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Returning to School for a Masters in Finance: What You Need to Know

Oct 6, 2021
Vanderbilt MS Finance Admissions Director on the ideal candidate, career possibilities, and more

By Arial Starks

With many potential career paths to pursue after graduation, and very specific steps needed to take many of them, a common question for finance students after graduation is “should I return to school for a Master’s in Finance or Master of Science in Finance (MSF)?”. We sat down with Maura Clark, Director of Admissions, Vanderbilt MS Finance, who offered insight on what students should think about when considering a return to school.

Who is the right candidate for an MSF?

The MSF degree is considered a “pre-experience” program, designed for candidates coming directly from undergrad or those with one to two years of full-time experience. Typically, competitive candidates don’t have a large gap between college graduation and starting the MSF program. Clark says that students with more than 2 years of work experience are likely a better fit for a different program where they can leverage their prior work experience.

“I encourage candidates who have no more than 2 years of professional experience to consider coming back for an MSF. Once you get into that 3-year post undergrad range, at Vanderbilt, you may begin to be a stronger candidate for the MBA program,” Clark said.

Maura Clark, Director of Admissions of MSF Program

Maura Clark

What career options are available? 

Earning an MS Finance degree opens doors to a variety of career paths, including investment banking, investment research, real estate finance, and advisory services and consulting. Because there are so many options for students to consider, schools are looking for applicants to have a good idea of what they want to do after graduation. As Clark says, MSF Programs are looking for candidates to display a strong sense of career clarity with a flexible focus.

“Strong candidates have an idea of what they want to do in finance and they can articulate how they came to that by displaying that they’ve done internships; internships are key. At Vanderbilt, we are looking for candidates with at least one finance internship, ideally more than that. In the interview I am hoping they will share why a certain area of finance is a good fit for them. They can draw on examples from internship experiences.” said Clark.

What will I learn with a Masters in Finance? 

When pursuing an MS Finance degree, students will gain essential tools that will be applicable to many different roles in finance. At Vanderbilt Business, within 10-months, students gain strong technical skills like navigating Microsoft Excel, building DCF models, and foundations in financial economics, while also sharpening their professionalism skills and focusing on career management. Clark says students come out of the Vanderbilt MSF program with a great backbone of knowledge that they’re able to really lean on when they start their careers.

“You are going to develop the technical skills needed to launch your career in a variety of areas of finance and really feel prepared to make an impact in your company early on. That is coupled with a toolbox of skills that are going to help you not only land your first job, but every job and promotion after that as well,” she said.

Click here to learn more about returning to school for a Masters in Finance.

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