By Heream Yang
For 15 years, Vanderbilt’s top-ranked Master of Science in Finance program has equipped graduates to launch their careers at top firms like Bank of America and UBS. Now that applications are open, many prospective students are considering whether an MS Finance (MSF) is the best next step for their career goals. If you’re wondering, “What’s an MSF degree?” then you’ve come to the right place. We sat down with Maura Clark, the MSF Director of Admissions, to get answers to the most common MS Finance FAQs.
What is an MSF degree?
MSF stands for “Master of Science in Finance.” The MSF program is an accelerated degree that provides students the strong technical background and structured job recruiting they need to launch a career in finance. Geared towards recent college graduates with little to no full-time work experience, the MSF opens doors to entry-level roles in the finance field.
“An MSF is a degree that, in a short amount of time, will provide students a really strong technical education to enter into finance,” Clark explained. “We really think of it as a practitioner degree.”
What do you learn in an MSF?
First and foremost, the MSF curriculum grounds students in industry fundamentals like financial modeling and financial economics. Once students have mastered the basics, they can choose elective classes tailored to their individual career interests through courses like corporate restructuring and real estate financial analysis.
“Students are really able to personalize and tailor the degree,” Clark said. “They’re also able to take some cool classes that maybe they wouldn’t immediately have thought of for an MSF. For example, there is a course called Launching the Venture (about entrepreneurship) that the MSF students love.”
What types of MSF programs are available?
MSF programs are offered in a variety of formats, including full-time on-campus programs as well as flexible online and weekend programs for working professionals. Some programs refer to the degree as “Master of Finance,” while others prefer “Master of Science in Finance.” Ultimately, the core offering of these programs is the same: a specialized, short-term degree equipping students with the necessary skills to kickstart a career in finance.
“The question was raised a few years ago, ‘What’s the difference between a Master of Science in Finance and a Master in Finance?’” Clark said. “I don’t think there’s a difference unless it has to do with the credit hours.”
How long does it take to get an MSF?
MSF program timelines can range anywhere from 10 to 21 months, offering a wide array of options for students. Traditional full-time MSF programs like the one offered at Vanderbilt Business typically take one academic year, or 10 months, to complete; part-time programs will take longer. That being said, career coaching and recruitment preparation can begin as early as the spring before the official start of the MSF program to ensure students are fully prepared when recruitment begins in the summer.
“Around March 1, we roll out an onboarding career course that was designed by our career management coaches specifically for MSF,” Clark said. “The career course is to ensure that when students step foot on campus, they are ahead of the curve for recruiting.”
What jobs can you get with an MSF?
An MSF degree opens doors to a variety of entry-level roles in finance and other business industries, from the traditional investment banking path to management consulting positions. While a few students leverage the MSF degree to pursue academic careers, the overwhelming majority use it to launch careers in business industries ranging from investment banking to private wealth management to venture capital.
“Most students are looking to launch into a technical area of finance, like banking, corporate finance, investment management, consulting, and they’re really looking for a technical skill set,” Clark said.