Chicago Booth vs NYU Stern MBA for Finance: A Close Fight

When it comes to picking the best Business School with focus on Finance - Chicago Booth, NYU Stern and Columbia have usually featured in most lists. Today, we compare Booth against Stern and see how their stats stack up.


Booth is located in Chicago, the third largest city in the US and home to Federal Reserve Bank, five major financial exchanges - Chicago Stock Exchange (CHX), the Chicago Board Options Exchange, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade, and the NYSE Arca. The city has 30+ Fortune 500 companies and almost 100 corporate headquarters.  In terms of business and finance, Chicago is second to just one city in the US - New York.

New York is the world's #1 financial and trade hub. It has 45+ Fortune 500 company headquarters, and 500+ other company headquarters. Stern Alumni have the highest concentration in New York and they occupy some of the best companies in the city.
NYU Stern is located in Greenwich Village, which is just beside New York's financial district of Manhattan. This provides access to some of the world's top companies and stock exchanges. The school is not insulated from the city's hustle, and lack of space, which means facilities are sometimes lacking compared to Booth. Chicago Booth on the other hand is located in Hyde Park, a quieter, tree-lined section of Chicago, and has the space to host better facilities.

Besides the networking opportunities, Stern also has the advantage of adjunct professors who just have to take a subway ride to get to campus from Manhattan.

Incoming Class Profile

While the class profile in terms of demographics is similar for both schools, Chicago Booth admits nearly twice as many students. Stern's small class size of just 389 is a definite advantage as students benefit from a closer relationship with their peers and faculty. While Stern had slightly more Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences undergraduates with 31% to 26%, Stern had more Business and Commerce students with an identical 31% to 26% ratio.
What is striking about both colleges is their strong preference for students with a 'Finance' background. The combined strength for pre-MBA studies in Business, Commerce and Economics is 52% at Booth and 48% for Stern. The same stat for MIT's Sloan is 36%, while at Stanford; it is even lower at 17%. This clearly shows both schools playing to their strengths - Finance.

Finance / Economic Departments

Booth's reputation for Finance is driven by the University of Chicago's Department of Economics. It is world renowned for generating new Economic ideas since the middle of the last century. The Department has contributed more Nobel Prize and John Bates Clark winners in economics than any university in the world. Some of the pioneering ideas that originated from the university include the economic theory of socialism, general equilibrium theory, the economics of the household, the rationality of peasants in poor countries,  applied welfare economics, sociological economics (entrepreneurship, racial discrimination, crime), the economics of invention and innovation,  the economics of information, political economy (externalities, property rights, liability, contracts), the monetary approach to international finance and rational expectations in macroeconomics.

Likewise, Stern's Department of Finance houses world-renowned faculty, winners of numerous awards for teaching and research. Faculties at Stern have authorized some of the best textbooks and research articles in Finance. When it comes to fundamentals in Finance, both schools have strong foundations.  However, Booth's MBA graduates have a slight edge over that of Stern when it comes to the prestige of the Finance and Economic Departments.


Chicago Booth's MBA program has an extremely flexible curriculum. Even the core subjects can be customized. The only mandatory part is the Leadership Effectiveness and Development (LEAD) program which highlights the school's emphasis on developing effective leaders. Students must choose 11 electives from hundred courses. A maximum of 14 concentrations is possible for Booth students, dominated by Finance with 6 choices. Booth offers an international perspective with the International Business Exchange Program (IBEP), the International Business Concentration, International Labs, Random Walks, and Industry Treks

Stern offers 300 electives with the Department of Finance offering nearly 70 choices.  In addition to the electives, there are 24 specializations with 9 related to Finance. Stern's core courses have just two mandatory subjects and optional five subjects that must be picked from seven.  There are various global programs like Doing Business in... (DBi), Exchange Programs, International Club Treks and Global Courses like International Social Impact Strategies.

In general, both programs are extremely customizable, but Stern offers greater choice.

Employment Profile

All said and done, Booth has a higher share of placements in Finance (42.9% vs. 41%), and a higher share of placements in Consulting (33.3% vs. 22%). Booth also offers careers in sectors like Software/Internet, and Government/Nonprofit, sectors where Stern appears to have made no placements at all. Stern's Luxury specialization though helps it get nearly 3% of the class placed in the Luxury/Retail sector, while Booth gets just 1.7% in retail. The overall salary range indicates higher salaries for NYU Stern, though a sector wise comparison shows fluctuations - implying it cannot be generalized across the board.


NYU has a smaller class size, and more curriculum options.  Booth compensates with facilities and prestigious faculty members. Stern is recommended for students who want to live and work in New York. For everyone else, Booth is your best pick.

Class of 2014 ProfileChicago BoothNYU SternNotes
Students admitted579389
International / Dual citizens39%
Average GMAT715720
Average Experience54.8
Undergraduate Majors
Consumer Products22%
Engineering, Math, Science20%21%
Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences26%31%
Undergraduate Employment
Entertainment, Media, Technology10%
Nonprofit, Arts, Education, Government, Military11%13%
Advertising, Public Relations5%
Computing Telecom6%
Consumer Products, Retail6%4%
Pharmaceuticals, Healthcare, Biotechnology3%3%
Real Estate2%3%
Class of 2011 Employment
Mean Base Salary $107,875
Median Base Salary $115,000
Range of Base Salary $50,000 - $240,000 $50,000-$160,000
Consulting %30.30%22%Stern salary is mean
Median Salary $1,35,0001,26,696Stern salary is mean
Salary Range$60,000-$150,000$71,000-$140,000
Consumer Products %2.20%7%
Median Salary $1,00,00097,476Stern salary is mean
Salary Range$92,500-$110,000$85,000-$105,000
Energy %1.30%
Median Salary $1,06,000
Salary Range$100,000-$130,000
Investment Banking/Brokerage %20.20%22%
Median Salary $1,00,0001,02,855Stern salary is mean
Salary Range$97,500-$140,000$75,000-$150,000
Diversified Financial Services %8.20%11%
Median Salary $1,00,0001,00,979Stern salary is mean
Salary Range$77,000-$140,000$86,200-$128,333
Investment Management/Hedge Fund7.70%6%
Median Salary $1,20,000$109,722 Stern salary is mean
Salary Range$75,000-$175,000$75,000-$145,000
Private Equity/Venture Captial5.70%3%
Median Salary $1,25,000$109,167 Stern salary is mean
Salary Range$85,000-$240,000$60,000-$125,000
Median Salary $1,07,500
Salary Range$105,000-$132,000
Pharmaceutical/Healthcare/Biotechnology %2.40%3%
Median Salary $1,08,0001,02,750Stern salary is mean
Salary Range$85,000-$115,000$87,500-$117,000
Median Salary $1,25,0001,21,667Stern salary is mean
Salary Range$115,000-$130,000$105,000-$140,000
Software/Internet %5.40%
Median Salary $1,15,000
Salary Range$65,000-$138,000
Media/Entertainment %1.50%
Median Salary $1,05,000
Salary Range$90,000-$110,000
Government/Nonprofit %1.30%
Median Salary $95,000
Salary Range$55,000-$130,000
Real Estate %0.90%1%
Median Salary $N/A95,000Stern salary is mean
Salary Range$85,000-$100,000
Manufacturing %0.60%
Median Salary $N/A
Salary Range
Transportation/Equipment/Defense %0.40%
Median Salary $N/A
Salary Range
Other Services %1.10%8%
Median Salary $N/A99,974Stern salary is mean
Salary Range$80,000-$150,000
Median Salary $110000
Salary Range$100,000-$125,760
Median Salary $1,00,000
Salary Range$50,000-$120,000
Retail /Luxury1.70%3%
Median Salary $1,11,500$93,173 Stern salary is mean
Salary Range$95,000-$119,000$85,000-$112,211
Median Salary $$102,160 Stern salary is mean
Salary Range$50,000-$140,000

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