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The top 10 universities for careers in banking

If you want a job at a tier-one investment bank, how important is it to attend a good university? In the U.S. at least, it still appears that banks are sourcing many of their junior staff from that country’s leading colleges. This is despite banks’ recent efforts to broaden their campus recruitment drives and beef up hiring from lesser-known institutions.

The table below, sourced from Wall Street Oasis (WSO) data, shows the 10 universities that major banks hire from most frequently at undergraduate level – and they are predominately elite colleges, including Ivy League ones.

The universities are ranked according to the overall percentage of their recent alumni working in these top banks. First-placed New York University, for example, contributes 4.1% of total graduate headcount across the 10 firms (scroll to the right to view this figure), which is impressive when you consider that the data includes all universities, not just the ones in the table.  

Percentages per bank are also displayed. A fairly hefty 6.5% of Goldman’s Sachs’ graduate intake hails from Harvard, for example.

The WSO figures should be taken with a grain of salt. Around 70% of respondents are based in the U.S., so the numbers don’t reveal a global picture, and hence LSE is the only non-American institution mentioned. Moreover, the table provides only a mid-September 2022 snapshot – the rankings change frequently as new data is collected from bank employees.

Nevertheless, it is likely that any newcomers to the top-10 table over the coming weeks, months or even years will be drawn from a similar group of elite U.S. colleges.

Many of those on the current list – including New York University and University of Chicago – are private schools that charge high course fees. Moreover, four of the top-five (Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia and Cornell) are Ivy League institutions.

If you want to save on fees but still get a job in banking, attending a leading public university may be your best bet: University of Michigan, University of Virginia, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill fall into this category.

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