Cornell Engineering vs UPenn Engineering for Investment Banking

I am really interested in both Cornell’s and UPenn’s engineering programs. I have visited both campuses and really like the atmosphere at both, despite them being so different! They are both great schools and I would fit in well at both, however, am having trouble deciding.

If I am able to get into the M&T program at Penn or manage to get a double major between Wharton and the School of Engineering, I’d pick Penn instantly. However, I am not too sure how easy it is to get into the dual degree programs while I am there.

My ultimate goal is to one day work on the street (likely in IB or as a quant analyst), however in case my mind changes in college I would like to leave the tech door open. Which program would give me more opportunities in this aspect?


FWIW…you can work anywhere with either degree, so I think you’re probably “overthinking” outcomes and options.

The M&T program would obviously be great, but if you don’t get in and decide to try to get an IB or “street” job, the Penn name will carry a lot of weight and has the reflected glow of Wharton to some extent. If you’re thinking of Wall Street as an option, I’d go to Penn. Cornell’s an awfully good alternative…so go with your gut about where you want to be. There really is no wrong choice.


I do not recommend Cornell Engineering to anybody who is dabbling in Engineering.

Judgy? yes. But, if your real goal is to be in IB or a quant (and presumably your real real goal is $$$) then you don’t need the pain of Cornell Engineering. Leave it for the people who actually want to do engineering (not just have “tech” as a fall back).


The “pain” in Penn engineering will be very comparable :slight_smile:
Engineering isn’t easy anywhere


A few comments in no particular order:
–Not sure engineering is the best path to IB.
–In general IB jobs are few and far between right out of undergrad so you will likely need to expand your horizons.
–Penn M&T program has 50 students per year so admissions is EXTREMELY competitive.

If you want IB, then it doesn’t matter what you major in. Just get above 3.5 at a target school and nail your interviews. Also have to network a lot.

For quant the path is a lot different. They care about analytical ability. Doing well in math competitions helps. Also majoring in something like pure math and CS would help. They also look for people with advanced degrees (masters, PhD).

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OP, why do you want to pursue a degree in engineering if you want to go into finance? There are finance programs and econ programs and many others that will be more applicable to IB if that’s your ultimate goal.
I’d ask yourself why do you want to go into IB? If it’s the money, realize you will work very very long hours for years often before you reach the $$$. If IB is the path you want, make sure to acquire the soft skills needed as those can’t be found on a diploma and talk to folks in the field.
Engineering is a great field too. You can be a specialist and combine with an MBA and do various types of consulting ( this is pretty common). Again, I’d ask yourself what are you looking for in a work position and how will that fit into your life plans ( family, travel, et).

While I would like to work in finance, I’m in love with engineering and want to dive deeper into the subjects it encompasses. I am hoping to use IB as a launchpad to become a hedge fund IA and hopefully eventually a PM (to be honest, I’m quite naive and need to do some more research before making any decisions in terms of the career path I am going to try to create, but this is the plan as of now!). I’m extremely interested in the markets and love the industry. The money that eventually comes along is an added benefit.

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While finance is my ultimate goal, I am still in love with Engineering and hope to dive deeper into the subject. I am also interested in Cornell’s ORIE program, which is part of the school of engineering and would likely try to do this alongside another engineering degree while I am there.

I was also hoping to learn more about the reputation Cornell’s engineering program has for being ruthless to undergrads. What exactly makes it more difficult than other schools engineering programs?

Outside of the M&T program, is it difficult to get an uncoordinated dual degree between the college of engineering and Wharton. I am also considering getting a dual degree between the school of engineering and arts and sciences.

Best thing you can do to help on the quant front is take a couple of probability/stats classes.

My son interviewed with all the household names (Jane Street, Citadel, SIG, DE Shaw, Two Sigma) and the first two rounds of interviews were almost exclusively a lightning round of probability questions.

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Uncoordinated dual degrees are difficult. If you’re not admitted into Wharton, they are not just going to let you in. Trying to transfer internally from any other school into Wharton is very difficult.


For work, I interact with a number of hedge funds. When they hire analysts, they will not hire Economics or Finance grads. They exclusively hire Engineering grads. I was told they feel Engineering grads have superior problem solving skills.

As someone who has worked and hired in the environments being discussed, I agree 100% with the comment. The primary job of an analyst / new hire is to dig into the information and find answers. Engineers can pick up finance quickly, but many finance grads will never manage data effectively. I have hired only engineering or math majors since 2013.


I don’t doubt that’s what you see, but plenty of hedge funds do hire students with econ or finance degrees.


First of all, hedge funds, as well as investment banks, hire different people for different roles. They need people with different skills to fill these roles. If you want to be a real quant in a hedge fund, you should forget about the M&T program, even though it’s hyper selective (even more selective than @happy1 indicated because a high percentage of its admits come from its summer program). With Cornell’s ORIE program, you’ll most likely need to spend a few more years in its PhD program after you graduate to become competitive. On the other hand, M&T is an easy path to become an IB analyst (but is probably an overkill), and most of ORIE teaches aren’t really designed to prepare a student for an IB analyst job.

More importantly, you’ll likely find your backup plan in tech isn’t working as well as you hope. Tech firms often loathe to hire people with business/finance inclination for tech jobs, because of their perceived lack of depth in tech subjects as well as dedication. You need to seriously rethink your strategy.

Not sure this is true. As long as you have a good sophomore internship (FAANG or equivalent), you can do whatever you want for the junior summer, and come back for a tech firm for full time hiring as a senior.

Yes, bth are intense programs with lots of requirements and expectations. I’d suggest doing one or the other than getting a Masters in the opposite. A STEM/biz combo can be very powerful. It’s hard to get a dual degree when one of them is Engineering mainly due to the structure of Engineering programs. Have you thought of the 3+2 programs. You would do 3 years in liberal arts ( finance) then 2 years to get your engineering degree elsewhere. Very powerful combo for the right person.

I am in the industry as well (quant firm). We prefer engineers. Someone with a CS degeee/someone who worked at a FAANG as an intern may be ok in doing the programming needed on the back end, but doing factor research is a whole different level. The CS grads just don’t have the level of analytical skills, in our experience, versus the engineers.

In your experience, do quant firms, such as the one you work in, recruit undergraduates directly, or do they look for those with higher degrees (masters, PhDs, etc)/ with work experience in finance?