Best MBA Programs for Consulting | Top B-Schools to Get into McKinsey, Bain, BCG

Strategy and management consulting jobs are among the most sought-after ones for the MBA grads, and even for the folks without an MBA degree. In fact, there are many candidates who pursue (or plan to) an MBA in order to enter or accelerate your career in the consulting industry. In this article, we will look at the best MBA programs in the world for consulting careers & jobs or say best business schools for getting into McKinsey, Bain & BCG (MBB).

According to the 2018 Prospective Student Survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), consulting was the most sought-after postgraduate industry, with 34% of applicants surveyed citing consulting firms as their destination of choice. In the year 2019, the figure though dropped to 29%, consulting is still a very popular sector.

What is Management Consulting?

In its simplest form, consulting is the business or act of coming up with solutions to real-world business situations or problems.

– MBA Crystal Ball

What in the world does ‘Management Consulting’ mean, and where it will take you to? Let us get an idea about this most demanding subject.

Giant business processes, top corporates, or even start-ups (well-funded ones), at times, do face certain goal-oriented or target-driven objectives which are, at times, too challenging to accomplish, for which they often hire, what we call ‘solution experts.’

For example, a start-up entering a new business segment with need rigorous research into the market demand, the supply of resources or raw materials, competitors, pricing positions to overcome which various business models are applied.

One of them is called Porter’s Five Forces which include five detailed aspects like barriers to market entry or threats of the new entrants, competitive dynamics, buyer and supplier capacities, the threat of the alternatives, or substitutes in the market. Similarly setting up of new manufacturing plant within a certain timeframe requires deep insight on raw materials, labor, packaging, logistics, and so on.

In all these circumstances, management consultants come into the picture, to solve challenges related to business ethics, business environment, strategy, IT & systems networking, leadership, risk management, etc.

Why is Management Consulting such a Popular Post-MBA Career?

Learning Opportunities

An essential skill of every successful consultant is to learn, and specifically to learn fast. Consultants work with a variety of industries to solve different types of business challenges and this variety of casework enhances their overall business judgment.

Additionally, there is an opportunity to experience different kinds of work and the real-world challenges. In solving these problems, consultants can call upon the firm’s collective knowledge through well-organized online knowledge management platforms that cover a host of business topics.

Networking Opportunities

Consulting firms provide a stellar network. Consultants work with brilliant colleagues who know you well are often happy to provide you introductions to other opportunities.

Established consulting firms also have dedicated alumni relations departments,  which provide useful resources and networking opportunities for consultants after they have left the firm.

Salaries and Perks

Last, but not the least, consulting roles pay extremely well. McKinsey, Bain, and BCG, also known as the “MBB firms” reported base salaries of over $165,000 with signing bonuses of $35,000 and above. This brings total compensation up to a staggering $200,000.

top MBA program for strategy & management consulting
Source: Poets & Quants

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Impact of COVID-19 on the Consulting Industry

The global consulting industry has grown strongly in the 12 years since the last financial crisis. At present, the global consulting industry is worth $160 billion. But with the coronavirus having pushed many sluggish economies to the brink of a recession, clients are delaying projects, decreasing their scope, or canceling them altogether. As a result, the revenue of consulting is taking a big hit.

Consulting Jobs COVID-19

Just exactly how much of a dent on the industry’s growth Covid-19 has had is extremely difficult to tell, but in a new forecast researchers have tried to put a number to the damage, and have found global consulting could lose some $30 billion of value in 2020.

impact of COVID-19 on Consulting Sector

Europe’s consultancy market recovery may take more time than the US market. As the US is ahead of competition and technology adoption in their consulting business model. Consulting firms in the EU that provide services on their client’s site will take the biggest hit.

Enhanced Emphasis on Brand Names

When it comes to MBA placements, brand name does matter. Since the market is going to be tight, brand names of the business schools (or MBA programs) will matter more than ever in the post-COVID phase. So, choosing the right school among the best ones will be critical for the candidates aiming at the consulting industry.

Related Article: Best Management Consulting Firms in the World

More importantly, if you are targeting McKinsey, Bain, and Boston Consulting Group (BCG), getting your foot in the door isn’t easy. While having an MBA is a huge help, the three firms have a list of target schools where they focus their recruiting efforts. Earn your degree from one of those MBA programs and you’ll likely get an interview at least.

So, here is a list of best MBA programs (business schools) for management consulting jobs.

Best MBA Programs for Consulting

Top 5 International MBA Programs for Consulting 2020


INSEAD with its 10-month accelerated programs and multiple campuses (Fontainebleau in France, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi) is a powerhouse for students looking to get into management consulting.

MBB firms are by far the biggest recruiters here, with McKinsey leading the pack as far as the number of graduates who land there. Plus, INSEAD is Bain’s number one global recruiting school – more global hires than from any other program (MBA or undergrad) across offices in multiple geographies.

In 2018, McKinsey, Bain, and BCG hired a total of 274 students in total of which 103 were former employees returning to the organization after graduation. 8 out of the top 10 employers of 2018 graduates were consulting firms including firms such as Strategy&, A.T. Kearney, Accenture, L.E.K Consulting and Roland Berger.

Key Opportunities: INSEAD Consulting Club and the school’s access to several case competitions. For instance, A.T. Kearney’s Global Prize Annual Strategy Case Competition pits close to 100 teams from business schools in Europe and North America against one another in simulated client challenges. Teams from INSEAD compete internally within its Fontainebleau and Singapore campuses for a chance to represent the school’s Europe and Asia campuses in the European battle. Successful teams go on to compete against the North American Champions.

London Business School

A major pipeline in to the consulting field, LBS has a stated goal of changing the way the world does business. A more traditional program in the sense that it is not on an accelerated timeline, LBS has been churning out top-tier graduates since 1964. The school boasts one of the largest exchange programs in the world, and has leveraged its reputation and contacts to land graduates positions all over the globe. In addition, its alumni network is known as one of the strongest of any school, anywhere.

In the Class of 2019, 93% of the LBS graduating class received offers, with average annual salaries and sign-on bonuses of US $ 113,329 and $47,407 respectively. By far, the largest field they entered was consulting, with MBB firms snatching up a vast majority of graduates. One of the main focuses of the MBA program here is strategic and international management, which is a great foundation to move ahead into strategy consulting.

In 2018 and 2019, graduates also received an average other guaranteed compensation of US$ 49,677.

Key Opportuities: LBS Consulting Club and LBS Strategy Summit.

The LBS Consulting Club is one of the largest professional clubs on campus with over 4,800 students and alumni members. Its focus is to help students who are looking to pursue a career in consulting.

Columbia Business School

Columbia Business School has proved to be a wonderful choice for students who want to work in their family business or want to start-up their own businesses, as it is not offering the summer internship program, which is grand essential for the job seekers. Instead they are offering the January-term, in which students can complete their MBA program in 16-months rather than 21-months.

CBS runs innovative programs like the Executives in Residence program where Senior executives are invited to student-run conferences and informal lunch, as advisors on subjects like finance, accounting, economics, management, marketing, decision-making, risk management etc. Columbia Business School is best known for its Finance programs and excellence.

Median starting salaries and bonuses offered to graduates in the consulting industry were US $ 147,000 and US $ 30,000 respectively. Salaries offered to graduates going into consulting were in the range of US $ 80,000 – 233,500. McKinsey, Bain, and BCG were the top 3 recruiters of Columbia MBA graduates, hiring a total of 98 graduates.

Key Opportunities: Management Consulting Association, Odyssey, and Delloitte National MBA Case Competition.

Kellogg School of Management

Kellogg School of Management has been ranked 11th globally in 2020, whereas its alumni draw an average salary of $1,85,365 annually. Kellogg to date has produced eminent industrialists and entrepreneurs, few of the respected names are Ted Phillips, CEO of Chicago Bears, and Ellen Kullman, CEO of Dupont. Kellogg placed almost one-third (31%) of its graduates in consulting positions.

McKinsey hired 28 graduates and BCG hired a whopping 52 MBA grads from the class of 2019. Lab courses prepare Kellogg students for their future careers with real-world consulting experiences. In these courses, students work in groups of four or five in order to provide recommendations to businesses, as well as nonprofit organizations and startups.

What sets Kellogg apart from the pack? It’s the special emphasis the school places on teamwork, collaboration, and executive presence. In fact, most projects and homework assignments are completed in teams, and students’ strengths and weaknesses are then peer-reviewed after each project. In consulting, nothing is more important than teamwork, and Kellogg sharpens that tool better than any other program we’ve seen.

Top MBA Programs for Consulting Jobs
Source: Poets & Quants

MIT Sloan

MIT Sloan is located at the heart of tech giants, biotech companies, start-ups, and research labs. Its Global Entrepreneurship Lab is one of the students’ favourite, as they get enough exposure by acting as advisors to start-up companies, delivering insight on matters like fund-raising, benchmarking, strategic growth, pricing, new market entry, financial strategy etc.

The Venture Mentorship Service is another wonderful opportunity where students are mentored by global experts who aren’t allowed equity. These mentors are often found guiding and advising students even long after the graduation levels. Because of its relatively small size, Sloan has done a good job of building a sense of community on campus. Students work through the first-semester core in teams of 5 or 6, and unlike at HBS, can only choose one elective during this time period. There are also well-known “Consumption Functions” held weekly on campus, where students and faculty alike gather together to eat and drink, and these “C-functions” often have international cultural themes.

Most impressive, however, are Sloan’s “Action Labs,” where students gain practical experience by teaming up to solve problems for actual businesses in the United States, China, and India.

MIT Sloan has long been a recruiting hotbed for top consulting firms, and last year was no exception, with BCG being the biggest recruiter on campus, hiring 36 graduates. Bain was next, hiring 19, followed by McKinsey (12), EY-Parthenon (4), PwC Strategy& (4), and Analysis Group, Deloitte, and L.E.K. (3 each).

Chicago Booth School of Business

The Chicago Booth School of Business, named after one of its alumnus David Booth’s generous endowment gift of $300 million to the school in 2008. Established in 1898, it has already crossed 120 years of its extensive journey and is renowned to have given birth to Nobel laureates in Economics.

The full-time MBA campus lies in Hyde Park, whereas the evening and weekend programs are conducted in downtown Chicago at the Gleacher Centre. The University presently is home to 13 research centers and institutes like the Centre for Decision Research, Initiative on Global Markets, etc.

It was ranked No. 1 by both Forbes and The Economist in 2019. U.S News ranked its MBA programs as 1st in the US, while in 2018, the Economist ranked its full-time MBA as the 1st globally. Chicago Booth also has STEM eligibility for OPT – Optional Practical Training Purposes.

In total, consulting employers hired more than 145 graduates from the class of 2018. McKinsey, Bain, and BCG hired a total of 83 students from the class of 2018. Accenture, L.E.K Consulting, PwC Strategy& and A.T. Kearney were some of the other major consulting employers of Chicago Booth graduates.

Top 15 Business Schools for Consulting in USA

Best MBA Programs for Consulting in USA
Sources: Business School Websites, Management Consulted, eGMAT, Business Because

Note: The schools/programs have been listed alphabetically.

Special Mention: Emory University’s Goizueta Business School sent 42% of its MBA graduates into a consulting function and 38% by industry in 2018. In 2019, the figure was 49%, including 32% in management consulting. The school is arguably the top business school for consulting in the US, having gained more than 15% from 2016 – 2018. But, do keep this in mind that the class size is small and the alumni network and brand perception in your home country might not be as strong as Harvard or Stanford.

So, in case your intended post-MBA sector is consulting, don’t chase Ivy MBA or M7 MBA programs blindly. Emory, Kellogg or Chicago could be the right school for you in the US.

Top Business Schools for Consulting in Europe

  • London Business School
  • Cambridge Judge Business School
  • HEC Paris
  • Oxford Said Business School
  • IESE Business School
  • ESADE Business School
top business schools for consulting careers in Europe
Source: Poets & Quants

Other Top Business Schools for Consulting Outside US & Europe

  • Rotman Toronto
  • NUS
  • ISB

Acknowledgment: This article has been co-authored by Parinita Gupta

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14.

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