The Best MBA Programs by Function

If you’re like most of us, you’re probably tempted to choose your target MBA programs solely based on the rankings.  

And we get it, the rankings are important. But they’re not everything. In fact, we would argue that it’s WAY more important to go to a school that you know will you help you get the job you want post-MBA than anything else.  

Yes, the culture is important and yes, geography is important. But if you know that you want to be a Marketing Manager at P&G post-MBA, then the culture and geography won’t matter at all if you aren’t well-positioned for that job. 

So smart

So, how do you know if a given MBA program will position you well for any job?

One way is to look at their Placement Reports. Almost every school, when a class graduates, puts out a report telling the public where their graduates went to work. We collected all this data across schools, cleaned it up, and did some crosstab magic to determine which MBA programs were particularly strong in various functions and industries.

In this article we’re going to look at school placement by function.  To look at school placement by industry, check out our article on top business school programs by industry here.

CReport - Blog Images_03 PostMBA Function Top 30

Quick reminder: function has to do with your day to day job responsibilities.

For example, you could be in General Management and work in any industry – oil & gas, retail, etc. Functions tend to be industry-agnostic.  

In our experience, far more of our clients have homed in on their chosen function than their preferred industry. This is because your function is what determines the kinds of problems you’ll be solving and the work you’ll be doing on a day-to-day basis. Marketing in a tech company has much more in common with marketing in a financial services firm than it does with finance in a tech company. Your function dictates the content of your work. 

While it’s generally true that most schools place students in all functions, looking closely at placement stats will give you a sense of the competitive landscape for your chosen field, especially if you’re set on doing a less common function like Product Management or Human ResourcesThese numbers can also help you figure out how likely you’ll be to source your job on campus versus via an off-campus job search

Magnifying Glass

School placement stats are shorthand for which schools have a strong reputation for those functional areasIf a lot of students go into a given function, chances are, there is heavy on campus recruiting for those jobs. When only a few students go into a given function, it’s more likely that those grads had to do significant networking and searching on their ownYou can get your MBA dream job either way, but it’s best to know what it’s going to take to get that job before you choose your dream schools! 

How to use this information

Below, we’re going to show you a ton of information about which MBAs have the best outcomes for various functions, e.g. which MBA program sends the most graduates into marketing. We’re going to show both the number and percentage of graduates that go into each function. This is important because schools vary tremendously in size. Take Manufacturing, for example, you’ll see that 19% of Georgia Tech grads go into Manufacturing, while only 5% of HBS grads go into Manufacturing. But if you look at the number of students, since HBS is a much bigger school than Georgia Tech, that ends up being 12 grads from Georgia Tech and 47 from HBS. Both data points are important. The percentage helps you determine which functions are well-represented at different MBA programs, while the number helps you determine the actual number of job opportunities coming out of each MBA program.   

Brand new information

Here’s how we compiled this information.

We downloaded each schools career placement report for the Class of 2018, we extracted and compiled the data, and we did our best to compare the data apples to apples. If a school did not report their data the same way, or only provided partial career data, we’ve excluded them from the charts as necessary. Otherwise, we went as granular as we could with the data. For more information, head over and download complete report What’s the Best MBA Program for You? and check our Appendix and Methodology for further explanation and links to the original data.  

What’s the best MBA Program for Your Function?

In the following charts, we’ve taken the Placement Reports and looked at them by Function. 

This first chart shows what percentage of graduates go into each function. You’ll see that consulting, finance, and marketing/sales take up the majority of the graph – similar to what we saw above. But here, you can look by school.  

For example, let’s look at the Marketing / Sales function – the medium blue bar. At MIT Sloan, a small percentage of students go into this function, while at Minnesota Carlson, it’s the most represented function, by far. This will start to help you decipher your job opportunities by MBA program. 

CReport - Blog Images_07 Percent of Grads by Function This next chart shows the number of graduates that enter each function. As we mentioned above, this is important since some of the schools have much smaller programs than others.

CReport - Blog Images_08 Number of Grads by FunctionNote: We’ve aggregated this data as reported by schools. However, not all schools report all functions, so if you see a function reported as zero, it likely means that function was combined into another function. For example, Stanford reports zero Business Development, but it’s likely captured within Marketing/Sales, Strategic Planning, or Finance 


What if you know exactly what function you want to do post-MBA? In that case, it might help to look at which schools will help you do that. See below for a breakdown of the data by function, ranked in order of which MBA programs send the most students into that function.

CReport - Blog Images_11 Industry Consulting

CReport - Blog Images_12 Industry Manufacturing

We’ve given you consulting and manufacturing here. If you want a close look at all the other functions, including Marketing and Sales, General Management, Operations, Product Management, Business Development, Strategic Planning, IT, and HRdownload our full report: What’s The Best MBA Course for You? 

Here’s a list of some surprises you’ll find in the report!!

  • Kellogg sends a higher percentage of students to consulting (32%) than marketing (19%), despite its strong reputation for marketing. 
  • In fact, the schools sending the highest percentage of students into marketing are Minnesota Carlson (47%) and Foster (41%) – likely due to their strong regional connections with consumer goods companies. 
  • Yale sends one of the highest percentages of students into consulting (35%) despite its reputation for social sector leadership. 


And a big stereotype confirmed…

  • Wharton and Stern send a greater percentage of grads into finance than any other schools (37% and 34% respectively), followed closely by Columbia (32%). The Wall Street Proximity Finance Advantage is real!! 

We know it’s tempting to make MBA decisions based on stereotypes — just make sure you do your research to validate if they’re true or not first!! Go get our report for more in-depth data and many more insights!! 

Wanna know more? check out this YouTube video about it!!

MBA career report