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  • Writer's pictureMalvika Patil

Becoming a Management Consultant: Best MBA programs to get into McKinsey, Bain and BCG (MBB)

Updated: Jan 31



Why Consulting?


The consulting industry pulls in the lion’s share of business school graduates. Despite experiencing a global hiring slowdown in 2023, the MBA continues to be the most in-demand degree for consulting. In fact, consulting makes up 31.3% of total MBA hires - the largest share of all industries - in Bloomberg’s 2023 ranking.


A major appeal is that consulting work requires a more generalist skill set, exposing new recruits to a broad spectrum of industries, functions, and business challenges. A lot of the skills you’ll use as a consultant - like data-driven decision making, dealing with complex information, and effective communication - are precisely what you’ll learn in your MBA program.


As an entry level career, consulting allows recruits to apply these skills without forcing them to specialize immediately. In terms of professional development, consultants have a steep learning curve that exposes them to C-suite executives and high-impact business challenges early on. Then there’s the powerful network you’ll build, opening up doors in high places.


Make no mistake - this is a dynamic, challenging job that may require you to put in long hours, frequently travel, and adapt your skills to each new project and manager you’ll work with. But consultants tend to get well paid for their hard work; consulting is one of the most highly compensated post-MBA industries.


MBA Salaries for Consulting


Even after factoring in inflation, employers project higher MBA salaries in the US in 2023 as compared to last year.


Here are the top 10 business schools whose graduates netted the highest consulting salaries:

​Business School

Percentage of Consulting Hires

Median Salary (in US$)

Stanford

15.1%

$190,000

​Chicago Booth

35.5%

$175,000

Columbia

26.9%

$175,000

Cornell Johnson

30.6%

$175,000

Dartmouth Tuck

46.7%

$175,000

Duke Fuqua

35.8%

$175,000

Florida Warrington

11.1%

$175,000

Harvard

26.4%

$175,000

MIT Sloan

31.1%

$175,000

Michigan Ross

42.2%

$175,000

MBB Consulting Firms


Of the consulting firms recruiting at b-schools, the MBB firms (McKinsey, Bain & Co., and Boston Consulting Group) are widely regarded as being at the top of the pecking order. Many MBA graduates say that a stint at one of the MBB firms is like earning another business degree.


A report by Management Consulted shows that the MBB firms - known as the 'Big Three' - also increased their total compensation packages by $17,000 - $39,000 in 2023. Base pay starts at $192,000 at McKinsey and Bain, while BCG offers $190,000. Additionally, these firms offer joining bonuses of approximately $30,000.


In addition to their financial benefits, the MBB firms offer exposure to an unparalleled roster of clients and practice areas, network, and career growth opportunities.





Top Feeder Schools for MBB


Unsurprisingly, the MBB firms look to hire the crème de la crème of business school graduates, where they are also the top recruiters. McKinsey is the single largest recruiter of MBA graduates globally.


The business school to MBB pipeline is heavily skewed towards several ‘feeder’ schools. These schools have an established history of supplying the MBBs with a steady stream of consulting grads. The MBB firms also target these schools for summer internships, which are often converted to full-time roles depending on the recruit’s performance.


So if you’re a consulting applicant looking to get into an MBB firm, it’s wise to choose schools that have a record of having relationships with the MBB.


This is not to say that these are the only business schools that MBB firms recruit from. As they want to hire a diverse, highly competitive pool of consultants, a significant number of non-feeder schools also see graduates recruited into the MBB firms. For example, Bain hired from 40 different schools in 2022, many of them outside the US.


While the data on the MBB firms’ target schools is not publicly available (they don’t want to deter graduates from non-feeder schools from applying!) they reveal their hand through tailored programs designed for incoming MBA students at certain target schools. This includes McKinsey’s exclusive Early Access program, BCG’s Unlock summer program, and Bain’s ExperienceBain summer learning program.


These programs offer pre-MBA students the opportunity to explore a career in consulting, with behind-the-scenes insights and interactions with consultants and leaders. It’s a great way to build your consulting network early and get your foot in the door when it comes to landing a summer internship.


Poets&Quants published a list of the schools that MBB firms target for their pre-MBA learning experience. In addition to the M7 schools, some of the top feeder schools for MBBs are UCLA Anderson, Michigan Ross, UVA Darden, Duke Fuqua, UC Berkeley Haas, Yale, and NYU Stern.


See the full list of top business schools that are on the official 'target list' of the recruiters at MBB firms:



Anderson School of Management, University of California-Los Angeles

Booth School of Business, University of Chicago

Columbia Business School, Columbia University

Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

Fuqua School of Business, Duke University

Haas School of Business, University of California-Berkeley

Harvard Business School, Harvard University

Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University

Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Ross School of Business, University of Michigan

Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford University

Stern School of Business, New York University

The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College

Yale School of Management, Yale University




Anderson School of Management, University of California-Los Angeles

Goizueta Business School, Emory University

Judge Business School, University of Cambridge

Ross School of Business, University of Michigan

SDA Bocconi School of Management, Bocconi University

Haas School of Business, University of California-Berkeley

Kelley School of Business, Indiana University

Saïd Business School, Oxford University

Booth School of Business, University of Chicago

Harvard Business School, Harvard University

Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology

Columbia Business School, Columbia University

HEC Paris, École des hautes études commerciales de Paris

Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cox School of Business, Southern Methodist University

IE Business School, IE University

London Business School

Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford University

Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

IESE Business School, University of Navarra

Marriott School of Business, Brigham Young University

Stern School of Business, New York University

ESADE Business School, Ramon Llull University

INSEAD, Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires

McCombs School of Business, University of Texas-Austin

Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University

ESCP Business School

Jindal School of Management, University of Texas-Dallas

McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University

The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Foster School of Business, University of Washington

Johnson School of Management, Cornell University

Olin Business School, Washington University

Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College

Fuqua School of Business, Duke University

Jones Graduate School of Management, Rice University

Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University

Yale School of Management, Yale University



Anderson School of Management, University of California-Los Angeles

Johnson School of Management, Cornell University

Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

Booth School of Business, University of Chicago

Jones Graduate School of Management, Rice University

Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota

Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford University

Columbia Business School, Columbia University

Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Stern School of Business, New York University

Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California

Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University

Foster School of Business, University of Washington

McCombs School of Business, University of Texas-Austin

The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Fuqua School of Business, Duke University

McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University

Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College

Goizueta Business School, Emory University

Olin Business School, Washington University

Yale School of Management, Yale University

Haas School of Business, University of California-Berkeley

Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University

Harvard Business School, Harvard University

Ross School of Business, University of Michigan


Which School Should You Choose


It’s a good idea to pick schools that are established MBB feeders. But you should also do your research into the schools and consider MBA programs with a consulting-friendly curriculum consulting clubs that will actively help with your case preparation.


For example, some schools offer specific consulting tracks or specializations, like the Oxford Consulting Development Programme or HEC Paris’s MBA specialization in Strategy. Some schools like HBS, IESE and Darden use the “case method” in their classes, which is particularly well suited to consultants. Other schools even offer consulting career treks for students to build their network.


MBB interviews are mostly case-based. Before entering these, it’s crucial for you to do mock case interviews. It’s typical for applicants to do 30-40 practice cases before entering their real case interviews. Many MBA programs have consulting clubs that offer mock case interviews. But you should do your research here, because not all schools offer case preparation in the same way. We’ve heard stories of second years charging a fee to first years for case interviews. On the other hand, we’ve heard from client reports that schools including Kellogg and UNC-KF offer this case preparation for free.


Besides the MBB consultancies, many popular consulting firms like PwC, Deloitte, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Kearney offer lucrative packages and career development opportunities. Other smaller firms may be more localized and tend to work within specialized fields like finance, tech, energy, healthcare, etc. If your goal is to enter one of these fields, consider schools that offer specialized electives. For example, Yale SOM has a strong social impact consulting focus, while UNC Kenan-Flagler offers a healthcare consulting MBA concentration.


To learn more about top schools for consulting graduates, check out our Post-MBA Goals: Consulting article.


Undergrad feeder schools for MBB



While this data includes undergraduate programs, it still gives you a good idea of where firms come to recruit and where they have relationships. Note that this list is based on WSO user data and is in no way exhaustive.


McKinsey

School

Percentage of respondents

UToronto Rotman

4.2%

Michigan Ross

3%

Northwestern Kellogg

3%

Harvard

3%

Dartmouth Tuck

3%

Georgia Tech

3%

UPenn Wharton

2.4%

Duke Fuqua

2.4%

BYU Marriott

2.4%

Rice Jones

2.4%


Bain

School

Percentage of respondents

UT Austin McCombs

5.5%

UVA Darden

4.8%

Harvard

4.1%

Michigan Ross

3.4%

Duke Fuqua

3.4%

Vanderbilt Owen

3.4%

Dartmouth Tuck

2.8%

Brown University

2.8%

UWO Ivey

2.8%

Columbia

2.1%


BCG

School

Percentage of respondents

UPenn Wharton

10%

Yale SOM

5%

MIT Sloan

4.2%

London School of Economics

4.2%

SMU Cox

3.3%

UT Austin McCombs

2.5%

UVA Darden

2.5%

Harvard

2.5%

Columbia

2.5%

Northwestern Kellogg

2.5%

 

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