MBA Jobs: Are Top Schools Fished Out?

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, the MBA market has staged a fairly robust recovery, getting a little bit better year after year. But is demand from corporate recruiters now so high that the top schools are effectively over fished?

That prospect comes to mind with the latest data from the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance’s spring recruiting survey. It showed yet another incredibly strong market for top MBA talent with 52% of the Top 20 schools reporting increased on-campus opportunities. The more compelling finding, however, is that 78% of the schools ranked 21st through 50th—a difference of 26 percentage points—reported better on-campus opportunities for jobs (see table below).

Source: MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance’s spring recruiting survey

Source: MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance’s spring recruiting survey

No less telling is the number of schools reporting declines. While 22% of the schools ranked first through 20 said that job opportunities on-campus had actually fallen, only 11% of the full-time MBA programs ranked 21 through 50 reported downturns—and only 5% of the business schools ranked 51st through 100th said their job opportunities had declined.


The numbers suggest that corporate recruiters have so throughly fished the Top 20 schools that there’s little fish left in those ponds. Instead, eager to recruiter MBA talent, the companies are putting more focus on the second- and third-tier schools in the MBA hierarchy.

It was a similar story for MBA jobs postings at schools—which are counted separately from on-campus recruiting interviews. Full-time postings were up at 70% of the Top 20 schools, while they were up 75% at the next 30 ranked institutions. Again, the more interesting number might very well be where those job postings had fallen. Roughly 17% of the Top 20 schools reported a decline in postings, compared to only 6% for schools ranked 21 through 50 and only 10% for schools ranked 51st through 100th.

“It’s hard to speculate,” says Megan Hendricks, executive director of the Alliance, “but it may be that the top 20 schools recovered faster from the economic downturn because they are core to many large companies that have formal MBA recruiting programs. As some of the companies that don’t have as formal of a recruiting program start to increase their hiring, they may be looking at other non-top 20 schools.”

Source: MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance’s 2014 spring recruiting survey

Source: MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance’s 2014 spring recruiting survey

Overall, 55% of respondents experienced increased on-campus recruiting for MBA students this past year, the fourth year in the economic recovery. According to the Alliance, the survey said that “significant increases in full-time and internship hiring show an underlying strength of the economy despite recent GDP reports of some weakness.”

The survey, with responses from 80 U.S. business schools with 79% among the top 50, was fielded from June 2 to 20. The Alliance, an association of business school career management offices and companies who hire MBA students, said that 79% of the responding schools were based in North America.

“We are pleased to see that MBA hiring continues to strengthen as the economic recovery progresses,” says Damian Zikakis, newly elected President of MBA CSEA. “More than half of the 80 survey respondents reported an increase in on-campus recruiting. And seven out of ten programs reported an increase in job postings, as well.”