Improving student outcomes, increasing access and affordability, and enabling new academic research across the entire education ecosystem

Our focus is on improving education and employment outcomes for all to create a more prosperous society with equal opportunity, and enabling new research that builds stronger communities and improves the environment.

We are committed to improving lifelong learning opportunities and outcomes around the globe by collaborating with clients on their top-of-mind issues while always keeping equity at the forefront. Our teams include former teachers, institutional leaders, policymakers, and researchers with deep expertise across all levels of education from early childhood and K-12, to higher education and workforce development.

We serve education institutions and systems, governments, philanthropists, investors, service providers, and vocational training providers, complementing our hands-on work with original research to allow us to better understand the sector’s toughest challenges, and build new capabilities to help solve them.


How we help clients

Early childhood education and K-12 school systems

We strengthen early childhood, primary, and secondary school systems and institutions to boost early learning and child wellbeing in order to achieve rapid improvements in learning outcomes and equity.

Higher education

We help higher education stakeholders reimagine the future by designing and implementing strategies that improve student outcomes, enable more and better research, enhance operational and administrative performance, and ensure financial sustainability.

Workforce development

We prepare people for the future of work by designing, improving, and transforming workforce development systems, placing a premium on equity, inclusion, and the elevation of underserved communities.

Investors, philanthropists, and service and technology providers

We work with companies and investors, applying innovative support services and digital tools that strengthen teaching and learning inside and outside the classroom, which increases the overall effectiveness of school systems and higher-education entities.

What we do

Strategy and implementation

Partnering with public and private entities, we create strategies that drive measurable impact informed by the unique needs of each institution. Our collaborative approach maximizes the odds of success, increases the pace of execution, and builds internal capabilities and ownership for lasting change.

Organizational and performance transformation

Working with educational organizations of all types, we help drive transformative improvement in student outcomes, institutional innovation, and financial stability. Our comprehensive approach focuses on execution excellence, capability building, and organizational health, which enables our clients to achieve and sustain superior performance.

Education venture building

Imagining, build, and accelerate ventures to scale and improve education and employment outcomes to deliver capabilities that enable our clients to repeat the process time and again, bringing together the world’s top educators, designers, operators, and other experts across all sectors and geographies.

Partnerships and mergers

Supporting organizations looking to enter a partnership or merger with another institution by helping clients assess the potential, design the structure, and ensure the long-term success of the new venture.

Examples of our work

Launching a large-scale online learning initiative for a leading public university system

We supported the design-through-launch of a new online-learning initiative for one of the largest public university systems in the United States. The project entailed extensive stakeholder input: 5,000 survey responses, 300 faculty interviews, and ten days of community-working sessions. The initiative enabled improved access to high-growth job opportunities across the university system and defined the necessary technology and organizational structures for its continued success.

Partnering with UNESCO to help school systems respond to COVID-19

McKinsey joined UNESCO’s Global Education Coalition to codevelop a series of toolkits for education-system leaders to help ensure learning continuity and provide support—especially for vulnerable students—during the pandemic.

Good to great transformation for a flagship state university

We partnered with a flagship state university to identify ways to improve its return and maximize the impact of new investments. Through engagement with more than 300 faculty and staff members, we helped to deliver impact in athletics, auxiliary revenues, enrollment, online growth, procurement, research, and student success. The institution saw a five percent increase in freshman enrollment, a ten percent increase in transfer enrollment, new research partnerships implemented, and net surplus captured from negotiation of contracts and savings from procurement initiatives.

Featured Insights


COVID-19 and education: The lingering effects of unfinished learning

– US states and districts have the opportunity to not only help students catch up on unfinished learning from the pandemic but also tackle long-standing historical inequities in education.

How to transform higher-education institutions for the long term

– As financial pressures on higher-education institutions compound, a transformation approach focused on five best practices can help leaders make lasting change.

Reimagining higher education in the United States

– As education leaders consider their options in the age of the COVID-19 crisis, they must rethink the conventional wisdom.

Reimagining a more equitable and resilient K–12 education system

– Responding to the changes that the COVID-19 crisis has wrought on education systems around the world requires building on what we know works, as well as looking ahead to what we know students will need.

Our People

Wan-Lae Cheng
Partner, Washington DC
Supports private-, public-, and social-sector organizations, including – educational institutions, state and local governments,...
Felipe Child
Partner, Bogotá
Leads McKinsey’s Organization Practice in Spanish Latin America. Passionate about improving the efficiency and effectiveness...
Emma Dorn
Senior Knowledge Expert, Bay Area
Supports education donors, foundations, systems, and institutions to improve education outcomes and equity for all students, with...
André Dua
Senior Partner, Miami
Provides strategic counsel and advises on performance transformation to state and local governments as well as public and private...
Leads Industries
Jonathan K. Law
Senior Partner, Southern California
Serves a range of public sector and philanthropic clients, with particular emphasis on economic development, innovative social...
Cheryl Lim
Partner, Singapore
Advises public- and private-sector clients in education, youth employment and engagement, and tourism, as they pursue policy,...
Duwain Pinder
Partner, New Jersey
Serves colleges and universities on strategy and performance improvements and supports organizations across sectors on racial...
Jimmy Sarakatsannis
Partner, Washington DC
Offers broad and deep expertise in education, with a particular interest in the use of technology to transform teaching and learning
Dirk Schmautzer
Partner, Dubai
Shapes economic and human capital development strategies to boost growth and create jobs. Leads McKinsey’s Education Practice...

McKinsey’s work for social, healthcare, and public entities

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