Record 46% Of INSEAD MBAs Go Into Consulting

INSEAD bills itself as “the business school for the world”

INSEAD has long been known as one of the top feeder business schools for the global consulting industry, sending more MBAs into the field than any other B-school in the world. But in 2016 even INSEAD broke all kinds of records in this regard. Some 46% of the graduating class last year accepted jobs in the consulting sector, up from 43% a year earlier and nearly 13 percentage points higher than just three years ago.

Nine of the school’s major employers last year were all consultants led by the three big global players, McKinsey & Co., Boston Consulting Group, and Bain & Co. In fact, those three prestige firms alone scooped up a remarkable 29.8% of the graduates who reported their career choices to INSEAD. McKinsey employed 125, up from 102 MBAs last year. BCG hired 67 grads, slightly down from 72 a year earlier, while Bain employed 48, down a bit from 52 a year earlier. Only three firms, all in technology, broke up the consulting party: Amazon, Microsoft and Google, which were among the dozen top employers (see Major Employers Of INSEAD MBAs In 2016).

As is often the case at INSEAD, many of these graduates returned to their firms after picking up their MBA in the 10-month-long program. The accelerated pace of the MBA experience makes the school particularly appealing to consulting firms who sponsor their employees. The McKinsey total, for example, includes 75 new hires and 50 MBAs who returned to the firm. At BCG, 26 of the 67 hires were of former employees, while at Bain 14 of 48 total hires had previously worked for the firm.


Graham Hastie, interim global director of INSEAD’s career
development centre

The total median compensation package, adjusted for the percentage of graduates reporting sign-on and year-end performance bonuses, totaled $134,268, a 2.9% decline from a year earlier. Graham Hastie, interim global director of INSEAD’s career development center, attributed the decline to “changes in exchange rates, which saw local currencies depreciate by 3.6% against the U.S. dollar in 2016.” Otherwise, average base salaries–not total compensation–would have risen 1.7%, explained Hastie.

The total pay is composed of median salary of $102,500, sign-on bonuses of $22,800, reported by 65% of the class, and performance bonuses of $22,300, received by 74% of the MBAs. INSEAD’s $134,268 total, just behind the University of Texas McCombs School’s $135,885, puts INSEAD behind 19 U.S. business schools. The highest paid MBA graduates last year again came off the campus of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and Harvard Business School. Stanford MBAs pulled down a total median pay package of $163,827, while HBS grads landed packages worth $158,080 (see What MBAs Make In Their First Year Of Work).

The pay gap is largely the result of many more INSEAD MBAs going to work in countries where pay levels are significantly lower than they are in more mature economies as well as many students who enter the program with salaries below those at many U.S. schools. Salaries across the world, even in the same industry from the same employers, can vary widely (see below table). INSEAD revealed that graduates who took jobs in India earned median salaries of $47,360, or 3,200,000 Rupees, compared to overall median salaries for the entire class of $102,500, a sum that would include the Indian salaries.

And while the median starting salary for a consulting job in North America topped out at $145,000, exactly the number reported by leading U.S. schools, the median in Southern Europe was just $77,900. In Latin America, starting salaries in consulting were only $81,300, while in Asia Pacific they were $113,500, according to INSEAD. Moreover, the cost of getting an INSEAD degree are significantly lower than those who enter a more traditional two-year MBA program, resulting in one of the highest returns on investment for any MBA in the world.


The career results are detailed in INSEAD’s 2016 employment report. Year in and year out, INSEAD publishes one of the most transparent reports of any business school. It covers some 999 MBAs from INSEAD in the graduating classes in December of 2015 and July of 2016. The school said that 975 graduates, or 98%, responded to its employment survey, though 805, or 84%, provided details of their career decisions.

The highest salary landed by an INSEAD grad last year was $203,800 for a job in retail and luxury goods in Switzerland. Yet, another MBA also landed a job paying $202,140 in annual salary for a position in the private equity or venture capital field in a vp/director role in Western Europe. The lowest reported salary, $22,400, went to an MBA who took a job in the public sector or social impact field in Asia Pacific.

INSEAD reported that 89% of its graduates had at least one job offer three months after graduation, down from 90% in 2015. That level of employment also trails many of the leading U.S. schools. At Chicago Booth and Wharton last year, more than 98% of the graduates had job offers three months after commencement, while at London Business School, 96% of the 2016 class had job offers at that point. Still, the 89% job offer rate was just a point below Stanford’s 90% job offer level last year. Given the unusually wide dispersement of INSEAD grads around the world, the 89% offer rate is impressive, or as Hastie pointed out, “a remarkable achievement given the intensive nature of our 10-month global MBA programme and the macro-economic uncertainty in some of our traditional sectors and geographies.”

While 46% of its graduates landed jobs in Europe, some 29% gained employment in Asia Pacific, 10% in Africa and the Middle East, 8% in North America, and 7% in Latin America. The school said that no single country accounted for more than 14% of the jobs its graduates landed last year.

  • Inseadsux

    John, as an insead alum I do not agree with your analysis. It doesn’t make sense to use insead’s aggregated employment figures. Insead is split into multiple language barrier markets. In my experience Jack and Jill native English speakers do not have the same opportunities post insead as people that speak other languages natively.

  • Dan

    We must ignore distribution within US since the INSEAD report does not contain that information, just as US school reports don’t provide breakdowns of European countries. Of course, there are differences in regions, but the differences between countries are way larger. And – and this is important – the global bias can be eliminated by using national data. The regional bias can’t be eliminated because the data isn’t there.

    Therefore, Aspirant does not pick what he wants – he picks the most detailed level available.

    National ( =US only) level is the most detailed level that both INSEADs and US school’s reports provide – that’s the best level of comparison we have. Using global averages is plain wrong.

  • HarvardWinsAgain

    No its not. Distribution within US is a question. Most Frenchmen will end up working in NYC and CA, which would inflate their numbers vs UT Austin for instance.

    He was picking and choosing what would make his school look good. It was not necessarily devoid of bias or error.

  • Hahaha

    Insead is now a one-trick pony. That is a risk. Just like Wharton, the only way to go is down.

  • Given this data, it would seem that INSEAD is a good bet to switch into consulting. All the major firms recruit there and as the story points out a very high percentage of graduates go into consulting, often from other fields. The fact that you can make this transition in just ten months with less cost than a traditional two-year program makes INSEAD a great value proposition.

  • Dan

    Aspirant made a perfectly fine suggestion: Use the US-only INSEAD salaries and compare them to US-only salaries from US schools. Everything else is apples and oranges.
    Problem solved.

  • AP

    I have a question for John or anyone else who would like to answer this. Is INSEAD the best place to go if one wants to switch careers to consulting? And is there a big difference between the kind of chances you have of landing a consulting gig depending on which tern you attend>

  • HarvardWinsAgain


    If he did that then no schools can be compared because no schools have the exact same geographic distribution.

    There is a caveat to his numbers but it is not, by itself, wrong.

  • Dan

    Exactly, it goes without saying that that this comparison doesn’t make sense and the conclusion (#19?!) is very misleading.
    I’m quite surprised that whoever wrote the article didn’t realize when writing that sentence…

  • Apirant

    Exactly! Hence non comparable.
    These US schools have non-existent international placements. So if he feels the urge and itch to compare, the comparison needs to say “worldwide avg” or take the North American number!

  • dienekes

    That’s overall average, independent of placement geography, what John has shared while comparing with McCombs.

  • There is no gross mistake. Those are the facts. U.S. business schools have a substantial portion of students who work all over the world. You can’t cherry pick one region of the world for INSEAD, a fraction by the way of where the school’s graduates land jobs, and compare them against the overall numbers at a U.S. or any other school. That is total nonsense.

  • Aspirant

    John, I expect you to be more vigilant and not compare apples with oranges. INSEAD’s outgoing salaries for North America region are $155,000+ as mentioned in your table. This data should be used in comparison with other business schools. I request you to remove/correct the gross mistake in stating: “INSEAD’s $134,268 total, just behind the University of Texas McCombs School’s $135,885, puts INSEAD behind 19 U.S. business schools.” Thanks!