McKinsey Hierarchy: The Different Position Levels

McKinsey McKinsey & Company Mckinsey London
New answer on Oct 30, 2022
10 Answers
403.4 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Dec 24, 2017


I am looking at the hierarchy of positions at McKinsey London specifically, and to my knowledge (correct me if I am wrong), from bottom to top, the positions are
1. Analysts,
2. Associates,
3. Engagement managers,
4. Partners

Is there anything I am missing?

When I am looking at the career website, there are positions such as junior/senior consultant? Does this refer to the associate position? Where does it fit into the hierarchy?

But then again, there are also specific positions as an associate? Are these the same roles as the junior/senior consultant?

Thanks and regards,

Overview of answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best answer
updated an answer on Aug 23, 2019
Project leader BCG, Bain and A.T. Kearney / 200+ real interviews


That is correct, the traditional track at McKinsey from bottom to top is Analyst>Associate>Engagement Manager>Associate Partner>Partner. Moving from one position to the next normally takes 1 to 3 years. Each one of the previous role develops from Junior to Senior (e.g. from Junior analyst to Senior analyst).

Many consulting firms have different names for the same type of role but the biggest difference is merely in the naming. To put things in context and from junior to senior roles:

  1. Analyst (McK and ATK) / Associate (BCG and Bain): entry level consultants focus on gathering data/information, analyzing it and delivering it via presentations. They are guided by associates and managers.
  2. Associate (McK and ATK) / Consultant (BCG and Bain): apart from being promoted from analyst, associates typically join after an MBA or relevant work. They usually own a stream/functional area of a project. They independently oversee the work of analysts and develop the project deliverables of their specific stream. Depending on tenure, associates might be involved in client relationship and team’s leadership. Starting from Associate level, consultants interview candidates.
  3. Engagement manager (McK) / Case team leader (BCG) / Manager (Bain)/ Project manager (ATK): are responsible of planning, executing and delivering a consulting project. Their tasks include leading teams, coordinating with all project stakeholders (client and partners), resolving/mediating issues. Managers are also expected to participate to internal events (e.g. holding seminars/trainings for other consultants) and supporting business development opportunities with clients.
  4. Associate partner (McK) / Junior partner (Bain) / Principal (BCG and ATK): they own the project delivery (they typically manage multiple projects at once) and are expected to sell new consulting work.
  5. Partner: they are less involved in the daily execution of a project and focus more on high-level strategy (they are the key owners of project deliverables). A big part of their work is dedicated to selling new consulting assignments to both existing and new clients.

I hope this helps,



Was this answer helpful?
Ziray on Dec 16, 2018

Would you know the rough % of candidates that "make it" to each round of promotions?

Clara on Oct 02, 2019

These % are very well kept within the firms, as well as the % of candidates that make it to each step of the recruitment process. Personally, I would not trust anyone who dares to give an approximation

replied on Oct 18, 2021
PrepLounge Community & Marketing Manager

Hi there, 

This is a great question and our coaches have already given great insights. 

On the behalf of PrepLounge, I wanted to recommend having a look at some resources that are helpful when preparing for the McKinsey interview. 

1. Master the McKinsey Problem Solving Game

Here we have some resources that can be helpful:

2. Got the invitation to the interview?

Here are some practical resources for the interview at McKinsey!

Overall, it is important to internalize the habits that are needed to ace the McKinsey interview process by practicing with peers. On PrepLounge, you have the opportunity to schedule meetings with peers and coaches at any time! Just accept a meeting on our Meeting Board or propose one yourself! Alternatively, you can browse through the vast Candidate Listing to find a suitable meeting partner according to your needs and wishes! If you feel like you need some more support during your case interview preparation, there are a lot of ex-management consultants in our Coach Listing who are happy to share their knowledge with you.  So, make sure to schedule your meetings as soon as possible!

Of course, your preparation for mathematical tasks should not be neglected! Use our Mental Math Tool to train your case interview math with respect to all basic operations. You can even compare yourself to the performance of the whole PrepLounge community. This will help you to be prepared for any calculation in your consulting interview. 

Lastly, make sure to practice your chart-reading skills by solving our Quizzes! The sooner you develop this useful skill, the better! 

I hope this helps anyone interested in entering the McKinsey hierarchy :-) 

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out! I am happy to help. 

All the best for your interview preparation, 

PrepLounge Community Management


Follow us on: Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn 

Was this answer helpful?
Content Creator
replied on Oct 02, 2019
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


To add a bit more flavour to prior answers: the "know" and "normal" path is Business Analyst > Associate Consultant > Engagement Manager > Associate Partner > Partner (see in other comments the definition of each, since they are pretty well ellaborated)

However, we also need to take into consideration the "internships":

- Summer Business Analyst: 2-6 months summer contracts for people about to finish education

-Summer Asociate Consultant: 2-3 months summer contracts for people during the summer of their MBAs

Furthermore, there are some "intermediate" steps:

- Junior Associate Consultant: people with some previous experience that don´t enter as Business Analyst, but don´t have an MBA

- Junior Engagement Manager: associates transitioning to the new role, normally for 1-2 engagements

Finally, after partner, there is the Senior Partner role.

We also have to take into consideration tht McKinsey is currently offering more paths (e.g., Expert role path, Advance Analytics paths...) that are not exactly like those ones.

Hope it helps!

Was this answer helpful?
updated an answer on Dec 25, 2017
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


Actually, it's a bit different at McKinsey:

1) Intern - Internship for students after which you are supposed to get a full-time offer

2) Business Analyst (BA) - an entry role, well-defined, with a strict time frame of 2 years

3) Senior Business Analyst (SBA) - Usually lasts 1-1.5 years. You can get this position on the job offer if you have 1.5-2.5 years of experience prior to consulting

4) Fellow Associate - The short role that some of the candidates may get. There are two possible scenarios:

  • After the interview, if you don't have enough relevant experience for an associate role / performed not perfectly in the interview. If you have never worked in consulting this is a good starting point since you can get more experience before starting to manage projects and have more time to improve if you fail at something
  • As a promotion from SBA position if you are not getting MBA and your performance is not good enough to get a DTA (Direct to Associate promotion)

5) Associate. An associate is a very short-term role - 1-2 years

6) Junior Engagement Manager (JEM) - In a year you'll start leading a project as an Associate and after the first successful project, you'll become a JEM - junior Engagement Manager. After leading several successful projects as a JEM you'll get promoted to an Engagement Manager.

7) Engagement Manager (EM) - basically leading the projects for 2-3 years

8) Associate principal - Leading multiple projects, guiding EMs. 2-3 years

9) Partner

10) Director



Was this answer helpful?
Jacopo on Dec 25, 2017

Hi, this seems very much aligned with my previous answer. Please note that at McKinsey there are minor differences in naming depending on your office e.g., Business Analysts are called Fellows in some European offices; hence I would suggest to stick to the main roles (e.g. analyst, associate,…) to avoid confusion depending on geographies. B.R.


Vlad on Dec 26, 2017

It’s not a fellow = ba in These European countries but rather ba roles don’t exist at all since the salary levels for fellows are close to ASC and more or less aligned everywhere (except Africa, India, etc)

Ziray on Dec 16, 2018

Would you have % of candidates that "make it" to each round of promotion? i.e. what % of business analysts make it to SBA, then to Associate, then to JEM, then to EM... Thanks!

Content Creator
replied on Sep 29, 2022
Ex McKinsey EM & interviewer (5 yrs) USA & UK| Coached / interviewed 300 +|Free 15 min intro| Stanford MBA|Non-trad

That's almost perfect! 

So the roles at McKinsey are in general:

- Business Analysts (BAs) - come in after undergraduate. Individual contributors who run a workstream.

- Associates - either come in after an MBA or sometimes as an experienced hire. Individual contributors who run a workstream.

- Engagement Manager - lead the day to day work of the team. 

- Associate Partner - manage two or three studies and focus on client development

- Partner - manage a number of studies and the client relationship

- Senior Partner - as per partner, but with more seniority

Some offices then add other levels e.g., London has a ‘Junior Associate’ role which is for those with around 5 years of work experience but who they don't think are quite experienced enough to be an Associate. The American offices often talk about Junior Engagement Managers, or JEMs, who are inbetween Associate and EM. 

Then there are a number of businesses that McKinsey has acquired / developed over the last few years e.g., product focused arms of the organisation, designed focused arms. These all have different roles e.g., product manager, different types of consultant. It's worth reaching out to the recruiting team to understand these positions more. 

Hope this helps! 

Was this answer helpful?
Anonymous replied on Sep 23, 2019


further I would say that over the last time companies also tend to introduce additional internal chierarchies which are not always visible to extern.

In order to keep promotion cycles relatively short (12-18 months) companies have started to split existing career levels into informal 1 & 2 sublevels.

I can give you an example how this logic was applied at Roland Berger, but I know that other tier-1 also started to look at this approach.

Previous and current career grades:

Junior Consultant Assistent (Intern) -> Junior Consultant Assistent (Intern) and Masterand (intern in Master's semi final year); The company has started to differentiate the pay for bachelor's and master's intern, while in general significantly increased the salary for interns;

Business/Consulting Analyst -> Business/Consulting Analyst 1 and Business/Consulting Analyst 2. This is an entry position for bachelor graduates. A quick promotion from 1 to 2 is possible after 6 or 12 months depending on your development speed.

Junior Consultant -> Junior Consultant 1 and Junior Consultant 2. This is an entry position for master graduates. A quick promotion from 1 to 2 is possible after 6 or 12 months depending on your development speed.

Consultant -> Consultant 1 and Consultant 2. This is an entry position for PhDs or young professionals with up to 3 years of experience. A quick promotion from 1 to 2 is possible after 6, 12 or 18 months depending on your development speed.

Senior Consultant -> Senior Consultant 1 and Senior Consultant 2. This could also an entry position for PhDs or young professionals with 3-5 years of experience, if they performed very well during the interview. A promotion cycle between 1 and 2 could be 12, 18 or 24 months depending on your development speed. Normally it takes 4-6 years to get from the junior position to the Project Manager (PM) depending on your performance and luck.

Project Manager -> PM 1 and PM 2. Promotion between 12 and 24 months depending on performance. It usually takes another 12-36 months to be promoted from PM2 to Principle depending on your ability to sell projects and sell yourself in front of the partners.

Principle - is the only career level which has not yet been splitted furhter. You need to reach minimum turnover in order to be promoted to the Partner level.

Partner -> P1, P2 and P3. Even on the Partner level there is a huge differentiation. Partner P1 is a newly promoted partner who sells projects for less than 4m Euro/USD. Senior Partner P2 is a more experienced colleague, who is able to sell annually more than 4m Euro/USD. Senior Partner P3 is either a Regional Director or Member of the Management or Supervisory board of the company.

Even though this logic comes from RB, it also applies to McKinsey and other MBB/Tier-1 companies. They only call the career levels differently.

Hope it brings you furhter clarity.



Was this answer helpful?
replied on Feb 24, 2018

Hey anonymous,

Let me just add to this conversation that McKinsey doesn't have Directors any longer. Since last year, the role was rebranded as Senior Partners (then for the remaining roles/positions, naming conventions may change as referred by Vlad).



Was this answer helpful?
Content Creator
replied on May 20, 2020
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep


By the way, these are great discussions to have while networking. One goal of networking is to figure out where you sit. Honestly, your one and only priority in this whole discussion should be figuring out for what position you should apply.

Then, once you're in the company you'll just naturally learn the heirarchy.

Was this answer helpful?
Anonymous replied on Oct 30, 2022

1. Junior Associates,
2. Associates,
3. Engagement managers,
4. Associate Partners
5. Partners
6. Senior Partners

Was this answer helpful?
Content Creator
replied on Aug 19, 2022
50+ successful coachings / Ex-Mckinsey JEM & Interviewer / Industry + Engineering background

Hey anonymous,

Let me just add to this conversation that McKinsey also has expert roles, that are equivalent to the generalist roles (e.g. Specialist = Associate, Expert = EM, …).
In addition there are expert roles that also offer development into a Partner role (if they are client facing) - often via an Expert Associate Partner Track (to become Expert Partner or Partner - equivalent). 



Was this answer helpful?
Jacopo gave the best answer


Project leader BCG, Bain and A.T. Kearney / 200+ real interviews
Q&A Upvotes
17 Reviews