Best MBAs For I-Banking Jobs

Wall Street Bull

In real estate, the mantra is “location, location, location!” If you want to secure a coveted spot in an investment bank, it pays to study on the American east coast.

That was a recent finding from efinancial careers. In their bi-annual rankings for finding front office jobs in top investment banks, five of the top seven MBA programs were located within a four hour drive of Manhattan. In the Top 20, another five programs were within a short drive of London’s financial district.

That’s hardly a surprise, of course. New York City and London have been see-sawing as the globe’s banking epicenter for some time. Sure enough, their local MBA programs cater to the strengths of their market. Here’s something even less surprising: The top MBA programs are among the elite, known for their financial acumen and deep and influential alumni networks – with Ivies like Wharton and Harvard and global powerhouses like INSEAD and the London Business School among the top names.


The ranking stems from efinancialcareers’ resume database. The site, which doubles as a news and recruiter outlet, reports a readership of over 1.3 million finance professionals, not to mention a database of over 1 million CVs (with 24,000 new ones new CVs each month). The ranking is based on the percentage of MBAs at each school who landed front office work (i.e. corporate finance, sales, and trading and equity research) in top tier firms.

In particular, the ranking focuses on tying MBA programs to specially-tiered institutions.

“We’ve allocated a greater weighting to those working for investment banks we’ve deemed ‘tier one’ than ‘tier two’ or ‘tier three’. In our ranking, tier one banks include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley. Tier two banks include Barclays, Credit Suisse and UBS, and tier three banks include BNP Paribas, HSBC, Nomura, Royal Bank of Scotland and SocGen. Together with the proportion of people on the CV database who have secured an investment banking job, we’ve come up with the ranking below.”


As you’d expect, Columbia Business School ranked first, no different than efinancialcareers’ 2014 ranking. Nearly a third of Columbia MBA graduates on efinancialcareers’ database – 32.24% –hold a front office job in a tier 1 bank. Overall, 44% worked in efinancialcareers’ top three tiers, roughly equivalent to the 43% of Columbia alumni overall who work in finance.

Columbia University - Ethan Baron photo

Columbia University – Ethan Baron photo

In Columbia’s 2015 class, 37.1% of graduates went into finance, edging out Wharton (36.9%), Booth (34.8%), and Stern (34.0%). They earned median salaries of $125,000 (same as Wharton, Booth, and Stern) and $50,000 median sign on bonuses (higher than the $40,000 grossed by Booth and Georgetown McDonough grads). Overall, JPMorgan Chase was the top financial destination for 2015 full-time MBAs, with 14 graduates heading south to Park Avenue. They were followed by Goldman Sachs (13), Bank of America (9), Citi (9), Morgan Stanley (8), and Barclays (6). Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were also the top employers of Columbia interns in 2015.

Wharton also retained its second-place ranking for front office jobs in the investment banking sector. Overall, 28.5% of its graduates in efinancialcareers’ database worked in Tier 1 banks, with another 11.5% in the second tier. Due to Wharton’s sheer size – it enrolls over 1,700 full-time MBAs alone (second only to Harvard Business School and nearly 450 more than Columbia) – the school offers a nearly unmatched alumni network in the financial sector. In a 2014 Linkedin review by Poets&Quants on the number of MBAs in top financials, Wharton ranks among the top two for alumni placement at Goldman Sachs, Citi, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Credit Suisse, and Bank of America (ranking behind Stern at every firm except Wells Fargo).

Rounding out the top three was the London Business School, where 27% of its 2015 graduates entered finance – a major dip from the industry’s popularity before the financial meltdown (44% for the Class of 2008). 2015 graduates also earned a median starting salary of $120,680 (with $196,006 being the maximum salary reported) and a median bonus of $45,304 (with the max being $140,598).Like Columbia, consulting firms were the top recruiters at LBS. However, among financials, Goldman Sachs (9), Citi (6), and Credit Suisse (5) were the top picks among the 401 member class.

(To see how your school fared, check out the table on the next page.)


  • JohnAByrne

    Thanks Brad for that Intel.

  • Brad

    Here are the facts based on what a current Kellogg student told me:

    Class of 2017:
    At Kellogg number of students who wanted Ibanking internship: 60-70
    Number of students who received offers: around 40
    Number of offers: around 50
    Chances of a student receiving a banking offer: 40/60 or 40/70

    Yes 50 OFFERS were given but that does NOT mean 50 students got offers because some students got multiple offers while others got none. Talking in terms of offers given as opposed to number of students who received offers is IMO misleading. If one student gets 10 offers that completely skews the numbers.

    For class of 2016, 30 students went to IB internship and 20 students are going for IB full time. Check out the employment report for number of students going to banking.

    At other top 20 schools 100% of students who want IB get it. At Kellogg the numbers are between 60% to 80% based on whom you believe.

    Obviously Kellogg is much better than Thunderbird, non top 10 schools etc

    Look at the employment report and do not rely on either me or the poster above. The employment report will show you that around 20-30 ppl are going for banking full time. Now it is up to you to buy whether only 20-30 ppl want IB full time? The fact is that that number is at least 50.

    Source: Kellogg employment reports and talking to current students.

  • StanfordOrBooth

    We all Know Wharton and Columbia are one trick Finance ponies…. that is why they suffered much more than other M7 during the crises

  • C. Taylor

    Yes. Def a methodology thing. While the tiers aren’t necessarily what I would choose, the efinancialcareers list does have value for any interested in IB.

    I, for one, very much like being able to come to P&Q and see a write up on various MBA rankings. This efinancialcareers ranking, for instance, is apparently replaced every year on the same webpage. Without P&Q looking at it, this ranking would be lost next go round.

  • Jeff Schmitt

    Hi, LDM. You cite a great example. In writing this, I should’ve picked apart the methodology more. It does, however, provide some insight into the size of some school networks in these kinds of firms. It’s just another piece of the puzzle to weigh. Thanks for writing.

  • JohnAByrne

    Thanks for writing. Totally agree with you. There’s a lot of garbage out there and we owe it to our readers either to pick something up and put it into some sort of perspective or just ignore it. We should have been far more skeptical here. Our mistake. Sorry we let you down.