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.)


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