Which Masters program places best into IB in the US?

Hi guys, 

Hope you are all enjoying your summer. I am a rising senior at a European University with 1 year of experience for an institutional investment consultancy. I will be interning with a well reputed Nordic Investment Bank in ER in December, and I have an upcoming interview with an MBB. Hopefully I can land the MBB internship to boost my CV. Nonetheless, I have looked into Master programs in the US as I want to live there in the future. My goal is to land a gig in London with a BB or for a Asset Management firm and then transfer out to the US or work for two years and then do an T15 MBA, but I think finding a job in London will be hard for me given my non-target background as well as getting a job that MBA recruiters will be impressed by. Thus, a Masters degree with STEM designation seems like the option to go for, but I know that it is not so common in the US, especially for good students. Therefore, I was wondering if you guys had any advise in terms of Master. programs in finance to go for? I have looked at MIT, UT Austin and Vanderbilt, but perhaps you guys know more about these programs as well as other programs that might be interesting. I have not taken the GRE/GMAT yet, but I have an A average (4.55/5.00), one year experience working part-time for an investment consultancy with $12bn under advisory,  internship coming up in ER and voluntary experience with the World Economic Forum to give you some more context. Thank you in advance. 

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Comments (22)

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Cov
Jul 25, 2021 - 11:32am

Vanderbilt by far. Sure, MIT and Princeton have excellent programs, but they are more on the academic side (Princeton is 2 years and very very tough). On the other hand, Vanderbilt focuses on getting you hired in the industry of your choosing. Many students come into the program with a non-IB internship and have success securing FT offers. Do you know how difficult this is? And somehow they pull it off year after year.


Just look at the Class Profile. Notice that the pay data is skewed and doesn't account for bonuses; therefore, the average IB analyst salary is reported as 80-90K. If IB is the goal, this program will you give the best shot of breaking in without having to go the MBA or Big 4 route.

Jul 25, 2021 - 2:45pm

I appreciate the answer and congratulations with getting an analyst gig! Do you think that the fact that Alliancebernstein has moved its headquarters to Nashville will make Vandy more attractive? I personally am very keen on working on the buy side for a L/S hedge fund or develop my own strategy over time, so if Allianceberstein recruits from Vandy it could be a good way to get a foot into the buy side? Thanks!

  • Intern in PE - LBOs
Jul 25, 2021 - 2:46pm

No doubt Vanderbilt is great, but I think it is worth mentioning that MIT has great OCR targeted by top IBs and MFs, although I do not know what the perception of MFin student is by MIT alumni. In any case I have seen MIT MFin student get into SLP with no previous experience in the US.

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Jul 25, 2021 - 2:53pm

I like in the Nordics, and here MIT is quite known and I know some guys that have done the Mfin there, but they all went to MBB afterwards. The problem with MIT is perhaps the GMAT/GRE. I saw the median was 170 on the Quant, and I am sceptical about getting such a score myself. 

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jul 25, 2021 - 2:21pm

Vanderbilt / MIT. Princeton you need more experience and isn't for graduating seniors plus it's 2 years. MIT is MIT so you can get placed it's just way more quant heavy. Vandy consistently places half of its class into IB. Anything other than Vandy/MIT is a step down.

  • Intern in PE - LBOs
Jul 25, 2021 - 2:40pm

I think Princeton's MFin program is more targeted towards people hoping to transition into quant finance. OP you can look at the resumes online, and you'll see some people with previous top IB experiences. Vanderbilt/MIT are great for IBD.

Jul 25, 2021 - 2:49pm

Thanks for your answer, I appreciate it. What do you think about some of the MFE programs (UC Berkley, UCLA etc)? My end goal is to work for a L/S fund, or Long-only funds like Sands Capital, AKO Capital etc focused on Growth/Quality companies. 

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jul 25, 2021 - 2:58pm

MFE curriculums are all quantitative and pretty brutal. You need to be strong at math or you'll be miserable. I don't see why you'd pursue one if you want a traditional corporate finance role like IB. UT Austin places fine into Dallas/Houston but is a pretty sizable step down from Vandy/MIT.

Most Helpful
Aug 23, 2021 - 8:16pm

I haven't attended any of these, but here are my views from friends who've done them.

MIT / Vandy - as others posted, these are two of the best MSF programs with strong OCRs. Vandy seems to place very well in IB and MIT has a wider placement (IB but also HFs/MFs and consulting). 

Princeton - hard to get into, hard to survive there but you can write your ticket after. Knew a few fixed income HF guys who came out of it who told me they had a ton of career options after. Obv it's a very quanty program, so if quant isn't your thing, move on. 

Columbia / Yale - newer programs sure, but have run into ppl who really liked them. Know 2 guys who did Columbia, 1 ended up at a top biotech fund (had a science undergrad) and 1 in consulting. I'm referring to the programs at CBS/SOM, not the engineering schools. 

Programs to avoid - the cash cow masters degrees that sell you on the parent university and bilk international students out of their money. These programs have minimal OCR support and lack a history of placement. Students return home after with a fancy piece of paper and are own their own for their career search. I've heard from friends that Cornell and Georgetown fall into this category, not sure which others.  

Best of luck!!!!


Sep 7, 2021 - 3:45pm

This is a really helpful comment, and I am very sorry for not answering before. I agree on avoiding the cash cows, so I've narrowed down my choices to MIT, Vandy and Yale (Masters in Asset Management). I think Princeton will be to quant for my taste even though I do not mind quantitative subjects. Could I perhaps ask another question. I have interviewed for an Equity Research position after my undergraduate at a leading Nordic Investment Bank , do you think that working there for a couple of years before doing an MBA would be a better bet? I am leaning more towards that as of now, as I think attending a top MBA would be the better way to getting a job in the states in the future. 

Sep 7, 2021 - 5:47pm

They're both good but different paths.

Both are good paths (1 - top MSF in the US and going into IB; 2 Nordic ER and US MBA) and it really comes down to what you want to do (and where) for the next few years. 

The only thing I'd be careful about is covering a super niche industry in the Nordic bank that you don't like under a bad boss. If you land a good II ranked equity research analyst to work under in a sector you like, the Nordic ER role could be interesting. If you're stuck under a bad analyst covering something random that has limited optionality, the US MSF may be a better bet that gives you more career optionality. 

Best of luck.  

Sep 7, 2021 - 7:31pm

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