These firms are paying $200K to Dartmouth MBA grads: Why Tuck is a big consulting feeder school

BY Sydney LakeFebruary 03, 2022, 9:30 PM

The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., in October 2021.

Bing Guan—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business is not only regarded as having one of the best MBA programs in the country (Fortune ranks it as No. 10), but its students are also highly coveted by the top consulting firms in the U.S. In 2021, a whopping 36% of Tuck’s graduating MBA class went into consulting, earning median base salaries of $165,000 right off the bat, according to the school’s employment statistics

Tuck is a relatively small business school, with roughly 300 graduates each year. By comparison, Harvard Business School graduates about 900, and University of Chicago Booth School of Business has roughly 600. In 2021, there were 252 Tuck students seeking employment, and 97% of those students had accepted a job offer as of fall 2021. According to the employment statistics, that means about 90 Dartmouth Tuck MBA grads went into consulting last year.

“All top MBA programs do a great job of selecting and training candidates with an aptitude for the hard skills that consulting companies look for, but Tuck students stand out thanks to their strong people skills,” Stephen Pidgeon, executive director of career services at Tuck, tells Fortune. “The Tuck experience is purposely designed to work on team and leadership skills, and so Tuck graduates skew very highly on [emotional intelligence], which is incredibly valuable in consulting.”

Who hires Dartmouth MBA grads?

Tuck’s 2021 employment report didn’t include a breakdown of how many grads were hired by each individual firm, but each year, about one-third of the school’s graduating class goes into consulting. Of the total class, 20% were hired by McKinsey & Co., Bain & Co., and Boston Consulting Group—also known as the “big three,” according to a Dartmouth Tuck blog post.

These three firms all paid recent MBA grads a base salary of $165,000 in 2021, with bonuses bringing pay packages to nearly $240,000, according to data from Management Consulted, a company that offers prep and training for professionals entering the industry. By comparison, all MBA graduates earned a median salary of $115,000—which is 77% higher than workers who hold only a bachelor’s degree, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2021 corporate recruiters survey.

One reason consulting firms shell out for recent MBA grads is to compete with one another for the best candidates, Pidgeon says. “Consulting companies make sure to benchmark against each other so as soon as one raises salaries, the others will be close behind.” 

Median base salaries at McKinsey, Bain, and Boston Consulting Group are jumping to $175,000 for MBA grads who start in 2022, according to data collected by Management Consulted among its clients who received written job offers. 

Why Tuck grads make great consulting candidates

Tuckies, as they’re called, are known as team players—and that correlates well with a consulting job.

“We find that MBA programs prepare strong problem-solvers who are intellectually curious, innovative, strong team players, and excellent relationship builders,” Adriana Crespo, manager of recruiting operations at McKinsey, previously told Fortune. “These skills, along with a foundation in business, help MBA graduates to excel as consultants.”

Namaan Mian, a director with Management Consulted, also credits Pidgeon’s leadership with the school’s success in placing consulting candidates, he previously told Fortune. Pidgeon, a former McKinsey consultant, has written several books on case interviewing (a pillar of most consulting job interviews) and breaking into the consulting field. 

“If you’re working in a team all day, shoulder to shoulder with clients in often stressful or high-pressure situations, it’s vital that your consultants are people who enjoy working with others, and are skilled at building strong, trust-based relationships,” Pidgeon says. “The worst thing a consulting company can do is hire someone who doesn’t play well with others.”

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