Best college major for IB at Ivy?

futbolista's picture
Rank: Chimp | 14

I am currently a freshman at an Ivy League school (HYP) and am trying to choose a major. There is no finance major here, and many upperclassmen major in fields that are hardly related to finance at all (government, psychology, history, etc) and still land internships and ultimately break into Wall Street. Still, I can't help but think that a more quantitative degree (Statistics, Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, etc.) would be more attractive when applying to internships and signal a greater capacity to think quantitatively and analyze data.

Anyone have any insight regarding how firms view different majors during recruitment, if college major even matters at all?

Comments (39)

Jan 2, 2020

Are you crazy? OP is only 18/19 ...

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  • Summer Associate in ER
Jan 5, 2020

Okay Boomer

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Jan 1, 2020

Econ is usually regarded as the closest thing to business/finance. TBH any major at an Ivy is fine

Array

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Jan 1, 2020

Literally whatever you want man. Economics if you want to keep being a nerd

Array

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Jan 1, 2020

God I wish I would've gotten into an Ivy

Gun rights activist
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Jan 1, 2020

Same

Array

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Jan 1, 2020

I can tell your at Harvard lol. But like others have said, you can major in anything. Literally doesn;t matter. All that matters is GPA.

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Funniest
Jan 4, 2020

I can tell "your" not

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Jan 1, 2020

The firms hire the liberal arts kids during the boom times, and the last several years have been boom times.

In tougher times, hiring tightens. And while the main victims of that will probably be the lower-ranked schools, I could also envisionthe weaker majors at the HYP's of the world also getting cut out some degree. Even if they don't, they also have the disadvantage of learning nothing useful.

So yes, you're generally on the right track in terms of picking a real major being a good thing.

Where I disagree with you a bit is the emphasis on data and math. IB and most of finance is much less quantitative than it seems to the outside world. Its more about having a broad general skill set that includes just OK at math. Communication skills are even more valuable.

Personally I think economics is the best education for a finance career and I value my undergrad econ major even more than my finance-focused MBA degree. Finance is just applied econ at the end of the day anyways; if you have the core econ skill set you have the intuition to learn everything else quickly

Bottom line for you is, avoid the purest liberal arts majors but anything else is fair game. Science, engineering, math, computer science, economics. All of that stuff is fine so pick the one where you'll be interested so you can get good grades and learn something.

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Jan 2, 2020

Normally this is true. However Econ is a somewhat subjective field and the quality of the Econ you learn depends on the teachers. When they are Ivy League liberal free thinkers in favor of a one world government to increase efficiency and see tax cuts on businesses as "voodoo economics" the Econ ends up being just a political agenda

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Jan 2, 2020

Oh word did you study Econ at an Ivy?

Gun rights activist
Jan 2, 2020

Agree with you. Econ is the crossover between bullshit and proper science. People who teach bullshit belong in the liberal arts departments but they know Econ has a better image in terms of being somewhat of a actual useful science and at least math-oriented if nothing else. So they hop on that boat instead and peddle their bullshit under the "economist" label. Exhibit A, Paul Krugman.

OP, be careful. Econ can be great but keep an eye out for the phonies.

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Jan 1, 2020

Why not double major? seems like one of the perks of the US university system. I did joint honours maths and econ in the UK (at what i guess would be a semi-target?) and that got me in the door for interviews at a fair few big banks (JPM, Nomura, Macquarie, ING, RBS, etc.).

That said, a lot of my friends in IB (some of the highest performing analysts in their groups) studied history/politics/languages. As long as you're half-decent at maths, it really doesn't matter what you've studied as long as you're clever and not a robot.

Thank you for your interest in the 2020 Investment Banking Full-time Analyst Programme (London) at JPMorgan Chase. After a thorough review of your application, we regret to inform you that we are unable to move forward with your candidacy at this time.

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Most Helpful
Jan 1, 2020

Major in what interests you because that is what will lead you to enjoy your academic experience, maybe actually learn something in college and be a happier, more satisfied person. This can or will have a deep and positive impact into your personal life and improve the quality of your friendships, relationships and networks.

Hopefully this will also make you more of a competent applicant who is getting the most out of a short and potentially awesome 4 year life changing period of life and will be evident to banks etc when you interview with them as a junior or senior in college.

Frankly the last thing one wants is to study something they don't care about, not have a great college experience, get into banking, discover they hate it like a few months in and reflect later on in life about the "missed opportunities" in college. I've heard it more than once. It's not worth it.

Edited to add: in general, getting into banking even at targets is hard. More than half of those applying don't get in. At least via the traditional OCR route. Something to remember.

TLDR: explore and do what interests you (this may take time to figure out). Work hard, do your best to have a complete college experience, have fun and network.

Good luck

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  • Intern in HF - Other
Jun 30, 2020

Have to reiterate the fact that OCR even at a target is not a cakewalk. Citi recruits heavily at my target and out of the probably 70+ kids gunning for banking in my year only a dozen get first rounds in each division (S&T, CM, IB) and those are often the same people. You compete against a smaller, but stronger, pool at a target which can be unforgiving if you aren't on top.

  • Intern in 
Jul 1, 2020

Agreed, at my ivy OCR recruiting is helpful, but also the large number of kids interested in banking makes the process very competitive within the applicant pool.

Jan 2, 2020

Given the school you're at, I'd say whatever major gives you the best path to a 3.5+

"Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry."

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Jan 2, 2020

I can tell you aren't at Pton bc there's a Certificate in Finance that everyone serious about banking would apply to.

If you are at Harvard, a lot of the more serious folks end up cross-registering Sloan courses at MIT.

If you are at Yale you are out of luck

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Jan 3, 2020

Economics, my Harvard-ian friend.

Get Jiggy With It

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Jan 4, 2020

Something humanities. Motherfuckers in IB cannot write for their goddamn lives, from analyst up to partner, and it was always refreshing for me when I interacted with a colleague who could cleanly structure and articulate an argument of any kind.

You know the MDs who write CIMs that are repetitive as hell, creating duplicative sections or hemming and hawing over edits at every turn until you're screwed with an all-nighter right before the night a book goes to production? Their process management tends to flow from a scrambled thought process that comes from not having flexed the qualitative communication and logic muscles enough in their lives. I don't know if you'll get much credit for developing that side of your brain in reviews or whatever, especially as an analyst, but in terms of building a good skillset to succeed, just in life, I would highly recommend something in the liberal arts.

Everything quant you need to know you can learn from an interview guide and a TTS bootcamp. I'm not being flip.

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 4, 2020

Do you really need to learn coding for a Wall Street career if you don't want to be a quant?

  • Prospect in 
Jan 4, 2020

Literally doesn't matter. I go to Columbia and study political science. Doing ER and got a superdays for IB, S&T, and buyside roles too. Just show some interest and keep a decent GPA and you'll be fine

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Jan 4, 2020

Well clearly you didn't get an IB offer if you are still a prospect so good luck with that poli sci major ...

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  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 5, 2020

Savage lmao

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jun 30, 2020

Agree with this even if this person is BS - everybody knows the social sciences/humanities at Ivies are rigorous and will help develop analytical skills. Some people like to think that econ/finance are the only valuable majors for IB, but those kids often lack important skills that come from critically reading dense material and writing. Major in whatever you want.

That said, you still have to do coursework in economics, accounting, etc., so that you can both demonstrate interest and prepare for interviews/internships. You can't just take four years of Latin and then waltz into interviews or networking events without a single clue.

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Jul 1, 2020

agreed. lots of guys on wso seem to think that their finance or accounting major at a state school is rigorous. lmao ivy kids effortlessly self study those things on Saturdays for ~3-4 months and graduate with a history degree but more finance acumen than most of the "hardos" with their "rigorous" BbA iN AcCounTIng. state school kids are more fun to be around generally. their college experience involves way hotter girls. they have to leverage their personality and network harder than ivy kids usually. but don't fool yourself into thinking that you are automatically smarter than a Harvard kid because he didn't major in finance or accounting. At the undergraduate level those subjects require virtually no intellectual ability and can be learned from YouTube

Jan 4, 2020

Got a BB IB internship as a sophomore studying econ at a top state school. Econ at an Ivy is going to look better than my school so I don't think you should have a problem at all if you put in the work

Array

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 5, 2020

Whatever major the girl whose dad's a partner at GS is in lol

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Mar 9, 2020

What about accounting? I want to work an accounter after graduation. Now I am college student and study accounting. But latley I got bad score on math tests. So I want to use help of private math tutor from ezymathtutoring and wiil prepare for next tests.

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Jul 1, 2020
Comment

I have left this site peacefully. The >1.5x MS / SB ratio is interesting. Once my computer updates and removes me from Incognito, I will be washed away like all humans eventually. I don't know when that will happen.

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  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Jul 1, 2020