Worst MBA Placement Records of 2012

Jobs-WantedAlmost 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 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.


“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.


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.”


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)

  • rurugby

    There is far, far more MBAs then there is demand. It’s really a quite easy degree.

  • CitizenWhy

    Elite MBA programs require work experience or some serious internships before admission. This is for many reasons, not just to get a job. Real work experience enables the student to contribute knowledgeably to class discussions and case studies, and to understand the behavioral requirements of professional environments are important, and that they vary by culture.

    But selective employers agree that elite MBA programs tecah strategic thinking. This is not something a young person will learn merely from having a job. The fact is that the value of those with elite MBAs is proven in a wide variety of work settings, functions and industries. That’s why highly selective employers compete for these graduates.

    Middle tier MBAs often also have a great deal of value to employers. Those with the degree have sharpened their ability to solve problems and organize in a more efficient manner. in many cases they also learn effective ways to manage people and get people to collaborate toward a common business goal.

    Of course indivual factors are what make for success. But an MBA can enhance individual skills.

    If you want to be absolutist you could make the argument that doctors are technicians with a narrrow skills set who are very poor at management or strategic thinking.

    When a school uses someone with “real business experience” as a teacher that person may teach a lot of wrong things, namely, how you would manage at my one company. Having this person co-teach with a professor who will be able to teach a broad set of skills can make for a better class. This happens.

    Education cannot be limited to “get a job.” In a real education the student is transformed into a far better performer or thinker or technician or all three.

  • n

    If you get a medical degree – the degree gets you the job! Because its about learning “real skills” not just theory. The problem with mba schooling is a few fold: (1) No “real” or regulatory requirements are in place to make getting an MBA a requisite for any job. (2) Theory is taught, but what should replace (or at least supplement it) a little would be- on e job internships, experience, etc – built into the currilculm vs relying soley on on the job training. Because if you don’t have experience to begin with, how do you get it unless someone (business) gives you the chance. Then you are at their mercy vs med school – you get valid training (that no one else can get unless the are in med school, and licensed). If you are an attorney – no one can practice law unless you have a degree. BUt an MBA – is an entirely different ball game. Thus experience (via your education) is more important than ever. And even then there are no guarantees

  • n

    Maybe the MBA schools need to “Integrate” into their programs work experience programs. I think this is the biggest factor for any school (especially since so much of schooling both undergraduate and higher does nothing to prepare for real world understanding or experience).

  • joe citizen

    This 3 examples cannot more succinctly put that ‘more than education’ is considered for elite (or any) hiring. Two of the above seem positive and optimistic and have jobs; I shan’t characterize the third, who is unemployed. Read it yourself.

  • BU

    Add Boston University to the list.

  • Joey

    Because you are a functioning retard.

  • Joe

    By being a badass mother fucker is how.

  • MC

    There is absolutely no context to this terrible advice. The key is knowing how to use the MBA degree and network to get where you want to go. The most important component of deciding where to go is knowing HOW attending that school, even if it is outside of the top 15, will help you achieve your career goals. Yes…I do have a ton of student debt, but don’t regret my decision one bit. After 5 years in the financial services industry, I was looking to change careers in a big way and move to a consumer focused business. The only way I was going to do that was to attend an MBA program that had direct recruiting ties to the companies I was interested in. When people ask me if taking out the loans to fund my MBA was worth it (I have now been out of school for almost 7 years now), the answer is a resounding YES! The simple reason is because there was NO WAY I would have been able to get into the company I am in now without the MBA, let alone at the salary I am now making.

  • Doug

    There are smart people at every MBA school. There are also dumb people at every MBA school. Comparing top 20% of students at one school to lower 20% of students at a different school is useless comparison for commenters to be making.

  • HappyPennyStocks.Com


  • mcommentator

    Thunderbird has been exposed for who they truly are and have
    always been which is a diploma mill. The article lays it out quite clearly.
    Thunderbird accepts some 70-80% of its applicants while most ranked business
    schools have acceptance rates of less than 20%. Wow, Thunderbird is really
    selective. Add to this a no name professor pulling down more than 700 K per year
    (more than the Dean of Harvard Business School ) and serious ethical questions
    should be raised if not questions of fraud. Thunderbird’s questionable programs of study such as “The Global Mind Institute” smack of fraud as well.The most important statistic,
    however, that points to the utter incompetence of the organization is the
    abysmal placement rate of its graduates. Thunderbird fails miserably in this
    area. This school needs to be investigated for financial impropriety.
    Perhaps the most telling demonstration of Thunderbird’s true intentions
    is its “new partnership with Laureate Education. Laureate runs Culinary Institutes (The Blue Mountain
    International Hotel Management School-Australia, Fashion Academies (The Pearl
    Academy of fashion in India), Art Schools and the vaunted Richard W. Riley
    College of Education. Come on. Tell me what legitimate Business School would
    align itself with network of trade schools. These types of trade schools of
    long been known as money making schemes, promising students careers in high
    fashion or work in the best restaurants in the world. Do you think any top 25
    legitimate Business School would sink to these depths and risk its reputation
    and academic integrity. What does that tell you about Thunderbird and its
    motives. Thunderbird should just face the music and go out of business rather
    than continue as an on going concern that fails to deliver on what promises in its glossy catalogs and brochures.

  • soylentcorp

    Hilarious and true. There’s discrimination going on among certain popular employers in Oregon. Small biz or contractor is the way to go. I had to build a dual career in two states, plus investment holdings, in order to keep my so-called greedy privileged yuppie repub life here in Portland. If I did the young single career corporate wannabe MBA route here, I’d be waiting tables for sure.

  • Robarino

    I agree with you prospero but this tsunami is where the European schools are going to lose out. I live in Europe and the EU is light years behind in online education and degrees which given language difference is somewhat understandable. There is just no comparison. If the US Universities can find a way to lower tuition on distance courses they will be difficult to compete with.

  • Tepper Admit 4EVA 2015

    This is absolute garbarge. People entering the University of Oregon MBA programz are unemployed to begin wit, so getting a job after is a HUGE step ^. Nike employz all dem guys anywayz.

  • MBA2013Gtown

    Same is the case with Georgetown MBA. What
    makes it more worse is that career center does not care.

  • cking6178

    brand does matter….i would argue though, that a poor reputation hurts applicants much more than a good reputation helps applicants…

  • cking6178

    This is such an elitist attitude to have and I could not disagree more! I have plenty of friends and acquaintances that have their MBA’s from schools outside of your precious top 10 or 20 and they all hold Director level, or higher, positions for Fortune 500’s…Your argument only holds weight if your goal is to enter into the realm of consulting or investment banking/private equity…Also, a major failure of the salary statistics reported is that they fail to compare apples to apples…a Harvard MBA earning $175k in NYC has roughly the same purchasing power as a non ivy league MBA earning $100k in Atlanta…

  • prospero ws

    Everyone should consider non-US MBA pgms, esp. in Britain and Commonwealth countries, re Mr Byrne’s article on US full-time and p-time MBAs….there’s a global economy… the London School Of Economics, and many fine English-speaking programmes are effective, and often much less expensive (often dramatically so, w/o loss of quality faculty) than US higher ed….
    I speak from 3+ decades experience working and studying in US Higher Ed BTW….keeping my eyes open to a global community I watch and correspond with… And, Mr Byrne does not mention the likely coming of a Tsunami in Higher Ed, which even conservative educators acknowledge…the maturing of on-line higher ed pedagogy and all that follows….
    – sidney orr

  • dave chisnell

    You do it while you are working, It’s a tool to help make the jump to management in an industry where you have experience.

  • University of Phoenix MBA

    University of Phoenix MBA here. A lot of my classmates got better jobs than those elitist pu***es at Thunderbird and Iowa.

    U of P FTW!

  • Kogod alum

    One major disadvantage of being in a small school is that there is less programmatic hiring, so fewer candidates are hired right out of MBA. Look at the 3 month.

  • Rexq

    BRUCE VANN – Darden MBA – isn’t really the brightest bulb here…

  • Frank

    Are you blind or is it just that you couldn’t figure out that his comment was a reply to TB2010 above?

  • Tbird grad

    Another Thunderbird grad here: I think both of you Thunderbird grads 2011 are looking at your own situations and thinking because you were fortunate enough to find a job that most did. Look at the numbers, not your own personal experiences. That is NOT the case for most Thunderbird students, not anywhere NEAR the case. And for many who are finding jobs, they are underemployed, for those who aren’t flat-out unemployed. Understand that your case is the very fortunate few and not typical of Thunderbird grads. The reality for most Thunderbird grads is unemployment for undetermined amount of time + enormous student loans. And yes, you are doing MUCH better than your average classmate and saying otherwise is denying reality and what most graduates from Thunderbird have to go through. That is not the way employment stats will get better, it will only get better by the career management center getting a wake-up call of what reality is.

  • CitizenWhy

    Many, probably most, companies have a policy of not hiring new graduates who are non-citizens. This is true not just in the US but abroad. For instance, if you go to a US career fair where European companies recruit you can get a lot of interviews if, right at the top of your resume, you put, “Dual US EU Citizen.” The cost of hiring and training foreign non-technicakl students with short term visas simply does not stand up to a cost-benefit analysis.

  • CitizenWhy

    A much more realistic stat is employment within 6 months of graduating. Students are individuals and their desired targets may simply not recruit at a particular school. They often wish to work in a location where the school has no reach, yet they manage to get good jobs once they initiate a well managed search.

    Schools of any kind exist for two to three primary reasons: … 1. Transformative: the person comes to understand himself much better and develops or strengthens a personal vision rather than a desire to be passively conformed. This may or may not be accompanied by the ability to find immediate employment but the person can figure out what to do to fill in missing gaps. … 2. Instrumental: the person acquires specific and provable skills. being able to give examples if someone asks or the person wishes to promote himself … 3. Guaranteed immediate success: this would include the ability to get well employed within 6 months of graduation but with MBA programs everyone is being compared to the top schools where the guarantee is at graduation, evaluation is distorted. Is this another example of short-term thinking rather than the long term thinking required of executives?

    And yes, letting students go straight from undergraduate school to an MBA is dangerous for reasons other than placement rates. That student is unable to contribute much to class discussions and projects. He is to dependent on professors and his peer learning is impaired. He usually believes that the degree itself will “get him a job.”

    It often amazes me that MBA students will fantasize about working at certain corporations but do not go over the career sections on the web pages of those corporations., They spell out in many cases what schools they recruit at and what they are looking for.

  • TippieGrad

    They are the fratty East Coast white kids who came from rich families that got them into elite/semi-elite undergrads. Since they aren’t the cream of the crop, they couldn’t get into HSW, but carry the same attitude without the accomplishments. They are well spoken people who can’t do jack shit and won’t roll up there sleeves to get work done. They want to be the thinkers. To them, B-school is just about drinking and then getting a job where they case abuse those who aren’t like them.They look down upon minorities and working class white people like me who didn’t go to prep schools.The funny thing is that I got the offer and they didn’t.

  • Anonymous

    Ok, be honest. Which rival MBA program are you in?

  • Obummer

    Obummer….thanks for wrecking the economy and destroying my country. What was your motivation for running for president?

  • I dislike Michigan as much as the next person. My reasons are however different (I didn’t appreciate how they slaughtered VCU in the tourney). Anyway, it’d be more beneficial to the reader if you had an example to substantiate your claim about the pricks you met from the school.

  • President Obama

    May I ask why you would even write an article like this? What was your motivation?

  • Tippiegrad

    Iowa MBA here and I am doing far better than my Michigan Ross colleagues at a major Midwest manufacturer. In fact, the Iowa people have better jobs than the Rossers. Michigan is over-rated and their grads are some of the most entitled pr*cks that I’ve ever met.

  • Rajan

    Well said Fristsz. Self-financing an MBA for a school outside the elite ones is not a good idea. When some people from top schools are unable to get jobs, how can the average students at mid-tier schools expect to find those high paying MBA jobs? If you can’t crack a top 15 MBA — either get a technical degree such as masters in Financial engineering (tough) or industrial engineering, or get a professional certification such as CFA, CPA, etc. These steps will help improve your income and expand your opportunities.

  • MadamSmith

    Experience is the best teacher.

    First, pick a school that has a good network in the industry you are trying to join, e.g. Columbia, NYU, etc. = banking in NY.

    Second, get a real degree. Many schools (undergraduate and graduate) have degraded their product by offering “feel good” degrees. Employers know the difference between a Finance MBA and one in Communications.

    Third, do the math. The opportunity cost forfeited by leaving the workforce is huge (lost income + tuition + housing + expenses + 2 year delay in building a career). It’s more than just a $40k/year tuition debit. If you have the ambition, join a good company that pays to further its employees education. Your social life will suffer, but you economic and career situation will vastly improve.

  • mytwocents

    Isn’t MichiganRoss2013 referencing the fact that many students lacking work authorization visas are not allowed to sit for an interview by many companies (i.e. Companies that don’t sponsor visas)? It is difficult to have a high graduation placement when 30-50% of your students can’t apply to companies in the US

  • Riiight

    LOL… okay

  • TB2010

    Thunderbird Grad here who is doing better than 3 of his Michigan Ross colleagues . In fact, most of my classmates are doing better than the Ross people I know. That school must inflate grad numbers while we deflate them.

  • GradSoon

    Definitely! And go to a school that is around the area that you want to end up (if you have a desired location).

  • T-bird Too

    Same as above, Thunderbird from 2011. I joined many of my classmates who moved out to San Francisco and we’re all doing quite well. It would have been nice to have had better job hunting support while in school, but it took all of two weeks after getting out of Glendale to find a dream job that more than doubled my pre-MBA salary (three months to find an apartment, though…). At the risk of sounding defensive, by 2016, I’ll have my $105K debt paid off, gone on 4-6 “major” international trips, and put down a down payment on a Bay Area home. I’m doing a bit better than my average classmate, but not by much.

  • Isaac

    Sorry you had a bad experience, but my experience at Ross suggests that if you want a great job at graduation and are willing to actually try and earn it, you won’t have a problem. My group of friends all had full-time positions by the middle of November.

  • ThomasW

    Could not have said it better myself.

    Even some of the “better” MBA schools are starting to offer paths where you transition right into the program having no work experience. This translates into students graduating who want to put “MBA” on their resume and get a higher paycheck, when there is nothing in their experience that suggests they’re worth it.

  • T-bird

    Thunderbird alum here – graduated in 2011. Started working a month after graduation w/ a 6 figure income to boot. Sure, it took some students a while to land a job, but all of my former classmates are working now. No complaints here…

  • ezamaerolxe

    Funny how many of these schools aggressively try to recruit students and chase GMAT test takers with offers.

  • I’m going to go out on a limb here, and suggest that perhaps the issue doesn’t entirely lie on the backs of the school, but also with the fact that the MBA infrastructure that we built here in the US is too big and turning out more degree holders than needed. Additionally, there’s been a decline in the number of GMAT test takers from 2007 to 2011. So here you have a smaller pool of applicants going into to programs that expected to grow. So they are taking people into their programs that they would have declined before. Think about it. It used to be commonplace for an MBA program to require professional experience as a condition of admission. Now, many programs will take students straight from their undergraduate programs. If that’s the case (and you have all these full-time MBAs who have no work experience), what exactly makes these folks attractive to a potential employer? They are basically a fresh-faced college graduate with no experience and who will expect to command a premium salary because of their MBA.

  • James McCartney

    I prefer the FT Global MBA ranking which includes international students and international schools in the ranking. I think rather then focusing on the placement rate at graduation it is better to focus on the placement rate within six months of graduation.

  • OMG

  • Brandon

    Fordhams career center is absolutely dismal. Thats the reason. Its sad that the school has so many graduates that already have jobs and still make this list.

  • Jim

    Not just location, brand also matters .

  • John Byrne

    As the article notes, this list is based on U.S. News data and the magazine only collects data and ranks U.S. schools, unfortunately. It would be possible to create a similar list for international schools, of course, but it would require quite a lot of spade work because many non-U.S. schools are not nearly as transparent with their numbers, especially when they reflect poorly on the schools.

  • Jeffrin

    what about international students? Do recruiters allow international students to sit for the interview. Thanks!!

  • MichiganRoss2013

    Really? I guess I feel quite different about the recruiting and from what I can tell the employment rates. I am neither entitled, nor am I a “white kid” (mediocre or otherwise) and have a great experience in my two years at Michigan Ross. I, along with many of my friends at Ross, have landed fantastic jobs. I am looking forward to beginning my new career and owe a lot to my time in Ann Arbor. I am sorry you do not feel the same.

  • DisappointedinUMich

    Michigan Ross has terrible recruiting and employment rates. The employment report is a lie! Plus the school is full of entitled, mediocre white kids

  • Anyone else want to create a bschool, charge a 100k, and start printing degrees? I am pretty confident that my Vista Print MBA could place at least 2 out 10 students in a job. 90% unemployed… That is terrifying proposition.

  • orange1

    I think there are 17 -18 schools in the top 15 and 11-12 in the top 10 but I agree with your message. Exception if you want something like supply chain where Michigan State and Arizona State have strong programs and it is a nuance in demand. But the emphasis is on the word “exception”.

  • CanadaMBA

    Totally agree with this.

  • Okay

  • Fritsz

    Golden Rules:

    If you are footing the bill — unless you get into a top 15 program (Ideally, top 10), don’t go. Unless your employer sponsors you – don’t go to any school outside the top 20 for an MBA.

  • Orange1

    Somewhat surprised at Fordham and American because they are in metro areas with significant opportunities. Realize they aren’t ranked super high, but still there is a need for people in those regions. And with Fordham, I thought most of the students were part timers who already had jobs so are those number worth anything to analyze?