The 2020 Job Search: MBA Placement Rates Down Across The Top Schools

That coronavirus negatively impacted business schools’ mission to place graduating MBAs in desirable high-paying jobs is not news. But just how negative was the impact? Reader, we now have the data.

Offers and acceptances three months after graduation — the standard measure of program effectiveness in getting MBAs the jobs they want — were down across the board at the top 25 business schools in the United States, and we do mean across the board: In offers, just one school — Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business — was even with its 2019 rate. Every one of the other 22 schools for which we have data saw declines in both offers and acceptances. Some saw steep declines.

Overall in the top 25, offers at 90 days for members of the graduating MBA Class of 2020 averaged 91.3%, down from 94.9% in 2019; acceptances averaged 88.7%, down from 92.7%. That’s a difference of 3.6 and 4 percentage points, respectively. Grads from top-10 schools fared only slightly better, with offers dipping to 92.1% from 94.9% and accepts slipping to 88.7% from 91.8% — a respective difference of 2.8 and 3.1 percentage points. In other words, top-10 MBAs accepted jobs at the exact same rate as Class of 2020 grads from other schools in the top 25.

Another perspective: In 2019, before the onslaught of a worldwide pandemic that jarred the employment landscape in profound and possibly lasting ways, the number of schools in the 80th percentile for job offers at three months was one: UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, at 89.9%. Last year that number grew to five schools. Meanwhile, the number of schools in 2019 with acceptance rates in the 80s was four; in 2020, that group ballooned to 12.


UCLA reported both the lowest offers and acceptances at 3 months, at 83.3% and 78.3%, respectively. Also notably low in offers was UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, at 86%; and in accepts, Harvard Business School at 83%. On the flip side, MIT Sloan School of Management reported the highest rate of offers at 95.5%, followed by Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management at 95%. Yet both were still declines from their stellar 2019 numbers. Only Dartmouth Tuck, steady at 94% offers, avoided the widespread declines. The University of Washington Foster School of Business topped all schools with a 94.2% mark in acceptances.

The University of Michigan saw the biggest drop-off in offers, with the Ross School of Business declining from 97.2% in 2019 to 90.3% last year, a decline of 6.9 percentage points. Texas-Austin McCombs School of Business (94.7% to 88%) and UCLA (89.9% to 83.3%) also had notable declines. In acceptances, UCLA’s 9-point drop-off was steepest, from 87.3% to 78.3%, followed by Michigan’s 96%-to-88.4% slide. See page 2 for a complete table of the top 25 U.S. B-schools and their placement data.

We also examined industry choices, and noted some interesting movement. Thirteen schools saw declines in the percentage of the 2020 graduating class going into consulting compared to 2019, while 16 schools saw finance declines and only nine schools saw tech declines. The biggest decline in consulting was at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, which dropped 11 percentage points to 34%, followed by Washington Foster, which shed 9.4 points to land at 19.4%. Conversely, Northwestern Kellogg grew its consulting share by 8 points to 39%, and Virginia Darden grew 6 points to 41%.

The financial services, there was less volatility, with the biggest decline happening at Darden, which dropped 6 points to 19%. The biggest growth toward the sector was at Emory Goizueta, which jumped 15 points to 31% of the MBA class.

In tech, the declines were smaller, with Chicago Booth seen the biggest, just 4.4 points to 16.3%. No. 25-ranked Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business, meanwhile, saw the biggest increase in tech placement, a 10-point jump to 32% of the class, while Foster grew nearly 9 points.

That nine points put Washington over the mid-century mark, giving the Foster MBA Class of 2020 the right to boast that it was the only school to send more than half its graduates into one sector. At 52.7%, Foster’s tech cohort is by far the leader for that industry, with the next closest schools UC-Berkeley Haas (32.4%), Georgia Tech (32%), Texas McCombs (31.8%), and Carnegie Mellon Tepper (31.4%).

Wharton once again led all schools in finance placement this year, with 36.2% of the class going to work for the banks and investment firms, with Stanford, Harvard, and Cornell all tied at 34% and NYU Stern next at 33.5%. And in consulting, Dartmouth reported a big jump to 42%, making it the sector leader, followed by Darden (41%), Kellogg (39%), Booth (38.2%), and Yale SOM (36.9%).

See page 3 for a complete table of the top 25 U.S. B-schools and their industry choice data.


Consulting was clearly the industry with the least salary volatility, particularly in the top 10, where the average salary increase from 2019 to 2020 was 3.7%, compared to 3.1% in finance and 2.9% in tech. No schools saw consulting salaries decline, while four saw declines in finance salaries — Ross, Duke, USC Marshall, and Georgetown McDonough — and three in tech: Stanford, UCLA, and Georgia Tech. (Another, USC Marshall, saw the slimmest of tech salary boosts.)

The biggest salary increases among schools that report mean figures:

• Consulting: Georgia Tech +14.3% to $146,688 … also USC Marshall +9.5% to $152,407;
• Finance: CMU Tepper +22.1% to $137,200 … also Washington Foster +13.9% to $127,571 and Cornell Johnson +6.1% to $139,752; and
• Tech: Michigan Ross +8.9% to $131,980 … also Foster +5.6% to $125,947 and NYU Stern +5.5% to $128,406.

Coronavirus dampened but did not drown the MBA Class of 2020. As Darden Assistant Dean of Career Development Jeff McNish said last year, “This is a special class that persevered through unprecedented uncertainty, and we are incredibly proud of our graduates’ success.”

See page 4 for a complete table of the top 25 U.S. B-schools and their salary data by industry.

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