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Choosing the Best Business School for Consulting

CONSULTING AT KELLOGG

The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University sends more of its MBAs to consulting jobs each year than many other leading U.S. business schools. Upon graduation in 2016, 33 percent of Kellogg’s graduates headed off to jobs at leading consulting firms, down just slightly from the last four years, during which the school sent 35 to 36 percent into the field.

Top hirers for the Kellogg Class of 2016 include the most prestigious consulting firms around, with McKinsey taking 43 Kellogg grads, Bain & Company hiring 24, BCG snapping up 25, and Deloitte wooing 21. If summer internships are any indication—and they often are—the Class of 2017 can hope to do equally as well.

In terms of pay, the average base salary for 2016 Kellogg graduates headed into consulting was $138,204, and the median was $145,000. The average signing bonus was $29,193.

Kellogg’s Classroom, Curriculum, and Professors

As for how consultants are trained at Kellogg, the school offers its students not one but two consulting majors and two pathways to choose from as they prepare for consulting careers. Its broad Operations major appeals to students interested in general management as well as those interested in functional areas of operations or supply chain management. On the other hand, the Strategy major combines analytical thinking with rigorous attention to detail to look at firm behavior, market structure, and organizational design. Finally the Data Analytics and Growth and Scaling pathways allow MBAs to dive deep into analytics and business growth for more experiential learning.

In addition to deep subject-matter expertise and path-breaking research, many Kellogg faculty members bring strong ties to consulting firms. William Garret, who is a clinical assistant professor of management, worked as a McKinsey consultant before coming to Kellogg. Florian Zettelmeyer, the faculty director of the Program on Data Analytics, worked for McKinsey before obtaining his PhD.

Beyond the Kellogg Classroom

Kellogg’s strength in training would-be consultants extends well beyond the classroom. The Kellogg Consulting Club is one of the largest student organizations at the school, counting several hundred full-time students as members each year. Through training sessions, panels, a speaker series, and a mentorship program, the club helps students decide whether a management consulting career is right for them, prepare for the management consulting job search, convert summer internships into full-time offers, and choose between multiple offers.

Each fall, the club holds dozens of training sessions and workshops, providing mock interviews and resume review with second-year students, as well as more than 50 events in which practicing consultants come to campus to share first hand with students what a consultant’s work is really like. These events drew representatives from McKinsey, Bain, BCG, Deloitte, Accenture, and others.

In addition to the robust offerings of the student-led Consulting Club, Kellogg also is home to the General Motors Research Center for Strategy in Management, which supports ongoing research on business strategy, and the Kellogg Team and Group Research Center, whose research focuses on understanding and improving the performance of teams in organizations.

Annual conferences and other speaker events round out the consulting-focused extracurricular offerings at Kellogg, along with case competitions that have been hosted by both BCG and Deloitte in recent years as part of their recruiting calendar.

CONSULTING STRENGTHS EXTEND BEYOND DARDEN, INSEAD, and KELLOGG

For the purposes of this post, we’ve focused our attention on Darden, INSEAD, and Kellogg, but that is in no way meant to suggest that these three schools are the only ones you should consider if your career choice is consulting. Indeed, there are many other schools that command the attention of consulting recruiters and send dozens of their graduates into high-paying consulting roles.

In 2016, Emory University’s Goizueta Business School sent 38 percent of its MBA graduates into a consulting career. To prepare its students for this, Emory offers five separate consulting concentrations including in healthcare consulting, management consulting, marketing consulting, operations consulting, and strategy consulting. Each of these concentrations comes with more than a dozen elective courses covering a variety of topics from forecasting and predictive analytics to negotiations and consumer behavior.

And at Columbia Business School, McKinsey, Bain, and BCG between them took 118 CBS grads in 2016. All told, an impressive 38.1 percent of the CBS class went into consulting that year. Students can hone their consulting skills while in school by participating in the student-run Columbia Small Business Consulting Program, which matches MBA students with local small businesses and nonprofit organizations for semes­ter-long consulting engagements.

MIT Sloan’s School of Management, for its part, sent 30.5 percent of its 2016 MBA class into consulting. A key to this are the 15 Action Learning Labs where students work side by side with corporate and nonprofit partners to apply their classroom knowledge to high-impact business challenges. The labs cover a variety of topics from analytics to entrepreneurship, healthcare to China.

At Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, 31 percent of its 2017 MBA graduates went into consulting post graduation by function and 21 percent by industry. As for who hired these graduates, 16 went to McKinsey & Company, 11 to Bain & Company, and 8 to BCG. As for where students have the opportunity to hone their skills, there’s the Tuck Student Consulting Service, or TSCS, which provides hands-on consulting experience through short-term projects as well as a series of workshops. There’s also the Tuck Global Consultancy (TGC) elective, which has seen TGC teams work with almost 100 organizations to complete almost 150 projects across more than 45 countries.

And the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School offers its students a Global Consulting Practicum each spring. As part of this 1.5-credit course, student teams work with groups from one of 11 international partner schools to support a client’s entrance into or growth in the North American market, traveling to the client’s site during winter break and returning to Wharton to work on the project. Wharton’s student-run Consulting Club also hosts an annual Consulting Conference that brings together industry leaders and experts as keynote speakers and panelists. This year’s keynote firms include Deloitte and Strategy&.

All of this is to say that many of the leading business schools have proven strengths in consulting. We hope through this post to have helped you get a better understanding of how to compare and contrast the consulting offerings at different top schools as you narrow in on the choice that makes the most sense for your individual goals.

Posted in: Admissions Tips, Careers, Decision Tips, MBA Career Strategy, MBA News, News, Planning Tips, School Selection Guides

Schools: Columbia, Dartmouth / Tuck, Emory / Goizueta, INSEAD, MIT Sloan, Northwestern / Kellogg, UPenn / Wharton, UVA / Darden

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