Updated on Friday 8 March 2013
For international students looking to study finance, the United States is still the land of opportunity. Where are the jobs, best schools, best experiences and people that can help connect you to them? This top five list will give you a snapshot of major financial activity in the US, and how you can get connected.
The United States holds about half of the top finance schools globally, and some of the most influential finance capitals of the world. As an international finance student, if you're wondering where to study finance, you may want to be in the vicinity of these five U.S. cities.
New York City is regarded by many as the finance capital of the world. Almost every significant global financial institution has a presence in New York. Many of the largest and most influential investment banks are headquartered in NYC, as well as other organizations that make up the face of Wall Street itself (noteworthy: the famous New York Stock Exchange). New York City has several times more finance internships and entry-level jobs than any other U.S. location with business, financial analyst, and non-profit finance jobs generally topping the list. Some top finance schools including University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Yale, and New York University are in and nearby NYC. You may find that the "city that never sleeps" takes on new meaning in the life of finance students & professionals (meaning this is an intense environment – it's not for the faint of heart). Academic and professional opportunities in finance as well as cultural life and diversity will have a lot to offer international students that do well in the intense environment, but the cost of living is very high.
Chicago stacks up, as "America's second city," appropriately at about half the diversity and quantity of opportunities offered by New York. Chicago is the home of many large banks & brokerage firms, the well-known Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Chicago board of Trade. It's also known for futures & derivatives trading, and the average jobs available tend to be more accounting jobs within those institutions. The high-ranking finance program at University of Chicago, another of the top finance schools is also in town. As a place to live, Chicago will offer you a great sports and culture scene, but make sure you can handle extremely cold winters.
Boston may be a bit of a surprise on the list of where to study finance, but it boasts a significant heavy-hitting financial district, known for large asset management firms and home of the headquarters of many large banks, including Bank of America. The financial job market in Boston tends to be less stable than others on this list that have more of a public sector presence (except jobs in investment banking, which are generally a bit volatile). The prestigious Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as well as numerous other Boston schools have great nearby finance programs. The weather and cost of living is in Boston are friendly. You'll find an active, passionate sports & culture atmosphere, as well as interesting historical sites, and escapes to nearby beaches & mountains.
San Francisco is the finance capital of the western US. Many investment & brokerage companies have their headquarters in the San Francisco bay area, which is also one of just four U.S. Treasury Financial hubs. San Francisco also offers perhaps the best range of opportunities to focus on finance connected to the technology sector with nearby Silicon Valley, and is considered by some to be the global capital of venture capital industry. Nearby Stanford and UC Berkeley provide great academic programs in finance. The weather is very moderate because of almost always being misty and cloud covered, punctuated by sporadic year-round gorgeous days. You'll also enjoy historic fun neighborhoods of the city, and proximity to beautiful outdoors & natural beauty, lots of cultural life.
Washington, DC, is not only home to the U.S. Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, and financial government & regulatory sectors generally, but also the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), much of the non-profit finance and venture capital world. With jobs in the regulatory industry on the rise, this is a very active center for finance. Schools like American and Georgetown provide great financial academic programs in the context of a very diverse city home to many international students and citizens.
There are lots of great opportunities to study finance all over the US, but the activity in these financial hubs will likely influence opportunities and important factors for where to study finance in the rest of the country.