Where Top MBAs Work In Finance

consultantThe biggest bucks in the MBA world typically go to graduates who venture into Wall Street. That’s where the big bonus money tends to be, the kind of cash that can dramatically inflate one’s income, particularly if you are anywhere near high stakes deal making.

If you want to work in finance, it makes sense to target the business schools that send graduates to the firms for which you want to work. Looking at a school’s latest employment report is certainly a start. But we’ve done something better. Poets&Quants has dug through the database of LinkedIn member profiles to find out how many MBAs from the Top 25 schools work at the leading financial service institutions.

Though hardly definitive, searches of LinkedIn’s database provide a fascinating and fairly accurate glimpse at what you could call the “market penetration” of a school’s MBAs in any one firm. Sure, not everyone has a profile on LinkedIn, though people who fail to list with the world’s number one professional network are certainly in the minority at this point. It’s also possible that LinkedIn’s search algorithm could be slightly askew and count undergraduate business majors from schools such as the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, which both have large undergrad programs.


In any case, we think the results are worth a look–and we think you’ll find them quite compelling. According to LinkedIn, the big standout appears to be New York University’s Stern School of Business, probably thanks to its sizable part-time MBA program. At Citi, for example, there are nearly 800 Stern grads alone.  At Goldman Sachs, according to LinkedIn, the total is 482, 100 more than Wharton.

The data essentially shows what you would expect: Schools where finance is king do extremely well with these leading companies, especially Wharton, Columbia, Chicago Booth, and Stern. But you’ll also notice that a wide range of schools are sending MBAs into this industry at every major firm. The number one financial employer of Harvard MBAs is Goldman. The same is true of Stanford and Wharton grads.

For Chicago Booth and Columbia Business School MBAs, on the other hand, the number one financial employer is Citi, which respectively employs 172 and 342 grads, according to LinkedIn. For Northwestern Kellogg MBAs, the top financial employer appears to be J.P. Morgan, with 129 Kellogg degree holders.


Of course, ever since the economic implosion in 2008, the financial sector has been struggling to recover. Many firms have laid off thousands of employees and made hiring cutbacks. Some schools have made up for the decline by sending more MBAs into boutique investment banks, private equity, venture capital and hedge fund shops. Those companies tend not to show up high on this list because they are significantly smaller and recruit fewer MBAs. Yet the highest paid grads in recent years have almost always landed jobs in PE firms and hedge funds.

Consider a boutique such as Evercore. Based on LinkedIn data, the investment banking firm has just 15 Harvard Business School MBAs, 48 Wharton grads, and 29 from Columbia Business School. But it rarely shows up on lists of the major financial employers of MBAs because it recruits in far lower numbers than the bulge bracket banks.

(See following page for our table on the Top 25 schools)

  • Jacob

    Hi!! Can we get an update of this list?

  • Summertime

    It is crazy to see how well Indiana does when you take into account that is in the middle of nowhere and also it is not really known for its finance program. Cornell really disappoints for being a so called “Ivy”.

  • JP

    Doesn’t UNC appear to place better into IB though? Very similar class size (granted Carolina may have an extra 10-20 people per), and likely similar #s seeking IB from personal conversations…

  • JP

    Ah, good point, ran into the same issue myself

  • JohnAByrne

    That is the way LinkedIn breaks out the data, probably because there are people in the database who identify with one part of the firm before the merger.

  • JP

    How are Merrill and BofA separated when its Bank of America Merrill Lynch??

  • JohnAByrne

    You raise a very legitimate point!

  • Hamm0

    Fair enough. I was just commenting so that readers would consider some of the limitations of this data set before deciding that UNC placed better into IB than Dartmouth.

  • JohnAByrne

    I totally agree. Yet, there are all kinds of “adjustments” you can make. In fact, the size of each year’s graduating class could be one. Living alumni could be another. The percentage of graduating students who actually go into a specific field like finance could be another. After all, not all a school’s graduates want to work in finance. Rather than play with all these other factors, I thought it best to simply present the raw numbers and then readers could make their own “adjustments” based on what they considered more important.

  • Hamm0

    Certainly. I still think the former part of my agrument holds weight though – the stats are next to useless without survey size attached. Selection Bias would help, but you’re right – there is no way to get 100% accurate data.

  • Louis

    FYI..failure stories don’t show up in linkedin 😉

  • Dutch Ducre

    Emory is punching above its weight for such a small class size, may even be the smallest of all schools listed

  • Hamm0

    While this is all useful information, to accurately read the data we need to know the sample size. While 382 Whartonites at GS is impressive, we need to realize that Wharton has 800+ students per class. The information would be much more complete if, to continue on my previous example, we knew how many total Wharton graduates came up in your LinkedIn search.
    This would provide a better picture of the pound-for-pound punching weight of each school, the picture will still be incomplete due to the selection bias at each school (i.e. if only 15 people are applying for IB out of Haas each year, and each gets an offer, that shouldn’t penalize Haas when there are 100 applying for IB out of Stern, and 87 get offers*.) Even still, listing the total graduates “surveyed” per school will make the data much more useable.

    *Numbers are made up/for example only. Don’t get upset Stern folk 🙂

  • POlK

    washington, washington!! which on is Olin and Foster!!??

  • SherifMgdy

    this is very helpful !!! 🙂