Technology has started to catch up to banking and consulting as one of the top industries for business school graduates

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Technology has started to catch up to banking and consulting as one of the top industries for business school graduates, and it’s not just Silicon Valley schools producing tech-hungry MBAs. A handful of B-schools in other regions — including Washington state — graduated more of their students into technology jobs in 2014 than any other industry, according to data the schools provided to Bloomberg for its 2015 business school rankings.

A few schools in Utah, Texas, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Southern California all graduated a higher share of MBAs who went into tech than Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Stanford still sent a higher proportion of students into the industry, at 19 percent, than the 16 percent across all full-time MBA programs Bloomberg ranked.

Arizona State’s W.P. Carey School of Business, for example, sent 43 percent of its MBAs into tech, nearly as high a share as the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. Most of the tech workers who graduate from the program, which is ranked 49th out of 74 U.S. full-time programs by Bloomberg, head to jobs at Amazon, Dell and Intel, says Jennifer Whitten, who directs the school’s graduate career center.

They’re not becoming coders, though. Rather, the school trains them to use the management skills that MBA programs commonly teach to big tech companies.

“Many of our students are going into operations and working with supply chains within tech,” Whitten says.

More than ever, prospective students are asking MBA programs how they will position them for a job at a specific tech company, says Daniel Poston, assistant dean at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business (ranked 20th), which sent more than a third of its students into tech last year. “They’ll say, ‘Microsoft is my dream. What will it take for me to get to Microsoft?’ ” says Poston.

Foster students are targeting Seattle-based companies like Amazon, Poston says. To feed its students’ tech job thirst, Foster has created more classes on big data and service supply chains, and geared them toward working in tech. “We focus more of our studies on how to take an app or software product to market,” he says.

Amazon is paying more money for MBAs than some of the more traditional recruiters from banks.” - Daniel Poston, UW Foster School of Business

It’s hardly surprising that tech giants would be a draw for MBAs. Google and Apple pay MBAs salaries that rival top consulting firms like McKinsey, topped off with youthful workplaces and flexible corporate atmospheres. At Foster, Poston says students are enticed by great salaries, among other things.

“Amazon is paying more money for MBAs than some of the more traditional recruiters from banks, and they’re competing directly with consulting firms,” he says.

Foster is one of the highly regarded business schools far from the Bay Area with a strong tech contingent among its graduates. Among schools that send an unusually high number of students to tech, many are also ranked among Bloomberg’s top 25 full-time MBA programs. The highest-ranked program on the list, No. 18 Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon, saw a third of its 2014 grads score tech jobs. Almost 30 percent of Tepper grads headed to the West Coast, making it the top geographical destination for graduates.

Provo, Utah-based Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management sees a third of MBAs head for tech companies, a bigger chunk of grads than go to any other industry. Mike Roberts, an assistant dean at Marriott, says companies such as Adobe Systems recruit on campus. “BYU used to be a strong Midwestern industry school with manufacturing and the like, so when high tech came up, it kind of replaced that interest,” Roberts says.