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Best Bets for Banking: Business Schools That Help Land Jobs at Prestige Firms

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Admittedly, the percentage of MBA students clamoring for jobs in investment banking is not what it once was. Thanks, 2008 global financial crisis. Nevertheless, the allure of exciting, highly compensated work that provides an opportunity to advance at break-neck speed in terms of both responsibility and pay still makes many a job-seeking MBA student weak in the knees.

With annual starting salaries around $125,000—to say nothing of standard bonuses and other compensation—investment banking draws a significant portion of graduating MBAs at many top schools. And it’s not just about the money. Heading into investment banking also lets you work with C-level executives right from the start, involves rubbing elbows with some of the most powerful people in business, provides a well-defined career path for those who opt to stay in the industry and offers an array of jumping off opportunities, be it with client companies or starting your own firm.

We get it. There are a lot of great reasons to want to work in investment banking. So, if that’s your prerogative, how do you choose a business school that will help you land the best possible job? Good news! We’ve dug into the data to help you figure it out.

Latest School Placement Statistics
There are many factors to take into consideration when you’re trying to decide which business school will best position you to get the investment banking job you want. A good place to start can be looking at which schools send the greatest percentage of their students into the industry. While it can be argued that more students vying for spots in a given industry may mean greater competition, student appetite can also influence the resources schools allocate toward placing graduates in said industry, as well as the recruitment dollars spent by investment banking firms looking to snap those students up.

Long gone are the days when investment banking rivaled consulting at most top schools as a prized destination for MBA grads. Columbia Business School (CBS), which sent a whopping 43.7 percent into banking in 2001, sent just 16.3 percent in 2015. Slightly outpacing CBS was the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where 16.7 percent followed the investment banking path, representing a slight uptick over the prior year’s class (15.7 percent). But while certainly a more distant second to consulting, investment banking still remains the second-most sought-after career path at both schools (and many others).

In terms of salaries, CBS 2015 grads boasted a median starting salary of $125,000 with median other compensation totaling $50,000. At Chicago Booth, the median starting salary was also $125,000, and the median starting bonus was $40,000. Here, too, investment banking holds its own against almost every other industry.

The front-runner by far in terms of percentage of students heading into i-banking was New York University’s Stern School of Business, where the industry drew almost one in four 2015 graduates (24 percent). That school’s physical proximity to New York’s famed financial district surely can’t hurt. We should note, though, that this is down from 31 percent in 2012 and 30 percent in 2014, bucking the trend at CBS and Booth, where interest in investment banking seems to be on an upward trajectory after a precipitous fall following the Great Recession. In terms of earning power, the mean base salary for 2015 Stern grads heading into investment banking was $120,634. Together with a mean signing bonus of $45,963 and mean other guaranteed bonus of $36,429, this made for average overall compensation packages north of $200,000.