Masters in Finance | M.Fin, MiF, MSF

Best Universities in the world for Finance

Master of Finance, as the name suggests, is a graduate program in Finance. Graduates typically apply their expertise in various careers in finance, having gone through a period of considerable in-depth training in financial matters, economics, quantitative finance, and more.

The degree has some shades of flavours depending on the institute offering it. It is mostly known as Master of Finance (M.Fin.) or Master in Finance (MiF). Although depending on the bend of what’s given priority, in the coursework, it is also known as Master of Science in Finance (MSF), or some such version of it.

It could be either heavily oriented for finance roles in management as in MSF, or deeply inclined to quantitative finance and financial engineering like in MFin or MSc, or plain MFE. But the lines often blur. In this article, we will use the acronyms MiF and MFin interchangeably.

In this article, we will discuss some of the essential bits of information pertinent to those who want to pursue a hard-core career in Finance with a strong theoretical background to support a mastery of the field, over the usual generalist approach in broader professional programs.

For those not acquainted with finance, here’s a brief set of introduction articles – Introduction to Finance.

What kind of courses and syllabus comprise Master in Finance?

Master in Finance is a focused study of Finance that prepares its graduates for handling corporate finance, investment banking, financial institutions, risk management, portfolio management, and develop in-depth technical knowledge in finance.

They are taught to think creatively and involve the understanding of major theoretical topics in finance with quantitative methods. Thus, while it is a more theoretical academic approach to finance, it is a phenomenal way to reach its application through the technical knowledge.

Popular coursework includes focused finance topics (as obtained from ESSEC and Berkeley Haas curriculums) such as Financial Markets, Corporate Financial Theory and Management, Econometrics, Fixed Income Markets, Asset Management & Insurance, Investment & Derivatives, Mergers & Acquisitions, Macroecnomics, Commodity Markets, Real Estate Finance, Stochastic Calculus, Financial Data Science, Securities, Risk Management, Equity, and many more.

Students also undergo specializations or projects in Corporate Finance, Finance Markets, Equity Research, and more. Internships are common as part of the curriculum, though not universally so. A lot many programs leave the decision up to the students.

Some, like ESSEC have a choice between completing a dissertation on an original finance research topic like the one done on “Private Equity as an alternative to bank lending”, or use the time to gain internship experience (4 to 6 months) with ESSEC’s corporate internship partners. Programs often include international study trips for that extra bit on a global experience.

What is the Eligibility and Requirement for MFin?

Unlike MBA, Master in Finance requires incoming candidates to already have an aptitude for Economics, Computer Science, Engineering, Science, Mathematics and/or Business. Programs that are more technical by nature, i.e., programs with a strong quantitative component in the curriculum also require Computer Programming skills, high level of Mathematics and Statistics, Finance, and such quantitative tools as will be necessary to gain a meaningful understanding of how to apply them as finance based modelling and calculations.

As far as educational qualifications and work experience are concerned, here are the observations.

  • Most programs do not need any professional experience. A Master or Bachelor’s degree in the above fields is sufficient. However, certain programs, like Cambridge Judge’s MFin program requires at least two years of graduate work experience in a finance related role. In fact, Cambridge Judge even welcomes undergraduates from any field so long as they fulfil the finance related work experience and have an aptitude to understand Mathematics and Statistics, as required during the duration of the degree.
  • International candidates are required to demonstrate their proficiency in English through one of TOEFL, IELTS or any other acceptable test score.
  • GMAT/GRE or other aptitude tests are essential in not all but certain programs.
  • Essays, transcripts, recommendation letters, and so on.

It is best to check with the individual programs given the variety of countries and institutes that offer the degree.

What is the duration of MFin Programs?

Usually a one-year program, Masters in Finance can also be extended based on whether there is a pre-requisite period involved for the degree. Such as in ESSEC where Master’s degree or 4 years Bachelor’s candidates study for 1 year whereas 3-year Bachelor’s candidates study for 2 years.

The duration of the program usually includes a project and/or internship which may or may not be compulsory for the completion of the degree.

What are the Job Prospects and Average Salaries after MFin?

Master of Finance graduates are trained not only with a strong foundation in theory of finance but also its application in areas like Banking, both Investment and Commercial where they get involved in investment portfolios, securities and help banks in their financial management, sales, accounting, and more. Or as brokers who sell bonds, etc.

They assist big corporations in their financial management and planning, advising them on securities and investments. On a varied scale, in various kinds of roles, they do a crucial task of following economic and market trends, external factors that influence them, and work with individuals and corporations with their financial analysis such as various types of investment options, etc.

Insurance companies also hire them as risk management specialists who are able to forecast and analyse worth of assets. Other job roles find them in active roles in Equity/Debt Capital Market, Private Equity, Mergers & Acquisitions, Asset Management, and all those hard to summarize complex finance wizardry.

They are prized for their comprehension of complex financial concepts and ability to analyse them with complex tools. They are globally well-versed and are adept at researching and strategically making decisions based on their understanding.

These traits are especially important for a more specialist approach, within organizations, in Corporate Finance, following Financial Markets, Asset Management, Banking, etc. These are more involved roles, with growing inclusion of their expertise and experience, as compared to generalist roles with a Finance specialization.

As far as employment is concerned, most top programs find over 90% of their graduates employed within the first three months of graduation. Their starting salaries can range from around $70,000 to over $130,000, depending on the graduation program, company, role, and location.

Among its recruiting companies are big names like Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Deloitte, Edmond de Rothschild, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, J P Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey & Company, A T Kearney, Deutsche Bank, and more.

Read Careers in Finance in India

What are the top Master in Finance Programs in the world?

Here are some of the top Master in Finance (and its derivatives) programs assimilated from various sources (mostly Financial Times and QS University Rankings).

School Program Name Work Experience Duration Approx. Tuition
HEC Paris Master in International Finance Not Essential 10 months $37,000
ESCP Europe Specialized Master in Finance 2 year Master/

1 year Master with 3 years work experience

1 year $27,300
EDHEC Business MSc in Finance None required 1 year $27,000
London Business School Masters in Finance (Full-Time) Min. 2 years work experience 10-16 months $60,000
UC Berkeley Haas School of Business Master of Financial Engineering Not required but recommended 1 year $73,000
ESADE MSc in Finance None required 1 year $33,000
University of Cambridge Judge Master of Finance Min. 2 years in finance related area 1 year $59,000
ESSEC Master in Finance Recommended 1-2 year depending on your Bachelor degree (4 or 3 years) $26,000
MIT Sloan Master of Finance None required 12-18 months $78,000 – $105,000 including Health Insurance
London School of Economics MSc Finance Not essential 10 months $45,000
University of Oxford Said MSc in Financial Economics Not essential but preferable 9 months $55,000
UCLA Anderson Master of Financial Engineering Quantitative experience recommended but not required 15 months $75,000

Of course, there are other excellent programs as well like at University of Bocconi, University of St. Gallen, Warwick Business School, Imperial College, IE Business School, and many more that are equally reputable and prestigious.

Incidentally, if financing your Masters is weighing heavily on your mind, here is an article with a comprehensive list of funding options – Graduate School Funding for Masters

How does Master in Finance differ from MBA?

MBA is a popular professional degree which trains its students to become future business leaders and managers. This management training encompasses a broad perspective of all the composites of business education – Human Resources, Marketing, Economics, Strategy Consulting, Entrepreneurship, Business Ethics, and more including Finance. Students who wish to immerse themselves, in a specialization, only get to do so in one of the areas.

So, that’s the first distinction separating MBA graduates and pure MiF graduates. The second distinction, academically, is the level of immersion in itself. MBA is a professional degree with a more practical approach than the rigorous in-depth theoretical and technical training provided in MiF (and its versions).

While MBA, especially international GMAT MBA, require at least a few years of credible work experience with accomplishments a mile long. MiF, instead, is not that strict about work experience. A majority of programs accept fresh out of college undergraduates, albeit with the prerequisite knowledge of subject areas mentioned before.

Thus, MBA class profiles tend to be far more diverse with a lot of emphasis on peer learning, as compared to MiF classes where most students share similar academic or work profiles, or lack thereof.

MBA generally inclines to be an expensive education option with tuition, in top programs, reaching over and above $150k value. A Masters in Finance is more reasonable than that (at least most programs are).

Although, it is also a trend that MBA graduates from elite programs make a lot more in post MBA salaries than pure Finance Masters graduates do. Read Master in Finance vs MBA
Besides the above, MFin also often gets the status of being designated as a STEM degree which has its own advantages in the whole student to work visa transition in the US. So, if you have a strong mind for numbers and a numerate business education feels like your forte, then you can explore your options with Masters in Finance, which has the goodness of Economics, taste of Quant and a flavour for Business, all infused in an intensive program, with incredible returns.
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