Berkeley Haas vs NYU Stern (Undergrad)

Hey everyone,

I've been admitted to both schools and am having a tough time choosing (cost isn't an issue). Looking to target finance, specifically BB/EB Investment Banking. I'm indifferent to starting a career on the East vs West coast, though NYC seems more exciting to me. Eventually want to end up on West Coast later in career though, as family is west.

I know Stern and Haas are powerhouses for their respective regions, but simply put, which school would offer more opportunities to enter high finance? Currently learning toward Stern because of NYC, intern opps, and I've been told it holds more prestige in the finance world (is this true?). I know thoughts on Berkeley and NYU cultures are highly polarized, but I can't visit the schools to see where I envision myself bc of quarantine. Open to all perspectives!

Additional Note: Can anyone speak to the buy-side recruiting at either school? I read that Stern is recruited at the undergrad level from KKR, Point72, etc. Not too sure about Haas. Assume Stern has the edge bc of location, but am definitely not certain.

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Comments (33)

Most Helpful
Apr 30, 2020 - 10:30pm

I think NYU Stern is a better deal. I believe unless you're in a special program, you aren't guaranteed admission into Haas. Also, Stern will just have better banking placement into NYC while Haas will have the advantage on the west coast. I think both schools will be very competitive, so I don't think it is smart to be thinking about going straight to buyside (as maybe only the top superstars at each schools can pull that off and you just can't say right now you'll be one of them). Good luck!

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Apr 30, 2020 - 10:40pm

Awesome, thank you for your insight! Assuming I would get into Haas, would you still say Stern offers more finance opps with regard to BB/EB IBD? Also, do you think working in Finance in NY opens up more doors later on, as opposed to working in Finance in SF?

Apr 30, 2020 - 10:55pm

A bird in your hand is worth two in the field. Stern is 100% worth it just because you don't want to go into the lottery at Haas at come out empty handed. However, even if you were to go to Haas, Stern would be better for getting competitive investment banking jobs. NYC finance and SF finance are geared more towards different things imo. SF finance (and thus Haas) might be better if you want tech or venture capital. Stern will be 100x better for NYC finance which will be more classic IB, PE, and HF opportunities. One thing is though, you need to be sort of temper your expectations. Everyone at Stern wants to do investment banking and there are only so many "BB/EB IBD" jobs to go around. Just focus on getting good grades next year and joining the right clubs.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Apr 30, 2020 - 11:01pm

I think stern is better for recruiting but I don't like stern kids. Selfish, had very little outside of finance, living in the shadow of not making it to ivy

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  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Apr 30, 2020 - 11:16pm

Thank you for the response! Yeah, I've definitely heard some stories about the stereotypical Sternie. But I've also heard some bad things about Berkeley as well, so I dont really know what to think between the two cultures.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Apr 30, 2020 - 11:38pm

Don't know much about Haas tho. Heard from Hamilton Lin, founder of WST. He doesn't like stern kids even though he is one.

Apr 30, 2020 - 11:44pm

Haas is a better school, Stern will give you more opportunities for IB/PE. I would personally take Haas, especially considering you want ro end up in the West Coast. Banking scene in SF is smaller, but very appealing. They mostly do work in tech and healthcare. Honestly both are good options, but UC Berkeley is just a stronger institution

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
May 1, 2020 - 12:04am

Another valid point. Berkeley is an overall more prestigious school than NYU. In terms of East vs West Coast, would you say, however, that it would be relatively easy to move from NY HQs to SF Satellite offices, as opposed to the other way around (if I were to take Stern for the NYC experience).

May 1, 2020 - 1:45am

I believe going from NY to SF is easier than the other way around assuming you're in the right coverage/product groups. SF banking is centered around tech and healthcare so you'd want to be in a similar coverage group or product group with good deal flow if you're considering going to SF later. NY also has more analyst openings overall than SF

May 1, 2020 - 12:09am

Cal alum here. NYU definitely has better east coast exits, their curriculum is designed to teach finance, and better alum network overall. Cal has good west coast exits into tech finance, curriculum is utter garbage for finance, and alum network is very dependent on which organization you join (orgs are a necessity given it's such a large public school). Speaking of orgs, from what I remember the DSP chapter at Cal is legendary and places almost all of the school's top exits that give Cal the ranking it has right now.

tldr go with NYU stern if you're dead set on east coast and finance

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
May 1, 2020 - 1:04am

Thank you for your perspective! I will definitely look into DSP, and thanks for the insight into Cal's curriculum!

May 1, 2020 - 1:18am

No worries! Also forgot to mention 2 things based on my experiences having gone through recruiting and everything

1) Haas really doesn't make a difference when applying for banking internships, it just makes life easier for coursework since the curve is more favorable and course content isn't as theoretical. I've personally seen more just as many Econ majors end up at top banks (GS/MS/Q) from Cal as I've seen from the Haas side. Speaking of coursework, Cal curve is pretty tough and notorious for grade deflation - definitely unfavorable for finance where high GPA matters so much

2) I'd highly recommend against buyside out of undergrad. Know 3 people who went straight to PE and they all regret doing so, and already looking for HF opportunities / lateral exits but headhunters are giving the IB analysts higher pref (excl. BX and SLP analyst program). Banking is the time-proven method to place on the buyside, and in the off-chance you realize finance isn't for you, the non-finance community will always know what a Goldman or MS is, not what a KKR is. Associates at PE shops who were ex-bankers are effectively the equivalent of a super analyst at an IB shop, so imagine being a FT analyst now at those PE shops; you'd essentially be a permanent intern and probably end up spending all your time sourcing and doing gruntwork instead of building models and more value-add work that requires some thinking

  • Intern in ER
May 1, 2020 - 12:37am

Went to 5ish super days during recruiting season. Every single one of them had multiple NYU kids there (my JPM super day had nearly a half-dozen!). I definitely saw more kids from NYU than any other school.

I suspect that maybe the bar for a super day invite is lower for them. After all, if I make the cut for a super day (or you if you go to Haas), HR has to pay for an airplane & hotel room. If an NYU student makes it, it's just a subway ride.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
May 1, 2020 - 1:50am

If you are dead set on NYC IB go to Stern. If you want to go into west coast IB either LA or SF, choose Berkeley. One thing to consider between NYC vs West Coast is that pretty much every product and coverage group and every bank will be in NYC. Analyst classes are larger but you end up competing with more schools. SF does host the majority of technology groups and many healthcare groups, while LA has a lot of media and industrials groups. Sponsors groups and M&A groups are also present in both cities. As for school culture, Berkeley will offer more of the large state school experience if that matters to you while I've heard NYU kind of lacks a campus, rather is a bunch of buildings in the city. Still would be a cool experience living in NYC though. Either way, if you are a smart and hardworking person, you can definitely break into banking at both schools.

Also wouldn't bank on buyside recruitment out of undergrad, those spots are usually for the 1-2 students at the very top of the most elite universities. While its definitely possible to break into MF buyside from undergrad at both schools it will be very difficult. Most of the people that I have seen do this had either insane connections or were lucky enough to work at a BB IBD as a freshman or sophomore. It's doable, but theres a reason why there is an established pipeline of IB to PE.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
May 1, 2020 - 2:06am

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