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US Business Schools Hit Record MBA Employment Rates Despite Admissions Challenges

Consulting, finance, and technology are still the most sought-after industries for MBA grads

Fri Nov 30 2018

For close observers of the full-time, two-year MBA in the US, 2018 has so far been a year to forget.

The Graduate Management Admission Council’s (GMAC) Application Trends Survey Report this year showed 70% of two-year programs reported a decline in applications in 2018—46% saw a decline in domestic applications, while 71% saw a decline in applications from international students.

But as the year draws to a close, there is a lot of light emerging in the form of MBA employment reports—a barrage of top US business schools have reported strong figures for their most recent graduating class. In terms of hiring, the consulting, financial services, and technology sectors continue to dominate.  

NYU Stern School of Business leads the way, reporting a five-year high in employment figures for the MBA class of 2018. Three months after finishing their degree, 93.7% of graduates were employed, up from 91.3% last year.

Of 2018’s MBA class, 28.4% went into consulting, 26.2% entered investment banking, and 16.5% ventured into technology.

For Beth Briggs, assistant dean of Career Services at NYU Stern, this year’s figures are no surprise.

“We begin working hand-in-hand with our MBA students on the recruitment process before they even arrive on campus for their first semester,” she says.

“Our early and continuous engagement, coupled with the quality of our students and a strong employment market in New York City, has led to great results across a variety of career paths.”

Beth adds that average salaries, signing bonuses, and the number of students reporting signing bonuses is also up compared with last year.

Cornell University: Johnson Graduate School of Management is another school to boast impressive figures this year, with 91% of full-time MBA graduates looking for work accepting a job within three months of finishing their degree.

The most notable increases were in tech hires—18% this year, up 4% from last year—and investment banking—19% in 2018, up 3% from last year.

Of Chicago Booth School of Business’s full-time MBA class of 2018, 31.6% entered financial services, 31% consulting, and 20.3% technology. 96.3% of the class has job offers within three months of graduating.

Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University also saw the three industries dominate. 30% of the MBA class of 2018 entered consulting, 28% entered tech, and 14% financial services. The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business has almost identical numbers to Kellogg—27% of their most recent MBA graduates landed roles in the tech sector, 30.1% went down the consulting route, and 15.7% entered financial services roles.

On top of that, 93% of the school’s MBA graduating class of 2019 were career switchers.

A host of other top US business schools reported well over 90% of their most recent MBA graduates being offered jobs within three months of finishing their degrees—again, their top three industry destinations were consulting, tech, and financial services.

95% of Harvard Business School’s most recent full-time MBA class had job offers within three months of graduating. So too did 96% of both Tuck School of Business and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business’s MBA class of 2018. Fuqua set a record for tech hires this year with 28% of the class landing jobs in the industry.

A stand-out school is Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business with a record year. A staggering 98% of the school’s MBA class of 2018 received job offers within three months of finishing their degrees.

How do international students fare?

As GMAC’s 2018 Corporate Recruiters Survey Report showed, the employment landscape for international students in the US is less rosy than for their domestic peers.

53% of employers surveyed in that report said they had no intention of hiring international graduates; 22% said they were willing to hire but had no plans to; and just 25% said they were actively seeking to hire international business school graduates in 2018.

But international MBA employment data—at least from top US schools—doesn’t paint as poor a picture as may have been expected.

Breaking down the MBA class at Johnson: Cornell, 93% of US work authorized students were offered jobs within three months of graduating compared with 87% of their non-US peers.

Similar numbers came out of Michigan Ross, where 95.2% of US citizens were offered jobs within three months of graduating, compared with 90.4% of foreign nationals.

At Chicago Booth, 96.9% and 95.2% of US citizens and internationals, respectively, received job offers within three months of graduating from the full-time MBA program. 94% of international MBA grads from Tuck School of Business had offers in that time frame too.

At Georgetown McDonough School of Business, 98% of both international and domestic MBA graduates from the class of 2018 had job offers within three months of graduating.

Bill Boulding, dean of Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, puts these results down to a “robust” jobs market.

“The challenge is that there is fierce competition for the talent we’re providing, which means some companies walk away empty handed,” he says. “You don’t want them to walk away empty handed […] because they don’t want to come back again.

“But I’ll take that problem over people who don’t want to come because they don’t want to compete with your talent.”

The data in this article has been sourced direct from the latest MBA employment reports published on the business school websites.