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What is a Consulting MBA?

MBA degrees continue to be the most sought-after in business – and one of the most popular advanced degree in higher education. In 2016, some business schools saw MBA applications more than double since the previous decade; business schools ranked in the US News top 10 received nearly 5,500 applications.

Return on investment is one obvious reason. Though MBA tuition is often expensive, graduates benefit from increased salary potential and career advancement opportunities. Some MBA programs claim a 10-year ROI as high as 250-325%, and many MBA grads receive signing bonuses that reach into five figures (also helping to offset student debt). The other advantage is career stability. Nearly every industry and organization, public or private, need business savvy leaders to analyze hard data, manage talent, and develop and direct strategic initiatives. Of course, stability also means flexibility. Business and finance aren’t the only career tracks available to MBA graduates: healthcare administration, public policy, tech, government, energy, and many other sectors offer excellent career opportunities.

Consulting is one of the most popular careers for MBA grads. Armed with a deep knowledge of organizational dynamics and strategy implementation, they help individual businesses, governments, and non-profits streamline operations and develop a long-term plan to maximize efficiency and impact. Below, we examine what an MBA in Consulting entails, as well as job prospects, expected salaries, and more.

What MBA Courses Will I Take?

A general MBA curriculum might include some or all of the following courses.

  • Managerial Economics
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Financial Accounting
  • Managerial Quantitative Analysis
  • Asset Valuation
  • Marketing Management
  • Production & Operations Management
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Business Communication
  • Business Ethics

In general, the MBA is designed to develop core skills in analytics, management, and corporate responsibility and ethics, with an equal emphasis on real-world practice and academic theory. Most programs are two years, but accelerated MBAs are increasingly common, and mini MBAs offer a distilled version of the degree. Because most MBA students are adult learners or working professionals, degrees are highly flexible, and students enrolled in online programs often complete coursework on their own time.

What Consulting Courses Will I Take?

Every consulting track is different, but potential coursework, including specialization core and elective courses, might include the following.

  • Business Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Consulting
  • Corporate Strategy
  • Global Supply Chain Management
  • Information for Decision Making
  • Innovation Management
  • Negotiations
  • Relationship Selling Strategies

Capstone projects and experiential learning credits are common, providing students with an opportunity to apply knowledge in a real-world setting.

What Consulting Skills Will I Learn?

As a consultant, you’ll ultimately be judged by results. Do your consulting skills create impact, or are you heavy on theory but light on payoff? Are you focused on collecting billable hours, or can you deliver actionable, evidence-based solutions in an efficient manner. The following are some of most valuable consulting skills and responsibilities you’ll learn in an MBA program.

  • Excellent business understanding
  • Creative problem-solving
  • Careful project selection
  • Planning and aligning project goals to organizational strategy
  • Estimating project times and costs
  • Risk management, including qualitative and quantitative risk analysis
  • Clear, effective, and positive communication
  • Human relations and organizational leadership
  • Intuitive understanding of when to lead, and when to delegate to a more knowledgeable expert or source of information

What Related Consulting MBAs Are There?

One point worth highlighting: an MBA in consulting is not necessarily labeled “MBA in Consulting” because no set definition of “consulting” exists. Instead, most of our top-ranked consulting specializations go by different names, including MBAs in Strategic Management, Leadership, Applied Integrated Management, and Organizational Change. Still, the basic approach and emphasis remains the same. It’s up to the prospective student to do their homework and find the best MBA for their needs.

Notable Accrediting Bodies for Consulting MBAs

Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business: the AACSB provides quality assurance, business education intelligence, and professional development services to over 1,600 member organizations and more than 800 accredited business schools

Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs : the ACBSP accredits over 1,000 institutions at quality business programs across the globe

International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education: recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the IACBE accredits over 230 educational institutions in over 20 countries

For a comprehensive review, check out our MBA accreditation guide.

Salary and Job Prospects for Consultants

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 800,000 management consultants were employed in the US in 2016. By 2026, management consultants are expected to exceed 910,000, with the occupational growth rate at 14%, or nearly twice the national average. In particular, healthcare demand for consultants will continue to rise as the population ages and health insurance challenges become increasingly complex. IT, especially cybersecurity, is another major hirer. Across the board, median annual pay is approximately $82,000, but experienced and upper-level consultants can earn well into the six figures.

Related roles and salaries include:

  • Business Consultant: $71,254
  • Organizational Development Consultant: $87,758
  • Business Process Systems Consultant: $98,155
  • Senior Consultant: $103,000
  • Business Analytics Manager: $116,396
  • Project Management Director: $152,311
  • Business Development Director: $173,646
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