The Top Feeder Business Schools To The Consulting Industry

INSEAD is once again the top school for producing MBAs, with 49% of the 2017 graduating class entering the profession — including 287 who went to work at one of the Big Three firms. But MBA consultants from the French school aren’t making the most money. File photo

Put a pin in this story. You’ll want to refer back to it over the course of the next few months, as the newest employee reports come trickling out of the top schools.

But in the meantime, know that based on 2017 employment reports, INSEAD is the top feeder school to the consulting industry — just as it was for the previous two years. Nearly half — 49% — of the French school’s graduating class last spring went into the consulting industry, a record that includes 16% who were sponsored by an employer to go through INSEAD’s speedy 10-month program.

To the Big Three firms — McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company, and Boston Consulting Group — INSEAD sent an astonishing 287 MBAs in 2017, about a third of its graduating class that reported job status. And that’s up across the board. If you include a few other elite consulting firms, INSEAD produced 400 MBA consultants last year. How many of the hires, in actual numbers, were sponsored by their firms? Of the 130 McKinsey hires, for example, 52 are returning McKinsey staffers. For Bain, 21 out of the 86 hires were working at Bain before going for their INSEAD MBA; 26 of the 71 BCG hires returned.

London Business School (41%) was the only other consulting feeder school above 40% among the 33 examined by Poets&Quants, while Yale SOM (36%), Virginia Darden (34%), and Emory Goizueta (34%) rounded out the top five.


INSEAD may produce the most, but it does not produce the highest-paid, MBA consultants. That distinction goes to Harvard Business School, where the median base salary is $150,000.

However, the standard offer from a prestige consulting firm is $147,000 to start (up $7,000 from 2015), with a $25,000 signing bonus (an amount that has stayed about the same the last two years). That’s a nice way to begin to dig out of that debt bunker after two years of B-school. Several schools, including Dartmouth Tuck, Columbia Business School, Northwestern Kellogg, Chicago Booth, and MIT Sloan, reported a base salary of $147,000; and $25,000, reported by several schools, was the highest median sign-on bonus, though several others reported averages or total “other” compensation that that were higher.

And INSEAD grads who become consultants? Their median base salary was $107,500 last year, actually down slightly from 2016 in U.S. dollars ($109,500) — though median sign-on bonus was up from $24,500 to $25,100.

There’s another reason besides money that Bain, McKinsey, BCG, and Deloitte et. al are known as “prestige” firms: They are world-class, highly selective companies that offer a wide range of business challenges at a variety of companies and industries, and they can offer landing points around the globe. They may challenge employees with some of the longest work hours in the business world, but they also reward the intellectually curious, articulate, and analytical with opportunities to work side by side with some of the best and brightest professionals in business while partnering with many of the world’s largest multinationals, private equity firms, and Fortune 500 companies. It’s easy to see why the prestige firms often serve as a springboard for future business rock stars, chief executives at some of the largest corporations in the world.

(See next page for a list of the top feeder schools to the consulting industry, as well as base salary and signing bonuses.)