Southern Methodist Uni (SMU)

As a graduate of SMU, I want to shed light on my experience. There are many threads discussing the merits of SMU vs other semi-target schools but it seems like no one actually knows what they are talking about. First off, no SMU itself is not a target. SMU's Cox School of Business is not a target. SMU's Alternative Asset Management Program (alts) is a target.

Alts application process- Your alts prep begins at the beginning of your sophomore year. At this time, training sessions and mock interviews will commence for the selection progress that takes place at the end of sophomore year (March-May). The process is very similar to the internship interview at most banks. First you have to pass the general application screening (GPA > 3.7, helps to have relevant experience in finance however some non business school kids get in each year, participated in mock interviews/networked with current alts students). After that, you will be scheduled for a set of 3-4 interviews with current alts (they work up from behaviorals to techs). They will rank you and the top ~75 will move on to the final round. At this point you will get more or less a superday experience, I had 3hrs of back to back interviews with former alts (GS energy, MHT partners, JPM consumer/retail, etc...), the head of the program, and the head of the finance department. At the end of this, approx. 50 students are selected.
Random stats: ~1,800 undergrads per class/~50 in alts class (around 200 apply)... 2.77% admission rate with a median GPA ~3.93

Alts the class- Semester long class that meets once a week for 3 hours (2hrs reviewing last week project, 1 hr reviewing this weeks project/learning new concepts). Projects range from 40-50hrs a week and are done in groups of 2-3. The projects work their way up from simple proforma modeling to full scale M&A/IPO/LBO modeling. Their are also guest speakers once a week at night which is a great networking opportunity (from CEOs, IB MDs, hedgefund/PE guys). The class is pretty intense and each week (after 3-4 weeks) is similar to what you would experience during your final intern project at a bank. Final project lasts 2-3 weeks and is typically done with a live company. CEO met with us 3 times and discussed what they wanted to do and we came up with a couple options (Acquisition/IPO). You will also enter your internship knowing a ton more about excel/ppt and finance in general than target school kids (granted they pick it up hella quick lol).

Exit ops (lol)/Recruitment- There is 100% placement within the alts class, and I would say 80% get jobs in IB. Most go down to Houston Energy IB (GS, Gugg, Jef, Wells, Evercore, MS, JPM, Citi and thats just in my class... theres honestly an SMU grad at pretty much every bank down there). There are a few good ops in Dallas (houlihan restructing/industrials, JPM consumer/retail, RBC real estate, GS merchant banking all in my class). Then there were a select few (<10) that went to NYC (GS M&A, DB healthcare, CS gaming and lodging, MS M&A, those are the ones i know off the top of my head). A couple kids went directly into LMM PE shops but wouldn't recommend that route. From there a lot of people end up at Energy PE shops in dallas or houston (EnCap, Limerock, etc..) who knows what happens to those that venture up to NYC (most die from paying state taxes and living in a <60 sqft apartment for $8,000 a month).

Experience- As you can see, if you remove the Alts program from SMU as a whole it is undoubtedly a target. I had over a 4.0 GPA in highschool, was accepted into Ivy programs, and just didn't like the fit. Sure they are phenomenal schools but they aren't for everyone. I'm from the south and wanted a school with a football team (as shitty as they are), I wanted a greek life experience, and I never had interest in moving up north. SMU was the right fit for me and you'll find that many of the Alts students were fully capable of getting in wherever they wanted but for one reason or another chose SMU. SMU is also a great option for people that didn't overachieve in highschool but are ready to turn it around. All you have to do is work hard and study to get into alts (and be the slightest bit personable). Unfortunately if you don't get into alts going into IB from SMU is next to impossible. So... if you know that is what you want to do then get into alts.

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Comments (40)

  • Intern in IB - Ind
Aug 18, 2020 - 3:58pm

lmao, imagine if colleges calculated their admission rates as accepted/number of HS grads for that year

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Aug 19, 2020 - 12:40pm

Sure but first you have to get in to SMU, then get into Cox, then apply for Alts (which a lot of people don't meet the criteria for so don't even apply)... stat was supposed to show how small the alts class is to the total school population, acceptance rate wasn't the right label

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Restr
Aug 18, 2020 - 7:51pm

I chose SMU over returning to JUCO for a 3rd year or shoveling asphalt. Having said that and done the program, Alts is effectively a target. Every IB w/ a southern office does OCR (not really for non-alts kids), 80-90% of kids place into IB, and a handful of kids go BB or EB in NYC every year. ~40% of the kids who go IB go BB/EB in Houston, ~50% go MM in the south, and the rest go BB/EB in SF or NYC.

Wouldn't put having a finance degree from SMU up against any targets, but would put the Alts stats up against every target.

  • Intern in AM - Equities
Aug 19, 2020 - 10:55pm

lol what?? SMU is a great school that is a target (alts only) and encompasses greek life. Name me another ivy that has a great social scene (greek life) and also places well besides Darthmouth. Most ivies just place well but have a poor greek life compared to SMU. And its in texas so weather is great. 

Aug 19, 2020 - 12:37pm

UT is massive and I prefer Dallas over Austin. Class sizes are smaller and experience is more personalized, plus when it came to recruiting I would say a comparable amount of SMU kids get offers but the pool of students being selected from is drastically reduced. 

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 19, 2020 - 7:00pm

@SMU102 What's your opinion of the MSF program? Considering applying for Fall 21 admissions. Goal is to break into a HF/AM afterwards. Its my understanding that the Underwood Fund is part of the alts program. Even though I wouldn't be a part of the undergrad alts program would I get exposed to similar opportunities by managing the Underwood Fund as a grad student? 

Aug 19, 2020 - 8:44pm

To be completely honest, I have no idea. More MSF people from SMU end up at consulting firms to my knowledge. There are a lot of family offices in Dallas but getting into one of the bigger Dallas HFs you probably need more than just SMU grad school on your resume. The one thing I will say is that whether you are an undergrad or masters student at SMU you'll make great connections. 

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Aug 20, 2020 - 11:14am

SMU's MSF program is not very good. I know a few people who recently went through the program. Placements were very underwhelming. If you can, I'd try for UT or Vandy instead. Coming from a former SMU UG student...

  • Prospect in Other
Aug 20, 2020 - 3:03pm

Oh, yeah there was that one kid that made a guide on Texas targets. Not only did he call SMU the "ivy of the south", he completely and totally left out Rice from the list.

Aug 24, 2020 - 6:41pm

I come from down in the valley, where mister when you're young, they bring you up to do like your daddy done

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