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The Best Business Schools for Finance

Looking Beyond the Classroom and Recruiter Relationships

Finance faculty and curriculum and are an important consideration in choosing a school. Placement rates with leading recruiters in the specific area or areas of financial services you hope to pursue are another.

But these are not the only indicators of an MBA program’s strengths in training its students to succeed in finance. Another important set of criteria to examine in deciding which business schools to target are the clubs, treks, centers, and other extracurricular opportunities that help round out the education students receive in the classroom.

Student-Led Finance Clubs

Extracurricular activities can play a pivotal role in helping students navigate the job search process successfully. Clubs focused on investment banking at many of the schools we’ve highlighted provide valuable networking and informational events for students. They also often complement some of the resources offered through career services centers, offering peer coaching and interview prep to students as they go through the recruiting process.

CBS features an Investment Banking Club (IBC), which maintains strong ties to Wall Street and provides more than 100 networking, recruiting, and informational events each year. Area investment banks co-sponsor events with the IBC and participate in merger and acquisition case studies, panels, and interview workshops.

The IBC also runs internal programs helping first-year students explore the industry, hosts social gatherings, and puts on events such as a Training the Street Workshop and the Interview Power Prep Session with Professor Donna Hitscherich. Together with the club’s case presentations, résumé reviews and mock interview preparation, these events complement the school’s other resources for helping prepare students for investment banking careers.

At Johnson, the Old Ezra Finance Club offers a coordinated approach to investment banking. Throughout the year, various club meetings provide prospective bankers with the resources needed to secure internship placements at premier institutions such as Barclays, Citi, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and more. The Old Ezra approach focuses mainly on interview and networking preparation of potential candidates.

At Chicago Booth, the Investment Banking Group (IBG) is one of the largest student groups on the Chicago Booth campus. There is also a more general Chicago Booth Finance Club for students who may be interested in more than just investment banking.

At Wharton, students convene as part of the Wharton Finance Club, which caters to students interested in investment banking, non-banking corporate finance, and private wealth management. And Wharton also has a student-led MBA Private Equity and Venture Capital Club that claims to be one of the largest and most active professional clubs at the school, with more than 700 members.

In addition to providing resources to current students, student clubs are also a fantastic way for prospective applicants to learn more about schools they are interested in. If finance is your intended path, you’d do well to identify students in leadership roles in clubs that interest you and reach out to learn more about their experiences, both in finance and at their chosen school.

Treks

Many MBA student professional clubs, career services, and courses also offer unique industry trek experiences for students. These experiences typically take a small group of MBA students to a city, region, or country where they can explore, interact with, and learn more about their industry of interest. In most instances, the students visit various companies in their industry and enjoy presentations, Q&A sessions, and various networking opportunities.

At Columbia, the IBC takes students to meet with U.K. investment banks as part of London Banking Days. This two-day event includes panels on banking, sales and trading, and private wealth management, as well as an evening networking event. Participating firms have included Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and Credit Suisse.

Chicago Booth MBA students can take a student trek to cities around the world including New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Bangalore, London, Hong Kong, and Buenos Aires. For example, there’s an investment banking trek in NYC, which follows up with many of the same firms that come recruiting at the campus.

At NYU Stern, there’s an industry immersion experience in Investment Banking that allows students to learn specific industry knowledge from engaged alums and sponsoring organizations. Specifically, the Investment Banking Immersion (IBI) features four intensive sessions with alumni mentors at Citi’s office in downtown Tribeca.

Then, Cornell Johnson offers student treks organized by geographic concentration, industry sector, or both. Each trek is completely set up by a club including the Investment Management Club (IMC), which each year takes a series of fall treks to New York and Boston to visit JP Morgan, Barclays, Fidelity, and more.

Centers

Then there are the research centers and institutions offered at the various schools. These centers are a focal point for different disciplines and industries, including finance. For example, Johnson has the Parker Center for Investment Research, which offers students instruction and training in the latest analytical tools used on Wall Street, specifically those that can help with careers in investment research and asset management. Another unique opportunity for Johnson students is the Cayuga Fund, a $1 million endowment managed by students as part of a formal class in investments.

At Wharton there are four centers for finance including the Alternative Investments Initiative, which focuses on private equity, hedge funds, venture capital, and wealth management, and the Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research, which was founded in 1969 to support high quality financial economics research.

Chicago Booth has the Fama-Miller Center for Research in Finance, which is designed to enhance academic research in finance, while the Center for Research in Security Prices bridges the gap between theory and practice when it comes to the market. And NYU Stern has the Salomon Center for the Study of Financial Institutions, which looks at commercial banks, investment banks, managed funds, and insurance companies. While CBS has the Advanced Projects and Applied Research in Fintech program, which takes on novel research projects that push the boundaries of technology and finance.

In Closing

Though we’ve focused on the five schools that send more of their grads into finance than any others, that’s certainly not to say that graduates from other schools don’t go on to have incredibly rewarding careers in finance. Stanford and Harvard, for example, send more of their graduates into the highly lucrative private equity field than any of those included here.

This is just to say that this limited list is by no means intended to limit your consideration of MBA programs that can help you reach your finance and investment banking career goals. Rather, we hope that by highlighting the strengths of a handful of programs we’ve given you a critical lens through which you can evaluate additional programs.

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