Comprehensive Undergraduate Target Schools Tier List 2020

Hey everyone!

This is a tier list I made as a HS Junior/Senior based on opinions from WSO, Poets&Quants, USNews, CollegeConfidential, Reddit, etc.
As I am done with the whole college app process, I'm sharing this list in hopes of helping you develop your own college lists.

Feedback is appreciated, but please leave positive criticisms.

Disclaimer: This is purely a list created as a reference for high schoolers. It's an anecdote from a frosh so please take it with a grain of salt. Seriously, you shouldn't choose your school based on this list. Choose where you want to go to, based on your best fit. This is just a way to get a general idea.

In general order...

Tier S++ (Super Target)

Harvard / Yale / Princeton - HYP
Wharton - UPenn's undergrad business school - 4yrs

Tier S+ (Target)

Stanford - The most prestigious western school
UPenn / Dartmouth / Columbia - Mid-tier Ivies. Non-Wharton UPenn is still a target school
Duke - The most prestigious southern school
UChicago - The most prestigious midwestern school

Tier S (Target)

NYU Stern - Undergrad business school - 4yrs
Cornell Dyson - Part of the Ivy League. Undergrad business school - 4yrs
Cornell / Brown - Part of the Ivy League. Non-Dyson Cornell is still a target school.
UMich Ross - Public School. Undergrad business school - 4yrs
UVA McIntire - Public School. Undergrad business school - 2yrs

Tier A+ (Low Target to Top Semi-Target)

Williams - The most prestigious LAC
Georgetown McDonough - Undergrad business school - 4yrs
Notre Dame Mendoza - Undergrad business school - 4yrs
UCB Haas - Public School. Undergrad business school - 2yrs
Amherst - A great LAC

Tier A (Semi-Target)

WashU Olin - Undergrad business school - 4yrs
Middlebury - A great LAC - not as well known as Williams/Amherst
UNC KF - Public School. Undergrad business school - 3yrs
Indiana Kelley IBW - Public School. Undergrad business school - 4yrs
USC Marshall - Undergrad business school - 4yrs
UT Austin McCombs - Public School. Undergrad business school - 4yrs
UCLA - Public School
CMC - A great LAC - not as well known as Williams/Amherst
Emory Goizueta - Undergrad business school - 2yrs
BC Carrol - Undergrad business school - 4yrs
CMU Tepper - Undergrad business school - 4yrs

Tier A-/B+ (Low Semi-Target to Non-Target)

Bowdoin - A great LAC - more recognizable than the LACs listed below
Wake Forest
Washington & Lee / Colgate / Hamilton / Wesleyan - Great LACs

Tier B (Non-Target but still recognizable) Not in order

Colby / Bates / Davidson - Good LACs
Georgia Tech Scheller
BU Questrom
College of William and Mary Mason
Northeastern D'amore McKim
U of Illinois Gies
Ohio State Fisher
Penn State Smeal
U of Florida
U of Maryland Smith
U of Minnesota Carlson
Miami of Ohio
U of SC Darla Moore
Baruch Zicklin
U of Georgia Terry
Fordham Gabelli

Feedback is appreciated, but please leave positive criticisms.

**Edit: **

Thank you for your input.

Stanford down to Tier S+ (from S++)
Brown up to Tier S (from A+)
Vanderbilt down to Tier A (from A+)
Emory up to Tier A (from A-)
Added Rutgers to Tier B
Amherst seems to be lacking recently compared to Williams so I will hold off on editing it.

UPenn up to tier S+ (from S)
MIT down to tier S (from S+)
UVA up to Tier S (from A+)
Williams down to Tier A+ (from S)
Northwestern down to Tier A+ (from S)
BC up to Tier A (from A-/B+)
Added JHU to Tier A-/B+
Added U of SC, Baruch, U of Georgia, Babson, Fordham to Tier B
Added "IBW" Tag to Indiana Kelley
Changed wording for Tier A+ (from "Top Semi-Target")

Middlebury down to Tier A (from A+)
CMC down to Tier A (from A+)

Clarified disclaimer.

Bowdoin up to Tier A-/B+ (from B)
Hamilton up to Tier A-/B+ (from B)
Colby down to Tier B (from Tier A-/B+)

Feedback is appreciated, but please leave positive criticisms.


rankings are usually stupid but tbh this is pretty accurate - one change is that Princeton isn't really a super target for most firms in finance


it's not lol most EBs have no on campus presence and most BBs know it's a good school but like you said, they know there aren't a ton of interested kids so they don't regard it as a top target

Most Helpful

This post right here is everything that’s wrong with having a bunch of 12 year olds flood the site.

You’re telling me one of the best schools in the universe doesn’t place well in finance? Absolutely moronic.

Two buddies who went there got jobs at hedge funds without even going through any sort of a formal recruiting process because the alumni network was so supportive.

I’m guessing you go to like San Diego state and try to post comments like these for the false assurance that you’re gonna do big things.


There aren't a ton of kids at Princeton who are interested in finance? Tell that to the JPM interviewer who told me that there are more Princeton alums there than from any other school.

Honestly just the fact that you said this makes me seriously question if you actually go to Princeton. The biggest inside joke throughout campus is that everyone goes into IB.

Source: I actually go there.


agreed. BC is a target for pretty much every BB except like 1 and a good number of EB's. sends atleast 70 kids into banking and the number grows every year


I went to Princeton and I made an account just to add on that this is a horseshit take. The Pton school teams at BBs are massive and fiercely loyal, and several MDs themselves travel to recruit on campus for the evening for every event. Princeton gets the same number if not more interview and superday candidates as Harvard and Yale despite having 25% fewer undergrads. EBs and PE funds get resumes through the career center and cold email students (yes, not the other way around) to set up informational interviews and coffee chats. Sure, MM banks don't recruit on campus - that's because nobody takes their offers so few Princeton alums work there and its not even worth their time. You claim to go to Princeton, but either you screwed things up for yourself and are jaded or you're living with your head under a rock. Peace


I would agree, it is at worst a low semi target and should be In the semitarget with UT, USC, and Vandy


Brown, Haas and Georgetown seem a tad low. Brown for sure.

This is just from my personal experience in finance seeing these slums over there years. Also a little controversial, but Stanford’s distance from NYC and focus on tech make finance recruiting sort of second tier there and take it out of the spotlight. There’s a lot less in the way of resources so while the opportunities and OCR are certainly there, it’s marginally tougher. Would say they are prestige-wise still a super target but from a practicality perspective getting to where you want in finance - a smidge below HPYW. VC and West Coast is a big big exception of course and you get to come up with the easiest story for why you want to do TMT/Tech banking.


Yeah Brown is definitely on the same tier as all of the other Ivies. Fewer people tend to go into IB at Brown but that's because fewer people recruit, but all of the same opportunities are there.


I agree with this assessment for the three schools but have a different viewpoint for Stanford (where many of my friends went). All banks recruit at Stanford, but Stanford kids don’t really go into banking. Almost all of my Stanford finance friends went directly into VC, UMM PE, quant or MF analyst roles. Even one of my friends who is not close to top talent at Stanford went to a decent group at GS.

I went to Cal so that’s how I know these people, but the recruiting at Stanford is in a league of its own and I think they send less to banking because most of these kids are getting looks from buy side (from VC to Growth to Buyout) right out of school and they’re taking it.


This very well might be the case. Things may have changed in the 5+ years since I graduated. When I was there, all the banks certainly recruited and had events there (except I think DB for some reason). If you were on top of your game (which I certainly wasn’t) you could get into the top VCs like Sequoia and Andreesen but it wasn’t common and it wasn’t the pure typical finance kids that could/would do this. I had a friend go to SilverLake directly. the Stanford Finance club (the prep pipeline for OCR) was very exclusive and took only a couple of kids. I’m certain it’s changed but I know for west coast recruiting Stanford is and was unparalleled. GS PSI also used to take a bunch of Stanford kids which is just an oddity due to alums there. When I was going through all this, it was Wharton and Harvard that got the KKR and BX PE analyst looks right out of undergrad. I remember thinking if I had to do it all over again no regrets but it would probably have been a breeze from Wharton/Harvard. I’m really glad to hear we’re crushing it now.


This is purely speculative but I did not see as many Yale and Princeton people at many of my final rounds and don't think they should be ranked as high. A data point from a BB last summer, the top three school (# of undergrad) was Wharton (~40) > Harvard (~20) > NYU (~20). That being said, this BB is only one of many banks and they may have strong pipelines / networks in those schools.


This definitely varies bank to bank. I know they both have strong presences at certain BBs


As a Huntsman graduate (so I'm not biased), College students have the exact same opportunities available to Wharton students. More Wharton students recruit for banking jobs, so more end up at the most coveted firms on campus (GS, JPM, PJT).

Given my experience on both sides of the interview table, a College student who is studying something unique (e.g. astrophysics, history) and has demonstrated interest in business would be a more attractive candidate than the Wharton student studying finance, accounting and management.


Brown is definitely a bit low, no way any Ivy can be considered a semi target. Placement there on a per student recruited basis is very strong, much stronger than Cornell NYU etc which are 1 tier above it as is. Would put it 2 tiers higher towards the bottom of the target category

UPenn and Cornell should probably be one tier higher, as every Ivy is a target.

Seeing these lists makes me realize how much I wish I went to a target lol


Every single year there is a material amount of Dartmouth undergrads that go straight to megafund PE and top hedgefunds. Bain Cap, Sankaty/Bain Credit, Blackstone, TPG, Bridgewater etc.

If anything, given that and the exceptional alum network the school has, you could make an argument for it being in the top tier of this list. Especially given it's an arbitrary list made up by a college freshman and holds no official importance one way or another.


No, it's pretty common knowledge that Dartmouth places lights out. Honestly, within the Ivy League, it probably places third best behind Wharton and Harvard, based on per capita placement, buy-side ops, OCR, alumni network, etc....


I hate to get baited into something like this, but you are going to have to move UVA up to Tier S or S+. This year, UVA became a target for Goldman Sachs. Target for literally every BB except MS (still sends 1 to 2 kids per year) and every EB except Moelis (because UVA students stopped signing return offers there so Moelis stopped recruiting). UVA recruiting is lights out.

Edited: Removed KKR - was misinformed at the time, my mistake.


Can’t speak to KKR specifically but I’d also say McIntire is at least on par with Stern and Ross. Every analyst class I’ve seen has McIntire as one of the “usual suspects”. And I’m not one to split hairs but they’ve been consistently above average analysts where Stern/Ross is more of a mixed bag where you have some of the best in the class and some of the worst at the same time.

Any program that makes you apply as a college sophomore is bound to have more consistent quality than a program that admits 17 year olds.


would push back on stanford being the top tier. There seem to barely be any alum on the street


Move up UVA, Georgetown, and Cal, drop Northwestern down a tier (more a target for consulting than IB, and friends I know there have had trouble recruiting on the street).

UVA and Georgetown's non-business schools also place as well as the b schools at analyst level (Georgetown SFS has most of the top econ/IR kids and most recruiting at UVA is wrapped up before junior year when people start McIntire classes anyways)


Graduated from Stanford last year. This is going to be super long, but I just want to paint the full picture about the school because I've recently noticed a bunch of prospective students are posting on this website, and I want to give a full, updated view (I was on here years ago as a high school senior and remember second-guessing myself for months after choosing Stanford over Princeton and Wharton).

Out of the firms that recruit there, GS MS and BAML have the best presence for NY (bankers fly out and do breakfast sessions, dinners in Palo Alto, etc.). Good chunk go to JPM NY and SF, but not really relevant anymore with their whole removing target schools thing. GS TMT and MS Menlo also have the biggest West Coast group presence for Stanford students. Have seen kids do CS NY and SF. Barclays recruits for Menlo. UBS and Deutsche actually have no presence (saw a rich African international kid do UBS NY SA once, maybe connections). We have a funny thing with Citi where their VC arm did (and still does) projects during the semester for Stanford kids that anyone can sign-up for, and heard people get fast-tracked for NY IB first-rounds if they just do that.

Evercore, Lazard, Centerview and Greenhill have the best EB presence but try to initially recruit you for West Coast offices. These firms do on-campus coffee chats, etc. though so you can easily ask the West Coast bankers and Stanford MDs there to put you in touch with their NY counterparts (I did this as someone targeting NY EBs). Every year there's a few kids that interview/do (~3) Evercore NY.

For buy-side, KKR, Bain Cap, Ares, Permira, Silver Lake and Audax have a great presence, especially Bain Cap (All 2 FT offers last year went to Stanford). General Atlantic and Insight do on-campus coffee chats and GA especially has always taken at least 2 for their 4 or so-person analyst class. JMI and BDT do resume drops and interview kids. All these for NY/Boston, with the exception of Ares, JMI and BDT. Couple of Golden Gate-spinouts would always take 2-3 kids per summer analyst class. Someone correctly pointed out that Blackstone doesn't officially recruit out of Stanford, but every year a couple go to BX superdays before getting rejected. Vista Equity also handed out interviews. If you want to be 100% certain you lock something up in NY, Stanford also has a "study abroad" program in NYC, which boosts your GPA and gets you a ton of free time to network.

For hedge funds, Point72, Bridgewater, DE Shaw and Citadel have a huge presence. VC-wise, Accel and TCV come to mind that recruited heavily for investing, while Andressen tried to get you to do some BS consulting-y portfolio support work.

Not going to touch the quant firms.

So, TLDR, all the above opportunities are available to you as a Stanford kid, and the insane thing is that there's only 50-60 people who're actually gunning for all these things because most business-minded kids are either 1. Gunning for MBB or PM, or 2. Convinced one of Stanford's Mayfield Program/Sequoia/Peter Thiel that you and your half-working brain are good enough to be in a fellowship program, which secures you an ungodly amount of funding for a couple years, parades you around VCs and tech execs, and spoon feeds you to develop a startup post-graduation.

If you have your shit together, you have a great shot at some elite banks and at elite buyside funds, NY or otherwise. And for the few elite firms (ex. PJT and BX) that don't officially recruit, it’s not hard to get interviews. When I was a Senior, I knew some people in my grade and grades below who's dads were heads of IB at places like Lazard and GS, and children of execs (Founders and CEOs) of one of TPG/Warburg/H&F and of two very well-recognizable UMMs. My buddy landed an SA gig at a very, very recognizable PE fund because he boozed regularly with the CEO's kid. Conversely, also heard of a kid who landed a business-y gig at Microsoft and was tight with Gates's daughter. No doubt these kinds of things also happen at a HYP, but think this is the underrated plus-side of top schools no one mentions.


Yeah Harvard would be very hard to pass up because it's the stronger global brand and there's no exclusive opportunities (outside of tech) at Stanford that Harvard kids probably don't also have, even in VC probably. But if I had to do it again, I'd again pick Stanford over all the others. Grade-inflation let my friends and I study engineering, graduate with 3.85+'s, and still have bunch of time for things outside of class. Hopefully I can get into HBS in a few years lol


Not sure if we went to the same Stanford, but the kids getting Sequoia/Andreessen/FF out of college were all... don't know how else to say this, very well-connected. As in: their parents were federal judges or US senators, etc. I remember my first year there, a lot of upperclassmen tried selling me that same vision that at Stanford, you know, that you can party with Sheryl Sandberg and land the next Facebook PM position with a direct path to VP. Or that you could just get a 3.7 and be set for anything. I'm really glad I went — don't get me wrong, the Stanford name is amazing and probably helps a lot in the workplace — but I honestly think this narrative is super toxic and gets a lot of uninformed, first-gen and middle-class kids to believe in dumb fantasies and chase after pipe dreams instead of just working their asses off in class and in recruiting. So I have a slightly different opinion on applying to colleges, which is that prospective students should really try and think (yes, I know it's practically impossible) about what they want to do after they graduate. Find people at those companies, and see which school has the best network of alumni there. Use that to inform your decisions, not vague narratives about partying with tech CEOs and prestige.