Investment banking is a popular and highly competitive industry. An investment banking career can take many shapes, including corporate finance, sales and trading, and asset management. Investment bankers advise companies on all aspects of the business’s finances. This can include advice on sales, mergers, and purchases of companies, equity, raising and structuring of debt to finance acquisitions and other corporate activities, and restructuring companies to make them more profitable and efficient. Students looking to pursue a career in investment banking should look into colleges with strong finance programs and with access to alumni and other connections at the top investment banking firms. If investment banking is of interest to you, here’s a list of 13 colleges you can look into to help you get started with your college search. These colleges are not listed in any particular order.
- University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA:
University of Pennsylvania is home to the famous Wharton School—the first-ever business school in the world. At Wharton, you can pursue business and liberal arts. In fact, at least 30% of your classes will be at other Penn schools. Wharton’s Class of 2016 entered jobs in over 25 industries and 42 job functions and had an average starting annual salary of $77,566. Given Wharton’s rigorous undergraduate business curriculum, two thirds of Wharton undergraduate alumni feel that they do not need to pursue an MBA in order to advance their career. Those who do decide to apply to MBA programs have a significant advantage with their Wharton undergraduate education.
- London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), London, UK:
The BSc Finance program at LSE gives students an understanding of the theory and intuition behind financial decision-making, risk management, and the behavior of financial markets. In the first year, students take finance, accounting, economics, mathematics, and statistics. The second year focuses on building a firm grasp of core analytical methods in finance and financial economics. In the third year, students gain rigorous depth in a variety of finance subfields. 86% of students get jobs or go on for additional schooling within 6 months of graduation.
- New York University, New York, NY:
NYU’s Stern School of Business is one of the world’s most renowned business schools located in one of the world’s most renowned centers of commerce. NYU Stern students can major in business with a concentration in finance. The school has a number of global partnerships that give students deeper insight into the interactions of financial markets. Finance students take a combination of liberal arts and business core courses and a four-course sequence in finance. Students are also required to complete the Social Impact Curriculum and the International Studies Program. The latter culminates in a spring break trip in the second semester of senior year to one of three cities in Asia, Europe, or South America and a competition where small groups present capstone projects—culminating final projects that apply everything they’ve learned to a real-life issue—to their classmates, professors, and deans. The highest average starting salary of Stern undergraduate alumni is $70,000.
- Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA:
CMU offers a quantitative Bachelor of Science (BS) in Computational Finance through the Department of Mathematical Sciences. It is a joint program of the Mellon College of Science, the Tepper School of Business, and the Heinz School of Public Policy and Management. Students pursuing this degree take classes in mathematics, finance, probability/statistics, and computer programming. Because most graduates go into careers in banks or other financial firms, they also take graduate courses in the Heinz School on public speaking, professional writing, and organizational design. Graduates of the BSCF program have gotten jobs at major investment banks, such as Bank of America, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, and UBS. Average starting salary upon graduation is $60,200.
- Bentley University, Waltham, MA:
Finance is the second most popular major at Bentley. The Princeton Review ranks Bentley the Number 1 college in the United States for internship opportunities and career services. Students have the option of enrolling part-time or full-time in the finance program, which offers concentrations in pure finance, economics-finance, and corporate finance and accounting. Students also have the unique opportunity to work in the Hughey Center for Financial Services (aka the Trading Room), where they can learn how real-life trading rooms and other financial programs work. The average starting salary for Bentley finance alumni is $58,000.
- Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA:
Lehigh University was founded in 1865 by a businessman named Asa Parker. The finance program, which is built for students interested in the private sector, offers courses in accounting, computers, and economics, preparing students for careers in corporate finance, investments, and financial institutions. The Financial Service Laboratory at Lehigh supplements classroom learning by giving students hands-on experience with financial activities, such as running portfolios. Average starting salary is $60,000.
- Villanova University, Villanova, PA:
The finance major at Villanova offers courses in corporate finance, accounting, and equity markets, giving students a well-rounded understanding of the field of finance. There are a number of student organizations with which finance majors get involved, including the Villanova Financial Management Association, the Villanova Equity Society, the Villanova Fixed Income Society, and the Villanova Technical Analysis Group. These organizations give students hands-on experience managing investment funds. Average starting salary is $53,000.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA:
MIT’s Sloan School of Management offers an undergraduate major in finance, which offers classes in the fundamentals of finance, accounting, microeconomics, probability, and statistics. Finance majors also take electives in investments, corporate finance, and other advanced financial topics. As part of the major, students also take part in two financial laboratories and complete a communications project where they present their experiences working on an actual professional assignment. Alumni are sought after in a variety of organizations, including investment and corporate banks, brokerage firms, financial data providers, asset managers, hedge funds, venture capital firms, rating firms, consulting firms, insurance companies, and the treasury and finance departments of major corporations and governments. Average starting salary is $68,600.
- Indiana University Bloomington, Bloomington, IN:
Finance, offered in the Kelley School of Business, is one of the most popular majors at Indiana. The four main areas of study in the Department of Finance are corporate finance, investments, banking, and international finance. Students also take elective courses in accounting and entrepreneurship. The degree prepares students for jobs as financial analysts at corporations, brokers at investment firms, loan officers at banks, stock brokers, insurance agents, and real estate agents. One of the school’s highlights is the Young Women’s Institute, where female students can connect with like-minded women in the field. Average starting salary is $43,900.
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC:
The Kenan-Flager Business School at UNC offers a BS in Business Administration degree where students have the option to add up to two areas of emphasis in any of the following areas: consulting, investment management, entrepreneurship, multinational finance, international business, investment banking, marketing management, operations, real estate, and sales. The investment banking emphasis teaches skills in corporate financial strategy, financial modeling, debt and equity issues, valuation, mergers and acquisitions, financial planning, risk management, and financial analysis. Students in this concentration typically pursue careers at investment banks, commercial banks, and private equity firms. It is also a good area of emphasis for students interested in financial consulting, venture capital, and finance positions at Fortune 500, large-cap, or mid-cap companies. UNC Kenan-Flager has a strong undergraduate alumni base in investment banking, as it’s one of the largest area of employment for graduates of the program. Internships are an important part of the program as they are crucial for landing full-time positions. Internship recruitment starts early junior year. Average starting salary is $44,200.
- University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA:
The McIntire School of Commerce is UVA’s undergraduate business school. Finance is one of the most popular concentrations at McIntire. Students gain an comprehensive understanding of the operational aspects of business and investment finance, the functions of financial institutions and institutional capital markets, and the basic economic and legal framework of financial organizations. A capstone course is also required for graduation. Graduates of the program typically go into careers in corporate finance, financial counseling, investment management, and banking. Average starting salary is $51,000.
- University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX:
Undergrads at UT-Austin can get a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance at the McCombs School of Business. Finance majors can choose from one of seven tracks: Corporate Finance and Investment Banking, Energy Finance, Investment Management, Financial Markets/Banking, Quantitative, General, or Real Estate. A select group of outstanding seniors can choose to take part in the Financial Analyst Program, where they complete courses in security analysis and advanced financial topics and hone in on their research and modeling skills in the Financial Education and Research Center. Average starting salary is $50,400.
- Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA:
BC offers a BS program in Management at the Carroll School of Management. Students concentrating in finance will take Basic Finance, Corporate Finance, and Investments. They also choose one of the following classes: Derivatives & Risk Management, Corporate Financial Strategies, Financial Policy, International Finance, Investment Banking, and Fixed Income Analysis. Finance majors learn how to manage investments and calculate risk while understanding the role institutions play in the financial system. They become adept at managing an organization’s financial activities without losing site of the financial market. Graduates go into corporate finance, financial services, and nonprofit or government organizations. Average starting salary is $62,000.
Any of these programs sound appealing? If so, you’ll want to join Konversai. Konversai is a knowledge sharing marketplace where you can connect with anyone, anywhere, about anything all via live video. On Konversai, you can connect with current students and alumni at any of these colleges as well as investment bankers and other finance professionals. Connections and networking are key in the financial world, and Konversai makes it easier and ever to build those connections. One of Konversai’s core premises is that we are able to make the best life decisions and learn the most by talking to other people who have had similar experience. Any and all knowledge has a place on Konversai—the only limit is your imagination. You are also encouraged to charge for sharing your knowledge and experiences on the platform, as there is sure to be someone somewhere else in the world who would be willing to pay to hear your story. Whether you’re on Konversai as a knowledge provider or knowledge seeker (and you’re encouraged to be both), you will end your conversations feeling enriched. Join Konversai and take the first step towards improving your academic, professional, and personal life.
- Cahill, Megan. (2016). The top 10 US colleges for a degree in finance. USA Today College.
- College Choice. (2016). Best Bachelor’s in Finance Degree Programs, 2016.
- Wall Street Oasis. What is investment banking?