Penn, Cornell, NYU Top Feeder Schools To U.S. Hedge Funds

Jul 26 2011 | 8:50am ET

By Claude Schwab, HFObserver -- Graduates of The Wharton School are the most likely to end up in top-paid investing jobs in the hedge fund / alternative investment industry, according to a jobs survey by HFObserver.

An investing job in the hedge fund industry can create generational wealth in just a few years of strong performance, but how can you break into the club?

To find out, HFObserver decided to look at the academic degrees held by more than 450 experienced professionals hired by hedge fund/alternative investment firms between January and July of 2011. Schools are ranked based on how many senior-level 2011 hires were alumni of each institution.

Hedge Fund Top 5: Undergraduate Programs
(* denotes a tie)

  1. University of Pennsylvania
    (including The Wharton School)
  2. Cornell University*
  3. New York University
    (including The Leonard N. Stern School of Bus.)*
  4. Duke University
  5. Stanford University

(Runners Up: Princeton University, Harvard University, Yale University, Syracuse University)

In our survey of undergraduate degrees, University of Pennsylvania and its Wharton business program–already recognized as the most influential undergraduate business program in the country and ranked #1 by US News and World Report in 2011–ranked as the top feeder school for hedge funds with its alums accounting for the largest number of hedge fund hires in the first part of 2011. Cornell and NYU tied for second place, beating out names like Harvard, Yale and Princeton, which in our survey tied for sixth place with Syracuse.

The conventional wisdom in the hedge fund industry is that you won’t get hired unless you are from one of the top schools. HFObserver found that the conventional wisdom is not true. Of more than 400 experienced hedge fund/alternative investment firm hires tracked by HFObserver in the first half of 2011, only 20% held undergraduate degree from one of our top-5 ranked feeder schools.

But a school could determine what kind of hedge fund job you end up in, HFObserver data shows. A closer look at 2011 senior hires found that 75% of those with Penn/Wharton, Yale, and Harvard undergraduate degrees are working as investment professionals (analyst and portfolio manager), the highest-paid jobs in the industry. About 60% of experienced hires with Princeton, Stanford and Duke degrees are actively investing, as are about half those with degrees from NYU. From there, the numbers drop off steeply in investing roles for graduates of Cornell (25%) and Syracuse (20%), as well as for Brown (33%) and Fordham (5%), which tied for tenth place in our survey.

HFObserver found that Syracuse and Fordham still rank highly in overall hires because graduates of the two New York state schools are feeding the ever-growing need by hedge funds for operations, infrastructure, and compliance professionals. And their proximity to the hedge fund capital helps as well.

Claude Schwab is Founder and  Chief Executive Officer of HFObserver. With over ten years of experience in the hedge fund services sector, Claude has deep knowledge of the industry. Prior to founding HFObserver, Claude founded Schwab Enterprise, LLC, a hedge fund service provider focused on search, capital introduction, and media publications. The firm was subsequently acquired by Heidrick & Struggles (NASDQ: HSII) in 2008. At Heidrick, Claude was a Partner who ran the firm’s North America Hedge Fund Practice.


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