What the best investors studied in college

Aspiring investors often wonder what they should study in college to best prepare themselves for a career in the field. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, certain fields of study and specific courses can be particularly useful. In this article, we will explore what some of the best investors studied in college and highlight some specific examples.

NameBachelor's DegreeGraduate DegreeAlma Mater
Warren BuffettBusiness AdministrationEconomicsColumbia University
Peter Lynch"History and Philosophy"M.B.A.University of Pennsylvania
Ray DalioFinanceM.B.A.Harvard University
George SorosPhilosophyPhilosophyLondon School of Economics
Carl IcahnPhilosophyPrinceton University
John PaulsonFinanceM.B.A.Harvard University
Howard MarksFinance
Japanese Studies minor
M.B.A. Accounting, MarketingUniversity of Chicago
Jack BogleEconomics and InvestmentPrinceton University
Paul Tudor JonesEconomicsUniversity of Virginia
Joel GreenblattN/AM.B.A.University of Pennsylvania
Charlie MungerMathematicsJ.D.Harvard Law School
David EinhornGovernmentCornell University
Bill AckmanSocial StudiesM.B.A.Harvard University
Seth KlarmanEconomics
History minor
M.B.A.
Harvard University

Many top universities

Top universities, such as Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia, have produced some of the most successful investors in the world. The rigorous coursework and challenging academic environment at these institutions likely played a role in shaping the work ethic and analytical skills of these investors. Additionally, the culture of innovation and risk-taking at these universities may have contributed to the mindset and approach of successful alumni.

However, it’s important to note that academic excellence alone is not enough for success in investing. While a strong educational foundation is important, success in investing also requires creativity, strategic thinking, and a willingness to take risks. These traits are developed through a combination of academic study, practical experience, and personal drive.

Not all finance majors

While finance and business administration seem like the obvious choice, it’s important not to overlook the value of a liberal arts education. Fields such as history, literature, philosophy, and the arts, can provide a foundation in critical thinking, communication, and creativity that provide the necessary perspective to outperform.

For example, Paul Tudor Jones, the founder of Tudor Investment Corporation, studied history at the University of Virginia. He has credited his liberal arts education with giving him a broad perspective and the ability to see patterns in history that are relevant to financial markets.

Similarly, Peter Lynch, the former manager of the Fidelity Magellan Fund, studied history and philosophy at Boston College. Liberal arts educations teach how to think critically and approach problems from different angles. Lynch has written how he benefited from one in his book One Up on Wall Street.

Personal traits

In addition to academic knowledge, legendary investors often speak about personal traits that are important for success. These factors include things like discipline, perseverance, creativity, and a willingness to take risks.

Warren Buffett, one of the most successful investors in history, is known for his discipline and patience. He emphasizes the importance of discipline in avoiding investments that an investor doesn’t understand, and the importance of patience in allowing investments to grow over time. Buffett’s emotional control and focus on long-term results also contribute to his success as an investor.

Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, emphasizes the importance of emotional control and self-awareness in investing. He believes that being aware of one’s own biases and emotional reactions is critical to making good investment decisions. Dalio also emphasizes the importance of taking a long-term view and not getting caught up in short-term market movements.

Conclusion: Don’t rule out Liberal Arts

The best investors come from a variety of educational backgrounds and have studied a range of subjects in college. While economics, finance, and business are popular areas of study among legendary investors, many of them credit a broad, liberal arts education as an essential element of their investing success. Nonacademic factors, such as practical experience, personal drive, and the ability to adapt to change, are also valuable. Ultimately, the most successful investors are those who are able to combine their academic knowledge with practical experience and a willingness to continuously learn and adapt to changing market conditions.

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