by Brian DeChesare Comments (52)

Investment Banking Target Schools: Lists by Region and What to Do If You’re Not at One

Investment Banking Target Schools

One topic that I’ve never fully explained on this site is the investment banking target school.

There are countless references to “target schools” in the articles and interviews, and we assume everyone understands the term.

But that’s not always the case, and it gets confusing because target schools differ by region (U.S. vs. Europe vs. Asia) and level (undergraduate vs. Master’s vs. MBA).

Also, there are “semi-target” schools sitting in between non-target and target schools, and no one ever explains the precise difference.

I will provide a few lists and guidelines here, but I want to take a slightly different angle and explain the “why” and the “what next” parts.

In other words, what do you do differently in the recruiting process if you’re not at a target school?

And why do banks focus so heavily on a few schools?

Will they continue doing this, or will recruiting change in the future?

Definitions: What are “Investment Banking Target Schools”?

Investment Banking Target Schools Definition: “Target schools” send significant numbers of their students into investment banking each year and have broad alumni networks in the industry; large banks focus their recruiting efforts on these schools and often reserve spots for a fixed number of students at each target school.

There are no exact numerical criteria because this definition is based on relative numbers and banks’ recruiting efforts more than absolute numbers.

For example, if University A has sent 500 students into investment banking roles over the past 5 years, accounting for 10% of total IB hires in the country, and University B has only sent 50, University A is a “target school,” while University B is more of a “semi-target.”

And if University C has sent 1-10 students into IB roles over this same time frame, it’s in the “non-target” category.

Banks may also visit target schools in-person to hold events and information sessions (though less frequently than they used to).

Until the late 2010s, banks also conducted first-round interviews on campus at target schools; these are now done mostly via HireVue.

People have counted the number of working bankers by school and created lists based on that; you can find one from College Transitions here.

But there are a few problems with lists based strictly on the raw numbers:

  • They don’t account for student interest and demand. For example, universities like Stanford and MIT are clearly targets in the U.S., and many students from these schools could get into IB if they wanted to. But they tend to be more interested in tech, startups, consulting, and other non-finance roles.
  • They don’t differentiate between undergraduate, Master’s, and MBA-level recruiting, and the numbers differ at each level.
  • They may not be adjusted for class size. But, on the other hand, you may not want to adjust 100% for class size because that leads to results like Washington and Lee outranking NYU in the list above.
  • They don’t account for recent vs. longer-term trends. For example, if a school hasn’t placed well in the past 2-3 years but still has thousands of alumni in the finance industry, should it be a “target”? I would say, “yes,” but some would disagree.

It’s still useful to look at the numbers, but they should only be a starting point.

And any ranking should be viewed as an approximate guideline because of all these issues.

Investment Banking Target Schools by Region and Level

Here are my rough lists for the three main regions by level:

  • United States (NY and regional offices):
    • Undergrad: The Ivy League schools (HYP and UPenn (Wharton) more than the others), NYU (Stern), U Michigan (Ross), UC Berkeley (Haas), Notre Dame (Mendoza), Georgetown (McDonough), Northwestern, Duke, UVA (McIntire), Stanford, MIT, UChicago, and arguably the top liberal arts colleges (Williams, Amherst, etc.).
    • Undergrad Semi-Targets: WashU (Olin), CMU (Tepper), UNC (Kenan-Flagler), USC (Marshall), UT Austin (McCombs), Vanderbilt, UCLA, Emory (Goizueta), Rice, IU (Kelley), Boston College (Carroll), and some liberal arts colleges like Middlebury and Claremont-McKenna.
    • Master’s in Finance: MIT, Princeton (more of a quant program), UT Austin, UVA, Vanderbilt, WashU, Notre Dame, USC, Claremont-McKenna, and maybe a few others (best to look at employment reports here).
    • MBA: The M7 schools, Yale, Stern, Haas, Ross, Tuck, Fuqua, Cornell (Johnson), and possibly a few others in the top ~20.
  • London / Europe (MBA recruiting is far less developed):
    • Undergrad: Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, UCL, Warwick, and Imperial (U.K.); names like HEC, ESSEC, ESCP, ICADE, ESADE, IE, Bocconi, St. Gallen, WHU, and Mannheim in the rest of Europe. See the London IB article for more.
    • Master’s in Finance: LSE, LBS, Imperial, Oxford, Cambridge, Bocconi, HEC, SSE, WHU, RSM, IE, CBS, ESCP, St. Gallen, ESADE, and a few others if you count S&T/AM recruiting (EDHEC, ESSEC, Dauphine, etc.).
    • MBA: LBS, HEC, INSEAD, Oxford, Cambridge, IESE, Imperial, IE, ESADE, Bocconi, and possibly a few others in the list above.
  • Hong Kong / Asia (MBA recruiting is far less developed):
    • Undergrad: Everything on the U.S. and European lists, plus HKU, CUHK, HKUST, and Chinese universities like Peking University, Tsinghua, Fudan, Shanghai Jiaotong, Nankai, Nanjing, and Zhejiang.
    • Master’s in Finance: Many of these names will be from the U.S. and European lists, but you can add any HK/Chinese ones from above with programs.
    • MBA: Everything on the U.S. and European lists, plus HKU, CUHK, and HKUST.

Look at the investment banking in Canada article for a discussion of schools there.

In the U.S., many schools are in the “grey zone.”

For example, where do liberal arts colleges such as Williams, Claremont McKenna, Amherst, and Bowdoin fit in?

Or what about universities like Vanderbilt and Emory that are not “the top of the top” but still in the top 20-30 nationwide?

Some of these could go in the “target” category (e.g., Williams and Amherst), but I’ve placed most of the others in the “semi-target” list.

In some cases, they are targets for locations such as Houston but not for NY-based roles (many Texas schools fall into this category).

If a school is a target for one or two locations but not the “main hub,” it is more of a semi-target because these regional offices hire many fewer Analysts and Associates.

Finally, note that there are also schools in the “non-target but still recognizable” category, such as Rutgers, Fordham, and UW Madison.

If you go to a school in this category, you won’t get “I’ve never heard of your school”-type rejections from bankers.

But you’ll still have to be more proactive and network more aggressively than students at target and semi-target schools.

We could argue endlessly about the exact lists, but the key point is that you must approach recruiting differently based on your current or planned school.

You might not know if you’re at a “lower-tier target” or “semi-target,” but you should always know if you’re at a school that is unknown to bankers or one they’ve heard of.

How Do Investment Banking Target Schools Affect Recruiting?

First, you will have a very tough time recruiting for IB roles from a non-target MBA program.

There are many fewer Associate positions, and most of these spots are reserved for students from the top MBA programs.

You can still network aggressively and win Associate roles at boutiques and smaller/regional firms, but these roles tend to pay highly variable compensation, and your daily routine might be quite different (“sales” more than “execute deals”).

It may be slightly easier from a non-target Master’s in Finance, but it’s still an uphill battle.

The bottom line is that if you cannot get into a top MSF or MBA program, it’s not worth enrolling in a lower-tier program if your main goal is investment banking.

If you’re interested in other careers, such as corporate finance at a normal company or quant finance roles, these lists differ, and “non-target” programs might be fine.

At the undergraduate level, the main differences if you’re at a non-target include:

  • GPA – To be competitive, you need perfect or near-perfect grades (3.8+ GPA). If this means taking easier classes or picking an easier major, do it!
  • Major / Classes – A student at Harvard could major in Literature, History, or Gender Studies and still win an IB role, but you cannot. You need an accounting/finance major or something very close to it – or bankers might dismiss you.
  • Work Experience – You need to have solid internships from early in university (ideally, Year 1 or the summer after Year 1) because recruiting starts so early. It starts a bit later in Europe and Asia, so the dates might be slightly delayed there.
  • Networking – You’ll have to be more proactive in contacting alumni, setting up informational interviews, and conducting weekend trips.
  • Targeted Firms – You will have a higher chance of breaking in if you target middle-market banks, “In-Between-a-Banks,” and boutiques.

Let’s say that Student A is at an Ivy League university but decides on investment banking late in the process (in the middle of Year 2).

Student A has a 3.5 GPA in a challenging degree program, and she has one previous finance-related internship at a tech company.

If she is motivated enough, Student A could put a good effort into networking and interview prep and walk away with an IB summer internship offer for the next year.

On the other hand, if Student B has similar stats but is at a non-target university, such as something outside the top 100 in the U.S., she would have a much harder time winning an internship offer.

To be more competitive, Student B would have to:

  1. Start Much Earlier – This means internships starting in Year 1 or the summer after and networking from around the same time (the start of Year 2).
  2. Earn a Higher GPA – Bankers might be skeptical of a 3.5 GPA from a lesser-known school, even in a challenging major such as math or engineering.
  3. Get Better Work Experience – Ideally, this means 1-2 internships directly in finance, such as at a boutique bank or venture capital firm. You don’t want to rely on “loosely related experience” if you’re at a non-target.

You might look at this list and say, “OK, but how could anyone know their plans so early in university? Should I transfer to a better school if I get a late start?”

Unfortunately, transferring to a better university has become less feasible because recruiting starts so early.

If you’re already in Year 2 at a non-target, it’s probably not worth it.

But if you figure out your plans early, and you can transfer right after Year 1, it’s worthwhile because you can immediately tap into a better alumni network at the start of Year 2.

Do Investment Banking Target Schools Matter in Real Life?

The best answer I can give is “yes, but less than bankers think they do.”

There is a difference between the average student at Harvard or Oxford and the average student at Unknown Community College X.

The student at the elite university is more likely to burn the midnight oil, pay attention to small details, and understand the required accounting/finance/technical skills.

That said, there’s a much smaller difference, if any, between the average student at an elite university and one at a good state school or “semi-target.”

Like organic chemistry for medical school admissions, target schools function as a filtering mechanism for banks.

It lets them reduce 50,000 applicants to 500 interviews rather than 5,000 interviews.

Will banks continue to recruit so heavily from target schools in the future?

Students at the top schools have become more interested in fields like consulting and tech over time, so banks might change their focus a bit.

Also, newer elements of the recruiting process, such as HireVues, online tests, etc., allegedly level the playing field since everyone must complete them, regardless of their university.

But let’s be real: At places like Wharton, a plurality of the students, if not an outright majority, still wants to work in finance.

As long as that’s true, banks have no reason to spend time and money recruiting at lower-tier schools.

For this system to change, something dramatic would have to happen, such as:

  • Banks go from hiring ~2,000 IB Analysts per year in the U.S. to ~4,000, so they need to go beyond the top schools to find enough candidates.
  • Interest in finance at the top schools wanes, and a new industry rises to take its place (Biotech? Space exploration? I don’t know). So, banks need to expand their set of target schools.
  • The university system is displaced by another credentialing mechanism, online training/certificates, or trade schools.

These changes are possible, but I don’t think they’ll happen anytime soon.

And the current system is engrained with the “lock-in” effect from all the bankers who attended target schools.

Target School Takeaways

You most likely found this article and skipped to the lists of investment banking target schools to check if yours appeared there.

I get it; it’s fun to look up rankings and debate the S tier vs. A tier vs. B tier vs. C tier.

But the main takeaway is that you need to consider your school in relation to your region and career goals.

For example, if you attend a university like Texas A&M or Rice, and you want to stay in Texas and work in IB in Houston, you’re completely fine.

And if you’re more interested in other careers, such as corporate finance, the Big 4 firms, or even business valuation, you don’t “need” an elite university.

Attending a target school makes the biggest difference if you want to work in investment banking or private equity at one of the largest firms (bulge bracket banks or PE mega-funds) in a major financial center.

Outside of that, a better university still helps, but more so for your first job and less for future jobs.

If you’re at a non-target school, transferring to a target or semi-target could work, but only if you do so early (after Year 1).

If it’s too late to do that, and you’re also late for the normal recruiting cycle, a more realistic path is to win roles in related industries, such as commercial/corporate banking, valuation, corporate finance, etc., and use those to move into IB via lateral hiring.

It’s a more roundabout path, but it might also let you hit your target.

Want More?

You might be interested in reading What’s The Best Major For Investment Banking?

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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Comments

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  1. Hi Brian, thanks for this article. I’m a 35 year old Commercial Banking Director, specializing in CPG at a Big 4 bank with Series 79 and 63 licenses. I recently received admission into an EMBA program at Cornell (Johnson). Curious if an MBA could help me break into IB, PE, or Corp Dev. Would greatly appreciate any advice on Commercial Banking exit options, thanks!

    1. You can potentially use an EMBA program to get into these fields, but commercial banking is usually not the best path into IB/PE/CD. The skill sets are a bit different, and the perception is that CB is less competitive than the others. If you want to do this, you might have better luck going for strictly debt-oriented roles, such as DCM within investment banking or maybe corporate banking instead of a pure IB role (as some banks combine corporate banking and investment banking, and it’s usually perceived to be “closer” than commercial banking).

  2. Hello Brian,
    I’m currently working at PwC in Deals, doing M&A, M&A Transaction services, Valuations and Debt Advisory (2 yr rotational graduate programme).
    I’ve begun my 2nd year and by June I will have worked in every department. However I know I want to move into investment banking.
    I’ve studied a BBA in a non-target university in Spain, passed the CFA Level I, and I was thinking of doing a Master in finance at IE or EDHEC for getting into IB or pursing the CFA Level II and to stand out in Aug24 when the applications open.
    Do you think I need a Master’s and if so which one has better placement and recognition or the CFA Level II would be enough?

    1. The CFA Level 2 will not help because you already passed Level 1, and most bankers do not care about the CFA at all. See the other coverage on this site.

      A Master’s in Finance degree at a top school would help you, but mostly because you went to a non-target university. I’m not sure you necessarily “need” a top Master’s degree to get into IB if you already have deal experience at PwC, though. You might want to try networking for 3-6 months and seeing if you can find any leads/open positions like that first. If not, then consider the Master’s program to get better access to recruiters.

  3. Hi Brian, great article!
    I’m currently a freshman at IU Kelley. I was wondering if transferring to a target school for my sophomore year would be worth it for IB & PE recruiting. I have all the stats (4.0 GPA in college & high school, 1550+ SAT, APs, etc.) and extracurriculars to be a competitive applicant, but I would have to take on the additional cost in debt (approximately $40-45k a year). In your opinion, would the move be worth it? If so, which schools do you think would be worth transferring to?

    1. Transferring to a better school was a good idea a long time ago when recruiting was slower and top schools were cheaper. These days, it’s harder to do effectively because recruiting starts insanely early, and you might not be able to win internships as easily in between Year 1 and 2 if you transfer.

      Also, in your case, IU Kelley has that well-known “Investment Banking Workshop” that seems to have a high placement rate at banks.

      So… I would say yours is a borderline case. If you’re 100% committed to IB AND you are willing to pay a lot more for better odds, it’s worth it to transfer.

      But if you can get into the IB Workshop at your current school or you’re not 100% certain you want to do IB, I’m not sure it’s worth it. You’d be paying a lot more for an improved chance at IB roles, but not necessarily a night-and-day difference (very different vs. going from a community college to Harvard).

  4. Hi Brian, I was accepted to Notre Dame Mendoza School of Business for a BBA Finance last week. I am still looking to apply RD. Besides the Ivy League + Stanford, which schools would you reccomend to be better target schools than Mendoza. I am aware that Mendoza is already one of the top target schools so was looking for some insight. Thanks!

    1. Anything on this list of undergrad target schools could work. If you exclude the Ivy League + Stanford, Stern and Ross are slightly better, and maybe Duke and MIT (just based on number of people sent into IB each year). But I think you’re splitting hairs, and Mendoza is fine if you’re not competitive for the very top-ranked schools. I don’t think it’s worth turning down admission there for something incrementally better.

  5. Hi Brian, I am currently deciding between the Part Time MBA programs at both UCLA and USC. Does being a part time student matter when it comes to recruiting for the big firms? Also what are your thoughts on the differences between these two universities in terms of chances at getting into the one of the more sought after firms?

    1. Yes, being a part-time student can hurt your recruiting chances because recruiters sometimes don’t understand your timeline or time frame. You can still recruit for IB roles, but you need to be very clear about these points and present yourself consistently. There’s some coverage of the topic here:

      https://mergersandinquisitions.com/mba-investment-banking-recruiting-process/

      UCLA is the stronger overall program with a more consistent track record of sending people into IB roles. So I would definitely lean toward UCLA unless you have a strong reason for wanting USC instead, such as “Plan B” options in another industry they are strong in.

      USC rose up the rankings quickly in the 2010s but has fallen somewhat after that. So while it’s still a fine school, I wouldn’t accept it over UCLA or one of the other target MBAs mentioned here.

  6. Hello Brian,

    Thank you so much for your articles.
    I’m a Berkeley freshman wishing to go to biotech VC after some time in IB. Would doing bioengineering instead of Haas put me at a disadvantage even if I learn my technicals and do my networking well? I am also considering transferring to UChicago bioengineering since I heard it’s a better target school in NY (while having similar strength in California) and would appreciate any advice from you.

    Best

    1. You don’t really have a good chance at biotech VC with just an undergrad degree. Most people in the field doing actual science work have MDs or PhDs. See: https://mergersandinquisitions.com/life-science-venture-capital-jobs/

      So I don’t think this is a great/realistic goal unless you combine the undergrad degree with another degree or starting a biotech startup or something similar.

      Haas is a better/more realistic path into IB and would give you more options if you want to do something outside biology.

      UChicago is probably a better overall bet for IB because it is better for NY-based roles.

  7. Hi Brian, I am applying to Haas, Mendoza, Mcintire, and Northwestern. If I was to be admitted to all four of these what would you say the order of these schools is in terms of career prep/opportunities for investment banking.

    1. Haas, Mendoza, McIntire, and then Northwestern. They’re all good for IB recruiting, but I am factoring in overall school quality as well. In-state tuition might scramble things a bit if you qualify for it in VA or CA.

  8. Hey Brian! I am currently a senior applying to both UVA and Boston College as a Finance Major. I am stuck between the two since UVA does have the risk factor of not getting into the business school, but it is instate for me and I have heard that the alumni network at UVA is amazing for getting a job in banking. Along with that, I know many students that attend the school However, Boston College is a pretty solid choice and I have a cousin that was a Finance major there and attended the school and said it was amazing. Job opportunities are also great at this school as it is close to a city. What should I do?

    1. I would probably go with UVA because you’ll pay much lower tuition, and even if you don’t get into the business school, it’s still probably a bit better than BC for getting into IB/finance roles.

  9. Hey Brian great article!
    I am a senior in highscool looking into investment banking! I was planning on attending Georgia Tech and wanted to know whether majoring in industrial engineering would still allow me to end up in an IB role

    1. You can get into IB from any engineering major, including industrial engineering, but Georgia Tech is not really a target for IB roles (though it is a very good school overall). You’ll have to do a good amount more networking + early internships if you want to get into IB from there.

  10. Hi Brian, How do the econ majors at these schools that are not ivys fare? For example, Notre Dame Econ, NYU Econ, Virginia Econ.

    1. I don’t know offhand, sorry. We don’t really track peoples’ outcomes by major and school type. But in general, economics is not an ideal major for IB/finance roles unless nothing else is available (see the article on majors).

  11. Hi Brian, would you say that there NYU CAS Econ students whilst not at stern would still fall as semi-target caliber students?

    1. I don’t know what you mean by “fall as semi-target caliber students” but yes, I would consider NYU outside of Stern to be a semi-target if that is your question.

  12. Hi Brian, I am applying to University this school year and am looking to get in early into one of my top choices. I am currently stuck between Notre Dame Mendoza REA and Cornell CALS ED. Which would you say is the better choice? Also does being at CALS hurt my chances at IB significantly?

    1. I would say Notre Dame / Mendoza is the better choice here, even though Cornell slightly outranks Notre Dame in the university rankings. The biggest issue is that CALS at Cornell is quite different from the other majors/programs there, and you will be at a disadvantage coming from that program. It’s still Cornell, so you can get into IB, but your chances are probably better coming from Notre Dame in this case.

      1. Would you say the same about Goizueta or lean towards CALS in that case?

        1. Sorry, don’t really have a strong view or know enough to say much. But Goizueta is probably at least slightly better for the same reasons.

  13. About to be a freshman this fall at NYU Gallatin school of individualized study (a school where you get to design your own major). Is it worthwhile to take calculus, microecon, stats, and financial accounting to transfer into NYU Stern (yes I have to take those classes to transfer into stern). Or is it better to load up on easier classes to boost my gpa and stick to the school I am in right now?

    1. Good question. I would say it’s better to stay in the NYU general pool and get as high a GPA as possible rather than going out of your way to transfer to Stern and possibly get a lower GPA in the process. Stern will improve your chances of getting into IB, but plenty of students from NYU outside Stern still get into the industry. And if your GPA suffers, that will offset some of the added advantage of Stern.

  14. Hi Brian! Great article, as always. I just want to ask a couple of things about target schools in Europe and my career options. I am from a non-eu country and possibly will have the chance to start a MSF in Europe next year after finishing my Econ Bsc here. I also considered US but the tuition fees combined with living costs seem much higher and there are less options for scholarships & funding. Therefore, decided on Europe.
    I wasn’t able to land any IB related internships in my home country. I worked as a corporate banking intern in a bank and as a treasury intern in a f500 company. Beside English and my native language, I have intermediate proficiency in German.

    My main goal is to land an investment banking (preferably m&a) job in London. My standarts are not so high (it’s ok if it is not BB :) because anything in London will probably compensate better than the jobs in here. The thing I fear the most, however, is the case in which I find no jobs in UK/London despite completing my masters in Europe. This will probably end up with returning to my home country with 1-2 years missed chance of experience and money spent.

    So my question is what percentage of the students from the listed target schools do actually get into IB in London? Are we talking about the top 10% or half of the class when we consider them as target schools in Europe? Is it possible for someone with a similar background to mine to get an internship in IB?

    And which school would you recommend for IB roles in London: Bocconi or Warwick?

    Please feel free to give additional advice that might be useful for me.

    1. I don’t know the exact percentage, sorry, but I don’t think you need to be in the top 10% to win IB job offers. Maybe the top 10% place at the best banks, but if you’re willing to go smaller, plenty of students win boutique and middle-market offers as well (and even in areas somewhat outside of IB).

      I think you can probably get an internship if you get into a good enough MSF.

      Bocconi and Warwick are fairly close, so you should probably decide based on other factors like the activities, surrounding area, class size, etc., since you could get into IB roles from either one. Some people will argue that Warwick is “better” since it’s in the U.K., so it may have a slight edge.

  15. Hi Brian, I have noticed in recent years they have recruited atleast a few students in to every top EB, all the MMs and even recently into JPM/MS. Additonally they have a consistent pipeline into BOA, Citi, and Barclays. I was wondering as a semi-target would you say Goizueta is near the top of that tier or even close to being a target school?

    1. I don’t really have a view on that because I don’t know the numbers for Goizueta, specifically, but I think it’s quite a stretch to say it’s a target school. I’m not sure any banker would recommend it over the Ivy League schools and equivalent for IB recruiting. It may be one of the better semi-targets, but, again, I hesitate to say without having the numbers (and this article is fairly recent, so we’re not going to do an update anytime soon).

  16. Curious, no mention of Cornell Johnson as a target? Latest employment report shows ~67 people secured jobs in investment banking vs. Tuck at ~33 people (for example) with both having roughly the same size graduating classes.

    1. Yes, Cornell should be on the MBA list (added). It was in the “few others in the top ~20” part of the statement above.

  17. Hi Brian,

    Would you say its worth it for an international student to attend a semi target (Vanderbilt, WashU Olin, Middlebury, Claremont McKenna specifically), or would it be better to apply to only target schools?

    1. Assuming that you have to pay full price because you’re international, you should focus on target schools because you’ll have a higher chance of winning IB (and consulting, etc.) roles from them. The main reason to attend a semi-target instead is if they give you a scholarship or otherwise charge much less, or you can’t get into a target school. But if you can get in and you’re not saving any money, attend the best school you can get into.

  18. Hi Brain, thank you for the information.
    I’m wondering the chance of getting into IB from UNC. Is UNC a target school for any company at all? or is it better to transfer? Thanks!

    1. As mentioned in this article, UNC is more of a semi-target. So you can get into IB, but it will take more time and effort, and you’ll have to start earlier. Transferring is potentially a good idea if you do it very early, can afford a more expensive school, and are 100% certain you want to do IB. But I’m not sure I would recommend it until you’ve done at least 1 finance-related internship first, so you can see if the industry is for you. And this is a bit tricky if you’re only in your first year of university and need to make a transfer decision then (as it will be too late for IB recruiting in the U.S. if you move over after that).

  19. Hi Brian, My son is incoming college freshman and is in the process of deciding which school he will attend. He has offers from Notre Dame Mendoza and NYU Stern. We are from NJ and close to NYC. He was so excited to attend ND but just found out that he was offered a spot at NYU Stern, so now he’s conflicted. He wants to do IB or something in the hedge fund/private equity world. Any thoughts on both schools. He’s thinking he has a better chance to find a job going to NYU Stern than ND Mendoza. Thank you.

    1. Most people would say that NYU Stern is a better choice than ND Mendoza if your main goal is finance-related jobs. That might change if something else is in the picture, such as a scholarship at ND or something else that makes it more appealing, but if a high-paying finance job is the main goal, NYU Stern has the edge.

  20. Hi Brian, thanks for the informational article! I’m an incoming freshman in Vanderbilt and am interested in ib. Do you think Vanderbilt has become more of a target in the past few years? Or is it a semi-target? Also, should I look into transferring to an ivy for ib after year 1?

    Side note: I received Vanderbilt’s fill tuition scholarship.

    1. This article was written ~4 months ago, so I don’t think much has changed since then. Personally, I would not recommend transferring from Vanderbilt to an Ivy League school just to to improve your chances of getting into IB if you already have a full scholarship at Vanderbilt. Yes, your chances will be higher at one of the “target” schools, but you will also pay a huge amount to attend, and you might change your mind about IB by the time you apply to internships/jobs. Use your tuition-free university to complete different internships, take different classes, and decide within the first year or so if you actually want to pursue finance.

  21. Hi Brian. I am studying in a UK High school. I am a pretty top student, so I get to choose what top school I should get in. I currently deciding whether I should study in a us or uk top target school. If I study in UK, i will graduate one year earlier than US school. However, the finance programme in Wharton in my point of view is the best to learn about investment banking and private equity, and I got a feeling that although I can graduate earlier in UK uni, like Cambridge, however, the stuff I learn in those three years are completely useless, for example, Cambridge economics. In this case, should I go for US or UK top target school?

    1. The US is generally a better market for investment banking, so assuming you can get work permission there, US universities are a better bet for winning IB roles.

  22. samuel akisanmi

    Is year 2 still too late to transfer to a target school?

    1. Transferring universities has become much less viable now that recruiting starts and ends quite early. If you transfer *after* Year 2, i.e., you switch at the start of Year 3, I would say it’s probably not worthwhile because Year 3 summer internship recruiting starts in Year 2 at many banks.

      If you transfer at the end of Year 1 and start the new university at the beginning of Year 2, that can still work.

  23. Hi Brian,
    Thanks for the comprehensive article.
    I am 20, a senior year college student in India, graduating in May 2023 with an accounting and finance degree from one of the top universities in India. I’ve completed my CFA Level 1 as it’s attractive to recruiters. I previously interned with a Big 4, from where I also have a full time offer in TS. I decided on IB a little late in university; at the start of my second year of my three-year bachelor’s degree.
    I’m currently preparing for the DELF French exam, after reading your advice on learning languages for IB. I hope to pursue a master’s degree in finance in the UK in Fall 2024, after working for a year and maybe landing an IB relevant internship (they’re hard to come by in India, especially at the Bachelor’s level.)
    I was also considering a 6 month gap to travel and “develop a story” like you advised in your “Walk me through your resumé” article, but I’m not sure as I am aware of the lack of IB experience. What advice would you give me? Is a gap year a big no no for IB? Should I focus on getting IB internships, or accept the full time Big 4 offer, or travel? Thanks in advance, any advice is much appreciated.

    1. I don’t think a gap year or 6-month gap is a terrible idea, but I also don’t think it will help you that much. If your main goal is IB, you should leave India and study in the UK and try to win 1-2 internships before you start the next degree there. The “gap year” is most useful for people who do not have hobbies/activities/interests to discuss, but if you already have 1-2 good ones, you don’t need to take 6-12 months off from work.

      I would not accept the Big 4 TS offer unless you plan to stay in India and keep recruiting for IB there (not recommended if you have the option of going to the UK or other European countries).

  24. Hey Brian,

    Would you rate Penn CAS a higher or lower target than the other Ivies/Stern/Ross? Curious if its worth going to Penn CAS if the Wharton kids have such a big advantage.

    1. Penn CAS is definitely worth going to if that is the best university that you’ve won admission to. Wharton students do have an advantage, but plenty of students get into IB from outside Wharton as well. I can’t give an exact ranking vs. the other schools in the same/similar category, but it’s probably slightly better than most of the ones you mentioned just because of the proximity to Wharton and the extra boost it gets from that.

  25. Hi Brian, great article as always.

    If you don’t mind answering: how does something like NYU CAS Econ measure up? It’s not finance/Stern, so I assume it’s not as strong of a target, but does that make it a non-target or a semi-target?

    1. Thanks. I would consider NYU non-Stern to be in the semi-target-to-low-target range. Plenty of students from there do get into IB/related fields, but they have to be more proactive and have better profiles on paper. Another issue is that it’s also quite expensive next to some of the good state schools in the target/semi-target categories, which people often complain about (obviously not an issue for everyone, but if you have to pay full tuition, it is a big deal).

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