Top Business Schools by Employability in Consulting: Go to t

by Vault Education Editors | August 24, 2010

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While consultants value office culture and work/life culture when choosing which firm to work for, prestige is still the name of the game for business schools. We looked at where the 4,500 consultants we surveyed earned their MBAs, and the vast majority of the schools were in the top 50 nationally.

From MBA to a consulting

Lots of MBA students start business school planning to get a job in consulting after graduation (whether they actually wind up pursuing one or not). For them, consulting is either a career path in itself or a way to learn the skills required to break into another industry. So knowing which business schools will help you get a job at the top consulting firms is valuable knowledge before you matriculate.

Consulting is a diverse industry, not only in definition but also in practice, as consultants can work on a health care project one week and an education one the next. Therefore, there is no one, ideal applicant. The skills necessary to succeed as a consultant are not specific to the industry--problem solving, decision making, etc.--there is no Consulting 101 (though there are consulting-oriented offerings). Although business schools provide employment statistics of the number of graduates who enter the consulting field, no business school ranking specifically addresses graduates' employability in the industry. So which business school graduates the most consultants?

This year, we surveyed over 4,500 consultants from firms across the country and asked them where they received their MBA. Using Vault's career expertise, we've ranked business schools based on the number of consultants who graduated from each school.

Top business schools are more national than law schools

Top 10 Business Schools by Employment in Consulting Nationally

  1. Northwestern University (Kellogg School of Management)
  2. Harvard University (Harvard Business School)
  3. University of Chicago (Booth School of Business)
  4. University of Pennsylvania (The Wharton School)
  5. University of Michigan (Ross School of Business)
  6. Columbia University (Columbia Business School)
  7. Duke University (Fuqua School of Business)
  8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan School of Management)
  9. Stanford University (Graduate School of Business)
  10. New York University (Stern School of Business)

The top 10 business schools by employability nationally are the schools that graduated the most consultants overall. Unlike law schools, these top business schools also have a very strong foothold in regional markets. Harvard Business School, for example, makes it into the top 5 lists in four of eight regional lists (50 percent), and into the top 5 list for every major U.S. city (100 percent). Even in Texas, where alumni networks are very loyal (none of the top 5 Texas law schools were out-of-state), HBS and Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management hold the No. 2 and No. 3 spots. So no matter where you want to work after graduation, attending a top nationally ranked school will get you there. (Even in Europe, the consulting market is dominated by the top two schools in the continent: INSEAD and London Business School.)

But what if you can't get into HBS, Wharton or Stanford? Among law schools, there are highly employable regional schools in each market that are not ranked as highly nationally (Brooklyn Law School and Fordham School of Law in NYC, for example). These regional schools are also often cheaper and have strong alumni networks. Unfortunately, there don't seem to be the same strong regional business schools for consulting.

What business school to apply to in your area

Harvard Business School graduates are happy because they get high salary jobs in consultingTrue, the most employable business school in each region and city is always the highest nationally ranked school located in the region. To wit: UT Austin McCombs tops the Texas list, University of Michigan Ross the Midwest, Stanford Silicon Valley and Northern California, UCLA Anderson Southern California, University of Pennsylvania Wharton the Mid-Atlantic and University of Washington Foster the Pacific Northwest. Cities are in the same boat, with HBS at the top of the Boston and New York lists, UVA Darden the D.C., Northwestern the Chicago and Emory Goizueta the Atlanta. Like the law school employability rankings, it is not only their rank that makes graduates from these schools secure jobs in the area. Access to local companies for internships and jobs makes it easier to build relationships with potential employers while still in school, and alumni networks are always strongest in the cities closest to campus. However, once you go past that No. 1 business school, the usual national players dominate again.

If you can't get into H/W/S, it's a safer plan to go to another well-ranked national school, particularly those with a more technical reputation. Carnegie Mellon, for instance, or perhaps UT Austin. The top Mid-Atlantic and Southern California MBA programs are very competitive, probably just as competitive as HWS if you're an in-state applicant. Since the recession, there has been a flight to quality in terms of where companies recruit. This is particularly true among business schools. It may not be worth your $150,000 to attend a lower-ranked business school. But that doesn't mean you should scratch an MBA off your list forever. MBA programs have a structured application process for re-applicants--you won't be penalized for giving it a second try. In fact, with more experience under your belt, you may have a better chance at admission. Good luck!

Top 5 Business Schools by Employability in Consulting in Major Cities

Top 5 Business Schools by Employability in Consulting in New York

  1. Harvard University (Harvard Business School)
  2. Columbia University (Columbia Business School)
  3. New York University (Stern School of Business)
  4. University of Pennsylvania (The Wharton School)
  5. Northwestern University (Kellogg School of Management)

Top 5 Business Schools by Employability in Consulting in Boston

  1. Harvard University (Harvard Business School)
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan School of Management)
  3. Dartmouth College (Tuck School of Business)
  4. University of Pennsylvania (The Wharton School)
  5. University of Chicago (Booth School of Business)

Top 5 Business Schools by Employability in Consulting in Atlanta

  1. Emory University (Goizueta Business School)
  2. Harvard University (Harvard Business School)
  3. Duke University (Fuqua School of Business)
  4. University of Pennsylvania (The Wharton School)
  5. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler Business School), University of Virginia (Darden School of Business)

Top 5 Business Schools by Employability in Consulting in Washington, D.C.

  1. University of Virginia (Darden School of Business)
  2. University of Pennsylvania (The Wharton School)
  3. Northwestern University (Kellogg School of Management)
  4. Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper School of Business), Georgetown University (McDonough School of Business) and Harvard University (Harvard Business School)

Top 5 Business Schools by Employability in Consulting in Chicago

  1. Northwestern University (Kellogg School of Management)
  2. University of Chicago (Booth School of Business)
  3. University of Michigan (Ross School of Business)
  4. Harvard University (Harvard Business School)
  5. DePaul University (Charles H. Kellstadt Graduate School of Business)

Top 5 Business Schools by Employability in Consulting Regionally

Top 5 Business Schools by Employability in Consulting in Texas

  1. University of Texas at Austin (McCombs School of Business)
  2. Harvard University (Harvard Business School)
  3. Northwestern University (Kellogg School of Management)
  4. Rice University (Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management), Southern Methodist University (Cox School of Business)

Top 5 Business Schools by Employability in Consulting in the Midwest

  1. University of Michigan (Ross School of Business)
  2. Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper School of Business)
  3. University of Pennsylvania (The Wharton School)
  4. Northwestern University (Kellogg School of Management), University of Chicago (Booth School of Business)

Top 5 Business Schools by Employability in Consulting in the Mid-Atlantic

  1. University of Pennsylvania (The Wharton School)
  2. Duke University (Fuqua School of Business), Northwestern University (Kellogg School of Management)
  3. Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper School of Business)
  4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan School of Management), University of Chicago (Booth School of Business)

Top 5 Business Schools by Employability in Consulting in the Southeast

  1. Emory University (Goizueta Business School), Harvard University (Harvard Business School)
  2. Duke University (Fuqua School of Business)
  3. University of Pennsylvania (The Wharton School)
  4. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler Business School)University of Virginia (Darden School of Business)

Top 5 Business Schools by Employability in Consulting in Silicon Valley

  1. Stanford University (Graduate School of Business)
  2. University of California, Berkeley (Haas School of Business)
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan School of Management), University of Michigan (Ross School of Business)

Top 5 Business Schools by Employability in Consulting in Southern California

  1. UCLA (Anderson School of Management)
  2. Northwestern University (Kellogg School of Management), University of Pennsylvania (The Wharton School)
  3. Stanford University (Graduate School of Business), University of Chicago (Booth School of Business)
  4. Harvard University (Harvard Business School), University of Southern California (Marshall School of Business)

Top 5 Business Schools by Employability in Consulting in Northern California

  1. Stanford University (Graduate School of Business), University of California, Berkeley (Haas School of Business), University of Pennsylvania (The Wharton School)
  2. Harvard University (Harvard Business School)
  3. Northwestern University (Kellogg School of Management)

Top 5 Business Schools by Employability in Consulting in the Pacific Northwest

  1. University of Washington (Michael G. Foster School of Business)
  2. University of Michigan (Ross School of Business)
  3. Northwestern University (Kellogg School of Management), Seattle University (Albers School of Business and Economics), University of Chicago (Booth School of Business) and University of Texas at Austin (McCombs School of Business)

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