When it comes to specialising in Finance, an MBA used to be the popular option among students. However, with students interested in specialised Masters degree in Finance and with more universities offering it, this option too seems to be gaining popularity among Finance aspirants from India and other countries.
If you’re stuck with a dilemma and you’re trying to probe whether a Masters in Finance (MS or MSc or MFin) from an international university or an international MBA degree would be the right choice for you, here are some insights into what each of the degrees has to offer.
A Masters in Finance may also be referred to as Master of Science in Finance (MS in Finance or MSF) or Master of Finance or there may be slight variations.
The Masters program can be completed within 12 to 18 months, so it can serve as a good post-graduate degree for those looking for a cost-effective and quicker option to enter the workforce as a Finance professional. An MBA from the US would take longer and need two years to complete.
You can enroll in some of the MSF program immediately after graduation, which makes it a great option for freshers without experience) though few may have a minimum work experience requirement, however an MBA program applicant would be expected to have at least three to five years of work experience while applying.
Doing an MBA from a reputed US university would cost in the range of $100,000 – $150,000 in program fees for two years. To this, you’ll need to add the cost of living and other miscellaneous costs as well.
An MSc in Finance would cost much lower as programs may take only a calendar year to complete. So, the cost of tuition for a year would be much lower and may range approximately from $50,000 – $75,000 depending upon the university you plan to attend.
The cost of living (rent, health insurance, food) would also be reduced to half of what you’d have to spend if you were pursuing a two year MBA program.
The MFin degree would be highly focused, specialising in the technical aspect of finance and quantitative methods. The program would enable students to understand complex finance strategies through tools, mathematical models and frameworks that will aid them in applying finance principles to businesses.
An MBA would give you the option to specialise in the Finance area, however there would be a limitation to the level of detail covered and the scope of topics dealt with.
An MBA would cover a broad spectrum of core business topics and also the electives as per your choice. It provides you with multiple options to choose your career across a wide range of industries and roles, some of which include marketing, HR, operations, strategy, Information Technology, entrepreneurship or finance. It also helps manage a career transition into a new area.
An MBA graduate may be the recruiter’s first choice for jobs on Wall Street or for a role in an investment bank’s mergers and acquisitions department or a role in corporate finance. However, in certain specialised areas of Finance such as risk management, equity research firms, asset management, advisory services, investment research, security analysis, brokerage which need quantitative finance experts with a deep analytical knowledge, an MS in Finance graduate would get an upper hand.
An MBA education would give you the opportunity to study with experienced professionals from diverse academic qualification and from a wide variety of industries and different cultural backgrounds. The study methods like group projects, discussions, case studies involve a lot of peer interaction and the opportunity to learn from what others have to share. Thus, you’d be in a position to examine a business situation from various perspectives and choose for yourself which approach would be the best.
In case of MS in Finance, students come in with very little work experience, so the exposure in terms of learning from peer group may be limited. Though now, MS programs too have case studies involved, there may be an inclination to go by the book instead of examining various practical methods of handling a business problem.
The average salary of an MBA graduate would be higher than someone with an MS in Finance. This component would be very much dependent on an individual’s prior work experience in that area. MBA graduates typically draw a higher salary due to their greater experience.
The average salary of someone graduating with an MS in Finance would be approximately in the range of $62,000 – $86,000 whereas that of an MBA grad would be upto $1,50,000 or higher depending upon the job position and experience level.
The Master of Finance degree has also received a STEM degree designation which is an advantage for international students who would be eligible for a 24 month OPT (Optional Practical Training) extension beyond the initial 12 month OPT. This means that they’d be able to work for upto 36 months under the OPT.
An MBA degree does not get included in the STEM category. So, MBA grads would be eligible for only one year of OPT period after completion of the program.
There are several professionals who wish to have the best of both worlds. So, they may complete their Masters in Finance, work for a few years in a Finance role and then complete their MBA and then aim for more senior management positions within the industry.
Finally, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution to this dilemma. You’d need to weigh the pros and cons of each side and decide whether an MS in Finance or an MBA would be the best option to meet your career goals and suit your budget.