Rice University vs. UT Austin McCombs Undergraduate

I am fortunate enough to have been accepted to both of these top schools in Texas. My goal is to work in energy IB in the region, and then move to PE or a megafund. I'd be studying finance at UT Austin, or Mathematical Economic Analysis with a minor in business at Rice University. I'm not sure which is most well regarded in energy IB recruiting, and I'm positive I'd enjoy my time at either school. I'm only posting because another similar topic is about 2 years old now, and I'm seeking new info related to this situation. If it helps, I'm also an URM (hispanic), so that may also affect recruiting.

Comments (43)

Mar 25, 2017 - 2:19am

Current analyst at an IB in North-East Houston. I will tell you upfront that McCombs, in terms of recruiting, network, professors-whatever- tops economics at Rice. You'd be better off with a finance or accounting degree at McCombs. A liberal art degree just won't cut it job hunting wise. Although Rice has a proximity with IB's, that has little to do with recruiting. That being said, Aggies and Longhorns PREDOMINATE at IB(with McCombs given a slighter edge both in state and out of state). If you made BHP, you would get attention or first glances from banks, but from there it's all about the individual.

The alumni hookups can be unreal. On linkedin, of my junior year, I messaged a former Longhorn about my interest in IB, and he gave me easy access to an interview, rather than just making my resume become stuck in a pile of resumes. One year later, and I got a full time position.

And please don't tell me you're considering Rice over McCombs because of the low acceptance rate and recognition. I'd say that Rice gains most of it's recognition for its medical-school connections, pre-med program, and just the science department.

Mar 25, 2017 - 2:24am

It's also worthy to note that a degree in Finance can be specialized at McCombs--meaning that if you major in Finance with a concentration in Energy, that would show the IB interest and you would get the necessary skills to fit the pedigree banks would look for. Not to mention that McCombs actually holds IB networking events for specific concentrations in Finance. It's easier to connect with IB's at UT than Rice. You'd have to be the absolute top of your class to get so. At UT, just maintain a 3.7+ gpa, get relevant internships, be presentable, and the same happens

Best Response
Mar 28, 2017 - 3:34pm

Sorry to say this, TexasIBFinancial, but your post is full of misinformation and is misleading in that it is full of Longhorn bias. UT is a great place to go if you want to do IB, but it's absurd to me that you say the proximity doesn't matter or that a Rice liberal arts degree won't cut it in recruiting. I've worked with graduates of both schools - Rice has a small alumni network but every single alum is highly successful and will go out of their way to help out other Rice kids. As someone who used to recruit from these schools I can tell you that we (even though Texas recruiting was done out of NY) would place more value on a 3.7 in Econ from Rice than a 3.8 in Finance from UT, all else equal.

The trend we noticed was that UT had hundreds of kids and you had to do some work to figure out who the best were. The screening process was much easier at Rice due to its size. We knew we couldn't go wrong with top candidates from either school, so we (and other banks on the street) would end up inviting a much higher % of Rice applicants to superdays than from UT - it was just a more efficient way to identify talent, especially since Rice was down the street for our Houston guys who would have first rounds on campus.

The best grads from UT were usually better at hitting the ground running than the best grads from Rice due to UT's better finance prep. But the Rice kids were wicked smart, and within a few months they were top performers as learning banking was a cakewalk for them. We would hire engineers from Rice with no finance background and they would absolutely crush it after a few months. Same goes for comp sci, econ, etc. Obviously we weren't hiring many sociologists or basketweavers from either school.

Mar 25, 2017 - 9:21am

On other threads regarding UT, people have mentioned that BHP dominates recruiting and as a regular McCombs student it is much harder. From LinkedIn searches myself it seems like the vast majority of alumni in Houston IB were in BHP. Can anymore speak to recruiting/networking as a regular McCombs student? It's important to recognize that at a small school like Rice, few students are interested in IB but the ones who are achieve a high average outcome.

I think the OP should do his own research via LinkedIn and consider factors like college life before deciding based on the unanimous consensus on this thread.

"Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry."
  • 1
Mar 25, 2017 - 11:33am

Regarding BHP, I'd have a solid chance of getting in my sophomore year at UT. Also, I feel I'd be happy at either campus regardless of their differences. I've visited both, and I was happy with both options. Any information on regular McCombs recruiting and networking would help a lot, so I hope someone else can come chime in and help out.

Mar 25, 2017 - 11:56am

I compared the two back when I was graduating from high school as well. Although I didn't go to either one, I would recommend going to UT if you are dead set on IB. From my experience within the industry, I have met far more people from UT business than Rice and most of the IB's in NYC recruit at UT - some might argue this is a function of the relative size of the schools, but I honestly feel UT business has more pull.

UT business carries more weight within the industry although I really like Rice as a broad institution and, in my opinion, feel like it is a better school as a whole. That being said, I would recommend choosing UT if you plan to do IB.

Mar 25, 2017 - 12:00pm

Something to keep in mind is that the number of kids interersted in finance at Rice is tiny compared to UT. The average job posting at UT has 200+ applicants compared to ~40 or so from Rice. UT may be bigger with access to more opportuninties, but you have to be the best of the best to actually get these opportunities and finance recruiting is insanely competitive in general. It's still tough to get a banking job coming out of Rice but not on the same level as at UT. BHP is a minor factor and shouldn't shift your decision either way.

  • 2
Mar 25, 2017 - 12:16pm

Yes, the tiny amount of IB-interested students at Rice seems to be relatively advantageous for recruiting compared to UT's seemingly huge number. Not sure how much of a difference it would make, however.

Mar 26, 2017 - 3:14am

McCombs. Hand. Down.

The recruiting scene at UT, especially in Finance dominates Rice. Investment Banks come here in more frequency than at Rice. It isn't harder to stand out at Rice than at UT. Also, why would you get an economics degree than a finance degree? You can also specialize your finance degree at UT, which means IBanking can become a very viable and likely option. IBanks favor UT over rice. When I went to recruiting events, almost all of the alumni were Longhorns. This can give you a edge when you network.

Also, it's Austin, Texas. Lively scene and you can spend the next 4 years partying it up.

Mar 26, 2017 - 6:43am

Not discounting UT in any way, but going to UT just to replace a Econ degree with Finance degree is an extremely weak argument. Ivy leagues regular send not even business majors to Wall Street, so I'm sure there are other more useful arguments that can support UT, like it's MBA and BBA network, or something around competitiveness and internships

If you go to UT recruiting event and the bankers aren't from UT, then they'd be wasting time because they can't figure out which kids are real deals by taking the most noteworthy and challenging classes. It's a standard you see everywhere, but a worse case is when a firm doesn't host a recruiting event.

Mar 28, 2017 - 3:21pm

How many investment banks are in Austin? Rice is literally 10 minutes away from every major investment bank in Texas, and every single one of them recruits at Rice. For bankers, recruiting is a major pain in the ass, and it's much easier for them to do a happy hour / info session down the street at Rice than it is for them to take the 3+ hour trip to Austin. The UT info session will be crowded with hundreds of kids who have been groomed to be bankers from the time they took their first step, whereas at Rice there will be 5 qualified kids in the room. It's much, much easier to stand out at Rice (my bank used to hire from both schools, as well as SMU and to a lesser extent A&M).

Mar 26, 2017 - 3:20am

Current Houston IB Analyst.

I agree with most of the other posters. McCombs trumps Rice in terms of IB and the whole area of Finance. Recruiting for IB on McCombs is unbelievable, and as long as you have a decent GPA, get the relevant internships, and kill the interview, you're set. As what the commenter above said, it's easier to stand out at McCombs than Rice. I will admit that there are alot of unmotivated kids at McCombs, because they will know that they will get a job(finance and accounting kids are a little better at this, but there bad apples to each bunch). Take advantage of going to McCombs--also Austin is a great place to get the internships. Rice may be prestigious overall, but this does not spill over into the business sector. A liberal arts degree in economics is too risky.

Mar 28, 2017 - 3:16pm

All the folks posting about how McCombs places "better" than Rice need to realize that at UT you will be competing with 250 well polished finance kids, while at Rice your competition will be 15 - 20 tops, half of which will be awkward international students who might wear tennis shoes to their first round interviews.

At a school like Rice, you just need to do relatively well to stand out. At UT, you better be the cream of the crop.

I say this because my group in banking had a Houston office and I personally screened resume piles and saw 20+ resumes from UT for every resume from Rice. In our superday the ratio of UT to Rice was much smaller, like 3 to 1, which gives you an idea of how many people we cut from UT because they just didn't stand out from the crowd.

Mar 28, 2017 - 4:29pm


All the folks posting about how McCombs places "better" than Rice need to realize that at UT you will be competing with 250 well polished finance kids, while at Rice your competition will be 15 - 20 tops, half of which will be awkward international students who might wear tennis shoes to their first round interviews.

At a school like Rice, you just need to do relatively well to stand out. At UT, you better be the cream of the crop.

I've always thought arguments like this were a fallacy though. When banks (or any organization) are hiring full time analysts, graduates are competing with EVERY other graduating senior that is interested in the position from BOTH inside and outside of their own school.

Banks don't say we're going to take one analyst each from UT, Rice, and SMU, so therefore you have the highest proportional likelihood at Rice, then SMU, then UT. Banks will just hire the most qualified people they can find...even if that means ending up having the majority of their analysts from one school.

I've never heard someone say, "CalTech > Berkely Haas because at Haas there will be far more competition for finance jobs"...that's just not really how the hiring market works imo.

Mar 29, 2017 - 3:35am

In an efficient theoretical hiring market, sure banks will just take the most qualified people. In reality, the new associate who came from UT would get assigned to UT recruiting, the new associate from Rice would get assigned to Rice, etc. Experienced analysts got to screen a few as well. The associate recommendations up to the staffer were the initial pool for first round interviews (along with whatever names HR had passed on, or through MD connections, etc).

So in practice, we were likely to have a disproportionate representation of candidates from smaller elite schools, because you had associates from those schools gunning for resumes at the top of their respective lists. This was at a BB btw - other banks will have different processes but I guarantee you each process has bias, and the strong connection bankers often feel to their alma mater usually plays a role in the composition of an analyst class.

Mar 29, 2017 - 11:15pm

Not necessarily the case. I'm no longer in houston banking, but my group would hold separate superdays for Texas/Rice/SMU/Others. While we didn't have a quote for each school the way it was set up basically ensured that candidates from Rice had a much better shot. I think most banks run it the same way

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Jun 7, 2017 - 2:25pm

Rice grad who worked in IB - this post is correct. UT finance definitely prepares you better for ib interviews/networking, but the competition is a lot more numerous/prepared than at Rice - UT's undergrad business has the same number of undergrads as all of Rice does. Obviously they all aren't finance majors, but a minority of students at Rice are even going to consider IB (consulting is a more popular avenue for Rice social science / humanities majors).

That said, (for future posters with the same question) I would decide based on financial aid / where you see yourself fitting best. You can go to energy IB from either school if you work hard, network and prep your ass off for interviews. As NuckFuts said earlier, banking is not a difficult profession to grasp if you are smart and have a willingness to work very hard. I knew people from Rice who were history majors that did banking and in my training class, there was a sizable contingent of Ivy League humanities majors.

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Feb 18, 2020 - 6:18pm

As an international student myself, I'm offended bro

Mar 29, 2017 - 12:42pm

Both schools are great; so seems the consensus here.

UT- Big school, high caliber finance program, huge networking events, access to more companies, more competition among peers, more student orgs geared towards your goals

Rice- Smaller and more prestigious school, closer to the energy i-banks in Texas, less competition among peers, better alumni outreach.

In my opinion, you should visit the campuses to see what area and vibe you like more. With both schools you can easily achieve your goal of working in I-banking. However, I would caution you from choosing a school based on geographic proximity to a career path that you think you want to pursue. You haven't even entered college yet and I guarantee you will be exposed to other opportunities that will be as equally, if not more, appetizing.

Mar 30, 2017 - 2:02am

I really appreciate all the detailed replies... lots of dissent on the quality of recruiting at either school, and that's understandable. I think that since they are both great schools with different atmospheres and student life, I will visit both and make up my mind myself. I gather I can work my way into a Houston IB from either school.. thanks everyone

Jun 6, 2017 - 3:56pm

Have you ended up making your decision?

The decision is actually pretty easy here. If you have the hustle, are intelligent, and know how to talk to people, you are going to be fine at either institution and have a good career afterwards in whatever endeavor you choose. I would give the slight edge to Rice because of similar to reasons stated above.

This is a marginal edge though and what you should really consider is what are your interests? Do you want to join a fraternity? Spend your Friday's and Saturdays drinking beer with friends, watching some awesome football, and chasing the best looking girls in the state? If so, go to Texas. If your idea of fun is playing video games and doing generally "nerdy" things then go to Rice because you will fit in very well and make tons of friends from day one. If you are the type of guy that enjoys chasing girls and sports and all of that then if you decide to go to Rice you will absolutely hate it. On average there is about 5 good looking girls on campus a year. I am saying this as someone that spent some time at Rice as an undergrad and left because I just could not stand it and decided to transfer to a state school that was not nearly as prestigious but had a much better quality of life for me.

Best of luck.

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