What are the differences between Research analyst and Associate

Career Advising Interview MBB Research Consulting
Recent activity on Mar 31, 2018
4 Answers
16.5 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Sep 25, 2017

Hi everyone! I am working in O&G sector and noticed that McKinsey published the vacancy of O&G research analyst in my country office. Can anyone explain what research analyst does in MBB and what are the main differences in comparison with associate position? As I understand associate position requires more experience and qualifications. What else? Are interview stages still same? Is it possible to switch to associate after some time?


Overview of answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best answer
Content Creator
replied on Sep 26, 2017
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

Research Analyst and Associate are actually two very different positions at McKinsey for several reasons:

  1. Tasks. The Research Analyst position is a back office role where you (i) do not have much client interaction; (ii) work with multiple teams at the same time; (iii) focus in research on specific topics (in this case: O&G). The Business Analyst is a position where you (i) have direct contact with the client; (ii) work in a single team per project; (iii) cover different sectors till when you specialize (usually at Engagement Manager level).
  2. Seniority. Research Analyst is an entry-level position, equivalent to the Business Analyst one in the consulting path at McK. Associate is the post-MBA position at McK (which therefore requires 2 years as business analyst plus an MBA)
  3. Career path. The two roles have different career path. As a Research Analyst you will naturally grow to Senior Research Analyst and then to Knowledge Expert. As Business Analyst you will move to Associate, Engagement Manger, Principle and Partner.

To my knowledge, the interview process is similar to the one for the Business Analyst position, although with more market sizing related questions; you may also get technical questions to test your knowledge on the specific sector you will focus on.

It is possible but not common to move from the research career path to the consulting one. It is unlikely you will move from Research Analyst to Associate though, far more likely you will start back as Business Analyst (maybe with one year seniority). Alternatively, you would have to wait to become Senior Research Analyst and then target to move to Associate.



Was this answer helpful?
replied on Sep 26, 2017
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


The research analyst is a supporting (non-consulting) role. Here are the implications:

  • You are specialized in a particular sector
  • You may or may not be assigned to a project. In most of the cases, you will have no client facing activities.
  • Lower salary
  • No international staffing, though lots of remote work with other offices

Good luck!

Was this answer helpful?
Ray updated an answer on Sep 25, 2017

Hi, congrats on the availability of the role. Here are my two cents on this topic:

1. In certain offices, McKinsey is known to be more flexible in their corporate structure. They have opened positions/roles such as 'Market Researcher' which is a sort of 'back-office support' role. Your job is to conduct market research and analyses, supporting the team and especially the BAs. You don't have client-facing experience, however. After one-two years, you have the opportunity to graduate into a BA.

2. I don't know if 'Research Analyst' here in your case refers to (1) the Market Researcher role, (2) the BA role (and if yes, then I'm not sure why it's named that way, or (3) a completely different role altogether.

Hope this helps :)


Was this answer helpful?
Amitabh replied on Mar 31, 2018

I work as a Research Analyst in the Financial Services vertical at McKinsey. From my experience, I can tell you that the role and the career progression are quite different from that of an associate level entry.

Research Analysts are not hired into the partner track (however they have started to change this); they are trained as knowledge experts in a particular domain from the day they are hired. On the other hand, associates start as generalists and develop expertise in a particular industry as they rise to EM levels.

Moreover, a transition from a BO role to a consulting role rarely happens and depends upon vacancies, ability to deliver stellar performance and rapport with the partners. In short, a very rare event. Most of the people that are hired into the research analysts move for higher education (MBA) and then try to make the transition.

I hope this answered your question. Thanks!

Was this answer helpful?
Francesco gave the best answer


Content Creator
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching
Q&A Upvotes
1614 Reviews
How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or fellow student?
0 = Not likely
10 = Very likely