6/9/10

I was wondering if consulting firms like McKinsey prefers certain undergrad majors over others, even if only by a little. Strong math/quantitative skills are obviously necessary, but would there be any preference between say operations research/financial engineering, mechanical engineering, and physics at a place like Princeton?

Comments (86)

6/9/10

I would do something that you could get a 4.0 in and that you love doing.

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer
"Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee

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6/9/10

I actually really love mechanical engineering and physics -- operations research would be a little bit of a stretch, but I like math. Is GPA basically the prime factor, as long as you're doing something quantitative? At least before the interview and all that.

6/9/10

i've actually never heard that something quantitative is necessary..

6/9/10

mas1987 hit the spot! take his advice. You don't need to do finance or engineering, just do something easy that can guarantee a 4.0 and you're golden, at least for getting the interview :)

6/9/10

yeah, but then things go to shit because you haven't developed any analytical/thinking abilities by taking such an "easy" major...

most of the students I have seen that get into McKinsey (didn't look into BCG/Bain) actually had two degrees (including bio, engineering, computer science- hardly an easy subject to get a degree in)

6/9/10

Biology...LOL

6/9/10

Bio is really tough, actually...

And when I say do something you love, I don't mean Art History or some soft major like that. As long as it's something substantive (ie- Philosophy, Math, Bio, English, etc...) go for it.

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer
"Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee

6/9/10
mas1987:

Bio is really tough, actually...

And when I say do something you love, I don't mean Art History or some soft major like that. As long as it's something substantive (ie- Philosophy, Math, Bio, English, etc...) go for it.

There's nothing conceptually challenging about Biology. With hard work, most people of average intelligence can master the subject. Try taking advanced Mathematics or Computer Science courses. With those subjects, you either have the prerequisite mental ability or you don't, in which case you'll be unable to master said subjects regardless of how much work you put in. From this perspective, Biology is an easy major.

My advice to young girls is this: You should marry someone you love. But when I say "marry someone you love," I don't mean marry someone poor or someone unattractive. As long as they're making seven figures (Handsome Bankers, Hedge-fund Managers, BX/TPG/KKR Partners), then you should definitely go for it.

6/9/10

Why would you even get a MFE if you want to do consulting

6/9/10
balbasur:

Why would you even get a MFE if you want to do consulting

FE is an undergraduate concentration also at many universities.

6/9/10

I was talking about undergrad majors

6/9/10

I'm curious, though -- all other things equal, would there be any preference at all between majors in computer science, mechanical engineering, physics, and FE?

6/9/10

engineering, no brainer

6/9/10

The thing with biology and chem is that its all memorization. Math and physics is much more difficult

KICKIN ASS AND TAKING NAMES

6/9/10

just because it is memorization, doesn't mean it is easy though.. i would have the fucking hardest time spending all that time and energy reading through text and learning all details about chem and bio in order to do well.

6/9/10
reallycoolguy][quote=mas1987:

Try taking advanced Mathematics or Computer Science courses. With those subjects, you either have the prerequisite mental ability or you don't, in which case you'll be unable to master said subjects regardless of how much work you put in.

So by this reasoning, majors in physics or mathematics would be more attractive than in engineering because they're much more conceptually difficult?

6/9/10

A simple answer is no.

That is all.

Disclaimer This basically summarizes EVERYTHING I have read or heard on this subject. I am currently a college student and have no real experience in being recruited/doing the recruiting.

6/9/10
pillowtop][quote=reallycoolguy:
mas1987:

Try taking advanced Mathematics or Computer Science courses. With those subjects, you either have the prerequisite mental ability or you don't, in which case you'll be unable to master said subjects regardless of how much work you put in.

So by this reasoning, majors in physics or mathematics would be more attractive than in engineering because they're much more conceptually difficult?

Not necessarily. After all, consulting is not conceptually difficult...

6/10/10

the best course at any uni in terms of transferable skills clearly is mathematics&philosophy. in terms of quantiative ability and analytical and critical thinking this just rapes every other course. hard.

6/10/10

yeah, math/physics just seem "harder" in the pure sense. although engineering/CS might be better with applied quantitative skills, math/physics are much more difficult to grasp -- a certain higher level of intelligence is definitely required to understand concepts in those fields.

6/15/10

I say engineering.

It's quantitative, emphasizes practical problem solving, involves team projects/collaboration and depending on your major (ChemE/BME/ME) it can be tailored for a specific industry consulting group.

6/15/10

CS and don't look back.
Also, EE courses like DSP are very much relevant to modeling skills used in quant analysis.

6/15/10

Not necessarily--don't let "management consulting" mislead you into thinking that it's really about management. Kind of how "investment banking" doesn't mean that you should major in "investments".

Major in Powerpoint and you'll be a rockstar consultant.

6/15/10

I majored in Philosophy...

6/15/10

the advice about Powerpoint was spot on.

My major was Applied Math. Off the top of my head, people working at my firm majored in History, Computer Engineering, International Relations, Operations Research, an MA in Statistics, and of course a bunch of MBAs (most of the associates).

6/15/10

I'm majoring in finance and just landed an internship in consulting.

6/15/10

I'm not sure about your school, but every management class I have taken has been relatively useless. It seems like the cop out major...

6/15/10

Yeah I'm not sure there's a lot of value in studying management/business at undergrad level. If you want to do something in this direction maybe economics or finance might be a bit more solid.

Personally, I'd suggest doing something you enjoy which will leave plenty of careers open to you...you won't go too far wrong with sciences or engineering, and I doubt it will have any impact on your chances of getting into a bank.

Rody

11/9/16

I can second this.

6/15/10

I go to a technical school where McKinsey specifically comes to recruit Engineers. They bring 10+ engineering graduates with them to talk about why they switched ove to conculting. Is this only McKinsey or is there a trend toward technical undergrads for Strategy Consulting in general?

6/15/10

Would majoring in accounting prepare you for consulting?

6/15/10

McKinsey loves to hire Engineers from undergrad. From grad school, they hire Sloanies a bunch. Basically guys with top notch analytical skills.

Bain and BCG have different taste, but tend to look more at fit.

6/15/10

just be smart and know how to talk

6/15/10

My situation: I want to major in management and international business at McDonough but it seems like M/B/B like finance majors more considering who they've hired in the past two years have been finance majors.

discuss.

6/15/10
MBBDubai:

My situation: I want to major in management and international business at McDonough but it seems like M/B/B like finance majors more considering who they've hired in the past two years have been finance majors.

discuss.

During my interviews with all three, I got the impression that they LOVE hard science majors. Especially engineering.

One Associate Principal at McKinsey went so far as to say that he thinks engineering majors are the most successful at the firm.

That's just my experience...

6/15/10

I KNOW they love engineers...I only have two options and engineer is neither of them:

A) finance
B) management

Which one would be looked upon more favorably coming from Georgetown?

6/15/10

If finance majors have historically done well, then it should be a good major. The question is, how many management majors who WANTED M/B/B got one (or how many students majored in management at all). Finance probably will be better anyway. If you don't get M/B/B (it's going to tough, you know that), do you have any back-up careers/firms in mind with a management background? Finance will open more doors. You don't want to be on the general management track, which is probably what most management majors, whether they want it or not, end up doing. Like some people indicated here, management teaches you about organizational behavior/internal controls (looking at the company from the inside, like managerial accounting), not so much corporate strategy. IMO, it's only useful for HR consulting at best. I heard management is nothing more than "applied psychology." The one management course that might be useful is something along the lines of "Managing Change," if Georgetown has something like that. I had/have this exact same issue, but I think finance/accounting skills are more valuable for business majors. Some schools do have a Strategy concentration, but I don't know how useful that would be either. Maybe others can clarify. I'm still wondering about that.

6/15/10

A technical/analytical background is a lot more important at the entry level. If you must stay in a business major Econ or Finance are better choices.

6/15/10

Are there firms that wouldn't accept students with MA's into neither 'analyst' nor 'associate' level because theyre over / under - qualified respectively.

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6/15/10

all about GPA

6/15/10

Definitely wouldn't recommend business. Best are hard sciences or other analytical stuff.

6/15/10

Becoming a Rhodes Scholar, and your chance of getting into BCG or McKinsey suddently increases from 1 out of 5000 to 1 out of 5. Met so many Rhodes Scholars who are in BCG or McKinsey.

6/15/10
BCGDreamer:

Becoming a Rhodes Scholar, and your chance of getting into BCG or McKinsey suddently increases from 1 out of 5000 to 1 out of 5. Met so many Rhodes Scholars who are in BCG or McKinsey.

Have you really met many Rhodes scholars who tried and then didn't get a position at least one of BBM? I'd say a Rhodes Scholar odds are about 1 out of 1.05.

6/15/10

timlambcurry:
BCGDreamer:
Becoming a Rhodes Scholar, and your chance of getting into BCG or McKinsey suddently increases from 1 out of 5000 to 1 out of 5. Met so many Rhodes Scholars who are in BCG or McKinsey.

Have you really met many Rhodes scholars who tried and then didn't get a position at least one of BBM? I'd say a Rhodes Scholar odds are about 1 out of 1.05.

This hype is ridiculous.

We have Rhodes Scholars, Marshall Scholars, and Fulbright Scholars etc in our program. None of them were in the group which placed well. Not a single one. Every one of that group had their application dates or interviews pushed back for a variety of reasons.

http://firmsconsulting.com/2012/12/01/sepoct-case-...

(I can't vouch for these guys/ stats, but I see no reason why FC should be lying about this.)

6/15/10

Engineering or science like maths, physics,... are sought after due to their analytical skills, but in general, it doesn't really matter.

6/15/10

If you're talking about undergrad majors... the last case team I was on, the associates had degrees in industrial engineering, business, and English.

Generally speaking, your best bet is an engineering degree, but a liberal arts degree is not at all disqualifying if you're otherwise a great candidate.

6/15/10

In the event that you don't happen to become a Rhodes Scholar ... ? ... your hard sciences and other heavy analytical majors will bode well. But like the first comment states, it's all about the GPA. Whatever you choose, make sure you're as close to Summa as possible.

6/15/10

Going to chime in and pose a Q, why do you think business majors aren't as marketable (this being taken at face value, no one major can seal one's fate as different candidates are different) ? I have met more soft science majors than business. Thoughts?

6/15/10
JackDevlin:

Going to chime in and pose a Q, why do you think business majors aren't as marketable (this being taken at face value, no one major can seal one's fate as different candidates are different) ? I have met more soft science majors than business. Thoughts?

Business doesn't teach you how to think, its also an incredibly easy major

"The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets."

-John D. Rockefeller

6/15/10
JackDevlin:

Going to chime in and pose a Q, why do you think business majors aren't as marketable (this being taken at face value, no one major can seal one's fate as different candidates are different) ? I have met more soft science majors than business. Thoughts?

how many top schools offer business majors?

6/15/10
F. Ro Jo:
JackDevlin:

Going to chime in and pose a Q, why do you think business majors aren't as marketable (this being taken at face value, no one major can seal one's fate as different candidates are different) ? I have met more soft science majors than business. Thoughts?

how many top schools offer business majors?

MIT, UPenn Wharton, and UT Austin?

6/15/10

BCGDreamer:
F. Ro Jo:
JackDevlin:
Going to chime in and pose a Q, why do you think business majors aren't as marketable (this being taken at face value, no one major can seal one's fate as different candidates are different) ? I have met more soft science majors than business. Thoughts?

how many top schools offer business majors?

MIT, UPenn Wharton, and UT Austin?

Exactly.

You're basically clutching at straws once you get past MIT and Penn.... maybe Michigan, Georgetown, UVA, Cal, NYU.

6/15/10

Echoing what everyone else said, just do whatever will get you the best GPA. Everything else is kind of secondary.

6/15/10

Just found out an interesting fact: the current managing director (CEO) of Mcknsey Dominic Barton and the current President/CEO of BCG Hans-Paul Burkner are both Rhodes Scholars.

6/15/10

Economics isn't a bad major either.....shows you can do the quant and is in a relatively related field. In addition, an understanding of economics (I found anyway) really helps with the case interviews.

6/15/10

I think consulting is the industry in which college major matters the least. Go to any office at any consultancy and you'll find a mix of engineers, econ, law, business and even sociology and philosophy. Pick a major that interests you and do well in school.

The business of business is business.

6/15/10

I stand corrected. Perhaps because I would have loved to be a Rhodes Scholar back in the day but never could have come close and yet found recruiting for consulting relatively easy (although not without a lot of work), I overestimated the chances of the Rhodes scholar.

6/15/10

While you can get in with any major and there are a lot of factors other than major, a 4.0 in engineering or a hard science is worth a lot more than a 4.0 in English or business.

6/15/10

From what I've seen, it can be very difficult for interviewees to convince interviewers that they really had a passion for finance when they don't have a business or engineering degree. Several of my engineer friends who eventually got jobs in finance said they experienced this in interviews to a certain extent as well. Just be prepared for this and thankful that it's not worse (you could have a passion for Asian studies instead of physics).

That being said, figure out what you're really interested in. If you are genuinely interested in pursuing finance I would go business major and physics minor. You'll have a much easier time pulling all nighters for a subject that you are passionate for.

I get the sense you aren't sure yet, which is completely understandable as a freshman. If that's the case just try a few classes out freshman year and see what sticks. The decision should make itself.

6/15/10

Pro-tip: Google "investment banking major" and click on the first link. Mergers and inquisitions is a great website.

Are you trying to get into M&A or S&T? From what I've gathered the optimal major/minor combination is first and foremost the one that will get you a high gpa (maybe 3.5+ if engineering/hard science, but really 3.7+). Picking a tough major just to "stand out versus the hordes of undergraduate business/econ students" is what you don't want to do. However if you really would enjoy studying a tougher major over business/econ, it makes sense to take advantage of your affinity for science and math. Any major/minor combo would work, but CS is probably most employable + business minor if they offer courses relevant to finance. As you already know, academics at Cornell are no joke, so make sure you study something you can succeed in.

6/15/10

from my standpoint, I think quants are similar in a way - physics, CS, math, Statistics etc. pick one and hopefully make a major. I personally would lean (biased) towards statistics and OR, as long as you grab programming under your belt.

I also see though, if you have time, have a UG in business (major) is also a very impactful thing. it gets you to the networks that other divisions may not offer, and just even be in those subscription lists for the recruiters/speakers is a great benefit

6/15/10

Yes.

6/15/10

If you are good with cases, good with people, quick on your feet, and mildly interesting, you can get a job in MC from any major. Keep in mind you will want to figure your degree into your "why consulting" story, but that's pretty easy to do. Economics/Finance is certainly a suitable, maybe even optimal, way to go. If you find you you don't want to travel every week/can't do the cases/want to make more money, you can take your degree and try for IB.

6/15/10

Engineering. Helps you even for MBA recruiting.

6/15/10

It's very school-dependent. At my school for instance, the engineering programs are very strong and looked at favorably by consulting firms, as well as several other kinds of companies. The Econ program, on the other hand, doesn't have the same prestige.

That could easily be flipped at other schools that are more known for their liberal arts programs.

6/15/10

Do whatever gets you the best GPA. A large portion of consulting recruiting is driven by your GPA.

6/15/10

Operations Research:Financial Engineering is strictly available to SEAS, whereas Econ-Math is only available to students in the College. You don't have the choice to choose between them. Which school will you be attending? Hopefully its not SEAS.

6/15/10

I'll be at SEAS, and I'm aware that Econ-Math/Stats is for CC students. There's always the transfer option. Why the negativity toward SEAS?

6/15/10

I'm an Econ/Polisci major and have interviews at BCG/Bain/McKinsey

6/15/10

^ That's impressive.

Like I said in the original post, I know major doesn't matter much in terms of getting the first interview. But I'd like to know which one develops the consulting skillset and sets you up for doing well in the interview itself.

6/15/10

I think this is one of those cases where people think the world is more complicated than it really is. All you really need to get consulting interviews is a high GPA (you can major in anything at all), good extracurriculars, and some activity (consulting club, working at a startup during your undergrad yrs, working on refining a nonprofit's business plan or strategy, etc.) that shows a demonstrated interest in the field. Considering that I have a friend who got a Bain FT offer w/o knowing how to calculate profit 1 week before the interview, we're not talking about something you should devote your undergraduate career to.

6/15/10

Yah agreed, I got interviews but I have no idea about consulting. I just bought a book and am gonna study it tuesday-thursday - I have both McKinsey and BCG back to back on friday...3.5 hours of cases ....darn

6/15/10

They will teach you everything you need to know, therefore major really is unimportant. All they are looking for is the raw material. In all honesty, I would pick a major that 1) is relatively easy so you can get a high GPA and still have a good time and 2) is at least a little interesting to you personally.

6/15/10

I'm a double Studio Art and Physics major senior without any finance/business experience prior to recruiting. I worked at CERN (the physics lab) last summer, and I ended up w/ an offer from McKinsey London.

I think the important thing is just to be smart, enthusiastic, and have good leadership credentials.. and be able to justify why you want to do consulting.

6/15/10

I think the most important thing for consulting is GPA so #4 would probably be your best bet.

Also, I had no idea that segue was a word until I saw your title.

6/15/10
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6/15/10
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6/15/10

fight for MBB

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