Harvard vs. MIT vs. Penn (LSM) vs. Columbia

I've been admitted to all these schools and I have no clue where to go. I am interested in financial services duh but I do like biology too (hence Penn's LSM; Life Sciences and Management, which is a dual degree program b/w wharton and the college at penn). Something like Baker Bros. sounds cool, but as far as straddling healthcare/biotechnology what should I do? Does it make sense to focus on healthcare/biotech this early?

I don't know if I can turn down harvard because its harvard right but I like LSM's program and I like MIT a lot too. I included Columbia bc its in NYC. Maybe it doesn't matter and I'm overthinking and should pick one out of a hat. I'd appreciate any opinions or advice on which to pick!

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Comments (16)

Apr 7, 2021 - 12:03pm

yup id be attending wharton and the college. lived in/near nyc for a long time it's neat but i'm not dying to stay there, plus boston and philly arent terrible either i guess. 

expecting harder technicals out of wharton makes sense, thanks for the insight!

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  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Apr 7, 2021 - 12:07pm

I'd do Penn LSM bc it wil give you the most optionality and best on campus experience. You will have a much stronger network for finance in both BB and EB than the other schools. If you decide the healthcare aspect isn't for you anymore you can drop it and still be in Wharton or vice versa. Any Penn alum and many others will recognize the program for whatever you want to do in either field and that will carry a lot of weight. Def avoid MIT for finance given other options. C over H if you really want to be in the city but would not recommend this college experience.

Penn LSM > H > C > MIT

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Apr 7, 2021 - 1:19pm

Biggest regret was not going to Harvard, at the end fo the day all of these schools are going to give you the optionality to do whatever you want as long as you work for it. The marginal difference in opportunity for you at Penn LSM will be far negated by Harvard's network and prestigious brand name (there is truly no other school school that has this effect besides maybe Stanford). I personally made the mistake of choosing another school over Harvard and deeply regret it, although I thoroughly enjoyed my time in college. 

Harvard is just a different beast, the network, the name, the people, etc. If I had the chance to go back I would take Harvard. 

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Apr 7, 2021 - 1:48pm

Don't overcomplicate this. Just go with Harvard. You have the name/prestige, quality of education, interesting classmates, and (maybe) some fun compared to a place like MIT or even Columbia. And if you're interested in biotech, you're in Boston so you can spend time with biotechs and VCs there. Design your curriculum to be bio + econ or whatever kids in your shoes do. 

After Harvard, Wharton LSM is fantastic. Kids from LSM seem to have a sturdy handle on both the science and the finance, which is amazing to see. While Harvard doesn't have LSM, you're in the middle of one of the world's biggest biotech hubs. You could get on the T, get off at Kendall, go work in a lab for 4 hours (or at a VC firm if they'll have you), get back on the T and make your afternoon econ class. Philly has some good things happening in biotech (CHOP is fantastic), but just doesn't compare with Cambridge. 

Then Columbia/MIT.

Speaking as a healthcare banker in NYC

  • Analyst 1 in PE - Other
Apr 7, 2021 - 4:43pm

currently at columbia, my advice would be go to Harvard. Columbia has a strong presence in IB and a growing one in PE/VC, but Harvard has the most established recruiting platforms to banks + consulting + the buy-side. Just my observations, but I think most would agree 

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Apr 7, 2021 - 11:15pm

If you're dead set on biotech investing, I would go to the LSM program at Penn. Met one kid who went through this program and they were leagues beyond everyone else in terms of understanding industry dynamics / company lifecycle / drug discovery etc. They managed to land a buyside seat at a top HC fund without much of a problem. 

HC, especially biotech, is incredibly niche and there is no substitute for the coursework in the field. I can't imagine even a top Harvard grad would have a shot at most of these shops given the background requires. I imagine if you go look at the profiles for Baker Bros, most will have an advanced degree in HC. 

However, I would still pick Harvard without a doubt and never look back. It's impossible to beat the international reputation and it will open more doors if you ever change your mind (during college and after). If you're still set on HC investing, you won't have a problem getting into top HC IBD group. 

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