Worst MBA Placement Records of 2012

by John A. Byrne on

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)

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  • 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).

  • 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

  • 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.

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