Wharton vs. Georgetown School of Foreign Service for undergrad

Hey everyone, I have been accepted into Wharton and the Georgetown School of Foreign Service for undergrad. However, I am having trouble deciding between the two. I know I definitely want to do business abroad, whether it be consulting or marketing. Furthermore, I don't know which school would be better for enabling me to do this. Moreover, Penn gave me a very stingy financial aid offer which will be very burdensome to my family. So, what I am asking is, is it worth it for me to spend twice as much tuition to attend Wharton to receive an excellent business education, or should I enroll in the Georgetown School of Foreign Services, in hopes that I will eventually be able to get a job abroad. Also, in addition to your verdicts, it would be great if you guys could also compare the atmospheres, people and social life of the two schools, giving pros and cons. Thanks

Comments (16)

Apr 21, 2010 - 7:05pm

Wharton has a much better reputation than Georgetown. No question. School of Foreign Service would be respected at the State Department, but Wharton is Ivy League and known around the world. You are comparing apples and less good apples. Georgetown has a reputation of being a safety school for kids who did not get into their first choice (read Ivy League). No one will care that it is the School of Foreign Service, people will hear Georgetown and will group you with their undergrad business school (terrible) or arts and sciences.

This is a no brainer. If it is really a money question for your family. Suck it up and take out loans. Pay them off when you get out and just deal.

Best Response
Apr 21, 2010 - 7:08pm

I had the same problem as you a few years back. My brief two cents: If you know for a fact that you want to work in finance, no matter where in the world, go to Wharton. I also was in a situation where Penn wanted me to pay twice as much as Georgetown. After I decided I wanted to go to Penn, I called financial aid and haggled with them for several days before they gave me a better package than Georgetown. If Penn just won't budge though, fuck it

All that said, there's no question that Georgetown will be more fun. By far, the social life is better at Georgetown. DC is infinitely more fun than Filthadelphia, better weather, much hotter girls, etc. I'd also say that you're a senior in high school. There's basically a 0% chance you even understand want investment banking, sales and trading, asset management, etc., is. I'm working at a BB in S&T this summer, and even with all of my research, interviews, discussions with employees in finance and what not, I still feel like I have a very limited understanding of what the day to day work is. Even if you know everything about finance and know for a fact you want to do it when you graduate, keep in mind that the vast majority of analysts are done working at their bank after their two year stint. If you want to do consulting, and if you even know what consulting really is (by the way, check out managementconsulted.com), by no means do you need to be at Wharton to break into the top consulting firms, and Wharton probably won't give you all that much more of an advantage considering how strong Georgetown's network and on campus recruiting services are.

At the end of the day, you should figure out whether or not you definitely want to go into finance, or if you want a little more flexibility with your education. If you have a strong interest at all in public affairs and international relations, SFS should be your choice hands down (and I know I'll be reamed by WSO for this). Georgetown is more fun and will give you a more holistic education than Wharton.

Also worth mentioning is household name. For the vast majority of people, Georgetown is a better name than Penn/Wharton. The average person confused Penn with Penn state, and only people who are very familiar with the Ivy League and schools of the same caliber will even know the name Wharton. If your social group back home though is more in the know about schools though, the Penn name will probably resonate a little better, but anyone who knows SFS knows it's on the same plane as Wharton.

Realize though that no matter which school you choose, you're gonna end up fine. These are two great options that will both give you a very unique education. I might have sounded as if I don't like Penn, but really I'm just compensating for my bias. I absolutely love it here and I'm really excited about work this summer and what I'll be doing when I graduate, and Penn has opened up a lot of doors for me. You can't go wrong either way. Good luck!

Apr 21, 2010 - 7:44pm

I definitely want to do consulting rather than finance. Is Wharton only top-notch for finance. And especially since I want to consult abroad, would the internationally focused education help me more than a Wharton education would?

Apr 21, 2010 - 8:20pm

Wharton is better for any and everything even loosely related to business. I have immense respect for Georgetown SFS; I would understand why someone who is interested in IR and wants a job in the field would choose it over Harvard, Yale and Wharton. But if your goal is business, Wharton is at the absolute pinnacle of educational institutions. Most kids with an interest in finance would and do take Wharton over HYP, let alone Georgetown. It is worth it.

Apr 21, 2010 - 8:11pm

if you want to work in finance, Wharton in a heart beat which i assume you have a strong interest/passion when your posting on a ibank forum as a hs senior. i think if you do decide wharton you will most likely pursue a career in finance cause you're going to want to pay off those loans you took out.... and although there are other careers you can pay off those loans, ibank will be the fastest way to do so.

Apr 21, 2010 - 8:48pm

most top schools will match other schools financial aid packages--i'd contact them about that first. you shouldn't make such a big decision without seeing if you can do that first.

I agree with everyone else unless you want to do something foreign policy related go to wharton

I think MBB would be easier from wharton...although for MBB i think you'd be even better off at a place like harvard if you have that option

Apr 24, 2010 - 9:38am

As a Wharton alum, I advise you to go to G-town - you'll get a well-rounded experience and become a lot more interesting than most job candidates. Anything you need to learn for you job, you'll learn on the job; business courses are a waste of time.

Consider taking advantage of the SFS opportunities and don't follow the conventional path from undergrad right to Wall St. Broaden your horizons.

  • 1
Apr 27, 2010 - 2:21pm

RE B-School Bound: The School of Foreign Service is definitely differentiated from the rest of the schools by the investment banks that recruit there. Remember, most banks use alumni from the universities in question for the greater part of the recruiting process. In Georgetown's case, most of these alumni are from the undergrad Business School and they do respect the quality of the SFS.

I would agree that Wharton definitely has a stronger reputation in finance. I would also agree that Georgetown is likely to be a more well-rounded experience. Graduates from the School of Foreign Service are well-represented in finance to such an extent that you really shouldn't worry about not being able to get a job if you go to SFS instead of Wharton.

Apr 27, 2010 - 3:35pm

I have a lot of friends who went to Georgetown SFS who were interested in both consulting and finance. Most ended up doing more government-focused work (e.g., Deloitte's federal government practice, Booz Allen) and seemed to have more difficulty "breaking into" consulting than anyone from Wharton ever would.

It sounds like one of the major reasons you're considering SFS is that you feel it will help you get a job abroad. I wouldn't say that's necessarily the case. At the graduate level, Georgetown is very focused on US-based IR opportunities like the Foreign Service (as compared to JHU SAIS, Kennedy or Columbia SIPA), and some of that trickles down to the undergraduate level, too. Wharton will open up just as many doors in Nairobi or Nanjing as SFS will.

May 7, 2010 - 11:19pm

If you want to do business, go to Wharton. It will surely be respected abroad. SFS is great, but you may be wasting a lot of hours studying stuff you'll never really use if you go into business, or at least stuff you could have learned reading yourself. Wharton will prepare you more for business.

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Aug 26, 2015 - 10:29pm

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