One of the main considerations for those of you considering consulting is what you’ll do after you leave. Or put another way, many people enter consulting to leave it! But what are you setting yourself up for? For those of you who have your sights set on an MBA, going into consulting is one of the best ways to obtain a top MBA cost-free. However, each firm has its own procedures and rules around MBA sponsorship.
Below, we’ve broken down the MBA sponsorship rules of top consulting firms. Have specific questions, or want to add your firm’s guidelines to the list? Email us!
MBB Firms Offering MBA Sponsorship
At MBB, associates, analysts and consultants can obtain sponsorship for an MBA. Unlike some firms that consider only the top 10-25% of a cohort, all analysts are eligible for sponsorship (considering they are in good standing with the firm). What does it mean to be in “good standing” at McKinsey, Bain, or BCG? This implies that you have held responsibility over deliverables that are key to the success of engagements. Those in “good standing” also volunteer for firm events at least 1-2 times per year, exhibiting a commitment to contributing outside of traditional channels. While everyone in this bucket is technically eligible for sponsorship, it is tough to get sponsored without an acceptance letter from a Top 10 B-school.
For these top performers, firms pay a living expense stipend ($10-$20K) in addition to full tuition. What’s expected in return? McKinsey, Bain, and BCG consultants commit to returning to the firm after graduation to work for at least 2 years. This benefit has become such a core part of firms’ retention strategy that you don’t have to worry about this opportunity going away anytime soon. For example, in 2016, BCG disclosed that ~10% of their employees took advantage of educational assistance.
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Big 4 Firms Offering MBA Sponsorship
In addition to providing advanced business acumen and leadership capabilities, firms see MBA programs as a great vehicle for expanding your international horizons and insight into different functional areas through internships and exchange programs. Below are details of sponsorship and assistance offerings at the consulting arms of Big 4 firms.
Deloitte makes The Graduate School Assistance Program available to high-performing consultants after 2 years of work. Typically, however, you have to be at the firm 3-4 years before being able to take advantage, and must return to the firm as a Senior Consultant. The benefit includes full tuition paid, a technology stipend, discounts for GMAT preparation classes, and mentorship through graduate school. Deloitte consultants are accepted at 3x the average rate at Top 20 U.S. business schools.
Another unique benefit Deloitte offers is for graduate interns – if you accept an offer to return before the summer is done, and commit to spending 2 years at the firm, you can receive $50K towards your second year of school. The firm does this to retain top recruits and stop them from trying to “interview up” at MBB.
Sponsorship is approved and funded by individual business units, so you will also have the opportunity to obtain continuing education sponsorships for certifications (ex: CPA). Be sure to inquire about MBA sponsorship during the networking/interview process, as criteria may differ by BUs. Again, you’ll find that your options include a certification sponsorship, tuition reimbursement for specific courses only, or fully paid tuition.
After working 3 years at PwC, you are eligible for the Advisory Scholars program. This includes full MBA sponsorship for selected candidates. Many of the same stipulations Deloitte requires apply here: you must be classified as a top-performer, and make at least a 2-year commitment to return to the firm post-MBA. One first of its kind benefit PwC offers is student loan payoff assistance – all participating Associates and Senior Associates receive $1200/year toward paying off student loans. This benefit can save you up to $10K in interest costs, and reduce the life of your loan by up to 3 years. Be sure to enroll your first day on the job!
If you’re comparing offers from Big 4 firms and MBA sponsorship is important to you, pay attention! KPMG is less likely to offer sponsorship than its counterparts, although you may receive paid time off for further education. On the other hand, training is accessible to everyone. The firm has established a virtual business school (KBS) to provide a variety of ongoing learning opportunities including Technical, IT, and Behavioral studies. KPMG has dramatically expanded its investment in professional development, and collaborates with affiliates to offer a range of trainings in-house.
Boutique Firms Offering MBA Sponsorship
Accenture’s Apprenticeship Program is available to current MBAs interning at Accenture. It offers access to a network of mentors, and pays $80K towards your second year of school after you sign a commitment to return for 2+ years. Additionally, Accenture Strategy offers up to $100K in sponsorship for the Top 10 analysts in a class who intend to pursue an MBA and return to the firm afterwards.
Kearney encourages consultants to pursue their MBA while offering equal opportunity for advancement in the firm even for those who don’t. Sponsorship is available to selected (read: high-performing) employees and is applicable at top-tier business schools including HBS, Kellogg, Wharton, INSEAD, and London Business School.
L.E.K. offers three types of personal and professional development opportunities. The first is business school sponsorship, available to stand-out consultants who have actively contributed to successful engagements and demonstrate the aptitude and ability to grow. L.E.K. also offers secondment and externship opportunities. A secondment is a temporary assignment with an L.E.K. client that will give you hands-on, practical experience in a new industry while refining your current skills. An externship is a short-term leave for approximately 2-3 months that allows you to hone your skills while pursuing social impact.
Other firms that offer tuition assistance or full reimbursement include:
An MBA is a natural next step for many current consultants, and picking the right program for you is just as important as choosing the right consulting firm. It will set the trajectory for the rest of your career. One of our favorite benefits of consulting is this opportunity to obtain a top MBA with no cost to you.
Still, while the sponsorship route will save you on student loans, it will sign you up for two more years of the consulting lifestyle post-graduation. This is a cost-benefit analysis you’ll have to run by taking into consideration your long-term career goals. For expert help in distilling your options, schedule a 1-hour coaching session with an ex-MBB consultant today.