Insider Insights: Top Target Schools For MBB Consulting Firms

Management Consulting Prep

Poets&Quants previously reported the staggering first-year salaries being reported by investment bankers working in the industry. Imagine starting compensation of $143,000 for a first-year analyst – up 14% in just five years. We also reported starting salaries for first-year consultants that, while not as high, were nothing to sneeze at – around $75,000 with a $10,000 bonus.

Patrick Curtis, founder and CEO of Wall Street Oasis, expects competition for top business school talent to continue to boost salaries in both industries over the next couple of years. “We are seeing compensation going up in consultation as well as (investment banking), especially at the junior levels. Consulting firms do compete, not directly, but they do compete somewhat, with investment banks in recruiting top talent,” Curtis says. “So, as we’ve seen base salaries move up in banking, we are starting to see that in consulting. Not up to the $120K level, but I think at some places it’s close to $100K if it’s not $100k already.”

If the impressive salaries are enticing, it helps to know a little something about breaking into the industry. To help, WSO’s 2022 Consulting Industry Report has compiled the top schools for recruiting and hiring targeted by 57 of the top consulting firms. Data is reported by WSO users who actually work in the consulting industry.


Patrick Curtis

Patrick Curtis

WSO is an online community, news site, and career center for people working and aspiring to work in finance related fields. It has almost 900,000 registered users who report a trove of data on the companies where they work. WSO’s 2022 Consulting Industry Report takes this user-reported data to provide insight into nearly 20 different metrics job hunters would be strapped to find anywhere else: How many hours employees work per week, for example, or how fair the company is when granting promotions.

It also provides data on which colleges and universities consulting firms recruit from the most. (If investment banking is more your bag, you can find the top 25 feeder schools for that industry here.) Its consulting industry report ranked the schools based on the responses of 1,577 WSO users who work at the 57 represented consulting firms.

So, what college or university provides the best pipeline to a top consulting gig? Northwestern University, home of the Kellogg School of Management. But, the top firms seem to have good recruitment programs across a large cross section of schools.


Overall, WSO’s report covers school representation at 57 different firms with consulting positions. While we’ll be looking at the top 5 to 10 firms in terms of the number of employees working for this story, you can see a lot more detail in the full report here.

According to employees working in the field, the top feeder school to a top-tier consultancy firm is Northwestern University (home of Kellogg School of Management) with 2.2% of the 1,577 WSO survey respondents. That’s 35 WSO users now working in the industry, a 14% drop from Northwestern’s share from last year’s report.

In fact, there is little space between top five consultancy feeder schools in the February 2022 report – a difference of just about 0.3% or about 5 employees. So, any of the schools on the chart below have strong consultancy pipelines built within their programs.



University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) followed Northwestern with 33 respondents working in the industry, or 2.1% of the total. That was a 1% improvement from the previous year.

University of Southern California (Marshall), Harvard University and University of Michigan (Ross) rounded out the top feeder schools. You can see how well they fared at five top-tier consulting firms in the chart below.

Out of 1,577 WSO reporting users working in consulting, 160 come from one of these top five feeder schools – about 10% of consulting firm hires. That percentage expands to 19% when you consider the top 10 feeder schools.


A good number of aspiring consultants want to know how to score a spot at one of the big three firms: McKinsey and Company, Boston Consulting Group, or Bain & Company. The prestige of these companies has given them their own acronym within the industry – the MBB. When you break down the data, the WSO report can provide clues about the schools the MBB firms favor in their recruiting.

Of the 1,577 users who currently hold positions across the 50-plus consulting firms, 168 are employed by McKinsey. Of those, nearly 20% hail from six schools: University of Toronto, Northwestern, Harvard, University of Michigan, Dartmouth College and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The next tier of most popular feeder schools make up nearly 14% of McKinsey recruits. They include the University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, Brigham Young University, Rice University, The University of Sydney in Australia, and the University of Chicago, Stanford University and Cornell University.

At Bain & Company, its top tier schools (making up 21% of its 145 total WSO member employees) are University of Texas at Austin, University of Virginia UVA, Harvard, University of Michigan, and Duke University. The next 20% of its recruits come from Vanderbilt University, Dartmouth College, Crown University, University of Western Ontario, Columbia University, Southern Methodist University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Hong Kong.

University of Pennsylvania, meanwhile, is the most popular feeder school for Boston Consulting Group, accounting for 10% of the firm’s 120 WSO recruits. It is followed by Yale University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and London School of Economics.

Second tier schools for BCG include Southern Methodist University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Virginia, Harvard, Columbia, and Northwestern.


WSO’s reports are constantly changing based on new information users report to the WSO Company Database which includes more than 50,000 submissions across thousands of companies. The report we are looking at today is up-to-date as of this month and includes year-to-date data as well as data for the prior two years. Because of this, some of the latest trends reported by users won’t start showing up until later reports. (WSO uses Bayesian statistics to create percentiles for companies with few observations.)

Read more about WSO’s report methodology here.

Next Page: Advice For Students Not at a top Feeder School + The Top 25 Feeder Schools for Top Consulting Firms


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