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Top MBA Programs in Finance – Best Business Schools for Finance Careers

Careers in the finance industry are a perennial favorite for many MBA aspirants. Besides the prestige that comes with working in financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, a career in finance also offers lucrative starting pay and other compensation (including signing and year-end bonuses). For many, a career in the finance industry presents a dynamic and rewarding career path that might be a springboard for many future opportunities. In this article, we look at the Top 10 Best Business Schools for Finance and a few more.

Best Business Schools for Finance - Top MBA Programs for Finance Careers

Following is a brief outline of the article:

Different types of career opportunities in the finance industry

Different Types of Careers in the Finance Industry

Careers in the finance industry can be sub-categorized into the following more granular classification:

  • Private Equity/Venture Capital
  • Investment Banking
  • Investment Management
  • Diversified Financial

Let’s take a look at each and the organizations that operate in each industry.

Top Private Equity/Venture Capital Organizations for a Career in Finance

What is private equity?

Private Equity is a source of investment capital that comes from high net worth individuals or firms. These individuals or firms buy shares (i.e. equity) of private companies or public companies with the intention of taking them private.

What is Venture Capital?

Venture Capital is financing given to startups and small businesses which have high growth potential. In exchange, the Venture Capital firm receives equity in the startup or business. Venture Capital is generally found in high growth industries such as biotechnology or software.

Following are some of the top Private Equity/Venture Capital Organizations:

  • Andreeson Horowitz
  • Khosla Ventures
  • Accel Partners
  • TPG Group
  • The Carlyle Group
  • Bain Capital
  • The Blackstone Group
  • Kohlberg Kravis Roberts
  • Apollo Global Management
  • Warburg Pincus
  • Advent International
  • EnCap Investments
  • CVC Capital Partners
  • Vista Equity Partners
  • KKR
  • Sequoia Capital

Top Investment Banking Organizations for a Career in Finance

What do investment banks do?

Investment banks help organizations and companies to raise capital by issuing securities such as stocks or bonds. They also deal with the placement of these securities with investors in a process known as underwriting.

Besides financing, investment banks facilitate mergers and acquisitions (M&A) by providing guidance and other services to parties on either side of the potential transaction. Other services may include company valuation, strategy formation, and deal negotiation.

Following are some top investment banking organizations:

  • Blackstone Group
  • Evercore
  • Harris Williams & Company
  • Moelis & Company
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • BMO Capital Markets
  • Piper Jaffray
  • CIBC World Markets
  • Williams Blair
  • CitiGroup
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Bank of America Merill Lynch
  • Centerview Partners
  • Greenhill & Company

Want to learn more about the different Post-MBA careers and salaries offered to graduates of top MBA programs? Read this article.

Top Investment Management Companies for a Career in Finance

Investment management refers to the buying and selling of investments within a portfolio. This is done with the aim to meet particular investment goals for the benefit of the investor. These investors may be individuals (private investors) or Institutional investors such as pension fund corporations, insurance companies, etc.

Following are some of the top Investment Management Organizations:

  • BlackRock
  • The Vanguard Group
  • Charles Schwab
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • State Street Global Advisors
  • Fidelity
  • Allianz
  • BNY Mellon
  • Amundi

Top Diversified Financial Companies for a Career in Finance

Diversified financial companies include consumer and commercial oriented organizations that offer a wide variety of financial products and services such as home equity loans, credit cards, securities, and investment products.

Following are some of the top Diversified Financial Organizations:

  • Fannie Mae
  • Freddie Mac
  • American Express
  • INTL FCStone
  • Icahn Enterprises
  • Synchrony Financial
  • Marsh and McLennan
  • Jefferies Financial Group
  • Ameriprise Financial
  • Ally Financial

Read our other articles about the Top MBA Programs for Technology careers as well as the Top MBA programs for entrepreneurship.

Top 10 Best Business Schools for Finance – Top 10 MBA Programs for Careers in Finance

Now that we know more about the different types of careers in the finance industry and the organizations that work in each, let us take a look at the top MBA programs for a career in finance.

For the purpose of ranking these business schools and MBA Programs, we have taken into consideration business schools that send the greatest percentage of their class into finance. This statistic indicates that a significant amount of the school’s resources would be allocated to preparing students for success in these fields. These resources include the school and MBA programs faculty, coursework and career services. Including building relationships with employers and bringing them in to hire students in school facilitated events.

Here are the Top 10 MBA Programs for a career in Finance and a few more:

Best Business School For Finance Class Size Finance Industry Hires (%) Finance Function Hires (%) Mean Salary Median Salary (US $)  Median Bonus (in US $) Mean Bonus Min Salary Max Salary
Wharton 862 36.90% 36.40% N/A 130,000 N/A N/A N/A N/A
NYU Stern 876 33.80% 34.70% 125,286 125,000 N/A 46,253 83,000 170,000
Columbia 756 32.20% 33.10% N/A 127,500 30,000 N/A 52,000 308,000
Chicago Booth 591 31.60% 35.30% N/A 125,000 40,000 N/A 55,000 250,000
Stanford 419 31% 30% 157,500 167,197 35,000 38,017 60,000 300,000
Harvard 930 29% 29% N/A 150,000 40,000 N/A N/A N/A
Cornell Johnson 280 29% 32% 133,126 N/A N/A 46,688 N/A N/A
Yale SoM 347 23.10% 24.30% N/A 125,000 43,125 N/A N/A N/A
Georgetown (McDonough) 271 21.70% 24.10% 118,340 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Dartmouth Tuck 287 20.00% 22.00% 127,818 125,000 N/A N/A 66,235 215,000
UNC Kenan Flagler 276 20.00% 35.00% N/A 123,065 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Emory Goizueta 181 19% 22% N/A 125,000 N/A N/A N/A N/A
MIT Sloan 409 16.20% 14.00% 124,375 125,000 N/A N/A 60,000 175,000
Duke (Fuqua) 440 16% 20% 124,767 125,000 N/A N/A 50,000 180,000
UCLA Anderson 360 15.30% 22.50% 122,670 N/A N/A 39,997 70,000 155,000

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Best Business School For Finance #1: Wharton School of Business

Best Business School for Finance #1 - Wharton School of Business - Top MBA Program in Finance

Given its reputation as the finance school, it’s not surprising that almost 37% of the class chose careers in the finance industry. A large chunk of students chose careers in Investment Banking (13%) and Private Equity (11.4%). The median salary of students choosing careers in the Finance Industry is US$ 130,000.


Professional Clubs and Events

Students who are pursuing careers in Finance can participate in various professional clubs such as:

  • Wharton MBA Finance Club (Link)
  • Wharton Investment Management Club (Link)
  • Wharton Restructuring and Distressed Investing Club (Link)
  • Sales and Trading Club (Link)

The finance club also sponsors the Wharton Finance Conference, which brings leaders in the field such as the vice-chairman of CIB Americas at Deutsche Bank and the Managing Director at Bank of Merrill Lynch as the keynote speakers. It also organizes resume reviews, mock interviews, career panels, and workshops. It also organizes Day-on-the-Job Fridays in which students get to visit, network and interact at the leading financial institutions.


Rock Star Finance Faculty

The finance department at Wharton has 38 professors which include Jeremy Siegel and Franklin Allen and offers 30 courses. Franklin Allen is a winner of numerous teaching awards and co-author of Principles of Corporate Finance (one of the most widely used finance textbooks in the world).

Learn more about the Wharton MBA Program and its Employment Report and Salaries in this article.

Best Business School For Finance #2: NYU Stern School of Business

Best Business School for Finance #2 - NYU Stern School of Business - Top MBA Program for Finance


New York City Location

With its location in New York City and proximity to Wall Street, the NYU Stern School of Business sent more than 1/3rd of its class into careers in the finance industry. Stern graduates go on to work in financial powerhouses throughout New York City and across the country.

The median salary for students choosing careers in finance is US$ 125,000 with the highest offered starting salary of $170,000. Average bonus offered is around US$ 46,000.


Large Finance Faculty and Plentiful Resources

The finance department is the largest academic department and boasts of over 70 full-time faculty. Nobel Laureates such as Robert Engle, Nouriel Roubini, Aswath Damodaran, and Edward Altman are a part of the finance faculty at Stern.


Graduate Finance Association

Touting a membership of over 850 students and alumni, the graduate finance association helps students prepare for careers in finance. It hosts educational events such as the annual training, Street Valuation Seminar and GFA Lunch and Learns.

Representatives from major organizations such as Citi, JP Morgan, and American Express attend the GFA Lunch and Learn events to discuss their experiences in Investment Banking, research and sales/trading.


Stern Investment Management and Research Society (SIMR)

The 400-member strong SIMR serves as a great resource for all finance-minded graduate students at Stern. It also sponsors several events throughout the year such as:

  • Non-Equities Pitch Competition
  • Stock Pitch Competition
  • Modeling/Valuation Bootcamp

The annual Investment and Research Conference, a marquee SIMR event, brings together students, faculty experts, and industry practitioners together to discuss market issues.

Learn more about the NYU Stern School of Business and its employment reports and salaries in this article.

Best Business School For Finance #3: Columbia Business School

Best Business School for Finance #3 - Columbia Business School - Top MBA Program for Finance

Because of its Manhattan location and its traditional hiring pipeline to major Wall Street Banks, Columbia Business School has one of the best MBA programs for finance. Bulge Bracket banks return in droves to recruit CBS graduates en masse every year.


A Columbia Business School Graduate was offered a staggering $305,000 pay package

Almost a third of its class recruited for careers in finance with median salaries and bonuses starting at US$ 127,500 and $30,000 respectively. The maximum salary offered to a graduate in finance was a whopping $305,000.

In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Columbia has actively diversified its recruiting efforts. As a result of which Consulting has overtaken Finance as the largest recruiter of Columbia graduates.


Private Equity and Venture Capital Club

Reportedly one of the largest clubs at CBS, the Private Equity and Venture Capital Club organizes professional development events, internship program connecting students with Venture Capital and Private Equity firms. It also participates in annual local and national competitions such as the Venture Capital Investment Competition which CBS won in 2014.

The Private Equity and Venture Capital conference attracts industry leaders such as the co-founder of Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe; the founder of Lee Equity Partners; and the founder of Pilot Group, LLC.


Investment Banking Club

The Investment Banking Club works directly with Investment Banks to plan events for its members, including resume reviews, interview sessions, and networking affairs. Modeling and valuation workshops provide additional help and practice outside the classroom.


New York City Location

Benefitting from its New York City location, upper-level courses, particularly in finance, are often taught by adjunct faculty who work on Wall Street. Every year C-level finance executives and public figures come to campus to lecture. Recent campus speakers include Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Arianna Huffington, and Barbara Corcoran.

Learn more about the Columbia Business School and its employment reports and salaries in this article.

Best Business School For Finance #4: Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business

Best Business School for Finance #4 - Chicago Booth School of Business - Top MBA Program in Finance - Top MBA Program for Finance

Known for its quants focused program, Chicago Booth sent 31.6% of its 2018 class into careers in the finance industry. Median salaries and bonuses for students entering careers in finance are US $125,000 and 40,000 respectively. The maximum salary offered was US$ 250,000.


Nobel prize-winning distinguished faculty

With names like Eugene Fama, Gary Becker and Robert Fogel associated with the school, Chicago Booth has a long history of economic and financial scholarship. It has 32 professors dedicated to teaching nearly 40 finance classes every year.

Professor Fama, generally regarded as the “Father of Modern Finance” served as inspiration for David Booth. Specifically, Fama’s philosophy on indexing (purchasing a broad range of stocks representing the market at large rather than a handful of stocks). David Booth formed Dimensional Fund Advisors as a manifestation of Fama’s theories. Today Chicago Booth is a $300 million partner in the company.


Student Groups and Events

Chicago Booth has several student groups on campus that focus either completely or partially on the industry. Some of them are:

  • Investment Banking Group (IBG)
  • Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Group (Link)
  • Private Equity Group (Link)
  • Corporate Financing Group (CFG)
  • Credit Restructuring Distressed Investing and Turnaround Group (Link)
  • Hedge Fund Group (Link)
  • Investment Management Group (Link)


Investment Banking Group

The IBG is one of the largest student groups on campus and offers extensive resources to its members including resume reviews and interview sessions and learn and lunch events to help students for recruiting, During the Bank Week students descend upon New York City to network and get to know potential colleagues and bond with classmates.


Corporate Finance Group

The Corporate Finance Symposium one of the CFG’s signature events attracts dozens of students and representatives from companies such as Proctor & Gamble, Exxon Mobil, Target, Prudential, Microsoft and Citigroup. Graduates participate in networking sessions and attend company presentations to learn more about the strategic role of finance.

Learn more about the Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business and its employment reports and salaries in this article.

Best Business School for Finance #5: Stanford Graduate School of Business

Best Business School for Finance #5 - Stanford Graduate School of Business - Top MBA Program for Finance

Stanford Graduate School of Business consistently sends more than a quarter of its class to careers in finance. In 2018, 31% of its class chose careers in the finance industry. The median salary and bonus offered were US$ 157,500 and US$ 35,000 respectively. The highest starting salary was offered to a graduate was a staggering US $300,000.


Venture Capital Club

One of the largest clubs on campus with upwards of 200 students, the Venture Capital Club is one of the most active clubs on campus. The club connects students interested in developing or investing in new technologies with leading venture capital firms. Primary focus areas include clean technology, biotechnology, internet/mobile, and enterprise/infrastructure.

It also organizes advanced sessions on how to craft an appropriate term sheet, what kind of funding one should target, and various legal issues associated with venture capitalism. Group dinners and lunches organized by the club include representatives from Benchmark Capital, Sequoia Capital U.S., and Kleiner, Perkins Caufield and Byers.


Nobel Prize Winning Finance Faculty

With faculty such as Myron Scholes and William Sharpe, both professors emeritus now, Stanford GSB can claim of some impressive credentials in the areas of finance and economics. Scholes received the Nobel prize for creating the Black-Scholes options pricing model and Sharpe received the prize for developing the capital asset pricing model (CAP-M).


Finance and Investment Club (F&I)

With more than 250 members, the Finance and Investment Club aims to provide students a forum to learn more about the various aspects of the financial world. For members who are seeking careers in finance, it also provides training, tools and the contact necessary to secure jobs in areas such as Investment Management and Banking.

It also organizes a speaker series, training seminars which cover the basics of certain industries. By hosting job treks, during which students visit firms and network with employees the club serves students interested in finance careers.

Learn more about the Stanford Graduate School of Business and its employment reports and salaries in this article.

In Part 2 of this article, we cover 5 more of the top MBA programs for a career in finance and a few other notable business schools who deserve a mention. Write to us at acethegmat@e-gmat.com with your questions.

Note: All data is taken from the respective business school’s latest employment reports.

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