Best colleges for a future in Wall Street?

Any NESCAC school would be a well worn path to Wall Street, Williams in particular.


My son majored in finance at SMU and got a job at a Wall Street firm. Goldman is moving jobs to Dallas (and Florida) and away from NY; Dallas is expanding jobs-wise. And SMU is a more plausible admit than Williams (for any applicant!)


SMU. Look at their alternate assets program.

I would consider another approach. Industrial engineering programs. Look at Georgia Tech’s ISyE program for guidance. It basically combines business with quants. High demand.


OP: You have a solid list of target schools. Just add SMU.

Indiana, Virginia, & Boston College are great target schools for you.

SMU and BC are on the top 30 list of Wall St feeders that College Transition tracks. I believe Indiana has made the list in the past. For LACS, the top feeders according to that site are Williams, Midd, Amherst, Washington & Lee, Swat.

There’re all kinds of jobs on Wall Street, as there’re all kinds of jobs in tech or any other industry. There’re groups within some financial services firms where they wouldn’t even look at your resume unless you come from one of the few schools with a familiar initial. On the other hand, there’re also firms as meritocratic as some of the top tech companies in hiring (meaning that applicants have to pass all sorts of “tests”).

Assuming you can’t attend an elite school, then if you want to work on Wall Street (and by that I assume you mean NYC), then the closer you get in proximity, the better your chances.

NYU, ED would be my suggestion. I worked on Wall Street for a dozen years, and was amazed how NYU folks were literally everywhere…

As you noted, maybe that’s just not possible. My next suggestion would be the big 10 schools in the east…Rutgers, Penn State, and Maryland. When the Big 4 and larger consulting firms go looking for staff, they go to places where they can recruit dozens of people at a time, not one or two. Between DC, Philly, and NY…they have a good number of internships and first-year jobs to fill.

As important as your education, you should focus on internships from the start of college. Do something first-year year, even if it’s for a lesser-known place. It will help you get an internship for the years that really matter…junior/senior. The major consulting firms rarely hire first-year grads that weren’t interns, you have to get an intership if you have much hope of going to Wall Street out of school.


IU Kelley is a safety because you meet the direct admit criteria. Drop Purdue, there is no reason to go there rather than IU for business, although it would be less expensive for an OOS student.

UVA is a reach for any OOS student. Further, admission is not guaranteed to McIntyre. It is holistic admission (so not completely in your control) as they build a diverse class based on institutional needs, so students with top grades can be denied admission, and they are every year.

Wake also doesn’t have direct admission to business.

I agree you should add SMU, and more schools in and around NYC. Any of the NESCACs could work too, and you don’t have to major in Econ to go into banking. Also look at Babson and Bentley.

I can’t agree more with internships and more internships. Starting summer after freshman year.

You wrote: “I didn’t try my hardest freshman and sophomore year, so that is limiting me quite a bit to where I can actually get in. Anyone have any school suggestions in mind? I have hopes of eventually working on Wall Street as a consultant, or maybe in IB. I know it’s possible to break into Wall Street from any school, but schools that could make that process a little easier would be nice.”

@hofmawil Well, you obviously are picking up your GPA and trying harder now. Along with the other schools on your list, consider going to UVA through the backdoor. A near layup (if you keep doing the work) into UVA, might be worth more to you than attending a school you prefer less than UVA. You fit the profile for this:

Although CC transfers from VA can be accepted to McIntyre, acceptance rate is under 20%, so a reach for all.

While you refer to CCs, RBC of William & Mary is the JC, and is an automatic admit to UVA with a 3.4 GPA. Obviously, I was referring to UVA, not a particular school. There are no automatic admits to UVA from any of the CCs.

UConn is an excellent feeder school to Wall Street, reasonably priced and fun. Rutgers is similar.

It is important to remember that there is a high likelihood you will need/want an MBA at some point for a career on Wall Street. Keep this in mind as you consider the cost of attending undergrad, particularly if you have to take on student loans. Once you get an MBA, that becomes your academic pedigree over your undergrad institution, so a state school/Top 10 MBA can be a fiscally prudent combination that gets you a strong pedigree.


Let me ask a different question, “I want a future on Wall Street” is similar to saying " I want to attend an Ivy League". What is it about “Wall Street” that you want as a goal?

  • 6 figure compensation out of undergrad? Not all firms (consulting or IB) pay that. We are talking Tier 1, maybe Tier 1A. If you live in NYC, after taxes and elevated living expenses, the 6 figures disappears pretty quickly.

  • The type of work? Consulting in its various forms, e.g. analyzing and improving processes (could be operational, HR, IT or internal infrastructure/back office related), benchmarking, specific projects, etc… Financial – could be traditional commercial banking, investment banking (equity/debt raises and M&A), sales and trading, institutional asset management, private wealth management, private equity, hedge funds, research, the list goes on.

  • Who are your clients? Fortune 500, domestic, international, solid regional companies, start-ups (main street or tech/biotech).

  • How important is it to live in NYC?

  • How much of this is the prestige of saying you work for McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, etc…?

As you sort through this rubric, you may come up with different alternative end goals. What is most important is to do well at any school you attend and begin the internship/networking process asap. This will optimize your options.


OP: You are very fortunate to have received so many comments from members here. Although you are still young, you need to start learning about types of Wall Street jobs and determine what division(s) you might actually thrive in.

Wall Street is a very, very broad term. By that term, most people refer to the bulge-bracket firms (investment banks such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, BoA Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, UBS, etc.) which contains many divisions, such as conventional investment banking, proprietary trading, investment research, sales & trading.

Outside those firms, you have mutual fund companies, investment departments of insurance companies, pension funds, and alternative investment firms (hedge funds, private equity funds, venture capital, real estate, etc.)

Each function/structure requires a vastly different set of skills, so it is impossible to generalize. I suggest that you familiarize yourself with them before you decide which school(s) might serve you the best. IMHO, your own skill set and ambitions will carry you much farther than the name of your college, as long as you are qualified for the role(s) you aspire to be in.

We are here to field more questions. Good luck!


This list surveys undergraduate representation of entry-level analysts at Goldman Sachs, Citi, JP Morgan, Bank of American Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Barclays, UBS, Evercore, Jefferies, Lazard, Moelis & Company, and Centerview Partners.

Top feeder rankings, by total # of employed:

  1. Penn (489)
  2. NYU (302)
  3. Columbia (267)
  4. Harvard (254)
  5. Cornell (245)
  6. Georgetown (225)
  7. UChicago (224)
  8. Berkeley (203)
  9. Michigan (194)
  10. Yale (181)
  11. Duke (146)
  12. USC (144)
  13. UT-Austin (142)
  14. Notre Dame (136)
  15. UVA (132)
  16. Princeton (131)
  17. Boston College (127)
  18. Brown (122)
  19. Dartmouth (119)
  20. UCLA (111)
  21. Stanford (110)
  22. UNC-Chapel Hill (88)
  23. Northwestern (84)
  24. Vanderbilt (84)
  25. Emory (82)
  26. SMU (72)
  27. WashU (53)
  28. Middlebury (50)
  29. MIT (49)
  30. Northeastern (44)

Top feeder rankings, adjusted by undergrad enrollment:

  1. Penn (489)
  2. Columbia (267)
  3. Harvard (254)
  4. UChicago (224)
  5. Yale (181)
  6. Georgetown (225)
  7. Dartmouth (119)
  8. Princeton (131)
  9. Duke (146)
  10. Williams (43)
  11. Claremont McKenna (27)
  12. Middlebury (50)
  13. Amherst (33)
  14. Brown (122)
  15. Washington and Lee (31)
  16. Cornell (245)
  17. Notre Dame (136)
  18. Stanford (110)
  19. Boston College (127)
  20. Vanderbilt (84)
  21. Emory (82)
  22. Bowdoin (21)
  23. NYU (302)
  24. Colgate (32)
  25. SMU (72)
  26. MIT (49)
  27. Northwestern (84)
  28. Wellesley (21)
  29. Swarthmore (13)
  30. UVA (132)

Interesting that Middlebury ranks higher than Williams in total numbers but Williams ranks higher than Middlebury when adjusted for school size.

I’d agree that UVA is a bit better than Michigan but both are outstanding. It’s interesting that only one public is in the Top 30 and Bowdoin has a better shot than Michigan as a % of undergrad enrollment. It goes to show how outstanding many of these private schools are across the board while many publics are only restrictive for engineering, business and performing arts.

Interesting, especially after adjustment for undergrad enrollment, but what is missing is the total number of undergrads who even pursue a career in finance, but that is a hard number to get. Penn is so high because a large proportion of the kids going to Wharton are gunning for such a career path from the start. Same for Stern or other undergrad BSchools. There is greater career aspiration diversity in many schools, especially as you get into large publics. Maybe treating undergrad business schools as their own entity would be more incisive.

Perhaps another way to identify “feeders” is to take these 13 employers and identify the schools where they all (or pick a number like 80%) do on-campus recruiting. Also, it would be interesting to cut the place of employment data by taking each bank and showing the top 2 schools represented.


P&Q website provides some of the info. that you noted.

Just like the comparison of two colleges’ acceptance rates can mislead because of the strengths of their different applicant pools, comparing the percentages of their graduates going into finance can be even more misleading because of different interests and intentions of their different graduates.