The Best MBA Programs by Industry

When you look at MBA courses, it's likely you'll first look at best business school rankings.  But we would argue that it’s WAY more important to go to a business school that you know will you help you get a job in the industry you want post-MBA.

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, 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.

CReport - Blog Images_05 PostMBA Industry Top 30

If you want to know more about function placement, then check out this article about the Best MBA Programs by FunctionBut for a quick peek into industry placement insights, read on!! 

Quick reminder: industry often connects with your sense of purpose.

The best way to think about choosing an Industry is to think about it like this: you’re choosing what types of world-sized problems you want to solve. Whereas function determines your day-to-day work, industry determines how you’re going to impact the planet. All companies are focused on increasing profits. That’s a given. But if you look at what they are providing to their customers and specifically how they generate profits, you’ll start to find that you prefer one approach to another.  

For instance, the types of problems you’ll solve in the healthcare industry vary dramatically from the types of problems you’re solving in the retail industry. On the high side, the healthcare industry is focused on improving people’s lives through pharmaceutical products, medical devices, and healthcare services that can prolong or improve the quality of life and health. The Consumer Goods industry, on the other hand, is focused on improving people’s lives by creating better, more useful products that solve their day-to-day living problems and needs or through providing a more enjoyable or customized shopping experience. Ultimately, you will want to choose an industry that excites you. When someone asks you about your work, what would you be excited to talk about?  

Another thing to note is that while functions tend to be industry-agnostic (for instanceyou could do Marketing or Operations in any industry), the industry you choose will narrow your expertise. For example, once you become established in Oil & Gas, it becomes harder to move to the Pharmaceutical Industry. Said in other words: once you’ve developed a few years of industry expertise, it can be harder to switch industries than it is to expand functionally within an industry. You could make a move from Corporate Finance in Oil & Gas to Strategy in Oil & Gas easier than you could move to Corporate Finance in a tech company. This is because you are developing very specific human capitalknowledge, skills, and networks that apply specifically to your industry context and don’t necessary translate well to a different industry. So that’s makes it a bit more important to choose the right industry early on.  

There’s one exception to this rule. If you choose an industry like Consulting or Financial Services (such as Investment Banking)where you actually get to work across a number of different industries based on your project or deal, then your mobility is greater. Consulting and Financial Services tend to be feeders into all sorts of other industries, so if you’re not quite sure what industry you want to work in, you might choose one of those two industries post-MBA, rather than risking choosing the wrong industry too early.    

While it’s generally true that most schools place students in all industries, looking closely at placement stats will give you a sense of the opportunities available by school, especially if you’re set on working in a less common industry like Media / Entertainment or Oil & Gas. These 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.

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 industriese.g. which MBA program sends the most graduates to tech companies, etc. 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. 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.   

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 eBook What’s the Best MBA Program for You? and check our Appendix and Methodology for further explanation and links to the original data.  

One more thing. Geography plays a large role in this! Our comparative data sets do not include geographic data — in other words, what state or region recruiters are hiring for — but you can look that up on each school’s website. In general, the higher ranked the MBA, the less geographically focused the recruiters will be who hire on campus. When BCG hires on Wharton’s campus, for example, they are usually hiring for any BCG office around the world, whereas when they recruit at Emory, they are hunting for people primarily for the Atlanta office. At some schools, you’ll find that the company is only recruiting for the local office. If you have geographical constraints, be sure to ask the Career Services office about placement in your preferred geography for the jobs you want!  

There’s one more important role that geography plays. You’ll probably notice that where a school is located influences the industries grads enter. For example, the best MBA programs for media and entertainment are Anderson and USC Marshall – both located in Los Angeles. And the best programs for petroleum and energy are Rice Jones and McCombs – both located in Texas. This mostly happens because of the reason we mentioned above – local companies hire locally – but it also happens because those schools become well-known for those industries and students who want to work in those industries end up choosing those schools. So, if you know that all your dream companies are based in New York City, you might consider applying to more schools in New York! 

Now for the Top MBA Schools by Industry Placement

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

This first chart shows what percentage of graduates go into each industry. You’ll see that consulting, technology, and financial services take up the majority of the graph, but here, you can look by school.  

For example, let’s look at the Healthcare industry – the yellow bar. At Booth, a small percentage of students go into Healthcare, while at Vanderbilt Owen it’s the 2nd most common industry after consulting. This will start to help you decipher your job opportunities by MBA program.

CReport - Blog Images_09 Percent of Grads by IndustryIn this next chart, you’ll see the number of graduates that enter each industry, which is important to look at since the school sizes vary so dramatically.

CReport - Blog Images_10 Number of Grads by Industry What if you know exactly what industry you want to enter post-MBA? In that case, it might help to look at which schools will help you break into that industry. See below for a breakdown of the data by industry for Consulting and Manufacturing, ranked in order of which MBA programs send the most students into that industry. We’ve shown the data by both percentage and number of students, since the percentage is largely influenced by the size of the program.

CReport - Blog Images_11 Industry Consulting-1 CReport - Blog Images_12 Industry Manufacturing-1

We’ve given you Consulting and Manufacturing here. If you want a close look at all the other industries, including Consulting, Tech, Financial Services, Healthcare, Consumer Goods, Real Estate, Energy, Retail, Media, and Nonprofit, download our full report: What’s The Best MBA Program for You? 

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

We know a lot of people are tempted to make MBA decisions based on stereotypes, so after looking at the data collectively, we wanted to point out a few surprises:   

  • Harvard’s 3rd most popular industry after finance (29%) and consulting (25%) is technology (19%), despite being about as far from Silicon Valley as possible. 
  • While USC Marshall and UCLA Anderson send the highest percentages of graduates into Media / Entertainment (9% and 7% respectively), Harvard sends the highest number of students into the industry: 25.
  • The schools sending the highest number of grads into the technology industry are Kellogg (144), Harvard (118), and Fuqua (101). 

And here are a few confirmed stereotypes!

  • Foster (60%), Carey (39%), and MIT Sloan (34%) send a greater percentage of graduates into the technology industry than any other top 30 MBA programs. Note: Foster’s huge percentage is largely driven by Amazon’s heavy recruiting presence on campus! 
  • Rice Jones sends both the highest number (17) and highest percentage (20%) of graduates into the Petroleum / Energy industry. 

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!! 

MBA career report