Undergraduate Target Schools Tier List (2021 Updates)

Hi all, I was hoping to update this list for 2021, with PE placements accounted for. I don't think it would be accurate to exclude this statistic if a school overperforms in PE placements. Additionally, I'm not sure if some of these are accurate. For example, I think Notre Dame, Middlebury, and Georgetown MSB should be higher, and McIntire should be lower.

What do y'all think? Let me know and I will make the edits if they're generally agreed upon.

Tier S++ (Super Target)

Harvard / Yale / Princeton - HYP

Wharton - UPenn's undergrad business school - 4yrs

Stanford - The most prestigious western school

Tier S+ (Target)

UPenn / Dartmouth / Columbia - Mid-tier Ivies. Non-Wharton UPenn is still a target school


Tier S (Target)

Georgetown McDonough - Undergrad business school - 4yrs

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.

Notre Dame Mendoza - Undergrad business school - 4yrs

Duke - The most prestigious southern school

UChicago - The most prestigious midwestern 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

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


U of Illinois Gies (IBA)

Ohio State Fisher (Fisher Futures)

Penn State Smeal (Nittany Lion Fund)

SMU Cox (Alts)

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 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

Edit 1:

  • Stanford up to S++
  • MIT up to S+
  • Duke & UChicago down to S 
  • Georgetown and Notre Dame up to S
  • Villanova, OSU, PSU, Illinois, SMU up to B+

OP has to be a college student. I know in High School everyone viewed Cornell as the “worst” Ivey but it has ridiculously strong placement on the Street. Maybe the schools one tier above it place in roles above my pay grade so I’m just ignorant, but I see A LOT of Cornell representation (especially with their satellite campus on Roosevelt Island now).

Disclaimer: I did not go to Cornell. My school is so far below this list it’s not even funny. I’m just saying what I believe Thanks for attending my TED talk.

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mich's numbers aren't even higher than georgetown's and they have like double the students in Ross lol. it's large gross placement numbers come from being a big school. to place well from mich it takes a similar effort to what it does for kids in the tier below it. Which is FINE btw but going to Duke puts you in a better position for IB/PE than Mich bc it takes "less" effort to get to the same place i feel. that said, when everyone's grinding as they do at mich, it becomes the normal. so for me, i guess mich has the numbers of duke, but they have to work harder than Mendoza/MSB/Stern kids so yeah. not that it really even matters but i think it should be noted that mich is good because their kids work for everything they get. you see it on the street too, these kids grind harder than Tier A+/A schools to get the results they do. I consider myself a grinder and when I was still recruiting I'd be fucking slammed (i go to a tier A+) and then I'd talk to my (now) ex-gf at Mich and just feel bad at how much work they had to do from day 0 just to compete. Respect. I wouldn't go there over my tier A+ even though they're technically higher according to this list, but respect.

Given the Tier A-/B+ is tiny and the non-target tier is huge I would bump a few into that category especially considering there is quite a difference between say Villanova and Minnesota.

The non targets I would bump to A-/B+ include (In no order):

Villanova - has historically been a pretty strong school for placement

Illinois (Gies IBA) - Heavily skewed towards strong Chicago placement but decent overall. Very little relative NYC presence.

OSU (Fisher Futures) - Historically average but now rapidly growing presence in NYC - some of my peers have mentioned this. Historically decent presence Chi

PSU (Nittany Lion Fund) - Strong placement among NYC BBs (BAML)

SMU (Alts) - Strong placement to Houston EB/BB, OK placement to NYC BB/EB

Maybe UGA and GT as well

Why do you say McIntire should be lower? I can tell you we send at least 1 or 2 (3-5 for larger banks) to just about every single bank on the street each year. Which is pretty impressive considering a typical McIntire class size (i.e. for the entire grade) is only around 350 students, and not everyone wants to do banking in the first place.

Most Helpful

Could argue Stanford, MIT, Cornell, Brown, Georgetown, and Notre Dame should all be a tier higher (maybe even two for Georgetown). Not too much interest in IB / PE at Stanford and MIT but there should be no shortage of opportunities from those two schools. 


Probably a case of just letting people know you're actually interested in what they have to offer, and then they'll offer it for S/MIT, right? 

Would generally agree. Not sure if MIT will get you the same PE looks directly out of undergrad so that's why I might have Stanford a half notch ahead. If you're fortunate enough to get into either school, you should be more than fine.


Duke should be a tier lower (or cornell/ross/stern a tier higher), not because it's placement is bad, but because Cornell/Ross/Stern have as good or better placement. Georgetown and Notre Dame should also be a tier higher probably. Would definitely choose GT over UVA, finances nonwithstanding. Per capita, Notre Dame likely places better than UVA too. Also, UT Austin McCombs in Houston/Dallas is basically Berkeley Haas for SF/LA IMO, so I would put them on the same level. I also think Vandy places way more than Northwestern in Finance. Northwestern is almost all consulting.

I don't think I said any controversial opinions. Seems like every commenter agrees loosely with this.

I see this take by interns all the time and it blows my mind. I don’t know where the notion that Northwestern is all consulting comes from. Pretty easy to get into IB from NU based on what I saw. Also, could name someone at about every bank I can think off just off my graduation class.

Also, Notre Dame is stupidly prevalent. As an outsider, I think I see them as associates about as much as Wharton. 

Gotta agree with this. Am in NYC and I see a fair amount of NU grads everywhere. While I still agree that the school is consulting focused, it's definitely possible to land a job on Wall Street and I'd consider it a target. And Notre Dame's representation is honestly insane. My brother went there so I'm a little bit biased but I've definitely met more people from ND than Brown/UVA. I've seen about as many ND people as Ross/Duke honestly. IMO it belongs in the S bracket as well. There are a ton of Cornell/Stern people on the street so maybe I'd move them a tier up too; they're at least in-line with Duke. I went to UChicago and I feel like Cornell/Stern belong in the same bracket, placement-wise. Less prestigious institutions but place better.

McCombs recruits well in Houston / Dallas because it's an undesirable location, and to be honest O&G banking is on its last leg. No one from a top West Coast or East Coast school is dying to recruit in Houston / Dallas, therefore making it less competitive. While on the other hand, tech banking in LA / SF is much more competitive and desirable - students from schools like UCB / UCLA compete directly with other top notch Mid-West / East Coast schools. UT Austin isn't even close to being a semi-target outside of Texas...

It's GU btw, not GT - that's georgia tech retard

and the school doesn't compare to Ross/McIntire or even Haas lately in FO placement (last 3-5 years)

per capita is dumb too, nobody is picking ND over the former schools bc it's smaller - all that matter is alumni representation across the board + having a recruiting team/pipelien at every bank, which all three of the former schols have - nd just has a few banks that they do excellent at and that's about it

GU gross #'s are better too 

(3:57). We also sent like double digit kids to BX alone this year. That's ridiculous without even noting how small of a school we are. Mich and UVA are cool af but they're no Georgetown when it comes to recruiting. I used to think otherwise but the data is clear. And also, it's not about gross rep on the street. Once you hit a critical mass of people working on the street (which GU, UVA, Mich have), you should care much more about what % of kids wanting to do IB/PE at prestigious shops are getting them. its a significantly higher percentage at Georgetown.

I generally agree with this. Duke is an unbelievable school but not as good for finance as the school is in general. But that's not to say that they don't place an ok number into excellent IB/PE roles. I'd still say, though, that for IB recruiting, Cornell, GT and Stern are definitely stronger. Also, Cornell, GT, and Stern operate above UVA. UVA is one of, if not, the best state school but not as strong as these schools.

I remember, a few years ago, before ranking schools and prestige-whoring became common, there was only one thread that popped up on WSO when you googled "best schools for wall street" or something along those lines. It had Duke and Wharton listed at the top, above everything else, including HYP, and for some reason, everyone on this forum just went along with it and agreed with it, partly for cultural/social reasons, which over time got warped and confused for placement. Because of that thread, I feel like to this day, Duke gets almost overrated in a sense, when there are other comparable or better schools like Columbia, Dartmouth, Cornell, Stern, Ross, Georgetown, Notre Dame. Yeah, Duke is a great school, but its not HYPSW. 

Just want to check in with all the people getting heated about this and remind you it ain’t that deep. 

pretty stupid we argue about this so much when almost every single person contributing to this thread is already in undergrad or IB. Dick measuring your school’s IB placement (the only purpose of this thread - be honest, how many high school kids will actually see this and act on it?) is not a fruitful use of time and energy 

Are you telling me that the 50 high schoolers on this forum, 40 of whom will end up at a non-target state school, will not be able to make use of this information and better their careers and college experiences? The 2021 rankings are COMPLETELY different than the 2020 rankings man, you gotta see that. We need to keep the high schoolers updated for their own good!

Funny you say that. I am an international HS Senior and Ive been accepted at USC and Georgetown this year. I was 100% going to USC because it is famous in my country and never heard of Georgetown, but this thread changed my mind.

international student as well, not as a top student as the other guy, but this still helped me. I almost choose to go to northeastern rather than SMU if haven't seen this, never heard of SMU before.

I would put NYU, UVA, and UCLA down one tier and Williams/Amherst up one tier. They aren't targets in the traditional sense, but have good placement and less competition for IB spots. 

Also, it's not clear how location factors into this. UCB would be S or S+ for SF banks but A for NYC. Opposite would be true for NYU, for example. 

Yeah BC places pretty well. I’m incoming 2022 SA for GS from another scjool (ND, GT, UCB), and they took the same amount of SAs than us.

Gtown is definitely not a low target. Almost everybody who pursues IB ends up at a BB/EB.Same with ND, def a full blown target.BC I think should be a low target. Their presence presence keeps increasing, and top banks either are taking more SA/super days for them, or new banks are starting to set up OCR opportunities for BC students. Still a little brother to ND and Gtown haha.Source: I went to gtown and am I'm at a group WSO loves to fetishize. My roomie is in the same group from BC.

I think while umich and uva are solid school. I don’t think they place better compared to Notre dame/Georgetown. ~2000 students per grade vs. 4000 and 7000, I think it would be easier to get into IB when the school is significantly smaller and can dedicate more resources/slots per person

you're exactly right. i go to GU and have a lot of friends at mich/uva. They place as well as us (similar numbers but we're obviously smaller), but they have to work much harder to do so. Respect to them though, they're the best at work hard/play hard. Even their clubs make them do coffee chats with everyone else in the club so that when they have to do them for recruiting they're prepared. and i thought GU clubs were rough. unreal grind. I'd def choose GU over Mich given how hard it seems to shine there. Dope school tho, being a cool state school with great sports kinda makes it all worth it lol. their parties are kinda overrated tho but who cares.

Move Dartmouth down.

Everyone knows HYP are top of the ivies, Columbia & now Penn are mid, and Brown, Cornell and Dartmouth are considered “bottom.”

I don't go to Dartmouth, but freshmen year I was Columbia, didn't like it, made a spreadsheet of target schools and their MFPE outcomes for transfer purposes, and Dartmouth was 3rd on that list, right behind Penn and Harvard, on a per capita basis. Ending up getting into HYPS so didn't go there. Not saying I would pick Dartmouth over Yale/Princeton/Stanford for just this reason, but I don't think Dartmouth is any worse than Non-Wharton Penn or Columbia. Small alumni base but one that is culty and will pull for you hard.

Yeah, it's almost unheard of and completely un-respected in Academia and one of the lowest tiered ivies overall, along with Brown, but it still has weight in Finance.

Georgetown is waaaaaay off. They’re top 5 or so annually sending ppl to FO finance by headcount.  

List is fairly good but becoming more and more irrelevant.  Unis are not as sorted as they were pre 20 years ago.  Now admissions wants to create a class that places measures above scholastics etc.  I may find a better candidate at Penn state than Princeton... would not have been true in 1990.

As schools are not as monolithic into themselves they are all becoming "more the same by becoming more diverse"...like regional mall stores vs bespoke/ boutique.  The school you get into is more random instead of really based on fit on your scores, ability, personality. Hiring folks look across an increasingly wider group of schools.  There will be fewer true target schools and almost all in top 300 become semi targets...the target becomes the individual.  Do what does this mean?

Personal connections and high grades become even more critical, esp high freshman gpa.

Disagree with this. The Ivy league still has plenty of talent, more so today than 20 years ago given how competitive it is to get in now. 

Issue is most of the top talent does not want to do finance anymore, hence why you need to dip down to penn state to recruit.