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Management Consulting Courses | Which Modules To Look Out For On Your MBA

Which modules in the MBA curriculum provide the best preparation for a career in consulting? Here are some of the top management consulting courses to look out for

Tue May 14 2024

If you’re aiming to embark on a career in management consulting, a top MBA program is a great launchpad. 

Each year, waves of MBA students from schools across the globe join top consulting firms, with recruitment numbers running into the hundreds at prestigious institutions such as INSEAD and London Business School. 

The business school to consultancy connection is strong. Typically MBAs offer tried and tested routes into the industry, with highly structured recruiting timelines and dedicated consulting clubs in place offering students guidance through the process. 

But it’s more than just a connection that helps students secure consulting jobs each year. 

Top firms including the likes of Bain, McKinsey, Deloitte, Accenture, and Strategy& all hire MBA grads because of their holistic understanding of the fundamentals of business, which can be translated across various projects involving different clients, industries, and problems. 

The generalist MBA curriculum is therefore well suited to the career of a consultant. But are there any specific management consulting courses that aspiring consultants should look out for? 

Here are some of the key subject areas that will prepare you for a consulting career. 

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Management Consulting Courses: 7 Key Modules

1. Strategy 

The role of a consultant is to identify client problems, find solutions, and lead their planning and implementation. Strategic thinking is therefore at the very heart of the advice and value that management consultants offer to their clients. 

Happily, there is almost always some form of strategy taught during a core class within the MBA curriculum. For example, within the INSEAD MBA, an Introduction to Strategy is one of six core modules all students must take. 

Strategy modules focus on how businesses position themselves to create wealth, covering a mixture of objectives and policies, and detailing how organizations utilize resources. Topics may cover subjects such as how companies create a competitive advantage, and how businesses allocate resources to sustain their position. 

2. Corporate Finance 

Consultants often have to advise on data-heavy problems and conduct cost-benefit analyses to best serve their clients. An understanding of the areas of finance that are important for all managers is therefore important for a career in consulting. 

Corporate finance modules offer a key introduction to this area, helping students understand how to value a firm through financial theories and concepts. Specific topics may include frameworks for how firm valuation is carried out, multiple valuations, free cash flow, and optimal capital structure. 

You’ll typically find some form of corporate finance within the core MBA curriculum. Some business schools may list it under a slightly different name, for example London Business School lists a core module offering the same content under the title Finance I. 

3. Data Modeling 

For consultants, data-based modeling is an important skill which allows them to take a structured approach when analyzing complex problems and providing forecasts for solutions. Modeling is a key means by which consultants can use data to make an impact on managerial decisions. 

Modeling is generally taught within the core MBA curriculum. At Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, there are two Business Analytics modules that offer an introduction to analytics and provide students with a toolkit for handling data. On the other hand, students on the LBS MBA learn these skills during the core Data Analytics For Managers course. 

Most MBA programs also offer the opportunity to undertake elective modules and embark on specialized pathways, with more advanced data-based modules typically among the options. 

4. Operations 

The nature of a consulting project will vary from case to case, however consultants are often faced with problems that relate to organizational processes, including how to improve processes, best practices for planning capacity, and how to effectively manage a supply chain. 

Knowledge of how to manage business operations can therefore be useful for consultants, preparing them to face a wide range of issues. 

Operations is typically a core part of the generalist MBA curriculum. For example, at INSEAD, in the second term MBA students undertake the Process and Operations Management module which teaches them how to analyse and improve a company’s activities, and shows how the external environment can impact a company’s ability to meet customer demands. 

5. Marketing 

Marketing is one of the areas of the core MBA curriculum that delves most deeply into an organization’s relationship with its customers; evaluating how businesses provide value and how they position themselves within their marketplace. 

Conducting market research and developing a deep understanding of a brand are fundamental when beginning a new consulting project, marketing is therefore among the top management consulting courses in the MBA curriculum. 

You’ll be hard-pressed to find an MBA program that doesn’t offer marketing as part of the core study period. Some schools, such as the Indian School of Business (ISB), even offer multiple core marketing modules, with ISB teaching all students both Marketing Management and Marketing Decision Making. 

6. Practical Consulting Projects 

The MBA curriculum is about much more than just learning theories and evaluating cases inside the classroom. Most business schools also incorporate practical learning throughout the MBA journey, allowing students to apply their newfound knowledge to solve real problems. 

Typically coming in the form of strategic consulting projects, business simulators, or capstone projects, these experiences allow students to work with companies and get a taste of life working on real-world projects. 

At London Business School, for example, the MBA Class of 2022 worked with 116 different client companies across more than 200 strategic consulting projects during their studies. 

As an aspiring consultant, these practical learning opportunities should be one of the most important parts of your MBA experience. You’ll gain the chance to bring together all of the skills and knowledge you’ve learned throughout your MBA, and figure out whether solving problems and advising clients is the right career path for you. 

7. Electives and specializations 

These modules, most of which are core to the MBA curriculum, rank among the best management consulting courses to prepare you for this challenging career path. 

As most MBAs also offer the chance to tailor the learning experience in some way, those who particularly take to one subject area can dive deeper during the latter period of their studies, which can provide the platform to become a specialist consultant later in their careers.

Combined, these modules will provide you with the foundations for a career in management consulting. However it’s important to bear in mind that management consulting is about having soft skills, as well as a holistic business acumen. 

Dealing with a variety of clients on a regular basis will require you to have strong communication skills; you’ll need to be just as comfortable negotiating with stakeholders as you are presenting a forecast. You’ll also need to be agile as you navigate complex issues, and prepared to adapt when things go wrong. 

Alongside your studies in-class, it’s therefore important to seize any opportunities to work on your soft skills while studying your MBA. Make the most of elements such as group projects, leadership workshops, or career coaching, as they can be fundamental as you progress in your career.

For more info about what it's like to work in consulting, the perks and salaries you could gain, and tips on how to successfully become a management consultant, download our BusinessBecause Consulting Guide