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. But all MBAs are not created equally and all of them don’t necessarily get you a better job–or perhaps any job at all.
Last year, for example, 14 business schools ranked among the very best in the country by U.S. News reported that at least half or more of their full-time graduates were without jobs at commencement. That’s down from the 21 schools with that dubious distinction in 2011, but still something of a shock if not a surprise.
THE WORST FULL-TIME MBA PLACEMENT RECORDS OF 2012
The top three schools with the most jobless MBAs at graduation? Claremont Graduate University’s Drucker School where 87.5% of the Class of 2012 was unemployed at commencement; Thunderbird Global School of Management, with 76.1% of the graduating class without jobs at graduation, and Rensselaer Polytechnic’s Lally School, with 66.7% jobless.
It’s enough to make the MBA bashers out there pop the corks off of champagne bottles.
Most of the schools with mediocre placement stats are graduating relatively small numbers of full-time MBAs. Claremont’s Drucker School, for example, had only 39 full-time graduates in its Class of 2012 and only 24 were known to be seeking employment. Only 3 of the 24 had jobs by graduation.
‘IN THE END, PLACEMENT NEEDS MUCH MORE SUPPORT’
“This is obviously unsatisfactory,” says Bernie Jaworski, interim dean of the Drucker School, ranked 101 by U.S. News this year. “There are a few forces at work – but the key is that we did not resource placement in the way we should. Our team is going to fix the resource issue. There are several other ‘levers’ besides resources that we are working on, but I think, in the end placement needs much more support.”
The “unemployment rate” for Drucker MBAs even exceeded that of many unranked business schools supplying data to U.S. News. Yet, Jaworski could take some solace from the fact that while his school was dead last in placement among the ranked MBA programs, it wasn’t at the bottom of the heap when it came to all the schools providing this data to the magazine.
At the business schools of Northern Illinois University and UC-Riverside, the numbers were considerably worse. At Northern Illinois, 90.6% of the MBAs lacked jobs at graduation, while at UC-Riverside, 90.2% were unemployed at commencement last year, according to data they supplied U.S. News.
AT THUNDERBIRD, 166 MBAS IN THE CLASS OF 2012 WERE JOBLESS AT GRADUATION
Given the small size of their full-time MBA programs, however, it may be less surprising that those schools lack the career management and professional development resources to post impressive job stats. It’s altogether a different matter at the Thunderbird Global School of Management which graduated 279 full-time MBAs last year. Of the 218 MBAs in search of jobs, roughly 166 were jobless at graduation. Some 119 were still unemployed three months after commencement.
Sadly, the story doesn’t get better. With annual tuition costing $42,080, the average student debt at Thunderbird for the Class of 2012 was $88,195 for the 41% of the class that went into hock to get the degree. Add the hefty loan payments to the unemployment numbers and it’s not a pretty picture.
What’s more, like most of the schools on this list, it’s not a one-time anomaly. In 2011, 69.8% of Thunderbird’s graduating MBAs were without jobs at graduation. The year before that, some 85% were jobless at commencement.
School officials cite the international nature of the program and the students it attracts as one reason for the low placement numbers. “MBA programs across the globe have struggled in recent years to increase employment rates of graduates due to the challenging economy,” says Rebecca Henriksen, Thunderbird’s vice president of Enrollment and Student Services Management. “Thunderbird is not alone in this struggle, but our challenge is compounded by a significant percentage of the student body seeking international employment.”
CHANGES IN CAREER MANAGEMENT ARE EXPECTED TO IMPROVE FUTURE RESULTS
The school believes that recent changes at the school should improve things in the future. “In the past year, we have made several changes to improve our employment statistics including new career management leadership, greater outreach to global employers, enhanced professional development curriculum, and increased career coaching for our students,” adds Henriksen. “We are already seeing the impact of these initiatives. There has been a 35% improvement in unemployment stats for our December graduates over last year at the same time, and we are confident that trend will continue.”
(See following page for our table on the schools with the worst placement records of 2012)