Berkeley Economics vs. IU Kelley DA for Finance/IB/Consulting Careers

Hi everyone!

I’m deciding between IU Kelley and UC Berkeley Economics, here is some general background about the situation.

  • I’m planning on pursuing a career in finance or management consulting(currently leaning towards finance and IB, but I definitely want to explore both fields more in college before deciding)
  • Ideally, I’d want to complete an MBA a few years after graduating, especially if I go into finance and want to switch into other business industries(essentially starting over in another sector after MBA)
    -If I go to berkeley, I can apply to Haas Business School sophomore year, and the acceptance rate for Berkeley students is roughly 33%. If I knew I would get into Haas, I would definitely go with berkeley, but I am proceeding under the assumption that I don’t. That’s why I’d like to compare Berkeley economics vs IU Kelley for finance and management consulting careers, as well as learn general strengths and weaknesses of both.

School specific info:


  • OOS, tuition is higher than IU Kelley but not enough to justify IU on the grounds of cost
  • Seems to place well into finance on the west coast
  • I have talked to a current student, who would help me get into one of the more selective finance clubs on campus(which would help a lot come recruiting season)
  • Many people have said it is good for cs, but I am not at all interested in a tech-focused education or career(with the exception of tech-focused IB banks/teams out west)

IU Kelley

  • Also OOS, cost is lower but again, not enough to justify one school over the other
  • I was admitted to both Hutton Honors and the ACE program(latter is a guaranteed admissions program to Kelley honors in sophomore year, admits roughly < top 5% of Kelley direct admits
  • Seems to be very strong academically, but the large acceptance rate waters down its reputation(not my personal opinion, just something I read online)
  • Seen multiple people say that Kelley grads talk about the school like it’s the Harvard of Undergrad business, but the school is not actually as highly seen as they claim

There were two perspectives I found on the internet, that I’d appreciate if someone could comment on. Firstly, that IU can place well enough into finance, but other industries are much harder to get into. So if I choose IU, I should be decided on finance, whereas at berkeley I can explore both finance and startups/vc/other opportunities that come my way.

Second, that business majors are often the most undesired degree by MBA admissions, and given the already large volumes of Kelley Business Administration degrees, going there will significantly decrease my prospects for admission to a top MBA.
(Both of these points are also not my personal views, I just came across them online)

At this point, I am beyond confused, and I would really appreciate any insights or experiences anyone could share that would help me decide. Thank you in advance!!

Economics is a very different field than business. As someone who hires in business, I would not expect an economics student to hit the ground running at my company like a business student from Kelley might.

Also the UCs changed their admissions model, and are prioritizing other factors over academic achievement. Lots of the top kids in California public schools are wondering what happened this year. I think the UC brand is being diluted.


Thank you for commenting!

If you don’t mind my asking, what kind of roles do you hire for in business? I’ve heard that analyst positions in investment banking routinely go to econ and other non-business majors as they prioritize internships and club experience, but I may be wrong. Does this sound similar?

Also, for the UC brand, I know this is really tough to comment on but how do you predict it’ll play out? Realistically, I just need it to hang on for four more years or so…

Disclaimer: I have a son who is considering Kelley.

Congrats! I’m sure it is a great school by all means, and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to attend as well. I just want to make sure that whatever I choose lines up with my career and future aspirations

I’m a marketing director and I have a limited knowledge of IB. Big consumer brand, but there is lots I don’t know about IB and consulting. The first name you have on your resume will make all the difference - you’ll be known at future companies as the guy from Microsoft, or PwC, or wherever.

Berkeley still has a great reputation in California. People here think of it as an Ivy League school, but not many people out of state see it that way. You’ll be seen as a smart kid with Berkeley on your resume, but like I said, econ is very different from business. If you want to go work at the World Bank or teach, Berkeley looks strong. But people hire business majors for a particular set of skills, which econ majors may have an aptitude for, but don’t actually have.

From what I’ve heard, IB entry level roles don’t care much about the degree, but I know this is not at all true for other business industries.

As of now, I’m planning on starting out in finance, but I want to switch into a more “human” industry within 10 or so years. Based on your experience with resumes and hiring in general, would this kind of path make sense? Econ → IB → MBA → long term business role

I’ve planned on an MBA for this specific reason(developing the business skill set you referred to) and I know it’s even more important if I go the econ route. Any thoughts?

For IB from Kelley, you’d want to get in to the IB workshop. Not sure what paths there are for an econ major at Cal.

1 Like

Kelley is not bad for other business majors than Finance. So, I’d pick Kelley+Hutton and really use the opportunities.
Caveats: looking at Berkeley stats, do you feel you’re among the top 10%? How quantitative would your economics major be? Can you add a business minor to your Economic degree? There aren’t that many courses you really need in order to reassure employers, especially if you had internships that demonstrate practically you do have the skills they seek, and some will actually appreciate an Econ major’s ability to synthesize lots of complex information and have an overview of the problem at hand.

Given Berkeley’s reputation, I think it’d be really hard to say if I’m in the top 10% of econ majors(probably not). Guessing somewhat conservatively, I could only say that I’m in the top 50%, if that makes any sense.

I’m haven’t decided on the balance between quant and qualitative econ courses I’d take. Berkeley doesn’t offer a business minor, but the econ major doesn’t have a lot of requirements so I can take a few courses through Haas if space permits(I wouldn’t have priority). On the subject of internships, I know that at berkeley, the proximity to SF opens up a lot of options for internships even during the school year(someone was just telling me about search funds in SF relying mainly on college labor). Do you know if there are not necessarily similar, but comparable opportunities through Kelley?

Likely not during the school year considering that it is in Bloomington.

If you don’t have the profile to get into Haas, even if you decide not to apply, you are not going to get into IB or MC. Generally the issue of the BBA to MBA route is that it isn’t worth the time or money. The incremental value of even a M7 MBA vs a Haas/Kelley BBA + the extra work experience is going to be very low.

I don’t know if this is completely true, as the L&S Economics Major career survey showed quite a few IB and other finance positions as first destinations( available at First Destination Survey | Career Center , narrow by “CLG of L&S” and “Economics” in top right)

I do agree with this, I don’t think I would do an MBA if I got a BBA at Haas. I’m not sure what my plans would look like if I went to Kelley, as an MBA may afford me new opportunities in fields that Kelley may not place that well into.

1 Like

Deciding not to apply to Haas isn’t the same thing not applying. Of course the top students in Econ have great opportunities. But if they had applied to Haas, they would have been accepted.

1 Like

I’m not sure I understand what you mean, can you please elaborate?

The Haas website shows that of roughly 600 Berkeley students who applied, only ~200 were accepted. I can’t imagine why someone interested in business would voluntarily remain in econ, so I’m assuming that some of the rejected students ended up with good positions anyway. Also, I’m not entirely sure if this is true, but a current student pointed out that because the IB recruiting timeline is accelerated to start in junior year, Haas doesn’t matter as much because students can only start a Haas BBA in junior year(after applying spring of sophomore year)

It looks perfectly reasonable, assuming IBs don’t care much about your major. That may be because lots of Ivies don’t have business majors, and econ is the closest thing. I can also advise not to apply for an MBA right out of college. The experience you get after college is what will set you apart from your classmates when you have interviews. Best of luck!

There are lots of reasons, not least that a strong Econ student can take a lot more math than a business student and that is sought after in IB and consulting. The top Econ students may well be stronger academically than the top business students, but most important is that you are in the top few percent in whatever you choose to do. If you apply for one of these jobs from IU you’d be competing with some of the top students at Berkeley anyway, so I don’t see why you would avoid trying to compete with them in college.