRACED TO AN EARLY 1980s DECISION

You can trace Kellogg’s rise to prominence and its popularity among consulting firms to a decision in the early 1980s to interview every MBA applicant. Those admission interviews allowed the school to gain an edge in assessing and then attracting candidates with the best communication and interpersonnel skills in any year’s applicant pool. Year in and year out, corporate recruiters have acknowledged that Kellogg MBAs are among only a few that consistently have the best interpersonnel skills which tend to get further polish and reinforcement in a deeply collaborative and team-based MBA experience.

Even though other top schools have added interviews to their admission screens, the consulting industry numbers show that the most astute recruiters of MBA talent still recognize that Kellogg is pumping out more students whose interpersonnel and collaborative skills are well above average.

MCKINSEY ‘NEVER WORRIED ABOUT PERSONAL IMPACT’ WHEN RECRUITING AT KELLOGG

That is why 38 different consulting firms recruit at Kellogg every year. A former McKinsey & Co. partner, Betsy Ziegler joined Kellogg a year ago as associate dean of MBA programs and dean of students. During a 12 and one-half year stint at McKinsey, she hired hundreds of MBAs for the consulting firm which would assess candidates on everything from smarts to professional presence. “When we interviewed Kellogg students,” she says, “we were never worried about personal impact and for me personal impact embodies the teamwork part but also what you are going to do in front of a client and how you are going to carry yourself and behave. Our Dean Sally (Blount) uses the term ‘high aspirations and low ego and low fingerprint.’ And that remains true.”

1 2 3 Next
  • highwyre237

    VERY helpful article, I’m in the middle of wittling down my school list, and this is will make it easier.

  • 159bay

    Kellogg is the powerhouse when it comes to consulting. Very good info. Thank you.

  • Man_gid

    Wow! Kellogg the No.1 US Strategy school!  simply amazing!…  why doesnt the world know about it this?!!  its old school to disregard Kellogg as marketing….

  • MS_prodmanager

    Nice article, Im a recruiter from Microsoft, I like Kellogg students for their strong analytical strength and down to Earth behaviour

  • Bobminesota

    Whaat??? Not Harvard or Stanford????  Kellogg the cereal school sends so many to strategy?.. when did this happen

  • GKRavi

    where are you from Bob? Kellogg is not a cereal school.. its one of the top programs in US.

  • Bobminesota

    if its not Harvard, Stanford or Wharton, then its not a top MBA,  Kellogg is not even a Ivy league 

  • Nag124

    @Johnbyrne Booz is also a elite consulting firm considered with the Big 3. I heard they higher the highest number in Northwestern.

  • Knowledge

    @d96adbd36d9f5c68658728a9d27b2752:disqus you talk like a redneck… Ivyleague is a sports term, got nothing related to quality of business education.. go back to 2000s Kellogg was ranked continously as the number 1 program.. when Stanford was still emerging good.

  • Kfan

    Very well written article, when most B-skool students go behind Wallstreet, appreciate Kellogg sending best brains to strategy and corporate building.. nice!

  • McKinsey

    I looked at Kellogg’s employment report and actually says 37% went to consulting while INSEAD did send 39%. Where are you getting 37% from? Also, for consulting, the starting salary or bonuses are identical across schools. Why are you showing different average starting salaries? This is misleading.

  • JohnAByrne

    There is a discrepancy that often occurs due to when the stats are gathered at each school. The actual number at Kellogg is 39% and was checked with the school. I’m showing different average starting salaries because those are the numbers reported by each school. And consulting salaries and bonuses are not identical across the schools because those numbers reflect a wide range of consulting firms that recruit at each school. Not all firms pay as much as McKinsey, Bain and BCG.

  • Peter_UCLA2013

    I’m from UCLA Anderson.. met some Kellogg folks this summer and they are some of the smartest brains ans cool as ever!.. I suppose culture wise K and UCLA are the best…. we work smart and party hard!

  • INSi_fan

    Nice article John! the consulting big 3 hire only the best brains.. INSEAD and Kellogg rock!

  • mba

    Bob – you are an idiot

  • mba

    Also, correct grammer would be “is not even AN Ivy league.” Good luck getting your MBA from DeVry

  • papajonz

    John,
    Based on the latest career report by IMD, 20% of the class went to consulting with an average salary of $142,000, and here is the link: http://www.imd.org/programs/mba/careerservices/upload/Placement-results.pdf
    where is it from your ranking here??!! 

  • Anony

    Kellogg is the best!

  • R201

    Hi John,
    Thanks for the nice article and especially for your effort in including international schools and perspectives! I still think that sharing the consulting salaries of each school does not give so reliable information and this, because of 2 reasons: McKinsey is not the most paying one. Actually, at INSEAD, other top consulting firms (Booz, AT Kearney,…) try to attract the best MBAs by giving higher salaries than the MBB do. In addition, the salaries of EU schools versus US schools are highly correlated to the exchange rate fluctuation. Euro being recently weak vs. British Pound and US dollar, if Euro strength would increase by 20% next year, the same consulting salaries would look much higher than the US ones but without real meaning for assessing a school. To conclude, my understanding is, from whatever schools one comes from, he would get a similar salary if he enters McKinsey, the critical difference between schools is related to the chances he has to get hired.

  • Dan

    31% of Emory MBAs went into consulting by industry (33% by function) for a median salary of $120,000, $20,000 signing bonus…

  • Dan

    *correct grammAr. All of these posts are filled with inexcusable errors. Dilutes your message. This message board has regressed into DeVry vs. Keiser quality posts. 

  • http://www.thecambridgembaadmissions.com/ Cambridge MBA Admissions

    The stats for Cambridge Judge Business School are :
    27% in consulting
    63% of those in consulting switched from a non-consulting background
    Average post-MBA salary in consulting US$137,406.

    Full stats will be released with our employment report in the middle of the year.

  • Hmm

    Did you adjust for 2011 exchange rate? I am thinking the numbers might have been adjusted incorrectly with today’s exchange rate?

  • http://www.thecambridgembaadmissions.com/ Cambridge MBA

    You’ve hit on the fundamental issue with such comparative tables, which is that all the data, even though it has been collected with the best intentions, is sensitive to so many changes that they are almost impossible to use from the perspective of an individual. From an individual’s point of view, the average salary does not make sense, especially for a school such as Cambridge where our students work all over the world (less than 50% of the class remain in the UK), and where everybody has very different backgrounds and experiences. It is a consequence of us choosing to have a more diverse class.

    Conrad Chua
    Head MBA Admissions
    Cambridge Judge Business School
    @CambridgeMBA:twitter 

  • Guest

    so what?

  • Commoner_mba

    very nice article John, I agree with a lot of schools pooling their candidates into Wallstreet prime..  there are schools like Kellogg and Insead which develops overall strategy leaders, appreciate it.

  • Nobodycares

    With all due respect, we are not talking about Cambridge MBA here.. You should understand your choice of marketing actually hurts Cambridge MBA image.

  • R201

    Hi John,
    How do you compile your data for INSEAD?
    I checked their 2011 employment statistics (http://mba.insead.edu/documents/MBA_EMPLOYMENT_STATISTICS.pdf)
    The Consulting salaries for their graduates working in US is on average EUR95,700 (report page 24). This salary was translated from the real one in US dollar using the exchange rate $1=EUR0.6980 (report page 15).
    It means that INSEAD’s mean salary in US consulting firms is: $137,108. It seems pretty much far from the $115,424 you mentioned.
    Can you share with me you methodology for this calculation?
    Thanks a lot.

  • R201

    Here is the correct link to the report: http://mba.insead.edu/documents/MBA_EMPLOYMENT_STATISTICS.pdf

  • Bschool_visitiorMBA15

    Kellogg is one of the most awesome schools I have ever seen… I have visited many top schools including Harvard, Booth and interacted with students and alum.. nothing can beat the ‘friendly n smart people’  I met there, yup I clearly see why consulting companies luv Kellogg folks… its in their culture..My personal point no offense, Booth guys have this high attitude and some of them consider them top of the world! 

  • Guest4u

    I suppose you should check reality about the exchange rates
    $1 = 0.80 Euros, which makes the calculation above right..  The companies dont pay higher amount in euros just because its value has gone down in exchange.

  • Dan_palonocias

    @JohnAByrne:disqus  Wow! I dint know this … Thanks John very useful article.. always considered Kellogg sends more into marketing.. reading this article and comments.. they seem good in Strategy, like to know for the past 5 years (or 10 years) which school has sent more students to Strategy/Consulting?!Has Kellogg been the top for years in consulting.. or is it only 2011

  • Dumb4u

    Guest4u, you are dumb enough to use 2012 exchange rate for 2011 employment report. 

  • peteo

    Very interesting, especially since I am interested into switching
    careers to consulting by getting a MBA.  However,
    there seems to be flaw… just because a school has a higher percentage of
    graduates going into consulting doesn’t mean going to that school will give one
    the best shot at getting into consulting. 
    H/S/W are all listed below Kellogg on the list, but if graduates from
    these schools really wanted to go into consulting wouldn’t they beat out graduates
    from Kellogg?  Could it be that graduates
    from H/S/W simply get lured into more attractive jobs (finance, tech startups,
    etc.) more than graduates from Kellogg?  If
    this is the case, H/S/W graduates could still have the upper hand if they
    decided to go into consulting despite the lower reported percentages.  If I had a choice between Harvard and Kellogg
    and am 100% sure that I want to go into consulting, should I really pick
    Kellogg?  Any thoughts??       

  • R201

    Guest4u, you misunderstood my comment. $137k is corresponding to the mean salary received by INSEAD graduates working in US for consulting firms. INSEAD reports the salary data in EUR so they converted it to EUR using the average exchange rate of 2011 (0.698 on page 15), this corresponds to EUR96k. I find it strange to reconvert this “conversion” using the current exchange rate (0.8) as the INSEAD graduates working in US are paid in US$ and their salaries are not fluctuating with the exchange rate!!

  • dstyles

    Stanford is also not Ivy League.  And Ivy League is merely an athletic league.  Has nothing to do with the quality of an MBA program.

  • Astyles

    Oh my god. If one of these ignorant people talks about Ivy League being an athletic league one more time, I am going to smash them. Ivy League is more than just an athletic league. Ivy League historically has been perceived as connected not only with academic excellence, but also with social elitism. 

  • euro2012

    If you can get into H or S, you just go and never look back regardless of what you want to do? Does that answer your question? 

    I am not so sure about Wharton though. A stronger case for attending any other top schools (K, B, M, C, T) over W can be made depending on what that student wants to do post MBA. Based on John’s data, this is very valuable and you can’t ignore K’s high conversion ratio for a career in consulting. Good luck.  

  • Thomas Sobeck

    John,

    Great article. Any information surrounding the ability of MBA students to achieve a consulting career if their school is not aggressively recruited? Or how it relates to part-time MBAs as well?

  • peteo

    Thanks for the helpful reply.  So maybe the list for someone looking to
    jump into consulting should really read:

     

    1. Harvard/Stanford

    2. Start list above

  • MBA

     I agree, Bob – You Sir , are an Idiot

  • Ryan_Mckinsey

    Im a Kellogg MBA student, 
    I can answer this question for you, 3 important things that gives Kellogg students the advantage in Consulting over Harvard and Stanford

    1) Network and Alumni: In the Consulting world, its very networking plays a vital role and the the alumni who come back to hire from Kellogg just dont act only as recruiters, I have seen they invest a ton of their time in terms of coffee chats and events in the Evanston area. Much higher time than I have heard from Harvard of Stanford. And they are always eager in taking more, I was mentored by BCG/McKinsey Alumni for the cases and it helped me a lot.

    2) Preparation that happens in Kellogg: This is the most secret ingredient, Every year during the winter breaks for first year the second year who went into consulting take role as mentors and 3 to 4 first year aspirants are placed under them and they go through rigorous mentorship and training solving consulting cases. I have my Booth friends who came here to get the help from the others

    3) Culture and Collaboration: Though in academics, the case structure is similar to that of Harvard in most courses, Kellogg students have this atitude of mutually helping classmates to win a situation, If you come to Evanston during the recruiting season, all the conf rooms would be booked and mutual cases and learning share would be happening among students. There is no competition among students, its mutual help and sharing. I heard from my Harvard and Booth friends, no offense, that there its gets very competitive during the recruiting process there and people  try to cut each other out. Further the tons of consultants who come from the Big 3, help the other students a lot from the beginning.

    Though H and S are definitely top overall programs, when it comes to Strategy Consulting, Kellogg is the way to go. Thats my personal point.

  • Ryan_Mckinsey

    *excuse me for the tons of grammatical/spello mistake here.. 

  • Guest4u

    you get paid now Dumber!

  • Kick_Astyles

    Ivy league has nothing to do with MBA education quality! isnt as simple as that?.. @f26a7228a2535cff507cd8ffd1c72667:disqus  you are another redneck who probably went to an ‘Ivy league’ MBA thinking thats the best way to rank

  • Dunk_Astyles

    Yes, Kick that Astyles.. smartass he thinks himself.. nobody is talking here about general Academic excellence.. its only about Ivy league and business MBA education… for ex, Princeton is an Ivy league school but doesnt even have a top MBA school..

  • Chicago_gamer

    @JohnAByrne:disqus thank you very helpful article especially when it is comes to deciding Booth versus Kellogg.. for me  focusing on Consulting/General management.  Hands down Kellogg wins!..

  • Sid_Jonathan

    where is this school? sorry not heard of it…

  • JohnAByrne

    Dan,

    I just received Emory’s complete numbers (I needed the pre-MBA experience number and that wasn’t reported for the Class of 2011). The story has been updated to reflect Emory’s info and it shows the school is a very positive light. 

  • JohnAByrne

    I didn’t do every single school for my analysis, just a selection of the leading ones. IMD is definitely a player and one of the world’s best MBA brands. What the data shows is that about 15% of the incoming students hail from consulting, while 20% of the graduating class goes into consulting. So the conversion rate here is 33%–well below Kellogg’s 70% or INSEAD’s 50% rate. That is not good or bad. It’s just different. It can simply mean that IMD students are less likely to want to switch careers and are more keen on getting the MBA education and experience and then returning to their companies or industries.

  • Dan

    Very nice. Appreciate it and I am excited to be enrolling in a few weeks. Your site was instrumental in my search for MBA programs. Thanks for all your work.  

  • euro2012

    very nicely elaborated. based on ryan’s post, i really think kellogg has an edge in consulting over harvard and stanford. 

  • peteo

    Thanks for the great post.  When you put it that way I can see how Kellogg could be considered the best for consulting.

  • Serious_MBA

    Thanks a ton Ryan. Very helpful about understanding why Kellogg champs in Consulting. 

  • Ex_McK

    As a curent Harvard MBA and a previous consultant, with friends in Kellogg, I agree to most of this comment by Ryan, I would like to add one thing the consulting world likes about Kellogg student is that they are smart but collegial and grounded. Helps a lot when consulting companies put these MBAs before a client.  On the other hand it is also true in Harvard, Consulting is not the top choice for most students.

  • Grat_andy

    @JohnAByrne:disqus  this is a total surprise not just for me i believe for many of us… can you  please show us the past 5 years who has been the top Strategy school? I was ambitious to apply only to H/S/W for a general management/consulting career.. these stats say Kellogg should be included in my application??  .. why is the world still calling Kellogg a marketing school?? 

  • Rajat_H

    This is funny, how Kellogg the number 1 branding school, hasn’t marketed it strength well.. as seen here to convert most students to consulting, Strategy heavy weight. Good for Wharton, getting to be known as a well round school after H and S, not associating with Finance and branded well..

  • Smriti_Canak

    Yes seems like Kellogg has consistently been the number 1 school for Strategy Consulting, though Insead has rosen to prominence in the past 5 years as well. Checked the previous years stats of these top schools.

  • Boothgrad_2013

    We get the top jobs in the bulge bracket firms and IB, yes whether you like it or not we are in the top of the world… Being part of the school I have never seen another Booth guy show atitude, can you provide the instance?

  • Ring0_2014

    Ryan’s reply above “I’m a Kellogg MBA student, 
    I can answer this question for you, There are three important things that gives Kellogg students the advantage in Consulting over Harvard and Stanford:
    1) Network and Alumni: In the Consulting world, networking plays a vital role and the alumni who come back to hire from Kellogg just dont act only as recruiters, I have seen them invest a ton of their time in terms of coffee chats and events in the Evanston area–much higher time than I have heard from Harvard of Stanford. And they are always eager in taking more students on. I was mentored by BCG/McKinsey alumni for cases in class and it helped me a lot.
    2) Kellogg preparation: This is the most secret ingredient, Every year during the winter breaks, the second-year students who went into consulting take on the role as mentors and three to four first-year aspirants are placed under them. They go through rigorous mentorship and training solving consulting cases. I have had my Booth friends come here to get help from others
    3) Culture and Collaboration: Though in academics, the case structure is similar to that of Harvard in most courses, Kellogg students have this attitude of mutually helping classmates to win a situation. If you come to Evanston during the recruiting season, all the conference rooms would be booked and there would be mutual cases and learning shared among students. There is no competition among students; it’s all about mutual help and sharing. I heard from my Harvard and Booth friends, no offense, that it gets very competitive during the recruiting process there and people try to cut each other out. And the tons of consultants who come from the Big 3 help the other students a lot from the beginning.
    Though H and S are definitely top overall programs, when it comes to Strategy Consulting, Kellogg is the way to go. That’s my personal point.”
    This makes a lot of sense for your question.

  • Overall_partly

    Bob you are so ignorant.. Go learn about B schools..  Harvard and Stanford are great MBA schools.. they are known more to the outer world because Harvard and Stanford are great universities known in all disciplines..  but Kellogg should be credited because without a well known brand like ‘Northwestern university’ they are consistently proving them up!  

  • Canada_MBA2013

    @JohnAByrne:disqus I wish to say one thing very important..  “Harvard and Stanford” have good MBA schools and have a overall best ‘universities’ topping other disciplines as well. So people have this unbreakable mindset that Harvard and Stanford are best for all disciplines of MBA as well. Which Imho is wrong, if you see schools like Kellogg which dont have the top university (rank greater than 10) like Northwestern University coming out to the top and show casing their excellence should be given true credits.  It easy for a school with overall brand like Harvard Stanford or MIT with them and show them up.. rather than pure excellence in the business education. I have never been to any of these universities and I am from Canada.. I see that Kellogg is the underdog that deserves un-discounted credit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.pick.aluas Paul Pick-Aluaş

    Consulting firms should have a more collaborative and creative focus on their recruiting.

  • Moscow_mac

    Great article John! Kellogg is a great school! my favorite to apply, hope they take me in!

  • mba2015

    I think Kellogg only sends about 15-20% of its grads to marketing. Kellogg = Marketing just comes from Kellogg’s dominance in marketing. IMHO, I think Kellogg is an excellent all around school like Harvard & Stanford. Kellogg is #1 in consulting, #1 in marketing, #1 in part-time MBA, #1/2 in EMBA, top notch in Social Entrepreneurship & non-profit, and pretty darn good in finance as well. Excellent overall MBA program. Too bad its parent university doesn’t have the international brand recognition as Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, and MIT. But Northwestern is still an awesome and prestigious brand.

    People who matter know how good Kellogg is and that’s all it matters. Let’s not be too concerned about impressing avg. joe over dinner with some fancy parent university, as most ppl associate MIT with engineering – not business/MBA – and UPenn with Wharton – not other academic fields.

  • TopMBA

    thanks, very useful remarks, definitely one of my top choices! I also know a colleague who took Kellogg over Wharton and has ended up taking a BCG offer, and he is happy about his choice!  

  • PWC_recruiter

    No doubt Kellogg is a clear winner in this space, we take a tons of talent from there every year.

  • theK

    John, are the percentages only for 1) FT, not the combined FT+PT? 2) the 2-Yr program, not the combined 1-Yr and 2-Yr?

  • JohnAByrne

    The numbers are for full-time only, including one-year programs when a school has a one year MBA.

  • gwhy

    Hi John,

    Great write up. It would be very helpful to see the raw # of hires per school, along with the class size per school. Do you happen to have those handy? Thanks!

  • PatStarfish

    After Kellogg I decided to continue business consulting in Bellbrook, OH. The best school I have ever been to and it’s a really unified school too.

Partner Sites: C-Change Media | Poets & Quants for Execs | Tipping the Scales | Poets & Quants for Undergrads