Top MBA Programs for a Career in Consulting

An overview of the best business schools for those who want to pursue a career in consulting, including the percentage of graduates in the industry and average base salaries.

Posted February 3, 2023

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One of the most popular jobs for recent MBA graduates is management consulting. Sometimes, people working in consulting advance their career by getting an MBA while others use their MBA as an entry into the sector. The MBB firms–McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, and Bain & Company–are the top firm destinations by revenue. An MBA can also lead to a career as an internal consultant, someone who advises firms on strategy and development.

Business schools rarely offer specializations in consulting; however, some offer concentrations in strategy or strategic management. Most MBA programs also feature relevant classes in their core or elective offerings, or have chances for students to work on consulting projects for school credit. Many of the top business schools have good relationships with top consulting firms and hold on-campus recruiting sessions to give their students opportunities to network and find positions.

Here is a list of the top ten business schools in the U.S. for entering a career in consulting.

1. Kellogg School of Management – Northwestern University

% Graduates in Consulting: 33.2%

Average Consulting Base Salary: $155,555

Average Signing Bonus: $27,151

Kellogg places special emphasis on teamwork, collaboration, and executive presence. Most of their projects and homework are completed in teams and peer-reviewed. And in consulting, nothing is more important than teamwork and problem-solving skills. Kellogg also offers a major in Strategy and pathways in Asset Management and Data Analytics.

Learn more at The Kellogg School of Management — MBA Program & Application Overview.

2. Tuck School of Business – Dartmouth College

% Graduates in Consulting: 36%

Average Consulting Base Salary: $158,353

Average Signing Bonus: $30,000

The oldest business school, Tuck’s graduates are not only known as team players but team leaders as well. Each student is required to come up with a personal leadership development program. They only admit 250 students per year, one reason for the collaborative and tight-knit atmosphere of the program. The school offers many relevant elective courses like Client Project Management, Advanced Competitive Strategy, OnSite Global Consulting, and FinTech Topics, among others.

Read more about the program at Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business—MBA Program & Application Overview.

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3. Harvard Business School

% Graduates in Consulting: 23%

Median Consulting Base Salary: $165,000

Median Signing Bonus: $30,000

At Harvard Business School, the goal is to mold future leaders. The ability to prioritize what is important separates good leaders from great leaders. This is why HBS is constantly trying to improve the decision-making skills of its students. Its students are also taught how to influence others, one of the main reasons why the HBS alumni network is known for keeping classmates connected and loyal to their alma mater decades after graduation. They are the hotbed for recruiting management consultants, especially for McKinsey, Bain, and BCG.

Learn more about HBS at Harvard Business School—MBA Program and Application Overview

4. Columbia Business School

% Graduates in Consulting: 36.1%

Median Consulting Base Salary: $165,000

Median Signing Bonus: $30,000

Located close to Wall Street, Columbia Business School is known for its academic excellence and relationships with the finance industry. Its graduates are known for their strong quantitative skills, which are the backbone of many consulting jobs. The school also offers an opportunity to focus on Decision & Risk Analysis, which includes coursework designed to provide an excellent foundation for a career in consulting. Classes in this focus include security pricing, risk management, and supply chain management, among others.

More details can be found at Columbia Business School — MBA Program & Application Overview.

5. Sloan School of Management – Massachusetts Institute of Technology

% Graduates in Consulting: 34.8%

Average Consulting Base Salary: $153,649

Average Signing Bonus: $29,382

Many of the MBA candidates at Sloan enter consulting upon completion of their degree. For the class of 2021-2022, the MBB firms were among the top employers with McKinsey hiring 30 individuals, BCG hiring 29, and Bain hiring 11. The school’s curriculum is globally-focused, giving students an opportunity to study abroad and learn multicultural business practices. It also offers a finance track for MBA candidates who are planning to exit into a finance role.

Discover more at MIT Sloan—MBA Program and Application Overview.

6. Wharton School – University of Pennsylvania

% Graduates in Consulting: 27.2%

Median Consulting Base Salary: $165,000

Median Signing Bonus: $30,000

Since 1881, Wharton has had a reputation for producing innovative, globally-minded graduates with strong finance skills. Its students are usually very adept at quantitative skills and have a firm understanding of international markets. Wharton offers several relevant majors for students interested in consulting including Business Analytics, Finance, International Business, Marketing and Operations, Organizational Effectiveness, and Strategic Management.

Learn more at Wharton Business School — MBA Program & Application Overview.

7. Booth School of Business – University of Chicago

% Graduates in Consulting: 35.9%

Median Consulting Base Salary: $165,000

Median Signing Bonus: $30,000

The Booth School of Business is known for its excellence in finance. Its faculty is world-class, with six Nobel Laureates as professors. They also have a far-reaching alumni network, with connections at every top consulting firm in the world. Booth offers many different electives to give its MBA candidates maximum flexibility. Those relevant to consulting include Industry Analysis, Strategy Simulation, Managerial Decision Modeling, and Cost Analysis & Internal Controls, among others.

Get more details at Chicago Booth—MBA Program and Application Overview

8. Darden School of Business – University of Virginia

% Graduates in Consulting: 33.8%

Average Consulting Base Salary: $157,298

Average Signing Bonus: Not Reported

Darden is known for its well-rounded education and emphasis on practical skills, like negotiation, sales, and leadership. It also focuses on developing its students into individuals with strong character and integrity. Darden offers a concentration in Strategy Consulting and elective courses specifically tailored to the industry, such as Strategy Seminar, The Consulting Process, Darden Consulting Projects, and Operations Strategy, among others.

More details can be found at The University of Virginia Darden School of Business — MBA Program & Application Overview.

9. Fuqua School of Business – Duke University

% Graduates in Consulting: 33%

Average Consulting Base Salary: $156,275

Average Signing Bonus: $34,958

Fuqua School of Business emphasizes teamwork in the classroom. There is a tremendous culture of collaboration which gives students a leg up at firms such as Bain. Their school year has a different structure than other full-time MBA programs, giving students a wide and diverse range of course offerings. Of the graduates that entered the consulting industry in 2021, 93% went to strategy or management consulting, 4% to internal, and 1% to economic, implementation, and operations. Consulting has consistently been the industry with the highest percentage of Fuqua MBA graduates entering it upon completion of their degrees.

Learn more at Duke Fuqua—MBA Program and Application Overview

10. Berkeley Haas – University of California

% Graduates in Consulting: 30.8%

Average Consulting Base Salary: $154,182

Average Signing Bonus: $30,929

Students at Berkeley Haas work collaboratively with peers and faculty in small group classroom settings. The school offers a unique International Business Development Program (IDP) that allows students to work as part of a team on actual consulting projects. Its graduates are therefore well-versed in the external and internal issues that can affect business processes. Berkeley also offers a Strategy/Consulting emphasis for which MBA candidates can take courses tailored to the skills required in the consulting industry.

Discover more at the University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business—MBA Program & Application Overview.

Where Can I Start?

If you’re interested in a career in Management Consulting, read these articles to get a head start:

Coach Recommendations

If you prefer to work one-on-one with a coach for help getting into a top MBA program for consulting or as you navigate the consulting application process, here are some of our top coaches for consulting:

And here are several for MBA admissions:

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