Lowest ranked B School for MBB recruiting

Conventional wisdom here would suggest that you need to go to a M7/T10 school to give yourself a decent chance of making it to MBB, You can make it from a T15 school, but the chances are lower.

However, I've noticed on LinkedIn that people from UW Foster (USNR #27) & UM Twin Cities (USNR #32) do make it to MBB (I'm not talking about sponsored MBB kids, but career switchers). Although it seems like they're always in the Seattle or Minneapolis offices. I'm not talking about 1 or 2. These schools seems to send a few grads to MBB every year. I know those are not Kellogg numbers, but what does that tell us about MBB recruiting?

I mean wouldn't it suck if you made it to Wharton and had to settle for a Tier 2 consulting firm while someone from a school ranked #32 makes it to McKinsey?

Now, I know there is a lot more to gain from B School than land a gig at MBB, but it seems to me that where you go to school matters a little less than people think on WSO.

Also noticed that UT Austin McCombs (USNR #17) doesn't send anyone to MBB, but schools ranked lower send a few kids.


Comments (28)

Nov 11, 2017 - 2:19pm

in my limited view, id argue that M7 candidates are increasingly shunning careers in MBB/IB due to the hours, in favor of Tech/Start-ups

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Nov 11, 2017 - 8:25pm

There's a trend towards tech/startups but I most certainly would not say that folks are "shunning" consulting or banking. At M7, in terms of number of people recruiting, it's typically consulting>tech>IB.

The numbers don't tell the whole story though. Many people recruit for both consulting and tech (while bankers tend to be all in on banking). From what I've seen, most people would take MBB over tech but might take tech roles over T2 consulting. That's not set in stone though, there are a lot of preferences that come in to play, and most would be 60-70% not 80-90%.

It's worth noting that tech salaries are way up yoy which helps to drive the trend.

Finally, tech has its own culture ups and downs, it's not all 9-5 and beer pong, especially for the post-MBA roles. I'd take the culture at Bain over Amazon any day.

A lot of people try start-ups their first year as a swing for the fences, if it falls through many of those folks try to recruit for consulting or corporates second year.

There are fewer people recruiting for banking, but most of those folks (somewhat by necessity) are much more focused in what they want to do and are "banking or bust".

To @Gibbs - you're right, they're not M7 numbers. I went to Booth. I just checked our last full employment report (2015-2016) and we placed 144 people in consulting, roughly 1/3 of the class. Of those, 73 went to MBB. I'll tell you that probably half the school recruits for full time consulting somewhat seriously at some point, which means that of the 50% that try for consulting, roughly 2/3 get offers, and 1/3 of those offers are at MBB. 70+ candidates from just one M7 vs probably 1-5 from Foster. I'll tell you where I'd rather be recruiting from.

If I were to meet a Foster MBB who landed a full time offer at McKinsey (in a generalist role, not ops or digital) I would not feel jealous, I would recognize that this is probably an absolutely stellar candidate to have landed a spot against those kinds of numbers from other programs.

Finally, at the end of the day, the Booth brand means more on a resume, out of state tuition and expenses at Foster are probably still $150k (cheaper, but not much) and the quality of coursework and talent level of your classmates aren't on par. Also, you might land at MBB, but the network of yours that lands at top jobs is much smaller, also a major factor.

To be perfectly honest - I think I'm happier with my Booth MBA and first year post-MBA T2 consulting gig than I would have been having gone to Foster and landing at McKinsey. I still think my longer term prospects are much better. For context, pretty much every single person at an M7 could probably go to Foster for free. I received multiple free ride offers from 20-50 ranked schools that I didn't even apply to (they found me through GMAC). Taking the sticker price at Booth is definitely not something I regret.

Nov 12, 2017 - 7:42am

I agree with you. I went to a not so great school for undergrad, and the one thing I still hate about my experience was the quality of my classmates. I never felt challenged or inspired by them. And although by sheer luck, I managed to land a decent F50 FLDP - I could have easily not had a job at graduation. I understand how hard it is to get a job coming out of a no name school, however I managed to beat the odds. Whole point of this thread was it can be done - but very difficult and you do yourself a lot of favours by coming out of a target school.

If I got in Booth (no $) vs. Foster/Minnesota full rides, I'd probably take Booth. But if I got a full ride from Darden and no $ from Booth. I would think long and hard.

I'm applying R2 to 1 M7 (Booth); 1 T10, 1 T15 and 1 T20.

Nov 12, 2017 - 1:31pm

Technically, the lowest ranked bschools to get an MBB offer are in the 20-30 range - but those are rare exceptions. Also, McCombs does send a few people to MBB.

But the chances of getting an MBB interview are SIGNIFICANTLY higher at M7 and Top 15 programs. @BreakingOutOfPWM gave good numbers. M7 programs send people to MBB by the boatload. It's an uphill battle getting an MBB interview outside the Top 15-20 schools - the ones who do are rockstars.

I'd say a school in the 10-15 range is the lowest you can go to realistically have a chance at getting a job at MBB and maximizing ROI. Fuqua is a good example - about 30% go into consulting and out of those about 1/4 end up at MBB.

For a field like strategy consulting where you go to school honestly does matter.

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Nov 13, 2017 - 12:19pm

To OP, your observation about the lower ranked schools sending MBB candidates to Seattle or Minneapolis is the key thing to note here.

Regional offices will always need bodies, and will use the local business schools to find talent.

If you're content working in a regional office post-MBA, then the lower ranked MBA is probably fine. If you want to go work in a major centre (NYC, SF, DC, etc.) you'll likely need the better school to do so.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw
Nov 13, 2017 - 1:46pm


To OP, your observation about the lower ranked schools sending MBB candidates to Seattle or Minneapolis is the key thing to note here.

Regional offices will always need bodies, and will use the local business schools to find talent.

If you're content working in a regional office post-MBA, then the lower ranked MBA is probably fine. If you want to go work in a major centre (NYC, SF, DC, etc.) you'll likely need the better school to do so.

Wait, I'm confused. I thought what office you work in doesn't matter, especially at McKinsey, given their national/global staffing model. I understand that BCG/Bain have more of a local staffing model. However, I can't imagine that your opportunities will be limited at McKinsey because you're in the Charlotte/Cleveland/Minneapolis offices. Do you think that is the case?

All this assuming that you are a generalist consultant, not Tech or Ops.

Nov 13, 2017 - 7:30pm

I think what he's saying is that less popular or smaller offices will source from local T10-30 schools more readily than the large hubs, not that the opportunities are measurably different.

Others here provided plenty of info so I'll give you some info on one location's postgraduate offerees as some perspective for you to factor in (major hub >50 offers). I was a bit surprised at how lopsided it looks, but that could be the ignorance talking.

63% from M7 MBA (w/ Columbia as 7th), 74% if MDs/PhDs from those schools included
20% from T8-T15 MBA

The other 6% was everything else, mostly from around the region, with one MBA from a T30-T40 school and the rest non-MBAs.

One other aspect I'd note, dovetailing off your last sentence, is that McKinsey doesn't seem to discriminate between business schools as far as generalist vs. other positions is concerned. In the above categories, it was ~60% generalist, ~40% non-generalist (BTO, Ops, Implementation, Marketing/Sales) across the board. Everyone who was offered Senior Implementation Coach positions actually hailed from T5 programs.

Nov 13, 2017 - 1:52pm

This is very true. Also, people choose regionally strong MBAs because they want to stay in that region / build a network in that region. There are candidates at both of those schools who maybe could have gone M7 but you know what, really want to spend their entire career in Minneapolis and that program makes sense for them. There are candidates who are a their "ceiling" at those schools. Basically, there are smart people everywhere and people make choices for a lot of different reasons.

Nov 13, 2017 - 3:40pm


Also, I don't want to start another @Rufus1234" thread, but are Seattle or Minneapolis really that bad places ? They seem to have multiple F500 HQs there.

I do understand that you'll probably get to work on higher profile projects from a NYC/SF office.

It depends on where you are at in your life, what you're looking for, where your family and friends are, etc. I'm not going to say one city is categorically "good" or "bad" for everyone. That would be absurd.

If you are married and looking to raise children, Seattle is a fantastic place: no state or city tax (who knows how long this will last with the socialists in charge), beautiful scenery, lot of family friendly activities, pretty decent parks, great public schools, amenities of a major city but maintains the culture and ambience of a suburb.

However, if you are a single man, Seattle is literally hell on Earth.

Nov 13, 2017 - 1:48pm

Angus Macgyver:

Note also that in employment reports it'll just indicate X amount of people going to whichever MBB firm, but that isn't just strategy consulting. All of MBB are really aggressively hiring into their ops and tech practices, which isn't necessarily the case at a place like LEK/ATK/OW/whatever.

I understand that. However, I think McKinsey Minneapolis office seems to pull in a few generalist consultants from UM Twin Cities FT MBA. as career switchers. I am not going to post links, but a quick LinkedIn search will reveal that.

Nov 15, 2017 - 11:23am

1) Tech roles paying better is debatable. Some do, some don't, and if they do it's because of RSUs, not cash comp. Also, the raises in consulting if you stay in are much higher (+10-15% a year in non-promotion years).
2) Lifestyle, lifestyle, lifestyle. Tech may have better hours but vs. IB you come out way ahead.
3) The actual work. Some people find consulting work very stimulating (especially vs. IB).

Honestly, the fact that you asked a question that boils down to "why do people take jobs with lower comp" shows me you don't really know much about a) jobs or b) life.

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Nov 15, 2017 - 12:01pm


Why do MBAs like to go into consulting when finance/tech roles pay better? Is it a intentional choice due to lack of technical skills/long hours and bad work life balance or is it a passive choice?

I'll try to answer for myself.

1.) I did not do banking or consulting after college - so I feel like I missed out on some level of professional/personal development that comes with working with smart and competitive colleagues - so I would like to do make up for that post B School. Also, I think the high COL and Taxes of living in NYC would negate the point of higher earnings from Banking.

2.) I am a bit on the older side, will be 30 when I graduate B School - there is no way I can handle banking hours

3.) Personally not interested in Tech. I really really would not like to live in CA. Again, the high COL and Taxes are a deal breaker for me. At least you get NYC!!! for the cost of living in NYC. CA doesn't offer that.

4.) I still have not figured out what I would like to do with my career, and consulting will give me the generalist experience in multiple industries. Would like to exit to a GM role in a F500 role after doing a few years in consulting.

5.) The pay is quite good. Probably the best base pay out of B School save some high profile jobs which aren't accessible if you don't have the proper background anyway. - And hopefully you can live in a low COL city.

6.) The idea of traveling constantly appeals to me. (I'll probably change my mind when I have to do it every week).

Nov 15, 2017 - 4:08pm

I will be attending a top mba program soon and I intend to recruit for consulting. I'd prefer consulting over banking, just because I find the work in mgmt consulting more interesting and intriguing compared to banking.

Regarding the comment above about banking comp vs consulting comp: at this level marginal comp differences are not major drivers in job / career choice. Most ppl heading to top 15 mba were already making decent money and for them their pursuit of mba is largely based on finding a career that is better aligned with their interests and passion.

I should add also - getting a top consulting job is way more difficult than getting a top banking job, both at undergrad and mba levels. just ask yourself what is more difficult: competing agaisnt other bright folks in case interviews where you are judged on poise, creativity, and analytical chops, compared to banking where mostly it's all based on bullshit fit questions and maybe some basic accounting / finance questions, for which you can prepared in a week

That said, I would still pick top banking jobs over tier 2 consulting. If i get mbb + ow + lek offer -> i will take those over banking. The reason for that is because i used to work at Deloitte tech consulting before and i saw a bunch of newly hired mba s&o consultants getting laid off / fired for lack of utilization, due to lack of projects. Also outside of MBB, ow, lek the caliber of work isn't as good, so your exit ops and skillset development aren't as good. Considering above, Id rather take a top banking offer over second tier mgmt consulting offer.

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