Penn (CAS) vs. Georgetown (McDonough School of Business) for undergraduate

This is my first post on WSO, so I apologize for any naivete.
I am currently a senior in high school and have just received my final admissions decisions. Out of the schools that I have been accepted into, I am deciding between Penn (CAS) and Georgetown (McDonough). While I know there are numerous equally (if not more) important factors that should contribute my decision, I would like to better understand the career implications that this decision has. For the sake of this post, I am assuming that I will be unable to make the internal transfer into the Wharton School although I will try. If I were to study at Penn (CAS), I would most likely major in Mathematics, Computer Science, or Economics. At Georgetown, I would concentrate in finance. Ignoring the significant possibility that my career interests will shift, I am very interested in investment banking and trading. So, my question(s) is: which of these programs provide better opportunities in entering these fields? Which graduates are more highly sought after by bulge bracket banks? Which program prepares graduates better for success in these fields?
As a side note, I was also accepted to Notre Dame's Mendoza School of Business. However, from my understanding, it is not at the same level as either of the other two programs. If anyone strongly disagrees please let me know.
Thanks for all of your insight.

United States - Northeast

Comments (8)

Apr 1, 2015

1 vote for Penn.

happy to give advice; no asking for referrals please

Apr 1, 2015

I can't speak for Penn, but I can tell you Georgetown has a very strong presence among the bulge brackets. Honestly, you can't go wrong with either one, and whether or not you get opportunities will be determined moreso by you and your efforts than between one school or the other.

That being said, Georgetown does incredibly good work with prepping students for banking interviews and getting a job. Almost all bulge brackets hire there as well as a strong number of middle market. Firms have a sweet spot for Georgetown when it comes to investment banking but not so much for other roles like PE or equity research (I would imagine Penn has stronger buy-side recruiting). There are A LOT of type A kids in the business school who are constantly putting effort into their next upcoming internship, so competition will be insanely fierce. I can't speak for Penn's culture but I know a lot of kids at Georgetown who get overwhelmed from the culture of pressure to be constantly doing something at the school. Personally, I need a type A culture to keep myself motivated, so it worked very well in my favor.

Oh also, classes in the business school are curved so only the top 30% or so get A/A- and so on so forth. PM me if you'd like more details.

Apr 1, 2015

Definitely Penn...from speaking to friends there, I've heard it's not too difficult to transfer/dual with Wharton (as long as you maintain decent grades and have a moderately compelling reason as to why you want to transfer).

Also, Penn is second to none in terms of recruiting into finance (not even Harvard). My friend says many econ majors and engineers end up making it into banking/S&T. You'll even see premed kids dropping out after MCAT and ending up in banking. Pretty sure some firms (think Blackstone, Qatalyst) only do campus recruiting at Penn and Harvard, but I may be wrong. This is definitely true for buyside PE straight out of undergrad.

With regards to type A and competition at georgetown, you'll honestly find that everywhere you go. Guaranteed you'll have those kids at Wharton, Penn CAS, Notre Dame, etc. That shouldn't play a big part in your decision. If you're honestly considering wharton, some of the most cutthroat people I've met go there (also insanely talented people), but they are definitely not the norm there. Most others I've met are pretty chill

Apr 1, 2015

I would do Penn. Try and transfer to Wharton, but if that is not an option you can literally major in anything at Penn and be on the same playing field as finance majors from other great schools. That being said if you are set on investment banking major in Economics and you will be set, as long as you put in the effort.

Apr 1, 2015

The easy answer is that you should try to transfer into Wharton. You'll likely need a 3.8+ plus extra curriculars, which isn't necessarily hard to do, but you'll need to focus and make it happen.

I wouldn't take ND off the list just yet. If you do well there, the fact that recruiting happens in late fall helps you lock up internships rather early.

Apr 15, 2015


I am in the same position as you!!! I'm deciding between Georgetown MSB and Penn CAS and considering the Wharton variable. I read this post and immediately joined WSO (So I apologize as well for my inexperience). I just got back from visiting Penn, and I don't know what to do. What are you thinking? Where are you leaning?

One difference I should note is that I'm more interested in consulting. I'm curious if that might influence my choice differently. Anyway, I asked tons of people the question "How hard is it to transfer internally into Wharton?" About 1/3 said "oh it's totally possible, don't worry about it," and about 2/3 said "it's doable but difficult."

The good news, from what I've gathered, is that CAS students still land great jobs. I met multiple upperclassmen who interned or are going to intern at Barclays, Goldman Sachs, BCG, etc. Some of them were majoring in English! Also, last week I spoke with my interviewer, a College grad who interned at a top bank and now works at a top consulting firm, and she said that while some companies recruit almost exclusively at Wharton, some look deliberately for a mix.

Like you said, there are many other factors to consider. When I consider those other factors, I lean towards Georgetown. Honestly, even factoring in this variable makes me lean towards Georgetown because I don't want that much pressure freshman year prior to applying for a Wharton transfer... But I seriously don't want to let go of Penn!


Jan 29, 2017

This is such a no-brainer, Penn of course. Wharton and non-Wharton, Penn does way better than Georgetown for business recruiting and it is a significantly stronger and more prestigious school. Georgetown is where the rich preppy white ivy rejects go.

The Wharton, non-Wharton factor would come into play when deciding between Penn and say Yale or Princeton, maybe Columbia (although Columbia CAS/SEAS vs Penn CAS/SEAS is a toss-up), it would not even come up in the Penn vs the lesser ivies (Dartmouth, Brown, Cornell) decision. Georgetown is barely a top 20 school.

    • 1
    • 1
Jan 29, 2017