Cambridge vs UChicago undergrad for IBD?

I'm wondering how Cambridge University and UChicago Economics major compare if you want to go into investment banking and/or management consulting? I have offers from both universities, and I know I want to do an MBA in the US after a couple years of work experience. Would Cambridge hinder my chances in the US? How do the reputation of the two schools compare for recruiters?

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (22)

Apr 5, 2021 - 4:49pm

Congratulations! Both are top schools.

If you are thinking about pursuing a career in the US in the long term, pick Chicago.

It is such a good university and few recruiters have actual experience with Cambridge. I have a classmate who did masters in Cambridge and the recruiters paid little attention to that degree.

Apr 5, 2021 - 4:51pm

I'm no expert on American colleges, but if you wanted to start a career in the U.K. Cambridge / Oxford / LSE is as good as it gets. Also, for an MBA later on, having Cambridge + reputable IB can't possibly look bad.

If you wanted to start a career in the US, then applying from the U.K. to US positions would clearly be more nuanced/difficult, though I think you'd still get good name recognition.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Apr 5, 2021 - 5:02pm

though I think you'd still get good name recognition.

Anecdotally, I know a few people who went to Oxford/Cambridge and it was very hard for them to come back to the US. Oxbridge gets much lower traction on the US job market than one might expect, so something good to keep in mind for OP

Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
Apr 5, 2021 - 7:11pm

That makes sense, although I am also thinking about how Cambridge is at the top in UK but Chicago also faces competition from the Ivies in the US. Does your undergrad still matter once you have a few internships / experiences under your belt? For example, if I go to Cambridge and get UK internships, but come back to US for MBA, would that give me more flexibility to work in the US?

Apr 5, 2021 - 8:02pm

I think you're thinking about this entirely incorrectly - just because Cambridge is in the UK doesn't mean magically all comparisons to US schools disappear? Cambridge also competes with Oxford and LSE at least, yeah? And I know Cambridge has different schools, some much more "prestigious" than the others - isn't that a factor too? My point is there'll be competition regardless. Also you're skipping a bunch of steps in between internships and an MBA

Fact of the matter is both are great schools, but don't pick where you go to college because you're so laser focused on trying to optimize for IB or consulting - both will be more than good enough to get you there, so instead pick based on where you would like to work after graduating and also culturally where you think you'd fit best.

Edit: I studied abroad at Cambridge and I loved my time there, but it's definitely very different from going to school in the US.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Apr 5, 2021 - 7:17pm

If you want to be in the USA long-term, go to Chicago. If you want to not be in the USA, go to Cambridge. It is a pretty straightforward answer on this one, they're both great schools, great programs, prestigious, etc. but they don't hold up as well in each other's homes

  • Analyst 1 in AM - Equities
Apr 5, 2021 - 9:10pm

For business, Chicago is considered better than roughly half of the ivies. Every person in the world of finance considers UChicago to be a top tier school. Whereas outside of Europe, you are going to get mixed responses with respect to Cambridge. But if you stay in London for your entire career it wouldn't matter

Most Helpful
  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Apr 6, 2021 - 1:16am

Don't necessarily agree with this. Cambridge is world renown which in itself will draw more appeal than UChicago in any part of the world. Cambridge is equivalent to HYPSM. In the US, of course UChicago will place better but that's only because of logistics.

Apr 11, 2021 - 6:51am

Don't agree with this either. Even if Oxbridge doesn't actually have the same education quality as HYPSM, in terms of global reputation they're firmly on that level (and above Yale and Princeton outside of North America). Chicago is simply another one of those top schools (there's a good 30 of them globally) that would be grouped as "excellent, but not the best of the best," particularly as most people outside of America aren't familiar with the Mid-West. Aside from Chicago, in America that's universities like Columbia, Duke, and Berkeley, in Europe that's places like LSE, Imperial, and ETH, in Asia it's your NUS, Tsinghua, and Tokyo types. 

If you want to work outside the US, the reputations of Cambridge and Chicago are simply not comparable. Cambridge is not Harvard, but it's in the top half a dozen schools globally for brand recognition. Chicago is known in the business world and in economics academia, and highly respected for it, but it's basically unknown by most "normal" people in most parts of the world. That said, in terms of educational quality and recruiting in the respective countries, Chicago is still a probably better choice over Cambridge - recruiting out of targets in the UK is a lot harder than recruiting out of targets in America. 

  • Analyst 1 in AM - Equities
Apr 5, 2021 - 9:16pm

Girls are uglier in England. But then again there are so many Large Marge's in the United States. So it's a coin-toss

  • Intern in IB - Ind
Apr 6, 2021 - 2:30am

Depends on whether or not you're a US citizen. I would say if you're not a US citizen, just stay in the UK and go to London IB before applying to US MBAs later down the road. As an international student myself, I can tell you how irritating it is to not be able to work easily for internships etc. throughout your years in college. It's a pain in the ass and you have very little freedom if you wanna just work for a startup during the semester or do something cool in your freshman/sophomore summer. Also recruiting is a bitch junior year if you need visa sponsorship (which you will if you're a UK citizen). It seems like with the Biden administration this might improve over the next couple years, and so it will be easier if you come from your MBA.

  • Intern in IB - Ind
Apr 6, 2021 - 4:34pm

From off the top of my head, I would say UK would be easier, but I would look into the work authorization for both countries yourself. This should be your number 1 factor in my opinion, both are great unis and countries otherwise

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

June 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (9) $911
  • Vice President (35) $364
  • Associates (202) $234
  • 2nd Year Analyst (115) $151
  • Intern/Summer Associate (97) $145
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (27) $145
  • 1st Year Analyst (420) $131
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (338) $82