Interested in breaking into the competitive field of investment banking?
Attending a target school can provide you with a significant advantage. But what are investment banking target schools, and which are the best?
I’ll reveal the top undergraduate and MBA investment banking target schools in the United States, Europe, and Asia in this article. From placement rates to alumni networks, I’ll discuss what makes these schools unique and how to succeed in the recruitment process.
Go ahead and read the article to discover which schools are best for investment banking and how to advance in this exciting industry.
What Are “Investment Banking Target Schools”?
Bulge bracket investment banks generally fill their associate and analyst roles with candidates that come from certain undergraduate and MBA programs. The schools that offer these programs are referred to as target schools.
Most investment banks will have a list of preferred target schools that they visit and interview each year to find suitable candidates for their roles. This practice is not as common anymore, though, as these first-round interviews are now mainly conducted online via video calls.
Thankfully, it is still possible for a candidate from a non-target school to secure a job, as an associate or analyst at a top investment bank. However, the investment banking recruiting process will be a bit more difficult and not as streamlined if you are not from a target school.
This is because you may need to travel to an investment bank’s headquarters if you are able to secure an interview.
Most of the investment banking target schools are Ivy League schools and top liberal arts colleges. However, you may be surprised to know senior bankers at investment banks tend to recruit candidates from the schools that they attended!
Investment Banking Undergrad Target Schools in the United States
Ivy League Schools
- Brown University
- Columbia University
- Cornell University
- Harvard University
- Dartmouth College
- The University of Pennsylvania
- Princeton University
- Yale University
Undergraduate candidates are often selected from the eight Ivy League schools for two reasons. They often have very bright students that go on to perform well in the industry, and they have diverse programs that provide candidates with good skills.
Candidates from the University of Pennsylvania are hired most frequently for investment banking.
Liberal Arts Colleges
Candidates from liberal arts colleges like the ones listed above are generally not selected as frequently as candidates from Ivy League schools.
This is why these schools are frequently referred to as semi-target schools.
Other great schools
- University of Michigan
- University of Chicago
- University of California, Berkeley
- Stanford University
- New York University
- Georgetown University
While they may not be Ivy League schools, many candidates are selected from the schools listed above. New York University is definitely a target school, as candidates from the school account for 3.9% of all hires at top Wall Street firms, according to data. New York University is also consistently ranked in the top five best schools for finance in the US.
The University of Michigan has a good presence at large investment banking firms, and it is one of the only public schools with this accolade (in addition to Berkeley). Its business school also ranks in the top five of the best undergraduate business schools in the US.
Stanford University is also definitely a target school, as many top investment banking firms hire its alumni. However, many Stanford graduates don’t end up working for New York offices, though, due to the distance between California and New York.
Investment Banking MBA Target Schools in the United States
- The Booth School of Business
- Wharton School
- Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
- Stanford Graduate School of Business
- Harvard Business School
- The Sloan School of Management
- Yale School of Management
- Columbia Business School
- Haas School of Business
- Stephen M. Ross School of Business
- Tuck School of Business
- Fuqua School of Business
- Leonard N. Stern School of Business
- Darden School of Business
- Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management
- Tepper School of Business
- Anderson School of Management
- McCombs School of Business
- Kenan-Flagler Business School
- Marshall School of Business
- Goizueta Business School
If you already have some work experience and you’re considering investment banking, probably your best chance is by getting into a top MBA program. This is because MBA programs provide candidates with some in-depth knowledge and streamlined recruiting into investment banking.
Once again, the Ivy League business schools have the highest presence at the largest investment bank firms and will provide you with the best chance of getting into the industry.
Technically, Wharton School might give you the best chance of securing a position at an investment bank. This is because Wharton MBA graduates have the highest presence among bulge bracket and elite boutiques banks.
However, all Ivys as well as other schools mentioned in the list above are still excellent choices.
NYU’s Stern School of Business is one of the best business schools in the country. Many of its alumni end up working at bulge bracket and elite boutique banks.
The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business is also regarded as one of the better business schools in the country. Between 15 and 20% of MBA graduates from the Booth School of Business go on to work in the industry every year.
Investment Banking Undergrad Target Schools in Europe
- London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
- University of London (UCL)
- Warwick University
- Imperial College London (ICL)
- HEC Paris
- ESSEC Business School
- Bocconi School of Management
If you are based in the UK, then you have a large number of investment banking target schools to choose from. The London universities mentioned in the list above have the advantage of being close to the London Financial hub.
LSE’s Accounting & Finance and Business & Management Studies programs are ranked in the top ten in the world, and both UCL and ICL are regarded as top ten European schools in general.
Cambridge and Oxford are some of the most prestigious schools in all of the world and are considered target schools for investment bankers.
HEC Paris’ Master of Finance program is considered the best program in its region. It also offers investment banking programs in the summer, so it is definitely a target school for French banks.
Investment Banking MBA Target Schools in Europe
- London Business School
- Imperial College London
- ESADE Business School
- Bocconi School of Management
Just like in the US, an MBA in finance will give you a better chance of landing a job in Europe, especially if you’re already out of undergrad and haven’t had a role in investment banking previously.
Oxford’s Saïd Business School and Cambridge’s Judge Business School are both great options for MBA programs. Oxford’s MSc. Finance program has been ranked as high as sixth worldwide and first in England before.
Cambridge’s Executive MBA is equally highly-regarded and should land you a job in the industry if your GPA is high enough.
IESE Business School in Barcelona is another great choice, as it is one of the most elite schools in Europe. It is one of the top feeder schools for European investment banks, as it features highly detailed investment banking courses.
All of the other schools mentioned on this list are also target schools for investment banks and can give you a good chance to reach “superday”, but your options will depend on the country you live in and the language you speak.
Investment Banking Target Schools in Asia
- Hong Kong University (HKU)
- Peking University
- Tsinghua University
- Fudan University
- Shanghai Jiao Tong University
- Nankai University
- Nanjing University
- Zhejiang University
The investment banking industry isn’t only big in the US and Europe. Asia has a thriving investment bank industry and many feeder schools that provide candidates for these roles.
The University of Hong Kong is one of the best universities in all of Asia. It is the top feeder school for investment bank firms based in Hong Kong, so it will give you a good chance of breaking into the industry.
Tsinghua University is often regarded as the best university in mainland China, and its business and accounting programs rank first in Asia and 12th in the world overall. All of the other Chinese universities on this list should still provide you with a decent chance of getting into an Asian investment bank firm, so long as your GPA is high enough.
Shanghai Jiao Tong University, in particular, is a good option if you want to work for an investment bank in the Shanghai Financial Hub, as it will provide you with a regional advantage.
Getting into a good school is only one part of getting into investment banking. So, you can check out my article if you want to know exactly how to get into investment banking.
You might also want to check the top 10 investment banking books to assist you in learning about the investment banking industry.
What degree is best for investment banking?
Investment banks seem to prefer candidates that have studied degrees in finance, accounting, business administration, and other business programs. However, if you’ve gone to a liberal arts college, this may not be an option. Instead, you should simply show that you’ve taken hard classes and excelled. You want to pitch yourself as someone who can learn and pick things up quickly, since you’ll need to do that as you learn finance on the job.
What are the “big 4” investment banks?
JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley are considered to be the largest and most prestigious investment banking firms.