How does MBB view an applicant with a PhD in a business field opposed to MBA?

ArnoldDice1's picture
Rank: Monkey | 48

Do most top consulting firms view an applicant with a Ph.D. in the same light as someone with an MBA in the recruiting process? What are the pros and cons of applying to top management consulting firms with a Ph.D. in a business field?

Comments (5)

Dec 1, 2017

I'll try to answer this, a few notes before I start:

1) I'm in college, this is all stuff i've found out through calls to ppl at MBB's, not first hand info
2) Some info may be outdated/will definitely differ on a firm by firm basis

With regards to McKinsey specifically, I know that you come in as an associate (same as Post MBA)- not sure if the pay is the same, but they recruit on a number of top research universities as well as some lesser known ones for PhD's.

*A caveat here is that I haven't seen many PhD's in a BUSINESS field go into consulting (although I'm sure there are some), many just have one in Bioengineering or something of the sort.

Now, even though they recruit from some PhD universities, it is definitely more untraditional, and I don't think you can bank on it. In addition, with an MBA there are lots of backup plans (big company leadership program, tech, other consulting firms), while PhD's might only be targeted by a few handful of firms that have structured programs.

If you haven't done the PhD yet, and your only goal is to use it to get into consulting, I'd say thats a pretty bad idea. Not only will you waste 4 years doing research, but its not surefire. However, if you're already IN the PhD program, I think its possible, as long as you fit the profile/school.

if you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you'll be successful

Dec 2, 2017


As a PhD, you will be in a totally different recruiting process at BCG & McK (not sure about Bain). This recruiting process is specific to PhDs and other advanced degrees (main reason for the separate process is that you cannot do a summer internship as a PhD).

BCG & McK are actively recruiting more PhDs, although most come from the sciences. The number of slots for PhD candidates as a % of total slots increasing. I cannot say if one's chances as a PhD vs. an MBA are higher or lower. However, if your goal is to be a consultant at MBB, it will be much quicker to just get your MBA.

As a PhD in the US, you will enter at the same level as an MBA. I am not sure if this is true across all the firms in Europe (I believe you may enter at a slightly more junior level, essentially a more tenured post-undergrad position).

Does that help?

Dec 2, 2017

Boutique consultancy here:
We have PhDs, same recruitment process but different positions designated for them. Depending on previous leadership experience in combination with their specialty they might end up in a lead position straight after hiring.
I don't think a PhD is a problem within a consultancy but ROI might be different for each candidate (time vs. expectation and real life work experience).

Dec 2, 2017