Where Prestige Consulting Firms Scoop Up MBA Talent


The standard job offer for an MBA graduate from a prestige consulting firm is hard to pass up: $140K to start, with a $25,000 signing bonus. That’s a tidy $165,000 package that goes a long way toward paying down all the MBA loan debt you may have acquired during those two years in business school.

Sure enough, management consulting has long been one of the most desirable jobs for newly minted MBA grads. Besides the generous pay, there’s the highly selective nature of world-class professional service firms which require surviving a grueling gauntlet of interviews. There’s the wide variety of assignments that expose a newly minted MBA to many different business challenges at a variety of companies and industries. There’s also the benefit of working side-by-side with extremely bright and ambitious people.

For MBA applicants, moreover, when leading consulting firms recruit and hire a high percentage of a business school’s annual output, it’s a market signal that the MBA program is producing young professionals who are analytical, intellectually curious, articulate and boast the kind of professional presence to make it in a highly demanding field. That is the kind of endorsement that applicants can bank on.


It was Marvin Bower, the founding father of McKinsey & Co., who started hiring MBAs in the early 1950s. McKinsey and all the strategy firms that came after it never stopped because they are so fond of the talent coming out of the top business schools. So there’s little wonder that many schools send the largest single chunk of their graduates into the industry. McKinsey & Co., Bain & Co., Boston Consulting Group, and Deloitte are more often than not among the top ten employers at most of the highly selective business schools. A.T. Kearney, Accenture, Strategy&, Oliver Wyman and a host of other consulting players are not far behind.

So if you’re an applicant who wants to know which school would serve as the ideal training ground for one of these highly coveted jobs, you might check out our new analysis of the 2015 employment reports from the top 25 U.S. schools. Which schools are at the top of the list? Which schools are at the bottom?

At the very top is a school you might not expect. Consulting firms snapped up 38% of last year’s crop of MBAs from Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business. What’s especially impressive is that Emory grads are landing median base pay from the consulting industry of $135,000, only $5K under the likes of Harvard and Stanford. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and Columbia Business School were next, both tied at 35%, while Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business was right in the mix with 34% of its Class of 2015 taking jobs in the consulting industry.


Yet, one school outside the U.S. trumps all of the American giants in business education when it comes to consulting. That would be INSEAD, with its multiple campuses in France, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi. Last year, 43% of its graduates went into the consulting industry, with McKinsey alone taking 102 graduates, BCG hiring 72, and Bain scooping up 52 INSEAD MBAs. A good number of these graduates were sponsored students who returned to their pre-MBA employers, including 38 to McKinsey, 20 to BCG, and 18 to Bain.

Still, at the most prestigious U.S. schools, the big consulting firms loom large. At the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, just McKinsey, BCG and Bain accounted for 19% of all the hires in the Class of 2015, with McKinsey taking 44 graduates alone. At Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, McKinsey walked away with 34 MBAs in last year’s class, followed by Bain (28), BCG (26), Deloitte (20), and PwC Strategy& (18). And at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, five of the top seven employers in 2015 were consulting firms: McKinsey (24), Deloitte (21), BCG (17), Bain (10), PwC Strategy& (10).

That kind of dominance in the MBA marketplace is fairly common at the more elite business schools, no matter where they are located. At Columbia Business School in New York, the top employer in 2015 also was McKinsey, which hired 55 MBA grads, followed by Bain (35), BCG (29), and Deloitte (28).

(See the following page for our analysis of the schools that supply the most and least talent to the consulting industry)

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