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April 1, 2014

Top 10 Trading Schools

Traders assembled a deep bench of judges to select the top U.S. universities that produce the most impressive candidates each year in the field of trading.

By Phil Albinus and Maggie Patrick

As trading has evolved from hands-on deals made by people who left college with business degrees to electronic-based dealmaking, so too have the majors from top trading schools. The days of graduating from business school with an M.B.A. and gliding into a top-notch investment banking job may not be over, but a new breed of trader is coming up. Buyside firms are now looking for recent graduates with first-rate programming and mathematical skills. A young trader's desire and drive to make an outrageous fortune are helpful, but recruiters and asset managers want a candidate who knows his or her market structure, as well as Excel and how to whip up a smart algorithm. Think more The Social Network than Wall Street.


We asked our judges to pinpoint the schools whose graduates impress them each year, the level of those graduates' knowledge and how well- prepared the students are for the trading world. There are universities on our list that will not surprise anyone-but there are a few that may convince you to look for candidates beyond the Ivy League. Talent is, after all, what your buyside firm needs.



B.A. Economics, Mathematics, or Statistics Amherst, Mass.

APPLIED/ACCEPTED: 7,927 applied/1,132 accepted (14%)

PROGRAM TERM: Amherst is a four-year liberal arts college.

CLASS SIZE: 466 in each year

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: Amherst College is regularly cited as one of the top five liberal arts colleges in the United States. Although it has no business program or finance major, the quality of its economics department and strength of its alumni network helped get it on make the list, the only undergraduate program to do so. There will be a new major in statistics in 2014.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS: Amherst offers the bachelor of arts degree in 38 fields of study in the arts, sciences, social sciences and humanities. Students are not required to study a core curriculum or take distribution requirements. Instead, first-year students enroll in one of more than 20 first-year seminars aimed at the interdisciplinary environment of a liberal arts institution. Students may have more than one major, customize their own interdisciplinary major, or pursue independent scholarship. Many students opt for honors theses during their senior year, which are often the equivalent of graduate-level studies.

PROGRAM DIRECTORS: Professors Jessica Reyes, chair of the economics department, and David Cox, chair of mathematics and statistics.

PROFESSIONAL PLACEMENT: Along with the Ivies and other elite liberal arts schools, Amherst is a target recruiting school for many of finance's top firms. Students can rely on the alumni mentoring system to help them set career goals and strategies. Amherst also offers assistance in applying to graduate schools.



Columbia Business School Master of Science in Financial Engineering (M.S.F.E.) New York, N.Y.

APPLIED/ACCEPTED: 1,200 applicant/ 75 to 85 enrolled (~6%)

PROGRAM TERM: 12 - 16 months

CLASS SIZE: 75 - 85 enrolled, 10 students in a seminar class, 20 - 85 in a lecture course