Duke econ versus Chicago econ

I am currently deciding between 2 universities. Duke versus Chicago. I plan to go into finance afterwards. Question is about the Econ major. I heard UC has a newish business Econ major which is less maths heavy. I realise all Econ majors have some maths but I would rather have less heavy maths & more business and finance. Does anyone have a view about this ?

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Comments (23)

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Apr 15, 2021 - 8:52am

What you study in undergrad is less relevant IMO, especially if it's Econ.

I'm personally a big Duke fan (I went to a target NE). I see they have a much bigger presence everywhere, and you will have much more fun at Duke (sports, socials).

  • Intern in HF - Other
Apr 15, 2021 - 8:55am

I have no insight into your question but I'll add this. 

Dean where I did my UG taught at Chicago for 10-15 years and I got to know her really well. Asked her why she left and said that Chicago was just focused on giving kids busy work. Said that the workloads they assigned were intended to put pressure on and break kids who couldn't cut it. 

I have no idea if that's still the case or if anyone can chime in but I'd go with Duke. Loyal alumni, strong brand, much better weather, better social life,sports (basketball is huge there) and you'd probably have much more balance there. Unless you want to work in Chicago post grad I'd go with Duke.

  • Intern in IB - Ind
Apr 15, 2021 - 9:38am

Go to Duke, Chicago is marginally better academically and brandwise (by a hair) but you'll have so much more fun at Duke

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Apr 15, 2021 - 12:05pm

I have a ton of friends who went to Duke-they loved it their and they weren't even that interested in sports. With that said, if your goal is banking, chicago has a way better presence in the EBs than Duke. Duke has fantastic placement overall, but they certainly lack EB alumni compared to UC. 

Still would choose Duke just bc better campus environment and no grade deflation. Nobody can tell you Duke isn't a great school and it has great branding


  • 1
Apr 15, 2021 - 3:19pm

Full disclaimer: I got into both Duke and UChicago, ultimately chose the latter; definitely made the right choice for myself. I can speak to the UChicago econ experience. While the stigma of UChicago being intense and having grade deflation is true in the past, I really don't think it is anymore. Sure, UChicago is a difficult school, but in my experience econ majors make it through just fine (almost always above 3.8 GPA). Disclaimer: I am not a business econ major, but, as you correctly pointed out, it has a lot less math than the regular econ track. The business econ major lets you take classes from Booth (I don't think this is true for Duke and Fuqua, but someone please correct me if I am wrong), and there is very minimal math requirement. I believe the only requirement is the math calculus core that everybody has to take anyway regardless of major. Plus, UChicago does not distinguish business econ from regular econ at graduation (this might change in the future though), so your diploma will only say 'economics' without taking any of the math-heavy classes. I don't know much about the Duke econ major, but I have a friend who is doing something similar and going into finance. I believe they said they had to take some stats and math-related classes as well (though this might just be their major combination of choice).

Something that the posters before me pointed out is the student body, so I'll clear some stuff up too. UChicago's social scene is definitely not as bad as the stigma surrounding it (there are frat parties and stuff) but it's definitely not like a frat party at a school like Duke. UChicago occasionally attracts some of the more 'quirky' people, but the majority of the UChicago people are like what you see at other Ivy League universities (probably along with the rise of UChicago in the college rankings). I will say, though, that the UChicago scene is nerdier than what you would find at Duke, so make of that what you will.

Since you said 'maths' instead of 'math' I would assume you're an international student (please correct me if I am wrong). Purely anecdotal, but I have felt that UChicago is more accepting than Duke. I am an international student myself, and I have friends at UChicago from all sorts of backgrounds and have integrated very well into the student body. On the flip side, my friend at Duke has friends only from a certain circle (other international students that come from neighboring countries). Again, this is purely anecdotal, and there could be a vast spectrum of experiences, but there you go. Hope this was helpful! My PMs are open if you would like to talk more.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Apr 15, 2021 - 8:54pm

something to add, I have no idea where the assumption that UChicago only places into Chicago firms post-grad comes from. That is almost certainly never the case. A LOT more people end up in NY offices than in Chicago ones

  • Intern in HF - Other
Apr 16, 2021 - 9:33am

It's probably because most alumni of universities end up working in and around where they went to college LT on average. If you went to Stanford most people are going to assume you want to be in the Bay/CA long term and not the east coast. 

People also probably assume that since Chicago has a solid finance scene that people would want to live there post grad. Duke, while being located in the south has a reputation for having a predominantly wealthy student body from the Northeast that come to school in the south for 4 years going back to NY/Boston. 

I don't think anyone in this thread has said that they only place in Chicago and NYC is definitely an option from there. 

  • Analyst 1 in PE - LBOs
Apr 15, 2021 - 10:34pm

I would definitely take Duke; would only consider Chicago if you are considering academia in Econ.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Apr 16, 2021 - 3:17am

Cap. UChicago artificially bolstered its selectivity over the years with aggressive marketing. Name a top school that has EDI, EDII and EA.

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  • Analyst 2 in IB - Restr
Apr 16, 2021 - 7:26am

Just interested - how many nobel laureates does Duke have? 11. 

Chicago? 100. 

Has Chicago also scammed the Nobel committee? 

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