MBA / PE Decision Help

Was just promoted to associate at a reputable UMM/MM firm in a T2 city (think Chicago/SF/Boston) after having done 2 years in its analyst program. However, I can't see myself at the fund long-term (pretty f*cking sweaty). Thinking to next steps in my career, I was fortunate to be accepted to Wharton, Columbia, and Booth in their 2+2 programs when I was a senior in college. My tentative plan is to do 1 year as an associate at my current fund, then enroll in the 2025 class at one of the above schools. For context, I'm not 100% convinced that I'd like to do private equity in the long-term, which is partly driving the bschool decision.

Two questions I could use some advice on:

  • Would I be stupid to turn down Wharton for one of Columbia / Booth? I'd really prefer to be in Chicago / NYC for bschool
  • Between Columbia and Booth, which would set me up better if I did want to go back to PE after school? FWIW, I'd count my pre-MBA experience pretty strong, having closed a couple platforms, add-ons, and sold a company

Based on the insights from Wall Street Oasis, here's a breakdown to help you make an informed decision regarding your MBA choices, particularly between Wharton, Columbia, and Booth:

  1. Choosing Between Wharton, Columbia, and Booth:

    • Wharton: Known for its strong finance reputation and extensive alumni network, Wharton could be a powerful choice if you're considering a return to private equity or venturing into other high-profile finance roles. The Lauder program at Wharton also offers a significant international exposure which you might find valuable.
    • Columbia and Booth: Both schools are prestigious, but their strengths vary slightly. Columbia, being in NYC, offers unparalleled access to the financial industry, which could be beneficial for networking and in-semester internships. Booth, on the other hand, is celebrated for its rigorous academic environment and strong emphasis on analytical finance and economics. The school's reputation has been surging, and it has a strong presence in the private equity sector.
  2. Returning to PE Post-MBA:

    • Columbia: Given its location in Manhattan, Columbia provides excellent opportunities for networking with finance professionals and securing internships during the semester, which can be crucial for re-entering the PE space.
    • Booth: Booth has a robust finance curriculum and has performed well in placing graduates into PE roles. The school's analytical rigor and the Chicago method of inquiry can provide you with a strong foundation in financial decision-making.

In summary, if your preference is to stay in Chicago or NYC, both Booth and Columbia are excellent choices with strong finance and PE placements. Columbia might have a slight edge due to its proximity to the PE hub in NYC, but Booth is equally commendable with a solid track record in finance. Choosing between them could come down to where you feel you'll fit best culturally and professionally. If you're leaning towards a more academic and analytical approach, Booth could be the way to go. If immediate access to the finance industry and networking are your priorities, Columbia might serve you better.

Sources: Booth vs. Columbia for MBA, Q&A: Reflections on 1st Semester at Columbia Business School, Stanford vs Wharton vs Booth vs Columbia for PE, MBA decision: Wharton or Booth?, Wharton, Harvard, and Columbia

I'm an AI bot trained on the most helpful WSO content across 17+ years.

All good options and obviously the hiring market could radically change by the time you intern/recruit for full time roles, but in this current environment I'd lean Wharton because in my experience plenty of firms (rightly or wrongly) do favor it over B/C for Sr. Assoc/VP. Then you can just go up to New York some weekends to get your fill of the city.


Columbia or booth. Columbia gives you a great brand and access to NYC. Downside is that competition is fierce for anything in NYC.

Booth is an up and coming b school. Heard it’s a great culture and solid placement. Also, you have your top choices from the Chicago area which is an expanding finance city.

Wharton is obviously great but generally the same with prestige. Philadelphia is a shithole and the HBS/GSB crowd has better access to opportunities in markets that Wharton typically shoots for (SF/NYC).

Booth or Columbia. Probably Booth in your circumstance

Most Helpful

Posting anon because of a relatively small community. Went to Kellogg. Had MM/UMM PE experience pre-MBA experience and am now at another (somewhat larger) fund.

My general take is that outside of H/S MBA schools are generally pretty fungible. Especially with Columbia, Booth, Kellogg there is essentially no difference in PE opps and if you have the right background you can get UMM/MF interviews with each. I would entirely base this decision on personal fit — Kellogg is prob the most fun in a traditional college kind of way, Booth has the most well known academic / faculty experience, and CBS is in New York and has a bunch of rich international students that might let you use their Yachts.

Biggest difference with Wharton is that you have to do a lot more legwork coming out of the other schools. All the MF/UMM firms do OCR or resume drops at Wharton which makes life easy while you have to hustle to get in front of firms coming from the others. Once you’re in the room it doesn’t matter but it’s challenging getting in the loop on processes as you need to network / have headhunters pull you in vs. just applying directly. 


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