An online consulting MBA prepares students for a wealth of high-earning positions in a growing field. With a focus on business strategy and leadership, an online MBA in consulting provides the knowledge students need to help clients solve complex business problems through analytics, change management, and strong strategic skills. MBA graduates demonstrate expertise that qualifies them for advanced opportunities in various industries.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), management analysts earned a median annual salary of $83,610 in 2018. With opportunities increasing faster than the national average for all occupations, these professionals can take advantage of a growing job market and ample opportunities.
On this page, readers can find details about various consulting careers and information on how to select the right consulting MBA program.
Careers in Consulting
Graduates who hold a consulting MBA can qualify for a variety of job titles in a range of industries. Employers seek consultants and analysts with in-depth business knowledge and experience, which a consulting MBA provides.
The BLS projects demand for management analysts to increase by 14% from 2018-2028, much faster than the national average for all occupations. The list below offers details on several potential careers for consulting MBA graduates.
Management analysts, or management consultants, collect and analyze data to help companies solve problems. Working for larger consulting firms or as self-employed analysts, these professionals meet with clients to assemble a full picture of their organizations' workings. Tasks may involve interviewing employees, assessing financial reports and employment data, and observing day-to-day company functions. They then recommend and help to implement solutions, checking in occasionally to troubleshoot transitional issues. The BLS reports that management analysts earned a 2018 median salary of $83,610.
Financial analysts work with organizations to understand their business goals and determine investment plans. With economic and market trends in mind, these professionals assess financial data, collaborate with managers, and assemble portfolio recommendations. They watch the financial performance of stocks, bonds, and overall investments, and they report findings to management. Typically, financial analysts work for corporations like banks, mutual funds, and insurance companies. The BLS reports that financial analysts earned a median salary of $85,660 in 2018.
By studying trends in supply and demand, marketing managers determine how their organizations can leverage the goods and services they sell. Marketing managers analyze consumer reports to suggest pricing structures, working with departments like sales and product development to ensure their organization's products match market demands. They may also suggest potential products or extensions to existing services. The BLS reports that marketing managers earned a median salary of $132,620 in 2018.
Operations Research Analyst
Often working in industries like healthcare and logistics, operations research analysts study company data using math and statistical methods. They sift through financial reports, customer surveys, and computer data, looking to solve specific problems organizations may experience. They make recommendations on budgeting, product distribution, and supply chain operations. The BLS reports that operations research analysts earned a 2018 median salary of $83,390.
Financial managers oversee all financial activities for their organizations. They assess financial data on a regular basis to ensure their companies remain on solid financial ground. They oversee budgets and investments, manage finance-related staff, observe trends in market and consumer practices, and make recommendations to top executives. Financial managers include titles like controller, treasurer, and risk manager. The BLS reports that financial managers earned a median salary of $127,990 in 2018.
How to Choose a Program in Consulting
Finding the right consulting MBA program poses a challenge for even the most diligent researchers. Prospective students must account for several factors when considering which school meets their needs, such as course delivery style, student resources and support, affordability, and accreditation. The section below offers details on how to assess these factors during program research.
Ask for information on how lessons are delivered in the program
Depending on work status, personal commitments, and location, distance learners may need a specific type of program structure. Some degrees deliver asynchronous courses, meaning students may log in to complete their work at any time during the week. Other programs require real-time online sessions or in-person meetings, such as weekend immersions or week-long residencies. Prospective students should weigh the demands of their individual situations and consider course delivery methods to help them choose the right program.
Get details on what support is available to students
Distance learners should consider what type of support they may need during their studies and ensure their school offers the right sort of help. Common resources include technical support, library services, bookstore access, tutoring and writing centers, disability services, and student ambassadors. Robust services for online programs can signal a school's commitment to distance learning.
Estimate your expected program costs
A degree program requires a major investment of time and money. Prospective students should consider their personal budgets and explore ways to make their education more affordable. Some schools offer in-state or otherwise reduced tuition for all online learners. Program length can also impact cost. Some students study on a part-time basis, which may allow them to continue working but can increase program costs. Finally, students should consider auxiliary costs, such as travel associated with in-person requirements.
Ensure the school's admission requirements align with your expectations
Some online MBA programs require students to enter with previous business knowledge, while others welcome students from any undergraduate major. Prospective students should carefully assess admission requirements to make sure they qualify. Some programs may require standardized test scores -- commonly GMAT or GRE scores -- and some may offer waivers to those with professional experience.
Compare student outcomes data
Outcome data can indicate a good consulting MBA program. Programs with large percentages of alumni that secure employment or salary increases demonstrate a strong commitment to real-world expertise. This data can also demonstrate a program's networking potential, employer reputation, and quality of career services. Furthermore, schools boasting low loan default rates show that their alumni gain employment that adequately balances their degree investment.
Look for partnerships with local businesses and communities
Prospective students should note when local businesses sign up to partner with consulting MBA programs. Programs often work with local businesses to secure internships, or they partner on capstone projects, during which learners help these organizations tackle real business problems. Programs with strong partnerships tend to provide useful assistance, meaning their curricula adequately prepare students to excel in real-world environments. These partnerships create networking opportunities and valuable, resume-building experience.
Make sure the program is accredited
Prospective students should ensure their programs of choice hold accreditation. Regional accreditation typically represents the most rigorous marker. This accreditation assesses each school as a whole to ensure it adheres to certain standards. Consulting MBA students may also seek programmatic accreditation, which evaluates each degree program.
Programmatic accreditors for MBA programs include the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the International Accreditation Council for Business Education, and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
Speak with current students and alumni
Most programs offer prospective students opportunities to speak with current learners and alumni upon request. These people can speak to issues like program culture, faculty, curriculum, and student support. They can answer questions about student life that faculty and staff may struggle to answer, and they typically do so without agenda.
Prospective consulting MBA learners should consider their career goals and pursue programs serving those goals. Curricula vary widely between programs, so students should conduct research on what knowledge their field may require. The list below offers details on a few example courses, which students may find in a consulting MBA program.
- Business Strategy
- A course in business strategy provides a foundation in theories and methods of business strategy. Students apply theoretical knowledge by studying actual strategies businesses use to excel in their markets. Topics may include concepts in strategic management, corporate lobbying, and strategies for excelling in the global business environment.
- Change Management
- Focused on organizations' leadership aspects, change management courses prepare students to suggest and implement structural changes in their organizations. Understanding various leadership models and which types apply in which situations is crucial for consultants. Topics may include negotiation, power relationships, organizational politics, and strategic change.
- Business Analytics
- Business analytics encompasses a range of potential topics. Consultants use various tools to assess the success of their clients' operations and determine necessary changes. Students may take business analytics courses like statistics analysis, which provides a foundation for decision-making through statistical methods; marketing analysis, which teaches students to understand and meet consumer needs; and data analytics, which arms students with tools and strategies for analyzing business needs.
Comparison of Consulting Degrees and Specializations
Students considering a consulting MBA should understand that several degree types exist to meet their career goals. Differences between these degrees include program length, program structure, and potential career paths. Students should make sure to enroll in programs that prepare them for their careers of choice. The table below describes options available to prospective students with an interest in consulting.
|Degree Type||Description||Potential Career Path|
|Master of Science in Consulting||Popular in Europe, this highly specialized degree trains consultants to conduct business analyses, develop strategic plans, and act as change agents. Students develop communication, leadership, and project management skills through coursework, case studies, and projects.||Scientific Consultant|
|MBA in Consulting||Popular in the U.S., MBAs provide training in critical business topics, including management, finance, ethical leadership, and organizational behavior. Students hone communication, leadership, and strategic-thinking skills as they work through program requirements. MBAs also offer specializations in consulting.||Business Consultant|
Cost and Length of a Consulting Degree
Affordability often ranks high on the list of prospective student concerns. Tuition and fees make up the largest portion of costs associated with a degree program. Some programs do not distinguish between in-state and out-of-state residents when charging tuition rates. Many private schools make no distinction even for on-campus students, and some public institutions allow regional or out-of-state distance learners to pay in-state or otherwise reduced tuition. Some schools, however, charge online learners extra fees, like technology charges.
Students should make sure to count other potential expenses as they consider degree program costs. Books and other learning materials, for example, can carry high price tags. Some programs require travel to immersion events, orientation weekends, or residencies, so students should also calculate those costs.
Program length can also contribute to cost. Typically, students can complete online consulting programs in 1-2 years. Students should weigh the benefits of studying full time with those of continuing to earn salaries while studying part time. Some programs offer flexibility, allowing students to choose their pace. Others, such as accelerated and cohort-based programs, may require students to commit to finishing within a specified amount of time.
- Do you need an MBA for consulting?
- Consulting careers require a strong understanding of business, and students may gain that knowledge along many potential paths. Students with backgrounds in economics, business, accounting, and psychology excel in the field. MBAs provide the experience and strong business understanding that many employers seek.
- Do consulting firms pay for an MBA?
- It depends on each individual organization, but many corporations place enough value on advanced degrees to help cover MBA tuition costs. They may pay for a small percentage or cover a large amount. Moreover, many graduates earn salary increases after graduating from MBA programs.
- Is a consulting job good?
- Consulting jobs can bring in lucrative salaries and strong opportunities for professional growth. Many consulting-related careers are growing on pace with the national average for all occupations, or even more quickly for management analysts and financial managers -- meaning the job market is strong.
AfterCollege Business Student Scholarship
Anyone working toward a business degree at any level with a minimum 3.0 GPA can apply for this scholarship. Applicants must provide personal details, education and work experience, skills, and honors. The scholarship amounts to $500.
Accounting and Financial Women's Alliance Paula Zanni Scholarship
Goldberg-Miller Public Finance Scholarship
The Government Finance Association offers this $15,000 award to students planning to work in state or local government finance. Applicants must maintain full-time status in a graduate program. The application requires a recommendation letter and superior academic performance.
Stuart Cameron and Margaret McLeod Memorial Scholarship
Sponsored by the Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals, this $5,000 annual award is available to members only. Students pursuing degrees in management, accounting, and finance qualify. The application requires a resume, transcripts, a recommendation, and a personal statement.
Mary Elizabeth Lockwood Beneventi MBA Scholarship
The Daughters of the American Revolution sponsor this $2,000 scholarship. Open to full-time students pursuing MBAs in any concentration, the application requires a minimum 3.25 GPA. Applicants must hold U.S. citizenship. The application requires an essay, transcripts, and a list of extracurricular activities.