Schools Report Spike In MBA & Specialized Master’s Job Recruitment

A survey released this week by the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance points to the employer recruitment for MBA and business specialized master’s students returning to pre-pandemic activity. Both full-time job and internship postings are up across all programs compared to the previous year.

And in one noteworthy trend, preference for virtual recruiting experiences remains strong for both students and employers.

“Even as more schools and businesses resume in-person activities, many will continue to take advantage of the benefits of virtual recruiting,” says John Helmers, Director of Graduate Career Management at the University of Colorado Boulder, Leeds School of Business and MBA CSEA president. “Career services teams and recruiting organizations continue to remain flexible and collaborative, adjusting to meet the ever-changing needs of students.”

MBA CSEA’s report, Fall 2021 Recruiting Trends Survey, is based on surveys of 77 member schools completed in January of this year. MBA CSEA is a global association for graduate business career services professionals and employers of MBAs representing more than 230 business schools and corporations.


John Helmers

One big finding of the survey is the continued preference for virtual and hybrid activity in employment recruitment. In-person recruitment experiences, such as career fairs, continued to decrease in the amount of activity while virtual opportunities are on the rise at a majority of schools. A majority of summer internships, meanwhile, were virtual in 2021, although not as many as in 2020.

“This may indicate that virtual experiences are here to stay, while in-person activities are slowly returning in a smaller capacity,” the report concludes.

This finding mirrors a previous MBA CSEA survey in which just 19% of schools said their students prefer face-to-face recruiting over virtual opportunities. For many, the convenience advantages of virtual, particularly for international students, outweighs the advantage of the in-person experience.

“Schools and employers continue to adjust to the ever-changing world of student engagement and recruitment, expanding existing programs and implementing new ones to meet students’ needs,” the study finds. “With lessons learned from the past two years, it’s likely that a continued, better form of virtual recruiting will continue well into the post-pandemic world.”


For full-time MBA students, consulting industry opportunities had the largest recruiting increase of any industry. In Fall 2020, 7% percent of schools reported an increase in the number of recruitment activities for full-time students, compared to 84% of schools in Fall 2021.

Technology saw the second largest increase with 82% of schools reporting an increase in activity compared to 57% the prior year. Hospitality, meanwhile, showed the largest decrease in activity with 33% of schools reporting fewer recruiting activities for students compared to a 61% decrease in 2020.

Source: 2021 MBA CSEA Fall Recruiting Trends Survey

Other report highlights for full-time MBAs include:

  • 74% of schools reported a rise in full-time, off-campus job postings in Fall 2021. That’s up 53 percentage points from the previous year when 21% of schools reported an increase.
  • 35% of schools reported an increase in on-campus recruiting opportunities, including school-scheduled employment interviews, compared to 21% the previous year.
  • 76% of schools reported an increase in large-sized companies recruitment activities while 50% of schools saw a decrease in small-sized company recruitment.


While the numbers aren’t as high, recruitment activity was also up for students in part-time MBA programs. The technology industry had the largest increase for the second year in a row with 77% of schools reporting an increase in activity compared to just 31% the previous year. Meanwhile, consulting industry activity increased at 68% of surveyed schools while financial services increased at 54%.

Overall, full-time job postings rose at 55% of schools, a 29% increase over the same period last year when 26% of schools reported an increase. On-campus opportunities increased as well with 31% of schools reporting improvement compared to just 6% in 2020.

Students enrolled in specialty master’s business programs also had more opportunities to connect with employers.

About 64% of schools reported an increase in full-time job postings for students enrolled in Master’s in Finance, Data Analytics, Accounting, Marketing and other programs. That compares to 28% of schools who reported an increase over the same period in 2021. On-campus recruitment increased at 37% of schools compared to 8% in 2021.

Technology again saw the largest increase in recruitment with 77% of schools reporting a rise in activity from the sector, compared to 53% last year.

Source: 2021 MBA CSEA Fall Recruiting Trends Survey


The survey also found that internship postings also increased at most schools. Some 65% of schools reported that off-campus opportunities increased for full-time MBA students compared to 30% the year before. On-campus internship interviews were up at 36% of schools while just 16% reported increases in 2020.

For part-time MBAs, internship activity was also up, albeit not as strong as for full-time students. In 2020, 6% of programs reported that internship postings had increased compared to 31% in 2021. However, 12% of programs reported postings had decreased at their schools in 2021 compared to 36% the year before.

Read the full survey report here.


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