The 10 best business schools if you want to work on Wall Street

wall street skyline

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The view from Wall Street isn’t bad. These business schools will help you get there.

Do you have visions of orchestrating mega-mergers, minting millions on bold stock bets, or managing billions of dollars in assets? Or, perhaps more realistically, playing with spreadsheets for hours on end? Wall Street might be calling your name. 

A job in finance can set you up for a lucrative career. And an MBA from a high-powered business school can help you leap a few rungs on the ladder and command a six-figure salary right off the bat. In fact, at the top-10 business schools for finance, the average graduate earns over $140,000 in their first year. 

That’s according to the latest list of top business schools by U.S. News & World Report, which ranked 131 MBA programs based on criteria that includes job placement, starting salary, selectivity, and assessments by peers and recruiters. The schools were given a numerical score, with 100 representing the best possible result. Read a full breakdown of the methodology here.

In addition to its overall ranking, U.S. News ranked the best schools for various business professions, from accounting to supply chain logistics. And, of course, finance. For these career-specific rankings, U.S. News surveyed the deans and MBA program directors at various schools, who were asked to nominate up to 10 programs that excelled at the given career specializations.

Read on to check out the 10 top business schools for a career on Wall Street. 

Note: Tuition figures reflect annual costs for out-of-state students.

10. University of California at Los Angeles — Anderson School of Management

Location: Los Angeles, California

Average starting salary: $140,457

Annual tuition and fees: $59,290

Overall score: 84

UCLA’s Anderson School of Management prides itself on “looking to the future to discover and chart what will be.” To that end, the school recently established an academic marketing partnership with Google to provide students with insight into Google’s pioneering approach to marketing measurement and storytelling. Notable alumni include YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and a number of Google executives.

9. University of Michigan — Ross School of Business

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Average starting salary: $145,926

Annual tuition and fees: $64,678

Overall score: 89

The Ross School of Business strives to provide each student with opportunities to advance their career, and it facilitates a team of over 50 peer coaches to help them along the way. Hundreds of well-known companies visit the school to interview MBA candidates, and top recruiters for the class of 2016 included Amazon, Deloitte, Google, McKinsey & Co., and Microsoft.

8. Harvard University — Harvard Business School

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Average starting salary: $153,830

Annual tuition and fees: $75,353

Overall score: 100

The world’s oldest — and most expensive — MBA program, Harvard Business School is also often considered the best for overall excellence. For a career in finance though, it currently lags behind a handful of other top-notch schools. 

The high average-starting salary its graduates command, the school’s reputation with employers, and the HBS network of more than 46,000 living alumni make it one of the most coveted business schools for students. HBS’s cadre of successful alumni — littered with politicians, CEOs, and billionaires — is unrivaled: Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former President George W. Bush, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, and HP Chairman Meg Whitman all graduated from the institution.

7. University of California at Berkeley — Haas School of Business

Location: Berkeley, California

Average starting salary: $140,067

Annual tuition and fees: $57,560

Overall score: 93

The second-oldest business school in the US, the Haas School of Business was named for Walter Haas, who was an undergrad at Berkeley and grew Levi Strauss & Co. into the world’s largest apparel manufacturer before his death in 1979. Haas boasts impressive diversity within its MBA classes. Forty-three percent of the class of 2016 was comprised of women, 44% of were international students, and 26% identified as US minorities.

6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology — Sloan School of Management

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Average starting salary: $143,565

Annual tuition and fees: $68,250

Overall score: 96

The Sloan School of Management, which celebrated its 100-year anniversary last year, offers three MBA tracks: enterprise management, entrepreneurship and innovation, and finance. Sloan reported that 93% of 2016 graduates accepted job offers within 90 days of graduation at companies like Amazon, Google, McKinsey & Co., and Microsoft, and 6.1% of grads went on to start their own businesses.

5. Stanford University — Graduate School of Business

Location: Palo Alto, California

Average starting salary: $153,553

Annual tuition and fees: $66,540

Overall score: 96

More commonly known as factory that churns out Silicon Valley superstars and tech entrepreneurs, Stanford holds its own when it comes to finance, too. 

The school lags behind other programs in job placement — 63% of the class of 2016 were employed by graduation, and 82% were employed three months after graduation — but Stanford attributes that to students becoming more patient and selective. But graduates who did accept a job commanded compensation packages that more than cover the entire $133,080 price tag for the two-year degree.

 

4. Columbia University — Columbia Business School

Location: New York, New York

Average starting salary: $150,229

Annual tuition and fees: $71,624

Overall score: 90

Students begin crafting their network and community within the business world the minute they arrive at Columbia, thanks in part to the school’s cluster system, which places first-year students in “clusters” of 65 to 70 people who take all their core classes together. Columbia also counts some of the greatest minds in finance among its alumni, including Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett and former Bank of America executive Sallie Krawcheck.

3. New York University — Stern School of Business

Location: New York, New York

Average starting salary: $145,413

Annual tuition and fees: $69,110

Overall score: 87

Stern’s MBA program heavily focuses on individuality, and students can choose up to three specializations, with options including everything from banking to real estate to luxury marketing. Post-graduation, students end up at a range of companies, including Boston Consulting Group, NBCUniversal, Morgan Stanley, and Burberry.

The school takes its name from billionaire property mogul Leonard Stern, who earned his MBA from NYU in 1959 and donated $30 million to construct a new building for the business school in 1988.

2. University of Chicago — Booth School of Business

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Average starting salary: $147,475

Annual tuition and fees: $67,668

Overall score: 98

Ninety-five percent of students from the 2016 class had secured employment within three months of graduation, and the top-five employers were McKinsey & Co., Boston Consulting Group, Amazon.com, Bain & Co., and Accenture.

Booth’s full-time MBA program focuses on training students for real-world business scenarios through experiential learning and lab courses where students work with actual early-stage startups. The school also brings in guest lecturers from private-equity and venture-capital companies, and some Booth students intern with the companies and help them evaluate new market and business opportunities.

1. University of Pennsylvania — The Wharton School

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Average starting salary: $155,058

Annual tuition and fees: $73,634

Overall score: 100

The Wharton School tied with Harvard Business School for the top spot in the overall ranking, but it stands alone when it comes to a career in finance. It’s the second-most expensive program in the country, but Wharton’s high average starting salary, stellar reputation, and 96% job placement within the first three months of graduation make it a worthwhile investment.

The first business school in the US, Wharton was established in 1881 from a $100,000 donation by industrial tycoon Joseph Wharton. The institute now boasts one of the largest alumni networks among b-schools, including notable figures like John Sculley of Pepsi and Apple, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, and billionaire financier Ron Perelman.


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