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The ten best universities for becoming a quant or strat at Goldman Sachs

With sales and old-school trading jobs disappearing, quants, or quantitative analysts, have taken on huge roles at investment banks, including Goldman Sachs. So too have “strats,” a role originally born at Goldman that acts as a fusion of technologists and quants. Strats already account for 25% of the firm's total headcount in its fixed income, currencies and commodities division, and Goldman has indicated that it plans to add more talent across multiple divisions. So what’s the best way in?

With the role that quants and strats play being so fluid, there isn’t one specific master’s program that opens doors for candidates, though hybrid degrees like financial engineering, computational finance and quant economics tend to be attractive. However, other quants and strats have more traditional postgraduate degrees in computer science, math, statistics and engineering. A thorough dive into the crop of current quants and strats at Goldman suggests that majoring in one of the aforementioned areas of study doesn’t necessarily provide a leg up over another. But the name of the school on the diploma does.

We searched through the public profiles over 200 current quants and strats at Goldman Sachs and cross-referenced them by top universities. While there were certainly several one-offs here and there, the ten universities below represent a significant percentage of Goldman’s hybrid engineering and trading talent. Note the rankings are solely based on the number of graduates who are currently employed at Goldman. The size of the programs couldn’t be taken into account as the degrees were so varied across departments and focus areas.

If you live in the West, the name that tops the list is likely a surprise. But the Indian Institute of Technology appears to be Goldman’s biggest global feeder of quants and strats, and the research suggests that the competition isn’t even close. The Indian Institute of Technology is massive – spread across more than 20 campuses throughout India. More than 80% work out of Goldman's IIT strats work in the Bengaluru office, though several count New York as home. Most graduated from the university’s six-year duel bachelor’s and master’s in technology program.

Imperial College London, Princeton, Columbia and Oxford round out the top half before a somewhat significant drop to the final five schools. The degrees of Imperial College London graduates vary significantly, including math, finance, advanced computing, engineering computing, and electrical and electronic engineering, among others. At Princeton and Columbia, degrees in operations research and financial engineering were quite popular among current Goldman quants and strats. Different variations of mathematics degrees were big at Oxford.

One interesting thing to note is that graduates of France’s École Polytechnique don’t seem to stick around the area. Yes, they're in the Paris office, but they are also spread across London, New York and Hong Kong. Meanwhile, two schools that didn’t make the list but should be on the radar of potential students are China’s Peking University and Williams College in the U.S. At least seven former bachelor’s degree holders from Peking University are current strats or quants at Goldman, though six of them went on to obtain their master’s degree from a different school before joining the bank. While not making the list, Williams College may come off as the most impressive school of the bunch. At least five Goldman strats or quants received their undergraduate degree from Williams and none of those who came up in our research have their master’s degree, typically a prerequisite for the role.

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AUTHORBeecher Tuttle US Editor
  • fi
    30 October 2018

    Nice. Except IIT is not a university. Last I recall it’s actually three : Ahmedabad, Bangalore, and Calcutta - A, B and C. Around 20yrs ago, Lehman started a big recruitment program there (spearheaded by IIIT alums in Research as you might guess. The usual LEH Sr mgr resume in Research was IIT then IIM then Finance PhD in the US).

    They loved A and B but eventually dropped C. Eventually it too dominated most other recruitment programs. So this is not at all surprising.

  • Li
    Liam Clifford
    26 October 2018

    I'd be curious to get a deeper look into where these schools segment out at different levels of seniority and by location. You'd mentioned that IIT & École Polytechnique alum can be scattered across the country, but I'd be curious if they have the same trajectory potential in NY as they would in the country of origin.

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