Top U.S. Cities for MBA Graduates

by Rana WaxmanFebruary 14, 2018

For the millennial business administration student, an MBA coupled with an entrepreneurial spirit may be enough to think about relocation. Each year, grads and young professionals tidy up their LinkedIn profiles, and with resume in hand, look for new lands of opportunity. But millennials are choosy, tech-savvy, and night-life smart. They want a thriving local scene where they can parlay their skills into a balanced life of work and play.
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What are the Top Cities for MBA Graduates?

Lists being what they are, provide rankings for best MBA programs, best cities for millennials, and best states for MBA graduates. So where do you start looking?

As with any search, the filters you set could steer you in distinct directions. Do you prefer a tried and true millennial magnet city? Are you thinking about raising a family? How much house can you afford? What type of career do you see for yourself? Any preferences could either help you either create a meaningful list of your own or look to some of the 2018 projections.

Start out with a Specialty

For one thing, not all millennial MBA grads have the same talents. One of the hallmarks of a MBA degree is that you have ‘mastered’ marketing, operations, strategy, and financial accounting. You have also focused your studies in a concentration area like green energy, supply chain, non-profit, IT, or finance.

Just to take the example of an MBA in Sustainability, a grad might want to seek out a city that values clean energy and environmental health. To this point, a recent post on Edgy Labs, lists the Top 5 U.S. Cities Powered by Renewable Energy.

  1. Burlington, Vermont
  2. Greensburg, Kansas
  3. Aspen, Colorado
  4. Scituate, Massachusetts
  5. Las Vegas, Nevada

Two cities that don’t make the top 5′ but are up-and-coming on their list: Georgetown, Texas and Chicago, Illinois. Georgetown ranks as the fifth fastest-growing large city based on Census data; Chicago is one of the most populous US cities period.
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Millennial Magnets

If you prefer green in a kale smoothie or avocado toast, like to recycle but want to go where the action is, there are cities that are magnets for millennials in general. These cities have a flourishing business eco-structure, are affordable for the essentials, tolerant to diversity, have low commute times and options for chilling out.

Aside from the classic big cities – NYC, LA, Chicago and Philly, all of which may be a huge draw to MBA in finance grads, there are five cities that Nestpick favors for millennials. These may have a lot to offer for the MBA grad as well.

  1. Austin, Texas
  2. San Francisco, California
  3. Denver, Colorado
  4. Portland, Oregon
  5. Seattle, Washington

In terms of how these stack-up for business opportunity, all are in the top 25 of Forbes Best Places for Business and Careers.

Best States for MBA Graduates

MBA Central voices its opinions about the best states for MBA graduates. While there is substantive overlap with Nestpick (California, New York, Texas), they list five other noteworthy states with great prospects for MBA grads.

  1. Illinois – apart from Chicago, the Rockford, Springfield, and Peoria areas also boast great business parks
  2. Washington, DC – think government, nonprofit, etc.
  3. Ohio – Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton have strong business sectors
  4. New Jersey – Businesses often set up shop across the Hudson to be close to the Big Apple but have a lighter tax burden. Newark is also on Amazon’s 20 finalists, just FYI.
  5. Boston – over 30 Massachusetts companies made the Fortune 500 list in 2017

Not to be overlooked, Virginia (Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Newport News), for its quality of life and companies like Capital One and Altira is mentioned by MBA Central and Time Magazine. A recent article that uses research from real estate analytics firm, RCLCO gives Virginia the edge in terms of the biggest overall growth vis a vis its millennial growth spurt.
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Companies that Employ MBA Graduates

Aside from specialty, the MBA grad has spent considerable brain power trying to solve big problems, and likely wants to do more of the same, for money. CNN Money has composed a list of the 10 Top MBA Employers.

  1. Google – HQ in Mountain View, California
  2. Apple – HQ in Cupertino, California
  3. McKinsey and Company – HQ in New York, New York
  4. Walt Disney – HQ in Burbank, California
  5. Amazon – HQ in Seattle, Washington

Of course, everyone is on the edge of their seats now that Amazon chose its 20 finalists for the second headquarters. With all 20 cities vying to lure this e-commerce giant, MBA grads might want to pick their brains as they scout locations. Not surprisingly, five of Amazon’s choices are in cities ranked in 2018 by U.S. News and World Report as having some of the top 15 business schools.

  1. Boston, Massachusetts (Harvard University)
  2. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Wharton, University of Pennsylvania)
  3. Chicago, Illinois (University of Chicago)
  4. New York (New York University)
  5. Los Angeles (University of California)

That said, recruiters often show up on campus to look for new candidates, so if you live in any of these cities, you may just want to settle in a more youthful neighborhood with fun cafes and the like instead of packing up.

A recent report by the Graduate Management Admission Council predicts that overall industry demand for MBA talent remains robust in 2017. They say that worldwide, 86 percent of companies report plans to hire recent MBA graduates in 2017, compared with 79 percent that hired them in 2016.

Home is Where the Heart Is

Millennials make up the largest percentage (34%) of home buyers in America. Per the National Association Of Realtors®, 36% of these were first time buyers. Add to that, a recent article in Realtor.com compiled a list of the top cities for millennial home buyers.

  1. Salt Lake City, Utah
  2. Miami, Florida
  3. Orlando, Florida
  4. Seattle, Washington
  5. Houston, Texas

Shout out to Buffalo at #7. Adam Ducker, the managing director of Real Estate Advisors, says cost of living is a key reason why millennials are deciding to settle in Buffalo. In fact, 50% of the MBA grads class of 2017 at the University of Buffalo School of Management got jobs in Western New York, 29% of UB’s MBA grads were employed in supply chains and operations management. One of the many specialty MBA programs – go figure!

Have MBA, Will Travel

If at this point you are thinking, “I have to get the job first!!” — true that. But casting a wider net than you previously imagined may open you up to a new list of great possible cities. Ultimately, you need to use your hard-learned ability to think critically. Then decide on a place that will help you move towards bottom line personal and financial growth.

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About The Author
Rana Waxman
Rana Waxman parlays years of work experience in several fields into web content creation aligned with client needs. Rana's versatile voice is supported by a zest for research, a passion for photography, and desire to provide clients with a purposeful presence online. In her non-writing hours, Rana is a happy yogini, constant walker, avid reader, and sometimes swimmer.