MBA in Management Consulting


Eventually, most businesses are going to confront an issue that cannot be overcome internally using existing employees. Whether the genesis of that issue is needing an outside perspective, a specialized skill set current employees don’t already have, a global perspective, or simply an unbiased eye, companies will often turn to outside parties in their time of need. Management consultants can offer companies the third-party perspective to help them overcome issues or improve current processes.

The pathway to becoming a management consultant varies. Some management consultants come to their careers through years of work experience, while others earn advanced degrees to get started in the consulting industry. Many consultants begin consulting with some combination of experience and higher education. Regardless the pathway, management consulting is most suited to those who enjoy cultivating high-level understanding of industry best practices; the people skills to interact with a range of clientele; and the analytical skills to apply what they know to diverse business realities.

In a competitive marketplace, someone who backs up a true interest in helping other businesses succeed with actual know-how and qualified insights and management techniques can be immensely valuable. In response to this need for valuable, third-party insight, many MBA programs offer concentrations in management consulting. Earning an MBA in management consulting can open up a wide variety of full- or part-time options within consulting agencies, the ability to work as an independent contractor, and the capacity to become a trainer, research analyst, or director of change.

Featured Consulting Programs
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Earning an MBA in management consulting can lead to a lucrative career in a growth industry as well. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2016), the management analysts earn a mean wage of $39.10/hour or $81,330 annually. Additionally, the BLS predicted the occupation will grow by 14 percent between 2016 and 2026—double the growth-rate average for all occupations nationally—and adding 115,200 jobs.

Because real-world experience in business is part of what makes for an attractive consultant, many MBA programs in consulting are designed with the working professional in mind. Many high-quality universities offer MBAs in consulting fully online, with only occasional visits to a physical campus, or with coursework that can be completed at night, on weekends, or at the time of the MBA student’s choosing. In addition, distance-learning allows working professionals to advance their knowledge and skills without having to physically relocate.

Discover what to expect from an online MBA program in consulting, including information about distinguished faculty in those programs.

Featured Online MBAs in Management Consulting

Students have the opportunity to earn an MBA on-campus through the Kogod School of Business or online through the school’s MBA@American program. The consulting focus, one of six foci offered, combines courses from analytics and management to help expand a graduate’s strategic value to potential employers. Students enrolled in the the 48-credit program also focus on effective communication, marketing, inter-cultural dynamics, and the value of establishing partnerships versus competition in the 21st century economy. The curriculum prepares students to work with government entities, non-profits, and other experts in different industries. Students in this program are required to participate in two, three-to-four day immersion programs in places like Washington, D.C., Chicago, Beijing, or Madrid.

Location: Washington, D.C.
Tuition: $1,642/credit
Length: One to two years
Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

The management consulting concentration through UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School provides knowledge and practical skills for those who want consulting roles within their communities or existing organizations. Students learn team leadership, strategic thinking, and general client management through a combination of business theories, real-world case studies, and online simulations. The 66-credit curriculum offers students the opportunity to learn about and develop strategies for existing companies and nonprofits in the U.S. and internationally. Chapel Hill’s MBA program includes immersion opportunities where students can visit different businesses and interact with their employees and management teams.

Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Tuition: $1,728/credit, $114,078 for entire program
Length: 18 months to three years
Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Through the Gainey School of Business, this Christian private school provides an online, in-person, or hybrid MBA with an organizational consulting concentration. Over the course of the 36-credit program, students receive instruction in strategic leadership, workplace learning, and professional development. Along with business concepts, the school also stresses the importance of ethics and leadership to solve problems and promote growth. The accelerated hybrid program requires online courses plus visiting a classroom in the evening once a week.

Location: Spring Harbor, Michigan
Tuition: $690/credit
Length: 16 months to two years
Accreditation Higher Learning Commission’s North Central Association

The MBA program through the GW School of Business offers a wide variety of courses for future managers and consultants by providing perspectives on a wide variety of industries. In addition to an in-depth overview of business practices such as finance and management, students in the 55.5 credit program can earn other skills such as interpersonal communication, client engagement, and proposal writing. Courses are available online or on campus. Study abroad experiences to China and Myanmar are also available, or students can stay in the U.S. for a study experience at Walt Disney World.

Location: Washington, D.C.
Length: 18 months (five year limit)
Tuition: $1,765/credit
Accreditation: GWU is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education; the MBA program is accredited by Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

The management consulting concentration available through University of Buffalo’s MBA program is a secondary concentration, designed to be taken in addition to a primary concentration. There are eight primary concentrations available including analytics, healthcare management, finance, information assurance, information systems and e-business, international management, marketing management, and supply chains and operation management. The 60-credit-hour MBA program requires students to complete 27 credit-hours of core courses, three internship credit-hours, and 30 elective credit-hours. The management consulting concentration requires four total courses including consulting practices, workforce engagement, and motivation and leadership.

Location: Buffalo, New York
Tuition: in-state: $14,700/year, non-resident $24,390/year
Length: Two years
Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Faculty Teaching in Online MBA in Consulting Programs

  • Ayman El Tarabishy, PhD The George Washington University

    Dr. El Tarabishy teaches management courses in the GW’s online MBA program. Dr. El Tarabishy is the executive director of the International Council of Small Businesses, a global non-profit that advances small business research and practices. Dr. Tarabishy developed two new courses at George Washington: social entrepreneurship, and innovation and creativity. Notably, he created the Global Entrepreneurship Research and Policy Conference, taking place annually at GWU. He previously worked with the World Bank’s Corporate Strategy Group, and also managed the technology strategy for its Development Marketplace Program.

  • Katerina Bezrukova, PhD, University at Buffalo

    Dr. Bezrukova is an associate professor at UB’s School of Business, specializing in organization and human resources. The courses she teaches include negotiations, organizational behavior, managing diverse workforces, and statistics and research materials. Some of her research on the topic of organizational-level fault lines has been published in psychology journals, and she has expertise on the importance of team chemistry in a sports setting. Dr. Bezrukova’s has also served as a consultant to various public and private groups in Russia.

  • Steve Jones, MBA, University of North Carolina

    Steve Jones is a professor of organizational behavior at the UNC. Mr. Jones earned his MBA at Harvard Business School and has international experience as a change leader, strategy developer, and organizational capacity builder. Mr. Jones’s professional experience includes fulfilling the role of CEO of several companies in Australia and New Zealand. Mr. Jones also has experience as a management consultant for industries including construction, textiles, alcoholic beverages, chain drug stores, banks, and electricity.

Admission Requirements for Online MBA in Consulting Programs

In general, MBA admissions departments request:

  • A bachelor’s degree in business or other related fields
  • Letters of recommendation
  • A personal statement or essay
  • Academic transcripts demonstrating a strong GPA (e.g., >3.0)
  • Some related professional experience
  • GMAT or GRE test scores (these can be waived with significant industry or academic experience)
  • TOEFL results for foreign students

Accreditation and State Authorization

Accreditation is a process by which universities demonstrate they are delivering programming that adheres to high standards for quality and relevance. Third party accrediting organizations award accreditation by evaluating whether the university is able to prove programs, technology, and instruction adhere to specifically delineated quality standards. Campus visits, faculty and student surveys, graduation rates, alumni support, and career placement may all be considered during the accreditation process.

For MBA programs, one common accrediting organization is the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) which looks closely at business administration, real estate, management and human resources programs, especially at larger, research-based institutions. Some schools also seek accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs(ACBSP).

While not needed to work as a consultant, those in the management consultant field can earn certifications in order to demonstrate to potential clients that that their knowledge and expertise meets industry standards. Certifying bodies for management consulting include the Institute of Management Consultants and the Society of Professional Consultants. These organizations also provide resources, mentoring, and industry trend information.

In addition to looking to accreditation the ascertain the quality of programming, those seeking distance-learning should ensure programming is available in their state of residence. Each university is required to follow state regulations for each state in which they offer programming, or must follow universal reciprocity standards as outlined by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) if they are member states. State authorization information can be found on the program’s website or by speaking to an admissions officer.