What to study if you want to work in banking

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You want to work in the exciting (but no longer quite so highly paying) world of investment banking. What should you study at university?

We looked at the number of candidates in the eFinancialCareers global CV database who'd studied nine 'core' subjects (mathematics, economics, finance, computer science, physics, chemistry, biology, history, and English Literature) at bachelors degree level, and who had between 1 and 3 years' experience in investment banking/M&A or trading.

Shown below, the results were both surprising and predictable. Firstly, it looks like the degree subjects that will get you a job in M&A are very similar to the degree subjects that will get you a job in trading: predictably, finance and economics are the top subjects in both sectors. More curiously, a history degree looks like a popular option for both M&A bankers and for traders, but graduates in subjects like maths (math), computer science and the sciences are less prevalent.

Why is this? We'd welcome your comments at the bottom of the page. In the meantime, we suggest that front office investment banking jobs are becoming 'professionalized' - graduates with banking-specific qualifications are filling them. Meanwhile, science, mathematics and computing graduates are better able to move into technology careers. What about the history graduates? - Maybe they lack other options and banks like them for their 'perspective'?

Banks have in the past made a big thing about their penchant for liberal arts graduates. - Goldman Sachs, for example, has been known to hold special recruiting sessions for liberal artists. Nonetheless, our statistics suggest there aren't many English Literature graduates in M&A or trading. - Maybe they're all in operations roles instead?

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