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.

  • Surprised

    Surprising to me is that Cornell is fully a top tier school for those interested in IBanking/Finance placements! If this is indeed someone’s desired career field than Cornell is truly a gem and completely under appreciated by many students and publications. I mean wow! And to your point, no disagreement but % does help equalize programs of varied sizes. There is certainly no dispute that Columbia sends far more students into IBanking on absolute basis then Cornell, given the size of CBS, but on a relative basis they send the same percentage of their graduating classes. John’s approach is certainly IMO a fairer comparison, but your point should also be understood and illustrated as well.

  • LDM

    Exactly. Totally agreed. I saw this efinancialcareers report sometime ago and i am very amazed that PQ decided to replicate it here.

    I have been following PQ for the past 4 years. Been a huge fan even months before i started applying to business school.

  • LDM

    You are right with that but with Kellogg this year the offer was very spereadout. This year about 80-85% of all the candidates got an IB offer. Its true that some offers were with smaller banks such as moelis, baird, lincoln, but they are offers nonetheless.

    Some people even chose to sign with Baird, William Blair before the BB offers came out.

  • Anonymous

    One major issue with this survey is that they ignore boutiques – Evercore, Lazard, Greenhill, Moelis, and Centerview, all of which are very good. There’s many other holes I could pick in their methodology (, but suffice it to say that efinancialcareers is not a go-to site by any means.

    Overall commentary/critique on this site: I wish P&Q would filter their articles so that the results are more representative of quality (which would theoretically filter articles like this), rather than quantity (which leads to misleading articles like this being published).
    I can’t remember the last interesting article I read here…

    If this keeps up, I’m just going to give up on checking this site.

    Advice: Try partnering with these firms to ensure their quality of research is good before publishing it.

  • Al

    A lot of the other top schools almost 100 percent of kids who want to go into I-banking end up in I-banking. Not to mention that some of those offers did have to overlap. Most candidates I know ended up with 2-3 offers or more. So it seems only around a third got IB offers. That is not the best metric for an M7 school..

    Agree that Thunderbird should not be ranked above Kellogg though.

  • LDM

    Whats worth mentioning is the proportion of people who get banking jobs among those who are looking. Schools like Tuck and Kellogg has an 80% success rate or higher (way higher than some schools mentioned in the top 10 or 20 in the table)

  • LDM

    I have been a huge fan of PQ but this is a totally inaccurate and misleading piece of information. I am currently studying at Kellogg and i got a top bulge bracket banking job and also an offer from Mckinsey. The only reason why i am able to get both consulting and banking is because Kellogg is strong in BOTH banking and consulting.

    Lets put it this way. Kellogg has about 50-60 people looking for banking every year and this year more than 50 offers were giving among all the banks. To be specific (Goldman 6, JPM 9, BAML 8, MS 3). Most of these offers were not overlapping, so the top 4 banks in wallstreet already gave 26 offers (almost half the entire class).

    It is hard to find another school wtih this kind of odds. Not even in the traditional finance powerhouse like Wharton or CBS. The fact that some schools like Cass, Imperial, Thunderbird is ranked above Kellogg is actually pretty misleading. Ask what proportion of students in these MBA programs successfully land a bulge bracket job on wallstreet and the answer becomes obvious.

  • C. Taylor

    Is % in banking of total in class with efinancialcareers CV. So people generally interested in banking, etc.

  • JohnAByrne

    Very good point. I entirely agree.

  • Bonnie11

    Even though P&Q is just the messenger in this case, this website has a serious love affair for “% of the MBA class” when comparing schools on various fronts. A % may be similar, but it disregards the power of raw numbers! I don’t think enough emphasis is placed on overall numbers of students heading into any given area – there’s undeniable strength in numbers (i.e. alumni base, recruiting synergies, familiarity, etc).

    For instance, Columbia and Cornell have similar % data, but the fact that Columbia sends 3x as many students is entirely disregarded.

    Let’s keep P&Q honest on this metric.