MIT or Colombia to break into consulting ?


I'm a European student and I'm thinking about doing a Master in an American University. Due to the partnerships of my current university, I can only apply to the MFin of MIT and to the MSE of Columbia. 

I have done an internship in a BB and in a PE fund but my goal is to break into strategy consulting (MBB if possible) in the US after a Master. In order to do so, would you recommend me the MSE or the MFin as a first choice ?

It looks like the MSE is more apropriate for consulting but I wonder if the brandname of the MIT doesn't make it a better choice (especially being a foreigner)?

I would also be delighted to have your feedback on the quality of these masters if you've heard about them.

Many thanks !

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Comments (12)

  • Intern in PE - LBOs
Oct 19, 2021 - 1:42am

Does it still hold the same weight if it is not an engineering degree though? I was reading that you need 3.9+ GPA with lots of research work to get into the graduate school for CS, whereas the requirement is relatively low for MFin (I could be wrong about the GPA part, but it seems like MIT offers almost no MS in engineering, only PhD, for people who didn't do their undergrad at MIT).

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Oct 19, 2021 - 7:36am

Maybe Columbia does this too, but MIT MFIN publishes an employment report. I'd just comb through that. From memory, there are plenty of consulting firms on there. I'm sure it's a little skewed-most ppl there will go into finance, not cause they can't get into consulting but because it's a finance degree after all

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  • Intern in ER
Oct 19, 2021 - 10:37am

Im a current MIT MFin and I would echo the above. I know a number of kids who are recruiting for or have already signed offers in consulting (pretty much all MBB). It isn't the norm, but the kids who decided to go into consulting all seemed to do very well and have plenty of opportunities. We also do a lot of stuff with the MBA kids and you'd have the opportunity to take any class in Sloan, Harvard, or the other departments in MIT. I'm taking a couple of more operationally focused and consulting related classes now out of personal curiosity and most kids take plenty of classes outside of just finance. You could also join the Sloan Consulting club which I'm sure would help with recruiting and preparation. The MIT name also did seem to carry tons of weight when I was going through my own recruiting. I agree that studying engineering at MIT is more impressive than finance, but MIT is essentially the home of modern finance and we are statistically a more competitive program than the MBA so the reputation is still amazing. I'm sure Columbia is similar in plenty of ways but I can only speak to MIT. Hope this helps. 

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Oct 19, 2021 - 10:53am

Thank you for those insights ! To what extent is it possible to leverage this flexibility (to take courses from Business Analytics Master for instance) ?  

What I like in the MSE is the cross focus on corporate finance / consulting / entrepreneurship and I would like to know if it was possible to adapt my MFin courses in a similar way or if it will still 80% finance. 

Many thanks for your help !

Oct 19, 2021 - 6:07pm

MBB hires generalists and doesn't care what classes you took or what you know at an entry level. You'd be coming in with the same role as people with advanced degrees but no business experience.

Oct 19, 2021 - 6:53pm

You should discuss with the career people to see how many people place into MBB from these programs. The program itself probably matters more than the name brand of the school.

FWIW, both Columbia and MIT were target schools for my MBB, but Columbia always placed way more consultants than MIT for our undergrad hires. Personally, I always thought it was more of a prep thing than an opportunity thing (e.g., the Columbia kids had a better consulting case culture than MIT for prepping for interviews, etc.)

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  • 2
Oct 29, 2021 - 6:05pm

Not sure where you're based in Europe, but for a UK perspective on this if you ever want to (return to) work here I would take MIT over Columbia anyday. MIT is probably only second to Harvard in terms of general reputation here; recent conversations with people from a wide range of (business) backgrounds about Columbia grad school has thrown up a surprisingly high rate of people not knowing what Columbia is, or if they have heard of it at all, not knowing where it is. Moreover, those who have heard of it here seem to view their grad schools as a cash cow/not comparable to UG. 

Not quite fair for Columbia, and my experience may be anecdotal, but MIT is a global brand that everyone recognises ultimately. Columbia is not and is akin to the tier below Oxbridge in the UK - Imperial, UCL, LSE. Might make sense to consider them for specific subjects over the bigger brand, but only if you're going to work in said country where they're located. Great schools, global top 20 in rankings, but most people in the US won't know anything about them. 

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