The hottest business schools for FAANG jobs

BY Mary LowengardJanuary 24, 2022, 9:58 PM
Monitors display FAANG stock information on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, as seen in January 2019. (Photographer: Michael Nagle—Bloomberg/Getty Images)

The spectacular success of tech firms in both the marketplace and stock market have made this industry an attractive target for aspiring MBA talent over the last 20 years or so. The excitement of contributing to a steep growth curve and the lifestyle and culture (foosball, no pinstripes, no killer hours) are compelling additional factors. Plus, there are jobs to be had—in 2020, Amazon alone added 800,000 positions globally.

Top tech companies are actively seeking MBAs, both the behemoths—such as Amazon, Apple, and Google—and scrappier startups. Choosing the right business school program can be critical in the path to tech employment. MBA students who want to work in tech should seek out opportunities their schools offer for hands-on experience, learning creative and critical problem-solving skills, and access to a strong network of classmates, professors, and alumni, as Fortune previously reported.

Which schools can enhance your chances for a career at one of the country’s leading tech giants? Until now, that’s largely been a guessing game. Thanks to data collected by Menlo Coaching, Fortune is able to pinpoint which schools could give you the best shot at your dream job in tech—and there are some surprises. In fact, the top three feeders for tech doesn’t include any of the traditional triumvirate of Harvard, Stanford and Wharton, but does include a large public university.

To create the data set, Menlo Coaching analyzed more than 50,000 student profiles, drawn from publicly posted lists (i.e., virtual graduation announcements) and social media profiles on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. This tech employment data culled information about MBA grads hired by the so-called FAANG employers (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google), over the three years of 2018, 2019, and 2020.

In total, Menlo identified 1,409 MBA alums from 25 different schools who were hired by FAANG companies over that 3-year period. While the Menlo data reveals yet again that there’s a reason why top-ranked programs offer a solid advantage—don’t despair if you have secured a seat at any of the other schools included in the study. 

Midwest schools take the prize for FAANG jobs

The first surprise is in the big picture. If you want to work at any of the FAANG companies, focus on the six MBA programs that placed the most grads in order: Northwestern University (Kellogg), the University of Michigan (Ross), the University of Chicago (Booth), Harvard Business School and the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton), which tied for fourth place, and Duke University (Fuqua) in fifth place. The next five positions are held by Columbia Business School, MIT Sloan, New York University Stern, Stanford and UC Berkeley Haas (tied), and the University of Virginia Darden.

Another conclusion from the data is that if you want to work in tech, you would do best aiming for a position at Amazon or Google, which hired 765 and 397 MBA grads, respectively—and the two companies accounted for more than 80% of all the hires in the study. There’s a precipitous fall off in the number of MBAs hired after that; Apple hired just 122 MBAs from the 25 schools over the three years and Facebook hired 107 grads. If you have your heart set on a job at Netflix, your best bet is to get into Harvard Business School—seven of the 18 MBAs who work at Netflix are alums from the classes of 2018 to 2020.

Aiming for Amazon

Amazon is a perennial member of Fortune’s ranking of the World’s Most Admired Companies and it was recently named the No. 1 company where Americans want to work by LinkedIn. It’s also popular among business school alumni, as the largest employer of MBA graduates among the five FAANG firms, with 765 hires from the 25 schools cumulatively over the 3-year period. And the University of Michigan Ross School of Business tops the list for the MBA-to-Amazon pipeline, leading by a substantial number of hires, followed by Chicago Booth and Northwestern Kellogg, then Duke Fuqua and Wharton.

It’s no secret that Ross has long led the pack as a feeder school for Amazon; it hired 76 MBAs in total from the classes of 2018, 2019 and 2020. A loyal Ross graduate, Peter Faricy, who spent nearly a decade as vice president of Amazon Marketplace, is credited for championing his alma mater at Amazon. Faricy left Amazon in 2018 and now is CEO of SunPower Corp. Still, he clearly planted the seeds for continued interest in the school and he maintains ties with Ross, serving in his ninth year on the Dean’s Advisory Board, where he is currently vice chairman. 

Conspicuously absent from the top 10 Amazon feeders are Harvard and Stanford, ranking 11th and 21st on the full cohort of 25 schools, respectively. Why? “Top schools send large sections of their classes to other types of employers,” notes David White, a founding partner of Menlo Coaching. For example, graduates of Harvard and Stanford head off to private equity and venture capital roles, while Columbia has prominence as a feeder school for the investment banking and asset management industries.

Thus, it appears that Amazon aspirants should consider matriculating at one of the three midwestern schools to up their chances of a position at Amazon. White points out that Kellogg, Ross, and Booth in particular are renowned for their programs’ emphasis on product marketing, merchandising, and operations. Indeed, culling through all of the 765 MBA alums at Amazon, 34% list their title as “senior product manager.”

Finally, the size of the program matters, White observes. For example, Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business graduated an average of 286 students in the 3-year period, less than one-third the size of Harvard’s 931-member average graduating classes during that time. “Schools with smaller populations (such as Tuck) will never come out on top of rankings when considering the absolute number of students placed.”

Getting to Google

Google hired 387 MBAs from the list of 25 schools, slightly more than half the number picked up by Amazon, but still the second biggest employer among the FAANG firms. Wharton, Harvard, and Stanford appear among the top five suppliers of MBA talent, ranking first, second and fifth place, respectively. MIT Sloan and Chicago Booth round out third and fourth places on the list. 

Apple and Facebook fall off

There’s a steep dropoff in the number of MBAs hired at Apple, though Northwestern Kellogg accounts for the largest portion of the 122 positions, followed by Duke Fuqua, Columbia tied with Yale School of Management, and then Stanford and Harvard.

Two special notes: Four out of the 19 Kellogg grads earned master’s of science degrees in design innovation in addition to their MBAs, making them particularly attractive to a design-focused firm such as Apple. And it’s likely that Fuqua has the home court advantage at Apple thanks to two Blue Devils high up in the Apple hierarchy: CEO Tim Cook and Jeff Williams, who is chief operating officer.

To Facebook, Harvard and Stanford each sent 10 graduates over the 3-year period, the most of any programs on the list, followed by NYU Stern with nine; and Wharton, Booth and UCLA Anderson eight each. The total number of positions across the 25 schools was just 107.

It’s important to note that jobs in technology come in all shapes and sizes above and beyond what is available at the FAANG companies-–from tiny start-ups to firms of significant size and stature. Both consulting and finance companies also offer opportunities for tech-focused positions, as well. Grads may go into innovation and tech divisions at consulting companies, while venture capital and private equity firms also hire tech-focused grads.

“Don’t forget that FAANG is only one segment of the post-MBA job market,” White notes. “The long tail of tech employers includes many other exciting companies, such as Uber, Salesforce, LinkedIn, TikTok, Stripe, Twitter, Lyft, Coinbase, and many others.”

See how the schools you’re considering landed in Fortune’s rankings of the best business analytics programs, data science programs, and part-timeexecutive, full-time, and online MBA programs.