UC Berkeley vs UCLA vs USC for MBB

Hi guys, I recently got admitted to all 3 schools for econ as a junior undergrad transfer and was wondering where i should go? Cost is the same for both. I care more about the reputation (i.e “prestige”) of the school and their placements at the top consulting firms (MBB). Which school would place me better at MBB?

Thank you!

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[EDIT: forgot to congratulate you on getting a transfer to all 3! Very nicely done! + corrections in red to incorporate some comments from other posters]

Was waiting a bit to see if some people here had some experience / better info. All I can contribute to your thinking is a cursory search on LinkedIn and some basic calcs. The figures look like:

  • UC Berkeley: ~1K current MBBs, and ~2.7K formers
  • UCLA: ~500-600 current MBBs, and ~1.1K formers
  • USC: ~500 current MBBs, and ~0.9K formers

So, in pure numbers, Berkeley wins by a substantial margin, while UCLA / USC seems to make little difference. Of course to calculate success rates you'd need to know how many applied and got in per year, but that would have to come from anecdotal reports of people sharing how they & their friends did.

As a weak triangulation point for "success rates", all 3 colleges seem to have about 45K students total, but around

  • ~1200-1300 UCB Econ & business majors together (following a good point made below :))
  • ~850 UCLA Econ & business majors together
  • ~1200-1300 USC Econ & business majors together

So, UCLA might place a little worse better(after correction) than USC if it churns out ~3.7x more ~1.5x fewer econ & business grads but places about as many people in MBB (a LOT of assumptions go in this statement, e.g., only considering econ & business grads and assuming they all apply to MBB, or that no other group at these universities are more important for the recruitment, like business/finance majors).

Overall, it might look like Berkeley > UCLA > USC > UCLA, if I had to go by some arbitrary metrics without inputs from current/former students or local MBB recruitment teams.

Another quick take away is that they all place in MBB pretty well. I hope others chime in to add some real experiences / accounts.

Tons of caveat to these figures:

  • these might include interns who never came back / people adding short programmes too on their LinkedIn (e.g., BEL participants at Bain)
  • these might also include people who did a semester abroad at one of these institutions, or gained some unrelated certification/diploma (e.g., foreign exchange students)
  • these might include include MBA hires who got into MBB at later stages of their career (e.g., USC undergrad > some job > MBA > MBB)
  • these might include non consulting staff too (e.g., business functions such as HR or non-client facing functions like internal analytics groups)

Since I’m an econ major, I wouldn’t be in haas, but that’s mainly bcoz I don’t wanna study business for undergrad. Are non-haas students in a significant disadvantage during recruiting?

UC Berkeley has an undergraduate business program which UCLA does not. A lot of students who want to get into business at UCLA do the econ major, with mixed results.  But at Cal, students can get an actual undergraduate business degree. 

So you'd need to take into account the number of business majors plus econ majors at UCB for that analysis above. 

At Berkeley, the undergraduate business degree would provide both competition (during recruiting) and synergy (Haas management consulting clubs, on campus recruiting, etc.) Especially as a junior transfer, I imagine it would be too late for you yourself to transfer into Haas. I'm not sure to what degree non-Haas students benefit or not from that synergy. So that would be a differentiating factor. Only you can determine if its net favorable or not. 

Also if recruiting is more regionally dominant, you're looking at LA (UCLA and USC) vs SF/Bay area (UCB). So location may play into your decision process. I think that a lot of people are losing jobs in the bay area right now. Did that adversely impact current grads in the area? Idk, but possibly something to research/think about. Might that impact your junior year internship? Of course, by the time that you graduate, that may have all turned on a dime and the economy may be firing on all cylinders. 

Lastly, I get the sense that the Trojan alum spirit is fighting fierce. I'm guessing more so than the UC alum spirit. But I have no real data to back this up. Just a spidey sense.

Lots to think about. 

Hi sorry I’m new to recruiting, what do you mean by “the undergrad business degree would provide more competition during recruiting”? Do MBB firms have a quota of how many Berkeley students they take per year? Hence why more internal competition.

USC imo, it’s a strong private school with less people applying than the massive state schools of ucla and Berkeley, alums are more responsive since they get less requests, I have seen usc place into MBB NY annually, it’s also more selective to be at usc than ucla or berkeley

Id agree with with this. I’ll add USC alum network is extremely strong.

Idk whether or not MBB has a quota for Berkeley or not, but obviously your competition will consist of well-prepared Haas undergrads.

The synergy of the Haas undergrad business school will definitely help the Haas undergrads. Idk whether or not it will also benefit the L & S econ undergrads. I'd guess that that would largely depend on how you manage to leverage that synergy in your favor.

Ultimately MBB wants the most talented kids.

Bc it's smaller, more mentorship, less people applying, more receptive alum, it'd a private school. Also non haas will be super tough as haas will have advantage over non haas due to alums. Usc>non haas for sure. You’ll be lost in the sea of applications from ucb non haas easier than usc

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