Undergrad Biz School: Wharton vs. Penn CAS vs. Dartmouth vs. UT BHP vs. Georgetown

I'm currently entering my senior year of high school and preparing to start filling out some college applications. I have my eyes on a career in investment banking - either Houston (because I'm in Texas) or Wall Street. I've used a financial aid calculator for all the above schools, and they all come out to around $20,000 per year, so there is no actual difference in cost between the schools.

I might apply ED (for those who don't know, Early Decision is a program through which if you are accepted, you are forced to attend that school. It boosts your chance of acceptance because schools know you will attend and they can build a solid class in advance) to Wharton. If I was accepted Wharton it would obviously be a dream come true. Some questions about Wharton:

---How rigorous is the workload?
---Would I be able to find time for fun in college while at Wharton?
---Do Penn CAS students live in the shadow of Wharton kids?

My real questions, however, are more about the other schools.

---Which would be best for banking in NYC: Penn's CAS (this assumes I got rejected from Wharton but accepted to regular Penn) Dartmouth, G-town or even BHP?
---UT's BHP would definitely put me into some good banks in Houston, but how does it measure up against a tier 2 school like G-town or an ivy like Dartmouth/Penn in both Houston and NYC?
---What is campus-life like at these schools for kids in the biz program?

I am basically wondering where I should go if I was accepted UT BHP, Georgetown, Dartmouth or Penn CAS. This factors in recruitment and out-of-class experience (e.g. parties, people w/e).

Sorry the post is convoluted, but there is no catch-all question I can ask.

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Comments (37)

Jun 8, 2014 - 3:48pm

I would say: Wharton >> Dartmouth >> Georgetown > Penn > BHP. If you want to have a good time, I think all of those schools will give you those kind of opportunities. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you apply to Wharton and if you don't get in, you're rejected from the school and do not get the opportunity to apply to CAS.

I think it's hard to get a top-tier job at Penn without having a Wharton degree or being in one of the double-degree programs because you're competing against so many top-tier people (because Wharton is the best degree in terms of prestige.

Jun 8, 2014 - 3:56pm


Are you serious?

Yeah, Georgetown and UT BHP are not a b schools either. I am addressing their business programs by the school's name. I didn't address Penn that way because I wanted to make a clear separation between Penn's actual b school (Wharton) and Penn CAS' economics program (which I am interested in as well).

I guess I should have made that more clear but I didn't think that level of continuity was needed on an internet forum.

I've done substantial research but I wanted more insight from industry professionals. Thanks for your effrontery though.

Jun 8, 2014 - 4:52pm

Let's get something straight. When a university has a B-school, 99% of the kids who study in CAS do it because they didn't get into the B-school.

Yes, you will take a back seat to every one of the B-schoolers whether it's at Penn, UT, UofM, UVA, IU, UNC, UND, UCB, etc.

Jun 8, 2014 - 4:03pm


Thanks for your response. I think you're definitely right about not being in Wharton while being at Penn and your order of prestige seems to agree with what I expected. I don't know if getting rejected by Wharton means rejection from CAS, but you're probably right that it does. I will just apply straight to Wharton because Penn CAS would, as you noted, be overshadowed by Wharton.

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Jun 8, 2014 - 5:49pm

Wharton > Dartmouth/Georgetown > UT BHP > Penn IMO

Wharton is obviously the go to choice if you are accepted to all. I'm somewhat biased as I go to Georgetown, but do believe that it is equal to Dartmouth. Gtown placed more people in FO IB than any other school besides Wharton this past year, although this is somewhat due to kids at places like Harvard going straight to buy-side. I'm from Texas as well, and was accepted UT BHP/Plan II so I have a similar background. From talking to kids I know ahead of me in the BHP program, all of them were somewhat let down by the fact that there is not a substantial difference between BHP and normal business at UT. A lot of the classes you take overlap with the four thousand other kids that are simply in the normal business school. Also, I personally wanted to live in the Northeast for a couple years and though Georgetown gave me that opportunity.

No matter where you go to school, you have the opportunity to succeed. If you happen to get into a couple of your top choices, go where you feel most comfortable spending four years of your life. You'd do better at UT if you felt like that is where you belonged versus going to Wharton if you did not feel comfortable with the school.

Jun 8, 2014 - 6:00pm

Georgetown and Dartmouth are not on the same level. The Georgetown numbers are high because you're talking about a business school. I would reason that it's very competitive because the top kids who get the best jobs would have a 3.9+. This won't be an easy task when you're talking about curves and what not.

I would pick Dartmouth over Georgetown because it is smaller and more prestigious. Georgetown is a great school, just not on the same level.

Jun 8, 2014 - 8:18pm

Agree with the above except my preferences would go like Wharton>Dartmouth/Georgetown> UT> Penn

For banking/consulting Wharton is by far the top.

People will argue G town vs Dartmouth and they both have different strengths. Georgetown has an official undergrad B school which places well; however, Dartmouth has an ivy league stamp and a very loyal alumni base. Personally I lean towards Dartmouth and I think it would actually be even easier to but being in DC would be a lot of fun as well. Visit both if you can and try and figure out which one feels better.

If you are thinking of staying in Texas I would probably recommend UT BHP over just regular Penn. I've known some regular Penn kids and unfortunately it is difficult for them because most of the companies specifically recruit at Wharton and many of the OCR events are off limits to the regular Penn students. Plus, Philly sucks, it might be worth it for Wharton but not for Penn, but I'm extremely biased about that.

Jun 8, 2014 - 9:19pm

What is your GPA, class rank, SAT score, and any other relevant info? I think that if banking in Texas is your goal, UT business will get you here almost as well as anywhere and would probably be more fun and you'd have a better network in Texas than most of the other schools. Texas won't do as well on the East Coast, but this site has a definite NY bent, so keep that in mind.

Early admission at UT wouldn't be insane, unless everything on your application was so outstanding that Wharton was a reasonable chance for you.

Jun 9, 2014 - 12:23am

UW GPA: 4.0
Weighted GPA: 4.45
Rank: 1/93
SAT: 2300
SAT Subject tests: 800 math II, 800 world history, and 770 US history

My extra-curriculars are not that special but they will be decently good by the time I apply. If I go ED Wharton I probably have the same chance of getting in as applying UT BHP. Apparently at BHP they have something around 1000 kids apply each year and 125 of those are valedictorians of their class. Only 100 actually get into the program, so it's surprisingly hard to get into.

From what I've gathered its Penn Wharton first pick then Dartmouth or G-town and then UT BHP, unless I want to stay in Texas, which I do to a degree. Quality of life here is probably better. If I stayed in Texas, what are the chances I could wind up at a BB like Goldman? Also, what are the opportunities like later in your career? Because from what I understand life at a Houston bank isn't all the different than a NYC bank, besides for Houston being less intense.

Jun 9, 2014 - 5:26am

Apply Wharton early decision and then all the other schools. Honestly, it's a crapshoot, even with outstanding stats like yours. I don't know anything about the business honors program, but if you apply there and get denied, can you still get into the business school? Because, I would just apply to the business school if you can't.

Jun 9, 2014 - 1:40am

Where are you guys getting your information from? As a Penn CAS sophomore, I've had no problems getting interviews at boutique and middle market IB and PE firms. I've recently signed on for PE firm and I can't wait to start. There's no bias for Wharton students or discrimination against CAS students. As long as you show an interest in finance through your resume, network efficiently, read the interview guides on here, and prove you are competent, you should be able to get what you want.

Wharton only helps if you want access to a few selects positions, like Blackstone PE, etc. Those positions are only accessible to maybe the top 5 percent of the class in Wharton. Seriously though, what's the likelihood you'll be top 5 percent in Wharton? . Keep in mind that the average GPA in Wharton is a 3.3, and many people do not meet the 3.5 cutoff for OCR. It's way easier to hit a 3.5 in CAS than in Wharton. I've had a pretty great college experience and I don't have any complains against Penn CAS. Theres a lot of resources, many people don't make use of them.


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Jun 9, 2014 - 4:25am

Dude, if the average GPA is a 3.3, then slightly less than half meet the GPA requirement. Don't tell me that the people in the 5-40% at Wharton aren't gunning for BBs and MBB. Wouldn't those kids be among the most qualified (considering they likely have 3.5+)?

I'm not disputing what you're saying, I'm just wondering: how many kids who do pure CAS go to LAZ/BX/EVR/JPM/MS/GS?

Jun 9, 2014 - 12:35pm

I had great high school GPA/SAT, but was worried that I was from an over-represented group (white male from long island), so out of fear I applied Early Decision to NYU Stern. I really regret not applying to more schools and seeing if I could've gotten into better schools (NYU, which is generally very stringy with fin aid, gave me a half scholarship, so I definitely think I had a shot at top 10 schools).

I'd avoid ED if you can, especially with your stats, in-which you have a realistic chance at HYP.

Jun 9, 2014 - 5:44pm

@opsdude - It is definitely a crapshoot so applying to a solid tier 2 school and guaranteeing you get in is never a bad idea.

If I apply ED though, I think I would go ED Wharton. Would you advise against that? Or just against ED to tier 2 schools?

Best Response
Jun 9, 2014 - 6:27pm

I'm not an anomaly, I have medicore GPA and relevant E.CS. Dude, do you do realize that the kids who get GS/MS/JPM and other top tier firms will do well wherever they go, whether they're at Ross, Wharton, or Penn CAS. To tell someone to go to X school over Y school to gain access to recruitment at certain firms is ridiculous. The OP should apply to the schools that best suit him. To answer your question, yes there are students who get into these top tier firms from CAS. The difference is these students actually take the time to learn finance on their own and actually read the interview guides before walking into the interview.

Also, who gets an interview isn't based on how high one's GPA is. GPA is usually just "check marked" meaning recruiters will look at other things once you meet their requirement. Though the top 5%-40% are aiming for BB and MBB, you'll see many people in those top percentiles not get a single interview while a guy with a 3.1 gets an interview because he networked. Just how it works.

To the OP, you shouldn't basing what school you want to go based on what's going to give you the best chance for goldman. You might go to college and might decide you don't want to be an investment banker. Don't apply ED anywhere. Keep your options open and apply RD to as many schools you can. The people who get into Wharton ED usually have some sort of connection to Penn, such as legacy or they did a sumer program there.


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Jun 9, 2014 - 6:57pm

@3176401, don't get defensive man. Obviously recruiting isn't the only factor you use to go to a school. All of the places the OP has listed are really good too. However, you want to always put yourself in the best position to succeed. Going to UPenn and not being in Wharton when you want to do finance is a disadvantage. Not being in the business school at every single school is, because the recruiters already have a base of people to view resumes. Obviously not going to an elite firm isn't the end of the world, but you want to be in the best position to do so.

The idea of not applying anywhere ED and applying everywhere RD makes no sense. Why not hedge one of your bets on a school where there is a higher acceptance rate instead of doing nothing? You can still apply to schools EA when you apply ED. Yes, some kids will have connections, but the fact is most of these schools fill up a large portion of their schools with ED. OP, apply somewhere at least EA, and considering doing an ED application for a really good school.

Jun 9, 2014 - 10:12pm

@opsdude - Wouldn't you agree though that Wharton is the equivalent of HYPS for finance? I just want to get it straight - you think I should not apply ED to Wharton?

Here's why I am thinking I need to apply to Wharton. The only school I would really rather go to than Wharton would be UT's BHP because I live in Texas. However, there is no guarantee that I would get into BHP. It would be a huge disappointment if the best opportunity I had was BHP and I was rejected and relegated to regular Mccomb's. When I apply ED Wharton, I am applying to my dream school with similar chances of getting into BHP. In the instance that I am rejected by both, I always have a school like Georgetown I can fall back on. Dartmouth is really in the mix in case I squeeze in somehow and get rejected BHP and Wharton. Obviously if I get into Wharton I just hit the jack pot.

@brickkilledaguy - I'm going ED Wharton and I will go everywhere else EA. I will probably get rejected Wharton and hopefully I get into BHP, G-town, or if I'm really lucky, Dartmouth. I suppose if I went Dartmouth I would go economics? Is that pretty common?

What other schools would you guys suggest for me? I honestly see no reason in applying to Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton because I can almost guarantee I will be rejected and it will be a waste of $90. I'm not that special but my stats are good and I have a chance to walk into Wharton if i go ED.

Jun 10, 2014 - 2:10am

My opinion about schools is that you apply to whatever gives the best opportunity. The social aspect is always up to you. You could be a loner at Dartmouth and hate it or you could have a good time at UChicago. Heck, Tucker Max had fun at U of C, which is known as the place where "fun goes to hell." Social dynamics are important, but not as important as everyone makes it out to be.

I also don't understand the $90 argument. If I didn't spend that extra $90 I wouldn't have gotten into the school that I'm at now. In the scheme of things, spending $90 on an application is nothing. The whole college process is such a huge crapshoot and you just have no idea where you'll get in.

Apply to a place early you like but also gives you the best opportunity to succeed. By the way, Texas is a great school. If I lived in Texas, I would go there over everything other than most of the Ivies and Stanford. Worst case you go to Texas and do really well.

Jun 14, 2014 - 4:31pm

again -- watch out for OpsDude. Wharton is the best undergrad business program there is and its certainly the best in its field over HYP. while it might not be as broad, it is the best in finance.

OpsDude clearly has a chip on his shoulder for failing to get into Wharton -- the best that he managed to get into was Stern.

Jun 14, 2014 - 6:42pm


again -- watch out for OpsDude. Wharton is the best undergrad business program there is and its certainly the best in its field over HYP. while it might not be as broad, it is the best in finance.

OpsDude clearly has a chip on his shoulder for failing to get into Wharton -- the best that he managed to get into was Stern.

I applied to Stern ED, which I regret, which was the whole point of my post. I didn't "fail to get into Wharton" if I didnt even apply.

Jun 10, 2014 - 3:14am

@Brickkilledaguy, relax bro, I see where you're coming from. Some people would sacrifice a bit of "social dynamics" for a marginally better oppurtunity at a more prestigious firm. I feel that personal fit is a very important factor to consider when deciding what school to go too. They're plenty of people at Penn who are unhappy because it just wasn't their type of school.

I feel that the OP should apply RD to as many schools as possible and decide accordingly. Brickkilledaguy I'm not sure if you're aware, but there's a huge misconception that applying ED to an Ivy will boost an applicant's chances. That's not the case though, much of the ED pool is filled with legacies, recruited athletes, etc. They need to apply ED in order to get the "special boost." Once you account for those types of applicants, you'll see that the RD acceptance rate and ED acceptance rate is roughly the same.

In the case that the OP does get lucky and gets in ED... he's pretty much stuck with Wharton. He could have applied RD and possibly got into Harvard, which undoubtedly is better for recruiting as there's more grade inflation and less competition. OP, If you do decide to apply ED to Wharton, at least visit the school and see what it's like.


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Jun 10, 2014 - 8:54pm

These last two comments have really persuaded me. I'm really not sure what to think about applying ED because it is binding and I really am not desperate to suffer through Wharton. I've said several times that I am going to apply ED,but that was whimsical and there is still quite a bit of time before apps are due.

I really wish I had the extra-cirriculars to get into a school like Harvard or Yale. I'm already going to embellish my app, but I don't want to add things that are completely false. And Texas is a great school - hopefully I make it into the BHP program and can win one of the scholarships. I would really rather work in Houston than New York when it comes down to it. I guess I will follow your advice and go RD to 10 schools and hope for the best.

Jun 11, 2014 - 1:38am

@dickfuld & @opsdude & @3176401 & @brickkilledaguy

How much do you guys think lying on embellishing on college apps really matters? Say, doubling time spent doing certain activities or exaggerating positions in clubs. I suppose it's unethical. How did you guys approach the matter?

Jun 11, 2014 - 3:34am

I would second the other guys saying you should take a shot at HYPS, because you definitely don't want to regret not doing it later. Other than that, I just want to say that as a high school junior thinking about investment banking recruiting and posting on WSO, you will do well at whichever school you go to. Since you are from Texas, I would probably only pick HYPS and Wharton over UT, as UT will place you well in Texas and will be the most entertaining four years of your life as well as give you a great network in Texas (especially if you join a good frat).

By the way, how do you get in-state tuition to be ~20k a year for UT?

Jun 12, 2014 - 8:44pm

Keep in mind that applying ED statistically gives you a higher chance of getting into some of these schools. Despite you being a strong student, there are thousands of other kids with your stats applying to schools like HYP every year. Just think of how many high schools there are in the US, now think that each of these schools has a valedictorian and a salutatorian who are gunning for HYP. Just because you have a 4.0 doesn't mean you're a strong candidate for HYP. Do you have a shot? Sure, as do most other people, but if you visit Wharton and truly like the vibe there, then apply ED and don't waste it on Harvard or Princeton as a pipe dream.

Oct 29, 2014 - 1:19am

Wharton > Penn >> Dartmouth, Georgetown.

All are targets, also Penn CAS will get you a job at the best banks but maybe not some hedge funds. The reality is the amount of Penn CAS kids interested in banking is smaller than the amount of wharton kids, but they still compromise 40-60% of interns at JPM, GS and MS. Dont know about GPAs, a lot of Wharton kids take nursing classes for breadth and their legal studies/management classes are really easy on grades, but I still think it's perhaps easier to get it from the college because your interview questions will be easier and it's easier to stand out by studying or doing something wacky alums that interview you will like/wish they did when they were at penn.

Like I remember from someone at GS who mapped the intern class out, it was about 28 kids from Penn, 18 from Harvard and then 10 from NYU, and a few at 8 or 9 a piece. Maybe differs from firm to firm, but the numbers are just skewed in Penn's favour.

Dartmouth is very small in undergrad population granted, and I think it probably sits at maybe 8, and Georgetown is small too, also about 8, so ratio is not that much worse.

Maybe other banks are less Penn-skewed, but I think all are good to be honest. Wharton is the only school that will open doors to elite hedge funds (no HYP will not do that), and maybe some Penn CAS kids slip through. But these buy side firms don't even bother recruiting at other campuses (Warburg Pincus sometimes picks someone at harvard), so there is just a material advantage with penn.

Consulting I feel is fairer to other ivies/us news because they look closer at academics, but penn still does very well and Wharton probably has a disadvantage in that there's a just a volume problem versus much fewer college people going after these things even in absolute terms, and they tend to value a liberal arts education and problem solving skills more. To be honest, differentiating between penn/Wharton doesn't get you anwhere and Wharton people don't do that (except the they drop the Wharton name for personal purposes). Look at it much more in terms of business major vs non business major: you will find every firm recruiting will always always make a solid effort to say they don't differentiate.

Gtown doesn't have the pedigree of an ivy to maybe let it do well in things other than bb ibd, and dartmouth has been lagging lately (Greek rep doesn't help it these days either). They both place very well for ibd, but other things, penn really leads by no insignificant margin.

Nov 26, 2016 - 3:04pm

So much misinformation going on in many of the replies above.
It is definitely Wharton> Penn CAS>Dartmouth>>>Georgetown>UT

Penn CAS still does very well for recruiting (a bitbetter than Dartmouth, and of course better than Georgetown, UT), and Penn CAS kids are afforded opportunities not available to other CAS kids because of Wharton.

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