Masters in Finance Alternatives to Consider

By - Dec 6, 06:30 AM Comments [0]

MFin Alternatives to Consider

For some people, it’s the Masters in Finance (MFin or MSF), period. It’s the right type of program at the right time. Yet, the MFin has some overlaps and similarities with several other types of masters programs, and some people’s educational needs may be met by more than one type. In fact, I’ve known and worked with such applicants. Also, before you commit the time, energy, and money into applying to an MFin program, it’s wise to examine all the options to confirm it really is the best fit.

All that said: the program categories are not rigid. For example, Princeton and MIT’s Masters in Finance programs would fit as well if not better in the first category below (Heavy Quant Programs) than with other MFin programs. And many MBA programs have a concentration in some type of analytics and of course finance.

I’ll summarize the related programs below. You might conclude that indeed only the MFin is right for you. Or you might be surprised at an appealing option you hadn’t considered!

  1. Heavy Quant Programs: Masters in Financial Engineering, Masters in Quantitative Finance, Master’s in Computational Finance, Financial Mathematics, etc.

    Like the MFin, these programs are often for early career people, but many span a somewhat wider range. The curriculums are obviously highly rigorous in quantitative and analytic dimensions. Usually, the application requirements include extensive mathematics coursework as well as strong programming skills. For the “top 20” such programs, the GRE quant score averages 168+. If you are interested in such programs, check each program’s specific requirements regarding experience level and quant/programming background.

    Consider this type of program if:

    • You want a swift entry ramp to a finance career that is quant-based, which could be anything from algorithmic trading to portfolio management to quantitative research and more.

    • You enjoy the intensive quant focus and have the math chops to handle it without getting overly stressed.

  2. Analytics Programs: Masters in Business Analytics, Masters in Data Analytics, M.S. in Analytics, etc.

    This relatively new discipline is essentially the human component of the big data revolution, and these programs prepare students to identify, collect, sort, and analyze data, usually for other decision makers. They target varied experience ranges: many are for early career people, but some welcome a range of experience. They vary also in that some require significant quant and programming skills, others just basic familiarity – check this before you apply. Also, many such programs are under the b-school umbrella, and so may incorporate business-related components – even though the career path is analytical and technical, these professionals must usually work in teams and effectively communicate their findings and questions to non-technical functions.

    Consider this type of program if:

    • You want to hit the ground running in a substantive role where you’ll also learn immensely not just about the data you’re analyzing but also about the organizational decision-making it feeds.

    • You have an affinity for detail, sustained attention, and willingness to learn continuously as the tools and parameters of the function continue to evolve rapidly.

  3. Master’s in Management Programs:

    These are typically 1-year, early-career programs (applicants should either be recent college grads or college seniors). They enable people interested in a business career but lacking a business education to acquire familiarity with business basics. They also, via recruiting, funnel graduates into entry-level business and management roles. They cover the basic business functions with a focus on management roles, as well as professional development needs such as leadership, communication skills, etc.

    Consider this type of program if:

    • You come from a non-business major and want to start a business career with some foundational knowledge and a sharpened professional persona.

    • You want that foundation to feature breadth over depth.

  4. Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) Programs:

    There’s probably not much explanation needed here. MBA programs provide advanced business training for people who have some years of experience (usually about 3-7) and also have defined career goals (paradoxically, many still change their career focus during the MBA years, but that’s another story). MBA programs range widely in format and pedagogical approach: some are lecture-based, some are case-study based, and some use both. Some offer many concentrations, and some offer a holistic curriculum. Most have core required courses. Sometimes appealing MFin applicants who have more experience than the MFin program desires are recommended to the school’s MBA program, where they might take a finance concentration.

    Consider this type of program if:

    • You want to focus on finance but have more than 1-2 years of work experience and/or you are at a professional level where you can benefit from learning alongside experienced peers.

    • You have the experience and perspective to use the advanced resources of an MBA program productively in shaping and implementing a career plan.

    • You want to combine your study of finance with a more general business education.

And, this list is hardly exhaustive! Additional related programs include Masters in Risk Management or Financial Risk Management, Masters in Machine Learning, and many others. These are more specialized and beyond the scope of this post, but do search broadly if you have a specific interest within finance – you never know what type of program you may discover!

Last but not least, I’ve had long and extensive exposure to the ever-changing world of graduate finance education, and I’d love to help you on your journey! Check out Accepted’s wide range of Graduate School Admissions Consulting & Editing Services and choose the one that’s best for you. Learn more here.

Get your guide!

Cindy TokumitsuCindy Tokumitsu has advised hundreds of successful applicants, helping them gain acceptance to top MFin, MBA and EMBA, and other graduate management programs in her 15+ years with Accepted. She would love to help you too. Want Cindy to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!



Related Resources:

• Fitting In & Standing Out: the Paradox at the Heart of Admissions, a free guide
The Berkeley MFE: One Tough Program with Amazing Opportunities for Grads, a podcast episode
UCLA’s MS in Business Analytics: Prep for the Sexiest Job of the 21st Century, a podcast episode


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