The Best MBA for Product Management

What is Product Management?

After consulting and private equity, product management roles consistently appear among the most popular career prospects for MBA graduates—and many MBA applicants approach the application process with their sights set on a coveted post-MBA product management position.

Product management is a varied role, encompassing much more than the launch of new products and the establishment of a brand. Its primary objective is to ensure the success and sustainability of the product. It involves building high-performing teams and effectively coordinating with diverse stakeholders. But perhaps the most fundamental aspect of product management is influencing without authority, as product managers need to be able to leverage resources from teams they have no formal authority over.

Thus, future product managers need to develop excellent leadership skills, delving deeper into business fundamentals and relying on experiential learning—and the MBA is an excellent means of developing these skills. In fact, many competitive employers look to Top MBA Programs to recruit their product managers.

In this article, we will discuss how an MBA can help you achieve your goal of becoming a product manager, and how to make sure that you are choosing the right one.

Pivoting into a product manager role is an attractive choice, but is an MBA necessary for would-be career switchers?

The short answer is, it depends on your background and the type of product manager role you are looking to pivot into. Some backgrounds will make the switch to product management more difficult, like, for example, if you are an equity analyst at a Finance firm.

However, it is not absolutely necessary to have an MBA, as some firms hire product managers without an MBA—especially from fields like engineering, design, or sales, and marketing.

For instance, the transition from an engineering role to a technical product management role with a tactical focus that will require you to collaborate closely with engineers to launch new features is achievable even without an MBA.

Even in those cases, however, an MBA will give you an advantage over other candidates in the hiring process and help you hit the ground running once you have landed the role. Many business schools also offer dual-degree programs for applicants who come from a technical or STEM background, such as:

We offer a detailed look into some of the Top MBA Dual Degree Programs.

How to Leverage the MBA for a Product Management Role

Whether you’re already in product management or you’re hoping to use the MBA degree to transition into product management, the first step to determining how to make the most out of your MBA experience would be to consider the variety of a product management positions and what kinds of roles interest you.

Simultaneously, a crucial step would be to conduct a skills gap analysis: inspect your profile and accurately identify your strengths and weaknesses and where the gaps may lie. 

Depending on your prior experience and the positions you’re interested in, these factors will vary significantly. For instance, a pre-MBA product manager will probably benefit most from the breadth of knowledge available to them throughout the MBA program and will value the opportunity to widen their business knowledge. On the other hand, a pre-MBA software engineer will most likely covet the opportunity to develop foundational business and strategy knowledge.

With your background and goals in mind, consider the following when choosing how to best leverage the MBA.

Specializations and Coursework

First and foremost, with some exceptions, most prestigious MBA programs don’t have a specific product management “track” or a specialization in product management as they would for individuals pursuing careers in, for example, tech or entrepreneurship.

As a result, you will have to think carefully about the specific function of the MBA degree in your career progression, and how an MBA program’s classes, community, and relationships with recruiters can advance your career. 

That said, some program curriculums do have a specialization in product management, developed for students planning for a product management career. For example, NYU Stern offers a Tech Product Management specialization for its MBA students. Further, although not specifically a Product Management MBA program, earning an MBA degree with a Technology Strategy track can give graduates a competitive advantage with product management hiring managers.

Business and Strategy Knowledge

An MBA program provides a comprehensive understanding of various business functions, such as marketing, finance, operations, and strategy. This knowledge is valuable for product managers who need to make strategic decisions, understand market dynamics, and align product goals with overall business objectives. So whether you come from a technical or business background, an MBA will help you develop more well-rounded business skills.

Further, MBA programs often emphasize quantitative analysis, data-driven decision making, and problem solving. These skills are highly relevant in product management, where you’ll need to analyze market data, customer insights, and financial metrics to make informed product decisions.

Industry Exposure

Many MBA programs offer industry immersion experiences, consulting projects, or internships. These opportunities can give you hands-on experience in product management and help you develop practical skills, industry knowledge, and a better understanding of the role. Some top MBA programs offer immersion programs, such as:

Networking Opportunities

Building a strong network can provide valuable connections, mentorship, and job opportunities in product management.

The best way to do this is through Product Management Clubs, industry immersive experiences, or summer internships—all of which exist at most top business schools. See for example, Harvard Business School’s Product Lab, Booth’s Product Management Club, and Tuck’s Design and Innovation Club.

Industry and Product Type

There are many different product management careers: from product marketing to technology, business management to communication, consulting to computer science.

For example, in technology companies, product managers may need a strong technical background to understand complex software or hardware products. In consumer goods companies, product managers may focus on branding, packaging, and market positioning. 

MBA students can tailor their curriculum, taking industry-specific courses in areas such as Product Marketing Management or Business Operations. Thus, product and brand management degree holders will have a leg up on candidates with only an undergraduate degree in the hiring processes.

Leadership and Communication

Product managers hoping to progress into more senior roles consider the MBA a valuable stepping stone to broaden their skill sets. 

For example, if your role is focused on running sprints and collaborating with designers and engineers, a broader understanding of finance, marketing, and strategy would help facilitate a pivot into a more strategic role through coursework and hands-on learning opportunities. 

Keep in mind though that an MBA is not shorthand for leadership experience, business acumen, or technical knowledge—these are all qualities that will need to be deliberately developed throughout the course of your MBA.

Product managers are responsible for leading cross-functional teams, collaborating with stakeholders, and effectively communicating product vision and strategy. All MBA programs focus on leadership and communication skills, and many will have resources dedicated to developing students’ leadership potential, such as Wharton’s McNulty Leadership Program and INSEAD’s Leadership Development Programme.


An MBA degree can enhance your credentials and increase your marketability for higher-level product management positions, as some companies prioritize candidates with an MBA for senior roles or for roles with greater strategic responsibilities.

However, even though MBA programs provide a wealth of opportunities to broaden your skill set, grow your professional network, and boost your candidacy as a product manager, the route you choose to take throughout your MBA and into your career will depend largely on your individual profile.

Recruitment Outcomes

Because product management is such a popular post-MBA role, most MBA programs will have good placement in product management.

Please see below the percentage of a given business school’s MBA class accepting internships and full-time positions in product management: 

Business SchoolFunctionAccept Product Management InternshipsSalary (monthly)
MIT SloanProduct Management17.80%$9,697
University of Chicago BoothTech – Product Management10.70%$9,393
Columbia Business SchoolMarketing – Product Management7.70%$9,393
UCLA AndersonMarketing/Sales – Brand/Product Management14.90%$9,040
Harvard Business SchoolMarketing – Product Management12%$9,000
UPenn WhartonProduct Management4.80%$8,667
University of Michigan RossMarketing/Sales – Brand/Product Management14.60%$8,512
Rice JonesMarketing/Sales – Product Management71.40%**$8,257
USC MarshallMarketing/Sales – Product Management16%$8,247
NYU SternMarketing/Sales – Product Management6.50%$8,220
University of Chicago BoothMarketing – Brand/Product Management3.80%$8,000
University of Texas, Austin McCombsMarketing/Sales – Brand/Product Management8.90%$7,851
Percentage of Business Schools’ MBA Class who accept product management summer internships during their MBA (2023)
Notes: (**) indicates that the percentage represents a subset of the overall class size, specifically targeting marketing/general management.

Business School/Program
FunctionAccept Full-Time PM RoleStarting Salary (+ Signing Bonus)
Kellogg MMMTechnology – Product Management35.19%$205,519
Northwestern KelloggTechnology – Product Management8.06%$203,362
MIT SloanProduct Management17.80%$199,703
Harvard Business SchoolMarketing – Product Management10%$195,000
NYU SternMarketing/Sales – Product Management7.70%$193,546
University of Chicago BoothTech – Product Management8%$187,500
UCLA AndersonMarketing/Sales – Brand/Product Management15.80%$187,087
Stanford GSBMarketing/Sales – Product Management12%$185,529
Columbia Business SchoolMarketing – Product Management7.00%$174,000
UPenn WhartonProduct Management7.70%$160,000*
University of Chicago BoothMarketing – Brand/Product Management3.70%$158,000
University of Michigan RossMarketing/Sales – Brand/Product Management10%$157,000
USC MarshallMarketing/Sales – Product Management10%$141,429*
Duke FuquaGeneral Management – Product Management28%**$135,000*
Cornell University, JohnsonGeneral Management – Product Management2%$133,750*
Duke FuquaMarketing/Sales – Brand/Product Management62%**$133,000*
Rice JonesMarketing/Sales – Product Management57.10%**$130,765*
Emory GoizuetaMarketing- Product Management4%$127,000*
Georgetown McDonoughProduct Management16%$125,236*
University of Texas, Austin McCombsMarketing/Sales – Brand/Product Management14.20%$121,220*
Percentage of Business Schools’ MBA Class who accept full-time product management positions post-MBA (2022)
Notes: (*): indicates the annual salary without the signing bonus—signing bonus datais not available on business school official website.
(**) indicates that the percentage represents a subset of the overall class size, specifically targeting marketing/general management.

Best MBA Programs for Product Management

Virtually any top MBA program is going to give you the skills you need to succeed as a product manager. Even if there are no classes or tracks offered specifically on product management, you can choose electives that teach tactics in fostering collaboration and trust, effectively communicating the product narrative to both internal and external stakeholders, negotiating product trade-offs, analyzing market trends, and attaining strategic objectives.

Courses that help develop these skills include:

  • Organizational Behavior
  • Financial Modeling
  • Negotiations
  • Leadership Communications
  • Market Research
  • Strategy
  • Entrepreneurship

That said, some programs might offer more opportunities on this front.

For example, MBA programs with more flexible curriculums, which will allow you to take electives that develop the skills related to product management dual-degree MBA programs.


MIT Sloan’s MBA program outranks all other M7 schools in terms of post-MBA full-time product management placements, and for good reason. While MIT is renowned for its balanced, data-driven curriculum, the school’s international reputation as a technical school makes it an obvious choice for those hoping to leverage their MBA for a product manager role.

Further, MIT Sloan also offers a 39-unit Digital Product Management Certificate (within the full-time MBA program) that emphasizes the unique challenges and opportunities presented by digital products and covers topics such as data analytics, product design, and development, marketing innovation, and entrepreneurship. Participants in the program gain insights into the latest trends and best practices in digital product management through a combination of coursework and real-life project involvement through the Digital Product Management Lab (DPM-Lab).

Overall, the certificate program is designed to equip students with the tools and strategies to drive innovation, create customer-centric products, and succeed in today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape. At Sloan, there is also a Product Management Club which offers an active community of over 700 members that support each other to succeed in the field of Product Management.

Kellogg School of Management

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management offers two unique programs which can provide aspiring product managers with the skills and education necessary for successful product management careers.

Kellogg MMM

The Kellogg MMM Program is a dual-degree program that combines an MBA from Kellogg with an MS in Design Innovation from the Segal Design Institute at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. The program aims to develop professionals in two key areas: business strategy and product innovation.

The emphasis of the MMM Program lies in fostering innovation and cultivating a holistic mindset that spans across business, technology, and design. This program equips students with a comprehensive set of skills that integrates these three domains.

Students will acquire essential qualities necessary for leading cross-functional teams composed of business strategists, engineers, and designers. They will learn to comprehend customer needs through ethnographic research, apply human-centered design principles, utilize analytics, and create and implement effective and sustainable business models. The program leverages resources like the Business Innovation Lab and Research Design Build to provide students with spaces to develop and prototype their ideas.

Kellogg MBAi

The Kellogg MBAi program is a joint degree between Kellogg School of Management and the McCormick School of Engineering. It is the definition of a Tech MBA, incorporating courses like machine learning, data science, artificial intelligence, and computational thinking for business to develop professionals who will be working at the intersection of business and AI-driven technology. It also offers a Silicon Valley industry immersion that provides students with opportunities to visit firms in the Bay area and network with professionals in the industry, making it an attractive choice—particularly as AI becomes increasingly relevant and popular across industries. 


The NYU Stern MBA program offers a Tech Product Management Specialization whose main focus is on data-driven decision making, innovation, and an entrepreneurial mindset. This innovative program offers a host of courses to equip product managers with the skills and knowledge necessary to drive developments in the product management space.

Some of their most exciting product management courses include:

  • Design Thinking for Managers
  • Digital Disruption: Creating and Capturing Value
  • Tech Industry Drivers
  • High Tech Entrepreneurship
  • Emerging Technologies
  • Predicting the Future of Technology
  • Strategic Management of AI

CMU Tepper MBA

The Tepper School of Business offers a Management of Innovation and Product Development Track as part of the full-time MBA program. Through the capstone project, the program prepares students to capably identify and define complex business problems, enabling them to address challenges effectively. Participants of this track also learn how to design processes that foster innovation and facilitate the development of groundbreaking products.

Finally, with courses in Pricing and Brand Strategy, Corporate Financial Reporting, and Marketing Analytics, the program develops students’ expertise in constructing well-structured proposals tailored for C-suite management, leveraging early research findings to secure support and budget allocations.

Applying for an MBA for Product Management?

With high placements in enviable product management positions, high starting salaries, and a technical and managerial toolkit that is extremely difficult to develop elsewhere, applying for an MBA in order to progress in your product management career is a smart move.

However, the process of applying for an MBA can be daunting.

At Menlo Coaching, we provide expert guidance for your MBA applications—from early-stage profile building to essay writing and interview prep—so you can have your pick of MBA programs to accelerate your product management career.