Comments (59)

May 15, 2022 - 3:24am
nutmegger189, what's your opinion? Comment below:

How many times must it be repeated. Your degree doesn't matter at a target.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
May 15, 2022 - 4:23am

You're wrong. You'll only have a competitive profile if you study Philosophy at either Oxford or Cambridge. Those two only.

  • Analyst 1 in PE - LBOs
May 15, 2022 - 4:53am

A degree in Philosophy (or Classics for that matter) from Oxford or Cambridge is probably seen as superior to a degree in Economics from Oxford, Cambridge (or needless to say LSE).

Analytical (and efficient reading) skills like no other would have.

  • Business School in CorpStrat
May 18, 2022 - 10:26am

Pretty much this. If I did undergrad at a target and wanted to do IB, I probably would have majored in an interest of mine - History.

At semi-targets, it is possible to get away without a econ/finance background.

At non-targets, if you aren't business/finance - very rare. I have never seen it.

  • Analyst 1 in PE - LBOs
May 15, 2022 - 4:59am

OP see above, if its Philosophy (or any Joint Honors) BA from either Oxford or Cambridge, you probably can't be any better set in terms of degrees. Note though you'll still need to do the work with networking, understanding technicals, etc. I'd argue someone who does Philosophy (or as mentioned above Classics) from Oxford/ Cambridge, networks well and comes to interview with a good understanding of technicals would be far more impressive than someone who's just regurgitating nonsense from their Finance/ Accounting course.

Philosophy is highly respected insofar as it tends to draw very clever/ analytical types, it trains you well in logic (helpful when it comes to things like modelling logic and understanding an investment thesis), and it makes you good at writing (also useful). Also, having deep knowledge of the ancient world is also just cool and useful to have anyway (especially if you know it on top of the technicals).

If it's Warwick (or LSE etc), it's a different matter. PPE there might be one thing, but pure Economics might be better to stick to otherwise.

May 15, 2022 - 5:08am
phil57, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks, completely agree with you and yes of course i will be learning technicals like Modeling and couple of programming basics on the side. 

Most Helpful
  • Intern in HF - EquityHedge
May 15, 2022 - 5:56am

^I'm going to go ahead and say this is wrong. In London you are *very* rarely asked in London for either spring weeks or summer analyst positions. Interviews are almost entirely competency and behavioral. The banks which tend to ask the (specific EBs) are pretty crap in London anyway.

Networking doesn't achieve much for most in London either. You don't really get CV pushing/referrals which actually do anything unlike in the states. It is useful for cover letters and talking points though but isn't going to move your application really. Most people who broke into my BB didn't do any networking till they landed the spring/summer.

Learning to model is a complete waste of time, as is the majority of other technicals. (If a bank is asking you technicals when nothing on your CV indicates you would know them for spring week lol. They're likely to not be a very good bank.) Programming is useful to know i guess but you will never use it in IB.

  • Intern in HF - EquityHedge
May 15, 2022 - 6:08am

I've been largely responding to other people's comments and not answered your question. Fwiw I recruited a while ago but have mentored, to a degree, some kids for spring and summer apps this year. I could put you in touch with a couple that did really well if you would like.

Philosophy at Oxbridge is just a degree, no one at a BB/EB is going to be impressed by it. Simply put, most people at these banks studied something hard at a good school so your degree isn't really adding value, its just a box for them to tick. You can leverage a non-standard degree in some interesting ways though, and that can definitely add value to an application. No one is going to reject you or move you forward to first-round interviews on the basis of your degree, even at Oxbridge. Going to a target definitely increases odds of landing something, but its still something small (like from 1% to 3% or something like that). Good luck.

Macro hedge funds in LDN probs won't look at a philosophy degree too kindly, value investing/L/S likely won't care.

May 15, 2022 - 8:25am
phil57, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you for your response. 
I can understand that people with harder degrees might be looked more favorably. I thought about doing Computer Science in uni by trying to learn programming for a couple of days and found it exhausting, that's why I wouldn't think it would be wise to study something you can't score good marks in and don't even enjoy. 
On the other hand I really find Philosophy and Finance interesting to work with, which is why they were the perfect options for me. 

So finally, It will be hard but according to you, can you make it into IB (GS,JPM or EBs like PJT,PWP,LAZ) and continue to HF with a Philosophy degree? 
and I am just starting out so would love an input on any other things i should be learning alongside. 


  • Intern in HF - EquityHedge
May 15, 2022 - 11:34am

Philosophy is a hard degree. My point is no one in the industry will be impressed by whatever school or degree you do. Its just a box for them to tick. The stuff that stands out is the interview performance, charisma, answers to questions etc. You can break in with a philosophy degree, you can't really optimise for GS or LAZ etc tho. Recruiting is probably 80% random, top candidates may end up at UBS and average ones at Morgan Stanley. Apply everywhere.

May 15, 2022 - 1:50pm
kek's ouroboros, what's your opinion? Comment below:

To reiterate some previous points and add some of my own:

1) PPE (or other Philosophy joint honours) at Oxford / the equivalent at Cambridge will serve you well when applying to any top IB role. Unfortunately the gap between Oxbridge and other UK universities is large and you'd be better served doing something with an economics / business / finance (or at least quant) angle if you don't make it to Oxbridge. Unfortunately the reality is that in many ways the UK has an oxbridge or bust mentality and going to these universities will immensely help your personal brand, career progression and network. 

2) there has always been an appreciation for 'random' degrees in UK applicants as it provides intellectual diversity amongst the candidates they hire especially vs. European students that all do something directly related to finance. This I expect to stick around as long as London continues to be a financial hub in Europe. Also, if you're smart it takes about 2 months to catch up with your finance background colleagues in all the technical finance areas that are relevant to IB. When it comes to investing, I would argue having a different academic background can bring an edge as it allows you to approach investment opportunities from a different perspective and spot things that others might not.

3) when coming from a non finance degree, do your technical prep (although you won't be held to the same standards as a finance student) and most importantly craft a coherent story e.g. biochem undergrad wanting to go into Healthcare group

4) lastly, my biggest piece of advice is to just go for the degree that sounds most interesting to you, enjoy the academic experience and don't start thinking about careers too soon. You risk hating your university years otherwise 

May 18, 2022 - 6:47am
WB97, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Oxford PPE and Cambridge Philosophy are very different things. If I got a Cambridge Philosophy CV I would reach for the shelf of arithmetic / mental maths questions in the first interview as my prior expectation would be that the candidate was not numerate (and therefore not suitable). They would need to turn in a competent performance to avoid a ding.

May 18, 2022 - 9:59am
wolfie14, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Not sure about that, I'd argue that a person studying philosophy at a place like Cambridge world definitely have an analytical and sharp mindset.

Even their philosophy entry test has some tricky quick thinking questions which they make you do in front of them at the interview.

  • Analyst 3+ in PE - LBOs
May 16, 2022 - 3:55pm

Agree with the majority of the above but it also depends on your A-Levels. In my opinion, IBs in the UK definitely prefer a degree with some level of quantitative material - the most common degree I've seen in my 5 year career is economics by a mile.Saying that, I do (reasonably regularly) see people that have degrees with no quant skills - politics, philosophy, geography, but they ALL have Maths a level with an A or A*. In fact, when you apply for a lot of Ibanking graduate jobs whilst at uni they will specifically ask if you have maths A level at an A grade or higher - if you don't they will discount you.IMO philosophy at oxbridge is a good degree for banking but I'd still recommend PPE as it's more applicable.If I'm interviewing someone at my PE fund and they've done philosophy at oxbridge il be impressed by their intelligence but il also think - why didn't they choose something more applicable to finance/is it because they didn't plan to work in this field, got a generalist degree and now want to try banking cos they don't know what else to do?Also if you didn't get maths a level then do straight economics (if you can get on the course), to prove you've got some mathematical skills.FYI, I did PPE at one of the better semi targets and have never had trouble getting interviews. It does help that I got an A* in maths a level.

  • Intern in HF - EquityHedge
May 16, 2022 - 7:09pm

PPE is really not more applicable for banking. Banks will definitely question why someone studying philosophy or something non-finance-related are applying, but this is a good thing for OP. Its a question they know they will get and can help them stand out if they answer it well. Econ students tend to make up less than half of SA cohorts these days, which I'd imagine is quite rough since almost every economics student at targets will be applying to them.

Can't comment on PE out of UG though.

May 17, 2022 - 8:48am
emperormonkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Any degree from Oxbridge is good for IB if you have a good GPA however don't forget that you will need to work on technicals a lot on your own time unlike Business/Econ students.

May 20, 2022 - 8:13am
elenoreweight05, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
May 20, 2022 - 4:28pm

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