Really need advice—USC vs. UCLA

I was accepted to UCLA biz econ and USC Marshall for business administration. I'm currently leaning towards UCLA (planning to switch to a math major). I have been scrolling through a bunch of posts comparing the two schools and have gotten the idea that USC is much better at placing students into IB than UCLA. I've also read that if I really want to break into IB/high finance at UCLA I'd have to get into the finance clubs which have a 5% acceptance rate. The thing is, my ultimate goal is to pursue a master's degree in Financial Engineering after undergrad, and I would think that a math of computation/stats degree at UCLA would be more quantitative and rigorous when compared to USC business administration. I have heard that business administration is a really general degree as well. So in terms of applying to grad school for quant finance, is UCLA math/stats the better choice?

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Comments (6)

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  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 23, 2021 - 12:06am

Disclaimer: I go to USC.

Congratulations, both great options especially if you plan on staying in California. I can't speak too much on UCLA recruiting other than that I've heard it is worse than USC for IB and buyside. In LA/SF, I have seen more USC grads than UCLA grads but again that is partially selective bias. In my mind, I've always guessed that the reason UCLA lags behind is that most kids will also get accepted to Berkeley, which is much more IB focused school. 

I would also like the mention that while you basically have to get into this one club at UCLA, at USC, the vast majority of of kids who end up in investment banking are also in one club- TIS. The club has multiple different levels, but once you reach mentorship (not guaranteed but if you have a 3.8+, have met some people, and know some technicals you should be good) you are basically guaranteed an offer. The club has 99% placement into investment banking (1/3 LA, 1/3 SF, 1/3 NYC ish) over the past three years. They publish placements, (ucla does not which I would consider): The 1% was a girl who switched to consulting and now works at Mckinsey.  Each year the class is about 30 people.

For people recruiting direct to buyside, GIS and VIG also place quite well. Almost all USC students who end up in "high-finance" will be a member of 1 of these clubs. Asides from VIG, which accepts like 5% of kids, none of them are super competitive to get involved with. 

Of course, take this with a grain of salt, but if you plan on staying in California, particularly southern cali long-term, in your shoes I would go USC undergrad with the expectation of going to Anderson for grad school. USC undergrad is stronger, and truthfully, UCLA grad is probably stronger. 

Good luck with your decision. 


  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 23, 2021 - 12:17am

Same dude. Just checked and UCLA does publish placements. Bruin Asset Management is the top club there with classes from 8-15 people every year (so smaller than USC despite being a larger school)

 ....lots of Credit Suisse, almost no SF but like 50/50 LA/NYC. Like 1/2 of kids go to buyside or consulting instead of IB.

Apr 23, 2021 - 3:05am

For UCLA, the best resumes I've seen for banking recruiting have come from the UCLA Sharpe Fellows program. 

For USC, as another poster mentioned, it's the TIS Mentor to aim for if you want to be in the "best" possible position.

However, the most important criteria, especially for LA banking recruiting, remains fit

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.
  • 2
  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 23, 2021 - 2:36pm

TIS mentorship... I dont know exactly but probably like 100, I'd guess no more than 50 are actually qualified though. 

around 1/2 of spots are given to the executive board (guaranteed if you voted on, like 12 people, not that hard to get one of the more junior positions) and 1/2 are given to other people. Probably most of that half will have done TIS leaders (20 top freshman for IB) which again, is competitive, but achievable if you have the right stats.

Apr 23, 2021 - 4:43am

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