By Heream Yang
The finance industry is a flagship sector of the business world, opening doors to lucrative careers in investment banking, private equity, consulting, and beyond. Attending a finance masters program gives students the technical background and extensive network they need to capitalize on competitive recruitment opportunities. We spoke with Maura Clark, the Director of Admissions for the Master of Science in Finance (MSF) Program, and Brook Meissner, Senior Associate Director at the Career Management Center, to find out more about different master’s degrees in finance that are available.
Master of Science in Finance
This specialized one-year finance masters program is perfect for recent graduates with little to no full-time work experience who want to become more competitive candidates for entry-level finance roles. Students take required courses in subjects like Financial Modeling and Corporate Valuation, and have access to a wide array of elective courses ranging from Entrepreneurial Finance to Bond Markets. The Master of Science in Finance is an especially advantageous career booster for students without an undergraduate business background, or who did not have access to a wide array of finance recruiting opportunities as an undergraduate student.
“An MSF is what we call an accelerated master’s degree, designed for students that are coming either immediately from undergrad, or perhaps with up to 2 years of full-time experience,” Clark said. “It’s a degree that, in a short amount of time — in our instance, one academic year — will provide students a really strong technical education to enter into finance.”
MBA in Finance
Geared towards students with several years of full-time work experience, the MBA is a 2-year program grounding students in management fundamentals while offering diverse elective opportunities. At Vanderbilt Business, MBA students can pursue a 12-credit-hour concentration in Finance or a 20-credit-hour specialization in Corporate Finance. The Finance concentration consists of required coursework in Investments and Corporate Valuation and elective courses ranging from Mergers and Acquisitions to Corporate Restructuring. The Corporate Finance specialization requires additional coursework in Financial Reporting, Investments, Corporate Valuation, Corporate Financial Policy, and Mergers and Acquisitions, along with elective coursework. Ultimately, pursuing an MBA with a concentration or specialization in Finance is a strategic stepping-stone to senior-level positions in the finance industry.
“An MBA would be a best fit for candidates with at least 2 years of work experience,” Messiner explained. “The most competitive candidates would either have some of that work experience in business, or else have a clear understanding of what roles in business they are most interested in and be able to describe how their past work experience relates to that.”
Master of Science in Commerce
The M.S. in Commerce is a one-year finance masters program that offers students the chance to learn core business skills and specialize in a number of particular areas. Unlike the MSF, the M.S. in Commerce is not specifically finance-oriented; it gives students the option to concentrate in finance as well as other areas like marketing or business analytics. Essentially, the M.S. in Commerce can be likened to a mini-MBA for recent college graduates with little to no full-time experience.
Whether prospective students want to pursue a career in investment banking or real estate finance, there is a finance masters program that will help them achieve their goals. If you’re looking for a degree that will help you launch or accelerate your finance career, be sure to investigate these three options as you research masters degrees in finance.