In Search of: Top Consulting Firms for Business School Grads

Consulting has long been a fruitful career path for business school graduates. With a wide range of work tasks and engagements, high starting salaries, and numerous opportunities for professional growth, it’s no surprise the consulting industry was listed as a top career route by the 2022 Prospective Students Survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council. With so many business school students looking to go into a consulting career after graduating, it pays to know where they’re looking to land, and the Highered Career Destinations report breaks down the top consulting firms among business school graduates.

The report, which surveyed over 3,800 students at 580 business schools, confirmed that a consulting career path is desired by nearly half of the responding students, with the majority of them identifying the Big Four firms of EY, Deloitte, KPMG, and PwC as their top picks. The four stand as the world’s largest accounting and consulting firms in terms of revenue and workforce, and are well known for providing generous compensation, including starting salaries and bonuses. Deloitte tops the list with an average of $150,000 starting salary, not including performance bonuses. In addition to top salaries, the Big Four also offer generous benefits, including ample paid time off, flexible working arrangements, career progression, and professional prestige. While the Big Four dominate the listing, the Big Three firms of BCG, McKinsey, and Bain are close behind, with all three offering higher base salaries than their larger competitors.

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The list also included many boutique firms such as Oliver Wyman and Kearney, which make up for their relatively lesser renown with high salaries and a stronger work-life balance than many of the world’s largest consultancies. Oliver Wyman was ranked the 18th most desirable consulting firm in the business student survey, with the firm ranking second in the list of the best boutique consulting firms published annually by Management Consulted. While the Big Four and Big Three may be the most recognized companies in the industry, many of the smaller firms offer more generous performance bonuses and signing bonuses for students willing to commit early in their budding careers.

With consulting firms facing tough competition to recruit the best and brightest, it’s important for business school students to know which firms are able to offer the best balance of pay, benefits, progression, and prestige, and the Highered Career Destinations report can help them navigate the wealth of options available to those looking to pursue a career in the consulting industry.