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Which degree will get you a high paying investment banking job?

Investment banks would have you believe that any degree disciplines are considered during their graduate recruitment process and that the analytical skills of arts students are just as valued as the quantitative abilities of maths and economics graduates.

Broadly speaking, this is a fib. Analysis of 706 investment banking directors by salary benchmarking website suggests that finance and business students are hired in far greater numbers than anyone studying softer subjects. 34% of the sample it analysed majored in accounting, business or finance, 24% studied economics. After that, percentage figures get a little negligible.

11% of IB directors have maths and statistics degrees and 10% are engineering graduates. The fifth and sixth most common degrees are chemistry and computer science, but they account for just 4% and 3% of the total respectively.

What this implies is that should you possess an arts degree you will need to be both exceptional and attend a top university. 15% of bankers at HSBC have arts and humanities degrees, for example, but these people usually attended an Oxbridge university.

Graduates with more quantitative degrees like maths and statistics, economics and techie computer studies expertise end up earning more than those with accounting and business qualifications anyway as do the small proportion of graduates with history degrees. This may simply be a case of large numbers of accounting, business and finance graduates skewing the average down, however.


AUTHORPaul Clarke
  • su
    3 April 2016

    Not quite, how do you know liberal arts students do not apply? On the other hand, if they do not apply, why do not apply? Perhaps, because they would not expect to be accepted?

    Liberal arts is good for doing politics or even business where there is no pre-requisite of skills, most of the time, just luck. Face it !!

  • gu
    8 April 2015

    I don't know whether the author studied arts or mathematics, but he could use some lessons in basic logics.

    This article completely neglects the fact that, as common sense suggests, there are probably much fewer applicants from liberal arts major than finance / business majors at investment banks. To draw any real conclusion, one would have to look at the acceptance rate of each major, and even that would be imperfect because it's hard to reason with all else held equal (school, individual skills, etc.).

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