by Brian DeChesare Comments (71)

What’s The Best Major For Investment Banking?

Investment Banking Major

Many high-school and university students with an interest in finance naturally ask, “What’s the best college major for investment banking?”

The answer to this question has changed over the years, and these changes have made your university major less important and more important at the same time.

In theory, you can get into investment banking with “any” major.

In practice, however, you maximize your chances of winning internships and eventual investment banking roles by picking from a small set of highly relevant majors:

Investment Banking Major: Assumptions and Constraints

In this article, I am making a few important assumptions:

  1. You have to pay for your degree, either upfront or by borrowing money.
  2. You are attending a relatively expensive school that will cost tens of thousands of dollars or $100K+.
  3. University degrees will continue to be required for jobs in finance, especially in the most competitive fields, such as investment banking and private equity.
  4. You are interested in a finance career, but you also want a good “Plan B” in case you graduate during a market crash or recession, or you decide against finance.
  5. You are a practical, logical person who wants to achieve a decent ROI on the time and money you spend on the degree.

Some of these assumptions may not be true for you.

For example, maybe you have wealthy parents who are paying for your degree, or you’re in a country where higher education is free or very cheap.

Or maybe you have a philosophical objection to this concept because you believe that a university education should offer “learning for the sake of learning.”

Or maybe you believe that the entire university system will collapse, so official degrees will no longer be required, and trade schools will take over, similar to what happened for electricians and plumbers.

If that’s you, please stop reading right here. You might be right about your views or predictions, but this article is not for you.

Instead, we’re going to focus on the average person’s reality:

Investment Banking Major: Why Does It Matter At All?

A long time ago, your university major mattered because:

  1. Undergraduate-level recruiting took place later, so more of your grades came from your major, and
  2. There were fewer ways to learn accounting and financial modeling independently.

But both of these have changed over time.

The IB recruiting timeline is now hyper-accelerated, there are far more self-study options, and careers in “high finance” have become less appealing vs. ones in technology, sales, or even real estate.

And even if you start early and do everything right, the randomness and timing of the recruiting process mean that you might end up without an IB offer.

So, your major matters for three main reasons:

  1. You need to earn a good GPA – You need at least a 3.5, and ideally over 3.7 if you’re at a lesser-known school, to have the best shot at winning interviews. A low GPA is the most difficult weakness to overcome in interviews, so you don’t want to pick something that makes your grades plummet.
  2. You want to signal that you’re competent and intelligent, and a major that’s at least moderately difficult will give this impression.
  3. Your major is now more important for “Plan B” options in case you graduate into a market crash or recession or you decide against finance.

A few other important points include:

  • If you’re an international student studying in the U.S., you want a degree that qualifies as STEM so you can stay in the country and work for 36 months after graduation. Many degrees count as STEM, including some that are a bit of a stretch.
  • Regardless of your official major, you should take classes where you learn practical skills that you can apply directly to high-paying jobs.
  • Finally, you don’t want a major that crowds out time for other activities, such as networking, internships, and student groups.

Based on all of that, I recommend the following as the “best investment banking major” (or “study plan”):

  • Major: Accounting/finance (or, if your university doesn’t have these specific majors, something that has coursework in these areas).
  • Minor: Computer science, math, or statistics.
  • You should also consider taking at least 1-2 writing or communication-intensive classes because plenty of students are good with numbers, but many of them cannot communicate with other humans.
  • If you’re an international student, you may have to flip the order so your major qualifies as “STEM.”

Why This Major/Minor Combination?

This combination is best because it:

  • Gives you the skills required for finance careers.
  • Makes you seem competent/intelligent.
  • And gives you good “Plan B” options in case you decide against finance.

It should not be overly difficult to earn a decent GPA, and if you run low on free time, you can drop the official minor and make it a few extra classes instead.

Also, you can front-load the easier classes in your first 1-2 years to boost your GPA by the time you apply for internships.

If you want to be a quant, you can flip the order and pick math or CS for your major and accounting/finance for your minor.

Here’s why each specific component in this plan matters:

  • Significant Accounting Coursework: Accounting is, by far, the most important “technical skill” for investment banking, private equity, and many hedge funds. And a lot of mid-level and senior bankers don’t understand it that well!
  • One or Two Corporate Finance Classes: Most universities do not offer courses that delve into the real “corporate finance” work done in IB/PE roles (i.e., valuation and modeling transactions), so you should stop with the basics of corporate finance before getting into the weeds.
  • Math/Statistics/Computer Science Background: You don’t need to be an expert, but these skills will be applicable in almost any field. You should understand basic programming concepts (control structures, data structures, recursion, memory, etc.) and math through calculus and linear algebra.
  • One or Two Writing/Communication-Intensive Classes: You spend a lot of time reading and writing documents, calling people, and conducting meetings in finance and also in sales, product management, and real estate.

Finally, if you decide against finance after completing a sequence of internships or an official IB internship, this plan will give you other options:

  • Tech Companies: Product management, sales, data science, or potentially even programming (but you may need a deeper background for the latter two).
  • Finance-Related Areas: Fintech and real estate are always solid options. Maybe even consulting, if you feel like earning less and living in hotels. Then there are Big 4 firms and others in “professional services” that look for similar skills.
  • Non-Finance, Non-Tech Companies: You could also join a normal company in a corporate finance, corporate strategy, or project management role.

You won’t be the ideal candidate to win the most technical jobs with this combination, and you also won’t be in the best position to win the most sales-y jobs.

But you will have a lot of flexibility for roles in between those two extremes.

“But Wait! I Want to Study Literature! Or History! Or Gender Studies!”

I hear you.

Even though I was a Computer Science major, I almost picked History or Literature, and I’ve been rereading all of Shakespeare’s plays this year (for fun).

But I don’t think it’s a great idea to pick something in the liberal arts or social sciences if your goal is a high-paying job immediately after graduation.

If you’re at an elite university (the Ivy League and similar schools in the U.S.; Oxbridge in the U.K., etc.), you might be able to pull this off because your university’s reputation is far more important than your major.

But if you’re at even a moderately-lesser-known school, whether a “semi-target” or a complete non-target for banks, it’s a bad idea.

Bankers might be able to vouch for an English Literature major from Harvard, but they’d be a lot more skeptical about a similar candidate from Podunk U.

Other Investment Banking Major Mistakes to Avoid

Double and triple majors are bad ideas because they will drag down your GPA and reduce your free time.

Bankers will not be impressed if you earned a 3.1 cumulative GPA and had lower grades because of a triple major – they’d rather hire someone who earned a 3.7 with one major and who also had good internships.

Finally, Economics is not a good choice unless your school offers absolutely nothing else related to Accounting or Finance.

Not only is it questionable to call macroeconomics a “science,” but it has very little to do with the daily work in IB, PE, or tech careers.

Maybe if you are interested in asset management or portfolio management or something broader, Economics could be more applicable…

…but it’s still more useful to know accounting and the financial statements like the back of your hand.

How To Combine Your Major With Activities And Internships

We have a few examples of how to combine your major with activities and internships in the article on how to get an investment banking internship.

In short, you need to win finance-related internships early (Year 1 and the summer after) so you can set yourself up for IB and related roles – or rule them out quickly.

You don’t need to commit to a specific major in the beginning; you just need something by the time recruiting for Year 3 internships begins.

Your Investment Banking Major: What Next?

Questions about the “best” major never go away, but most advice about this topic is somewhat off.

Banks do hire from all majors, and some majors are more relevant to finance than others.

But these points ignore the true importance of your major: allowing you to earn good grades while appearing competent and intelligent and gaining a useful skill set that gives you “Plan B” options.

But as I said in the beginning, if someone else is paying for your degree, your education is “free,” or you don’t care about practicality, feel free to do what you want.

I hear the Gender Studies department is recruiting.

Read More

If you liked this article, you might be interested in:

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys lifting weights, running, traveling, obsessively watching TV shows, and defeating Sauron.

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  1. Brian Hamilton

    Hi Brian
    Thank you for the informative write-up on this topic ! Hoping to seek your input on a particular dilemma that I’m facing . I’m from Asia and unfortunately the major/minor option does not exist for me in my country and I also come from a non target school in my country .Therefore , I’m stuck with having to choose between either studying accounting or finance for the next 3-4 years . I also happen to find the accounting courses to be more challenging but am willing to put in more effort if needed . I’m just worried that all time studying for accounting would cause me to be unable to commit to other components which are crucial in helping me to break into IB . What degree would you advice me to study if I’m hoping to break into investment banking in my country ? Thanks in advance !

    1. Accounting is better in most cases because it’s more relevant to what bankers actually do on the job. If it will cause your grades to be lower, finance is fine. But I can’t really say without knowing how much lower or what internships/other opportunities it would cost you.

  2. Hi Brian
    So, I have a choice that I would love your insight in. I’m currently at a non target (UW Madison) and have the ability to transfer to Cornell next year, and this may seem like a no brainer but I’m in Cornell CALS so I won’t be able to take business classes. Yes, I can and will minor in business but there’s the issue of my major. I’ve narrowed it down to either Global Development (with a concentration in Economics) or Biometry and Statistics. The first option seems a good deal easier for a better GPA but the second option is probably more applicable/useful. Regardless, I’m assuming I’ll get worse grades at Cornell than I’m getting currently. Do you think it would be better for me to transfer into Cornell despite the fact that I can’t major in finance and will have a lower GPA? If so, what major should I choose?

    1. Transferring schools these days mostly depends on when you do it (basically, don’t transfer later than the end of Year 1). If you’re going to start Cornell in Year 2, i.e., the year in which summer internship recruiting for the next year takes place, then yes, it’s worth it because you’ll have a significantly better chance of winning a summer internship.

      If you’re at Cornell, your exact major matters less because they’ll assume you’re smart and capable, so I would pick Global Development and maybe do a minor in the other one or something else more technical to minimize the GPA impact.

  3. Hi Brian,

    Amazing article!

    What if I had a diploma in Accounting and I am planning to take degree in Finance as Bachler degree or shall I keep it with Accounting and would that helps to over come CFA and to be IB.

    1. I’m not sure what you are asking, but I don’t think Accounting + Finance helps much over just Accounting if that is your question. The CFA adds almost nothing if you already have those degrees and aim for IB roles.

  4. What majors/minors would you recommend for UPenn CAS (not Wharton)? Thanks!

    1. Anything with numbers, programming, or science exposure that is also not too difficult or demanding. Maybe major in something easier and do the minor in a more quantitative subject. People often pick Economics, which can be OK, but I would recommend something additional to gain more accounting or coding/math knowledge.

  5. Hey Brian, gave a read to this and some other articles and am looking for some advice:

    So I am a recent graduate from a non-target, state university out in Colorado, close to Boulder and Denver. I double-majored in Economics and Philosophy and minored in Statistics, ended up with a 3.7 GPA, and graduated a year early with no debt at the cost of having not completed any internships during my two available summers, partly because I was under some financial pressure to graduate as early as possible so I took summer classes instead, and partly because I wasn’t sure about going the investment banking route at the time. During my time in college I unfortunately did not take many finance related classes or do finance related work, it was mostly quant-econ and history of econ, but I did take one class on Finance and Banking that cemented that Finance is what I want to do.

    My question is, what is the best path forward now that I am graduated? Right now to make up for some lack in knowledge I am taking online courses, but I don’t really plan on putting them on my resumé (why bother, as you point out). I am currently in “find any finance-related role, and go for a M7 MBA” route. Is this the right approach, or is there a better way I’m just not seeing? Thank you.

    1. You could also try for off-cycle internships at smaller firms if you want to get into IB without doing an MBA first, but if you went to a non-target school outside of major financial centers, I think it may be difficult to do that. Another option might be a Master’s in Finance if you can get into one of the top programs and use that to recruit for IB roles.

      But it really is those 3 options: go for off-cycle internships at smaller firms and eventually lateral into IB, an MSF, or an MBA. You are probably best off finding some type of finance-related full-time role now and then deciding what you want to do once you’ve been there for a few months.

      1. Hey Brian, thanks for the response! First of all I wanted to apologize for leaving multiple comments around the site, I was encountering an error where they didn’t seem to post for me and I figured I’d just keep trying. Apparently you could see them the whole time, my bad.

        As for the topic at hand, I have two further questions: First, I thought the latter two options (MSF/MBA) might be the case, but I hadn’t thought of the lateral hire idea. What type of internships at what type of firms do you think would be the best for a lateral hire? I don’t know what type of finance role would be the best for this pathway. Second, what (reasonable) time frames would you give these three options? Im guessing for the MBA it would be 3-5 years from now, and the MSF it would be 2-3 years, but I suppose the lateral hire is more context dependent. Is there a “normal” amount of time you’ve seen it take people going the lateral hire route? Thank you again!

        1. Please see:

          You want something that involves valuation or credit analysis or working with transactions instead of auditing financial statements. It becomes more difficult to get into IB as a lateral hire after ~2 years in other jobs (but very dependent on market conditions – this goes up when hiring is increasing and demand for candidates is high and can decrease in bad environments).

  6. Hi, I am applying to study law in the UK (British citizen) at Cambridge ,UCL ,LSE ,KCL and Warwick. I would like to work in IB in the future. How could I improve my chances given that my uni subject has very little overlap with ib and finance? Many thanks

    1. Do internships. Start early. Learn as much as you can about accounting and finance. If you start early and complete internships (including spring weeks in the U.K.), and you attend one of the top schools, you should be competitive.

  7. Upendo

    Thankyou very much for sharing this. I appreciate you for talking about international students. I am an international student my self and reading this has been very helpful to me. Btw your profile is very funny!

  8. Thanks so much for the info. I have an admit in kelly business school. Is it good for IB

    1. If you can get into their IB workshop, yes, it’s really good and helps a lot for IB. But the general business school is in a different category and isn’t nearly as good for getting into IB. You can still do it, but it’s closer to the non-target/semi-target category.

  9. Ramon matlock

    Hi I am at siue currently and I am interested in going into Investment banking but I’m getting a degree in IB. Is that degree setting me up for the job I’m looking for? And is there anything I need to add to this degree to or a different one to have a chance at competition in that job field?

    1. If by “SIUE” you mean “Southern Illinois University Edwardsville” then the problem is not your major but your university. You’re going to have a very difficult time winning internships/offers because it’s not a target school, and there are probably not many alumni in IB. If you want to maximize your chances, transfer to a school ranked in the top 20.

  10. Thoughts in a major in Finance with a concentration in Business Analytics?

    Also, I am deciding between two minors:
    Digital Communication, Information, & Media

    Any thoughts?

    1. It’s fine, but, as usual, your major matters less than the quality/reputation of your university. If Business Analytics is more analytically intensive or lets you stay in the country after graduation if you’re an international student due to the OPT / STEM deal, great. I don’t think your choice of minors really matters, just pick the one you’re more interested in.

  11. Hello Brian,

    This article was insanely helpful in redirecting my choice of major. My academic advisors originally recommended I pursue Business Admin, even though my aim was IB and my interest is in finance.

    The issue I’m facing, now, is that I work full time during normal business hours (8-5) at a consumer banking branch, Chase (mainly for networking opportunities), and am also going to school, online, full time. Once I get into University of Arizona’s Eller School of Management, I would only have the option of taking either their Business Admin program, or their Accounting program online.

    Is it worth giving up possible networking opportunities (which, with such a large gap between IB and consumer banking, these efforts may end up fruitless) through my day job, to trade in for a position with more flexible hours, in order to pursue a direct finance program, or is a degree in accounting equally valued?

    Thank you for all of the helpful information.

    1. I’m going to be blunt: you don’t have much of a chance of getting into IB with consumer banking work experience, an online degree/program, and a non-top-ranked business school. So I don’t think the degree choice here matters.

      If your goal is to get into IB, then you need to focus on getting into one of the top-ranked MBA programs in the country at this stage, assuming you have several years of full-time work experience already. If you can’t do that, then get into the best MBA program you can and aim for roles like corporate finance and corporate banking and see if you can leverage those into IB in the future.

  12. Rajasvi Singh

    Hi Brian,
    Thanks for the article!
    I am a high school senior and am going to turn in applications for Fall 2022 very soon. Many schools in the US and in the UK (that I’m applying to) offer Finance as a minor, but not as a major. (Some don’t offer it at all!) Would it be OK to go for economics as a major in that case? Or would Mathematics be a better option to break into fields like IB and PE?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. If you can earn high grades in math and have time for activities, I think a Math Major + Finance Minor is the best option because it also lets you pursue opportunities like quant roles, tech/coding, etc. if you decide against finance. Otherwise, an Econ Major + Finance Minor is fine but less flexible in terms of jobs afterward.

      1. Rajasvi Singh

        Thank you for your advice!

  13. Hi there
    If an international student is doing an A&F degree in UK but are very interested in ending up working in the US, what is the best way to enter. Would like to do a Masters in Finance before work.

    Route 1: Master in Finance at top tier UK varsity then apply fir US jobs in IB/ PE

    Route 2: Apply to do Master in Finance in US and from there apply for IB/Pe

    Route 3: Like Route 1 but apply fir UK job in IB / PE and after 1/2 years of work apply for US job in IB/ PE

    Also if the A& F candidate is very good in Math & really enjoy Comp Sci ( top at school and olympiads), would you say certification courses in Comp Sci from say Google are great or what would you recommend?

    1. Option 2 is the best idea. Certification courses in CS make literally 0 difference for IB/PE roles. The “math” consists of basic arithmetic.

  14. Hi!
    I’m currently doing Mechanical Engineering. But now I want to become an investment banker. I have already applied to universities and received offer letter from all. I’m confused between 2 Universities.
    – University of Warwick ( MSc Business with Accounting and Finance )
    – Queen Mary University of London ( MSc Finance and Investment )
    I like course content of both. But confused whether location of uni really matters!
    Also, fees are lower in case of Queen Mary.

    I’m not sure which one to choose.
    Please help me!

    1. Warwick is a better bet for IB. Not as good as Oxbridge or LSE, but around the same or above others.

      1. Arth Shah

        Thank you very much for your opinion!

  15. Hey,

    I am an Economics major studying at a target school (chose Economics because no option of Finance and Accounting). I was also considering minoring in Data Science. However, some courses in my Data Science minor could lower my overall grade. In your opinion, do you think I should keep Data Science minor to keep all options open or remove it to bring up my overall grades? My overall grade is currently okay (Second Upper 2:1).

    1. If Data Science takes you below 2:1, no, don’t add it.

  16. Is coding important to het into ib

  17. I was majoring in economics and math at a T20 US News semi target but switched the math part over to a liberal arts major as I found the liberal arts major to be more interesting and easier on the GPA.

    I know that I have no chance at getting into IB due to my current GPA but do you think that my career prospects in a high finance field would be limited due to not finishing the math major? I did list my math classes on my resume but I’m not sure if I should continue listing coursework a few years after graduation.

    1. No, not really, the math major would only matter for certain fields such as quant finance. It still helps if you can say you completed coursework in it.

  18. Hey, great article. Wondering where would you put Political Science from a good uni in the list of good and bad majors for getting into finance. Also, would a masters in something like Econ or Finance help for this goal?

    1. It’s an “OK” choice, but probably not an optimal one. It can work if you’re at one of the top target schools (Ivy League+ the others in the category), but I’m not sure it’s a great idea if you’re at a school ranked #30-50 in the country (yes, “good,” but not exactly at the top – this is just how bankers think).

      Yes, a Master’s in a more closely related subject would help in this case. But again, the key points are work experience (internships), school quality, GPA, and networking.

  19. I will be attending UIUC next year majoring in Accounting. Would it be a good idea to double major in Accounting and Finance, or will it not be worth it? I am confident I can handle to workload but I also do not want to take more classes if it won’t benefit my career.

    1. I don’t think it matters too much. If you add a minor, probably better to make it in something “fun” or something with more math required (engineering, hard science, math, statistics, etc.). But it won’t make much of a difference if your goal is traditional IB roles.

  20. Jack Hakula

    This was a very informative article – definitely has given me a lot to think about. I am currently a Freshman, entering my Sophomore year in college. I go to Marist College (private liberal arts school in Poughkeepsie, New York), and I study Applied Mathematics with a concentration in Financial/Actuarial studies. I also have a minor in Art History. I have a GPA around a 3.87. Outside of classes, I am involved in Math Club, and hold an executive role in Art History Club. I write for the school newspaper, I am an Ambassador for my school, and I am on the Executive Board for the Student Government Association.

    I have recently been considering doing IB work. It has always been an option, along with strategy/management consulting, corporate finance, and security work. I have recently been considering it more seriously, as I am drawn to the high-pace, and long hours. I work well under pressure, lol. I was wondering if I could get your advice. It seems as if the common trend is for math majors to go and work as quants in IB or in hedge funds. Is this something you would agree with? If I do decide to go into IB, would you recommend I shoot for an Analyst position, or as a quant in a hedge fund? I am open and interested in all areas of banking, so any suggestions or advice would be appreciated.

    I am also founding a literary magazine at my school this year focused on art history and art markets, as well as considering attaining a Bloomberg Certificate and studying for the CFA exam. I know you have spoken about this on previous posts. In my case – useful or not? Thank you for any help you may be able to give.

    1. Jack Hakula

      I have also heard that going straight into work at a hedge fund is not advisable, because promotion/advancement from within is rare. Any truth to that?

    2. It’s impossible to answer this question without knowing what you want to do long term. The main advantage of quant fund work is that you can earn a lot with relatively shorter hours, but the disadvantages are that it doesn’t set you up for much else in the future, and people do get burned out tweaking code and responding to markets all day. Certifications are not useful for you next to networking and internships. But the biggest issue is that you attend a non-target school, which means you’ll need to network a lot to win these types of roles. You do not necessarily get “promoted” in quant roles, but you can make more money over time if you do well at the job.

  21. Hi!
    I’d like to start by congratulating you on the great article. I am an EU citizen, I’m in my last year of high-school and I currently have an offer from The University of Manchester for Economics and Finance(the degree is roughly 40% finance, 40% economics – I can choose all of the econ modules and most of them are very mathsy – and 20% maths). After the first year, the programme allows me to do Accounting and Finance almost exclusively and even apply to a year long internship before the last year(in which case the degree will be one year longer). I was wondering whether I should stick with Manchester or reapply this autumn hoping i will get into Economics and International Business at University College London. I am hoping to get a job in either consulting or Investment Banking. The programme at Manchester is more related to IB and consulting, but what draws me towards UCL is the added prestige of the university. What do you think I should do? Looking forward to hearing from you!

    1. UCL is a better university and more of a “target” for IB/consulting, but it depends on what’s different this time around and why you believe you’ll have a better chance of getting into UCL. If there’s something very specific that explains why you did not get into UCL the first time around, but you’re confident you have a much better chance now, sure, you can re-apply.

  22. Student

    I am a high school student who is eager to lean about investment banking. What courses do you recommend taking online that could prepare me for an investment banking career path?

  23. How important really is your degree course these days. Seen as all big firms in IB or anywhere else in finance run their own psychometric testing to determine how you think as well as your numerical and analytical skills. That said, what are your thoughts on a hard science degrees, chemistry and physics, to get into the finance sector and IB in particular?

    1. It is still important because psychometric tests can only say so much, and your degree represents what you accomplished over many years. It’s also quite easy to game the tests or practice repeatedly to get high scores. Also, people just tend to assume that a math/science/engineering degree is “harder” than a liberal arts or social sciences one, which can give you an advantage.

      I don’t think a degree like Chemistry or Physics is a great idea for getting into IB because the material isn’t that relevant, and it will be harder to earn a high GPA in those fields. Maybe as a minor, but probably not as a major unless you want to keep open the option of a science career instead.

      1. So do you think that someone with a high GPA (or 2:1 or 1st in the UK) in a science degree is a competitive applicant to the finance sector if they are able to show their interest in finance in other ways?

  24. Hi, I’m a math major, economics minor at a top school. What are some of the best careers for very quantitative and analytical minds? Do you think Quant-Funds are still a good long-term-career? I want to deal with complex issues and i would like to talk to people. Should I pursue an quant research career? What job at a HF/ AM would suit me?

    1. It all depends on what you want to do. Quant funds can be very lucrative, but you will be sitting by yourself doing stats/math/programming all day and you will not have that much team interaction or gain a broad skill set. But I’ve seen people who perform well in those roles make a small fortune over 5-10 years.

      If you want a role where you have more social interaction, you should probably look outside of quant funds and probably also outside HF / AM because even at most fundamental-based hedge funds, you’re still a lone wolf, finding ideas and vetting them on your own (with less math/stats/programming and more due diligence and reading).

      I don’t know of anything that has a lot of math/stats in it and also a high degree of social interaction. You sort of have to pick one or the other. If you’re more interested in meetings, building a network, etc., then roles like IB, PE, or corporate development are better.

      1. Thanks for your response
        I am very curious, analytical and I have good problem solving skills.
        On the one hand I love to investigate Datas like a Detective to get the answer of the question. But on the other hand I would like to talk to smart people. But to be honest, I think, I don’t fit the mold of a “typical banker”. What would you recommend me to do?

        Should I pursue an quant research career or IB/PE? What job outside of Finance would suit me? It’s not necessary that the job has a lot of math in it, but the job should be intellectually stimulating.

        1. I don’t know, I would probably recommend quant research roles or programming at a top quant fund if that’s the case. Outside of finance, roles like data science at tech firms and even normal companies might be appropriate (but be careful because “data science” is a vague term, and roles with that title can be anything from simple regressions to a real ML/AI focus).

  25. I am an international student. I want to be an investment banker and work in the US. My major is finance right now but I’m planning on adding either applied mathematics or Computer science and get a dual degree. Which one do you think is more beneficial. I am in IU kelley

    1. Assuming that both of those qualify as STEM and therefore let you take advantage of the OPT program, either one could work. It just depends on your personal preferences: Applied Math is more useful for quant / data-science type roles, while CS is a bit more general and could be useful in roles like product management and even sales as well.

  26. Out of curiosity, I am currently in undergrad at a non target, I have a high gpa (3.9-4.0). I want to start in IB for 2 and eventually work in either PE/VC or preferably a global macro fund. I’m currently majoring in Economics and Finance. I am minoring in Math. Is the math minor necessary for the route I just explained or should I drop it? Also, as far as the economics major goes, I only added it to Finance because it interests me and it is only 3 added courses to the required curriculum for finance.

    1. I don’t think a Math Minor is necessary for PE/VC, but it could help for hedge funds. If you can maintain your high GPA, keep it because it will give you more options in case you decide against a pure finance role later on.

      If Economics only takes 3 additional courses, sure, keep it. My point here is just that Accounting is far more useful than Economics because it’s a field with clear, well-defined rules and practices that all businesses worldwide use… whereas the “rules” in Economics are much fuzzier.

  27. Hi Brian

    What will be the best postgraduate qualification to break into sell-side M&A for a person with 6 years of work experience coming from Big 4 Audit + Commercial/Corporate Accounting experience ? I’m thinking along the lines of CPA, CFA or MBA, but however i am unable to study all due to time constraints and I only graduated with a double degree in Accounting and Finance with no honours at all. Looking forward to hear your advice if possible. Thank you!

    1. Certifications like the CPA and CFA will not be helpful and are generally not helpful for IB/PE and other roles that involve working on deals. See:

      If you already have 6 years of work experience, you pretty much need to complete a top MBA at this point to get in. See:

      1. Thanks Brian!

  28. OR Major

    Personal opinion: I think a really great major that is a huge deal in certain schools (like mine) but a little overlooked in general is Industrial Engineering/Operations Research/Financial Engineering etc. It may be a little too in depth for someone who only wants an introduction to CS/Math, but I think it does a great job combining finance, math and cs to prepare someone for almost any finance role. Sure quant research requires a MS/PhD, but I think it’s also a great undergrad to be prepared for a variety of masters or PhD programs for someone interested in that route. At least at my school, you can tailor your program to more intensive finance, math or CS depending on your interest. It’s very heavily recruited for IB and intro jobs at quant shops, but I’ve also seen a lot of people use it to go into management consulting, data science, and traditional big tech firms. Even though it’s not easy, I think the curriculum is extremely practical.

    1. Yup, that is a good one as well. It’s pretty much a combination of the suggestions here. It might potentially be “too difficult,” but if you can customize it, that’s less of an issue.

    2. Second that. What about a combination of some of what you just said and the technical actuarial material?

      1. An actuarial major could work, but I think it might be overkill for the types of roles featured on this site, and I’m not sure how much the technical details of actuarial work apply to, say, quant roles at hedge funds… or even normal programming or engineering roles. But I don’t know much about it, so can’t really say.

        1. An acquaintance of mine once had an interview with a hedge fund, and an interviewer did remark that people with an actuarial background can wind up as good fits for their quant role due to the modelling work they do.
          I also know that a Vietnamese quant used to work as an actuary before becoming a quant.

          1. Interesting, thanks for sharing. I know very little about actuarial work other than the fact that it makes insurance financial modeling very complicated, but yes, I could see that background appealing to quant funds.

        2. I did come across a hedge fund interviewer who remarked that actuarial majors are a good fit for their quant role because of the modelling work involved.

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