Partner Sites

Logo BusinessBecause - The business school voice
mobile search icon

Deloitte, Accenture, McKinsey: What Are The Top Consulting Firms For B-School Students?

Consulting is the most popular career route after business school, with companies such as Accenture and McKinsey among the top consulting firms for b-school grads

Mon Mar 27 2023

Over the years, consulting has remained one of the most desirable industries for business school graduates. The 2022 Prospective Students Survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) listed consulting as the top career route for people considering b-school.

With the high salaries, opportunities for growth, and diversity of work tasks, among many other advantages, this doesn’t come as a surprise.

The new Highered Career Destinations report, which surveyed over 3,800 students at 580 business schools, confirmed the popularity of the consulting industry among business school students, with nearly half–44%–of respondents wanting to enter this sector.

The report also revealed which firms business school students consider to be top among the consulting industry. The list included some big-name players including the Big Four accounting and professional services firms, the Big Three consultancies, and boutique firms such as Grant Thorton and Oliver Wyman. 

Here we break down the top consulting firms among business school graduates. 

Download: BusinessBecause Resume Guide: 10 Top Tips For Application Success


Students feel Big Four are the top consulting firms

One of the report’s main results is the Big Four—Deloitte, EY, PwC, and KPMG–came out as the top consulting firms for business school students. 

The world’s largest accounting and professional services firms in terms of revenue and workforce, these prestigious firms are renowned for offering high salaries with a generous bonus structure.

Deloitte is top of the list, and MBA salaries there are competitive. Deloitte Strategy & Analytics (S&A) offers MBA graduates base salaries of $175,000; Deloitte Consulting provides up to $163,000; Deloitte Federal $128,000; Deloitte Government & Public Services $117,000. 

MBA consultants at Deloitte Human Capital and Deloitte Tech earn $160,000, while master’s level...

05,000 at Deloitte Consulting and around $26,250 in performance bonuses.

Ernst and Young (EY) comes in second, likely due to its top consulting salaries. MBA consultants at EY can expect base consulting salaries of $175,000, while an EY consultant salary for master’s level graduates is $85,000. 

KPMG offers MBA consultants $145,000 in base salary and performance bonuses of up to $17,400 and a signing bonus of up to $35,000, while master’s-level graduates earn $78,000 per year and can expect a signing bonus of up to $10,000.

PwC MBA consultants earn base salaries of $175,000 on joining the firm and up to $40,000 in performance bonuses, and master’s graduates at PwC earn a base salary of $85,000, with a signing bonus of $5,000. 

While salary is important, it is not the only factor in choosing a job. Deloitte, KPMG, and EY also have generous employee benefits with holidays starting at 25 days and KPMG has the ability purchase an extra 10 days a year. However, PwC only offers 15 days of paid vacation including national holidays. 

These impressive starting salaries, plus the career progression and reputation of working at one of the Big Four, are likely why these firms come top of the list. 

READ: How To Get Hired By The Big Three Consulting Firms


McKinsey, Bain, BCG among top consulting firms for students

Known as the Big Three Consulting firms or MBB, McKinsey, Bain, and BCG ranked fifth, sixth, and eighth in the Highered report. 

It’s no surprise to see them among the top consulting firms, though perhaps surprising not to see them higher after leading the Vault 2023 ranking. The MBB are among the largest recruiters of business school graduates, and offer impressive six-figure salaries

McKinsey & Company and Bain & Company offer the highest overall compensation packages among the Big Three. Base salaries at these firms are around $192,000 annually, and Bain also offers performance bonuses of up to $63,000 to MBA graduates. 

BCG consultant salaries are $190,000 for MBA graduates and $110,000 for master’s graduates. All three MBB firms offer higher salaries than the Big Four. 

Regarding aspects outside of salaries, the Big Three are relatively generous with vacation days. Bain offers 25 days PTO for MBA grads and 20 for master’s, McKinsey provides 19 days for both, while BCG offers the lowest of the three with 15 days for both master’s and MBA grads; perhaps a factor as to why it came lower than its counterparts. 

These advantages of salaries and the added benefit of work-life balance account for the MBB’s high position and interest among business school graduates. 

READ: The Highest Paying Boutique Consulting Firms

Top boutiques, Oliver Wyman, Kearney, among students’ top consulting firms

The Big Four and Big Three were not the only consulting firms that drew b-school students’ interest. 

Also featured in the top 20 are large boutique firms like Oliver Wyman and Kearney. While not as famous in name, they offer high salaries and a strong work-life balance. 

Kearney, a US-based consulting firm working across 40 countries, placed 14th in the survey. This firm is likely popular with business school students due to its salaries, work-life balance, and association with the Fortune Global 500. It works with over three-quarters of the Fortune Global 500 and pays MBA hires a starting base salary of $188,000. 

It also has a generous bonus structure, starting with a signing bonus of up to $25,000 and performance bonuses of up to $65,8000, as well as 20 to 30 days of PTO per year. 

Oliver Wyman was listed as the 18th most desirable consulting firm in the business student survey. The firm is ranked second in the list of best boutique consulting firms published yearly by Management Consulted. 

Based in the US, the financial service management consulting firm combines deep industry knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk management, and organization transformation.

Oliver Wyman pays incoming MBA hires a base salary of $190,000, with a performance bonus of up to $36,100. New hires can also access a signing bonus of up to 30k, bringing the total compensation package to around $226k. 

If you sign on early with the company, you can also gain an extra $15,000 in bonuses. 

Boutique consulting firm Accenture—which was born as a division of Arthur Andersen, the former fifth member of the Big Five accounting firms—topped Bain, coming in seventh in popularity among business school students. 

Accenture Strategy, specializing in reinvention, helps clients strategize using insights from AI, data science and deep industry knowledge. 

MBAs joining the firm can expect a base salary of $175,000. Signing with the company gives you a $35,000 bonus, and interns who return to full-time positions are offered an extra $17,500 early sign-on bonus.

First years out of an MBA also get a performance bonus of up to $40,000, with top performers able to add $15,000. Depending on tenure, Accenture offers between 17 and 27 days PTO a year, as well as flexible work arrangements. 

These salaries and bonuses, as well as the acclaim of landing a job at these firms, reflect the high skill level of business school consultants and demonstrate why the industry remains the top destination for b-school grads. 

Top Consulting Firms For Business School Grads

Next Read: 

McKinsey, Bain, BCG Increase MBA Consulting Salaries For 2023