Masters in Finance

Information about Advanced Finance Degrees

masters in financeThe masters in finance degree, alternatively known as a master of finance or master of science in finance (MSF), is a graduate degree for individuals interested in working in the finance field or advancing to a higher level in their organization. This rigorous academic program will provide a deep understanding of important financial concepts, models, methods, and theories that can be applied in a corporate environment in roles like a finance manager or portfolio manager. A master’s in finance will help improve quantitative analysis skills and deepen your knowledge of the financial markets.

Masters in Finance Information by State

Reasons to Earn a Masters Degree in Finance

There are several reasons to pursue a master’s in finance degree including a strong passion for finance, a desire to deepen your knowledge of finance, position yourself for a better job, or to make a lot of money. These can all be good reasons to explore whether a master’s in finance will be right for you and what schools would be a good fit and give you the best chance to achieve your goals. Finance can be an incredibly fascinating subject to learn about and is a field that is in constant flux.

Master of Finance Course Requirements

A master’s in finance requires strong quantitative analysis and mathematical skills to pass a challenging set of courses. Most master of finance programs focus a majority of their curriculum on topics that can be applied directly to the financial field instead of covering a wide net of business topics like an MBA. The required courses are intensive and typically take a full-time student about two years to complete and longer for part-time students (about three to four years).

Master of Finance Educational Prerequisites

A common requirement for applicants of a master’s in finance program is an undergraduate degree in finance or a related field like accounting. Required undergraduate courses may include calculus, statistics, economics, and financial accounting. Other requirements could include satisfactory scores on the GRE or GMAT exams and a strong grade point average in undergraduate courses. Another common requirement for MSF programs is experience working in finance or the business field. Personal achievements and letters of recommendation may also be considered. Make sure to check with each school to learn their specific requirements for admission.

Masters in Finance Curriculum

While schools vary in their course offerings, here are some examples of common courses that can be found in Master of Finance degree programs:

  • Financial Management
  • Financial Modeling
  • Derivatives and Risk Management
  • Quantitative Methods in Finance I and II
  • Fixed Income Analysis
  • Advanced Financial Management
  • Corporate Governance
  • Corporate Valuation and Financial Strategy
  • Financial Institutions Management
  • Financial Intermediation in Emerging Markets
  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • International Finance
  • Investment Analysis and Portfolio Management
  • Investment Banking

Career Outlook for Finance Professionals

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for financial managers will have average growth at a projected 8 percent from 2008-2018.1 There is strong competition for these jobs and those with masters degrees have the best prospects according to the BLS. Some factors driving demand for financial professionals is the changing regulatory environment, increasing complexity of investments, and the growth of global finance.

Master of Finance Salary

How much can you expect to earn after graduating from a master’s in finance degree program? Compared to other graduate degrees, finance degrees provide one of the highest starting salaries for graduates. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary is $99,330 for US financial managers.1 Salaries vary based on the role and many successful financial professionals make well over a million dollars per year.

US News Top Masters in Finance Schools

The US News ranks the top finance graduate programs based on several factors including recruiter rating, average starting salary, employment rates, and student selectivity.2

1. University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)

The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School awards a master’s degree in finance as part of its finance doctoral program that US News & World Report ranked #1 on their list. The master’s portion of the school’s finance program can be completed in three semesters of full-time study, and includes courses such as Microeconomic Theory, Econometrics, Financial Economics, Corporate Finance and Financial Institutions, and Intertemporal Macroeconomics and Finance. To be admitted, students must first pass exams in economic theory and quantitative methods, in addition to their field of specialization. Prospective students must also prove an aptitude for research, which can be demonstrated through the preparation of a thesis or through supervised research leading to the publication of a scholarly paper. The PhD in finance at Wharton comprises 18 courses, some of which overlap with those required for the master’s degree at Penn. The doctoral program is divided into two phases, the pre-candidacy phase, comprised of coursework, exams, and research papers, and the candidacy phase, comprised of the preparation and defense of a dissertation in the fifth year of study.

2. University of Chicago (Chicago, IL)

The University of Chicago offers a full-time Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Finance and in Analytic Finance through its Booth School of Business that is ranked second in US News’s list. The MBA in Finance includes courses such as Portfolio Management, Advanced Investments, Financial Markets and Institutions, and Financial Instruments, among others. The MBA in Analytical Finance includes courses like Quantitative Investment, Advanced Models of Option Pricing and Credit Risk, Advanced Investments, and Cases in Financial Risk Management. Booth’s Full-Time MBA takes most students 21 months to complete, with three to four courses being taken each quarter. The MBA offers 13 concentrations in addition to the Finance option, such as Accounting, Analytic Finance, and Strategic Management. Only one course is required, which is called Leadership Effectiveness and Development (LEAD); the remaining 20 courses can be chosen by each student based on his or her professional goals. Joint degrees are offered in areas like public policy, law, and international relations.

3. New York University (New York, NY)

New York University’s Stern School of Business offers a Master of Science in Global Finance that can be completed part-time in just one year. Designed for experienced professionals, this NYU degree offers a “global classroom” with classes in Hong Kong, New York, and Shanghai, and is made up of students from over ten different countries who average ten years of experience. Seven modules are taken over a 12-month period, with each module being offered in a different location. Module 1, for example, in November, takes place in Hong Kong and covers the courses Global Macro and Asian Markets and Foundations of Corporate Finance. Module 6, in August, takes place in New York, where students take the courses FinTech, Risk Management in Financial Institutions, and Topics in Financial Markets and Governance. To apply, students must have completed a bachelor’s degree with a good GPA and have at least five years of experience working full-time. A finance background is preferred, but exceptions do apply for applicants with strong quantitative skills.

4. Stanford University (Stanford, CA)

At Stanford University, students can earn a PhD in Finance at the Graduate School of Business. Applicants should have strong mathematical skills, with at least one year of calculus as well as coursework in linear algebra and matrix theory, theory of probability, and statistical inference. They should also have decent programming skills and be knowledgeable in languages like Fortran, C, MATLAB, or GAUSS. Selected applicants will be strong in quantitative work, comfortable with formal models, and have an economics education. The PhD at Stanford is rigorous, competitive, and academically and analytically focused. Required courses include three courses in Economics, chosen from courses such as Microeconomic Analysis I and II and Auctions, Bargaining, and Pricing; three courses in Statistical Methods, with the courses Econometric Methods I, II, and III; and nine courses in Field Requirements, including Financial Markets I and II, Corporate Finance Theory, Advanced Corporate Finance Theory, and Advanced Empirical Corporate Finance. All students will participate in a teaching practicum each quarter, working with a different mentoring faculty member each quarter. The PhD at Stanford concludes with a doctoral dissertation defended in front of a reading committee.

5. Columbia University (New York, NY)

Columbia University‘s School of Business: Finance Division offers a Master of Science in Financial Economics (MSFE) degree that takes two years to complete and is STEM-eligible. The rigorous curriculum is comprised of PhD and MBA courses, and significantly overlaps with the Columbia PhD in Finance program, but is more industry-focused than academically-oriented. Four semesters of full-time study should be dedicated by students to complete the 16 required courses including a research seminar. Students in the MSFE program are also required to complete a six-week summer internship, during which they will work as an intern with a company or as a research assistant with faculty. Columbia Business school does not accept credits transferred from other schools. Required courses in the MSFE program include Microeconomic Analysis, Introduction to Econometrics and Statistical Inference, Asset Pricing Theory, Asset Management, Empirical Asset Pricing, and Thesis Seminar and MS Thesis. Columbia Business School’s Career Management Center (CMC) assists students in securing jobs after graduation through training and networking.

6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Sloan School of Management offers a Master of Finance (MFin) program for high-achievers. The STEM curriculum can be spread over 12 or 18 months, depending on whether students attend full-time or part-time and focuses on advanced financial theories, quantitative methods, and industry practices. Hands-on action learning and renowned faculty are also highlights of MIT’s MFin degree. A course called Proseminars allows students the opportunity to work with industry insiders to solve real business problems in teams. Another unique course, called Finance Research Practicum, is sponsored by external companies and requires that students work on-site during the month of January. The MFin at MIT offers three concentration options, including Corporate Finance, Capital Markets, and Financial Engineering. The 12-month MFin program requires three consecutive terms in the Summer, Fall, Spring, while the 18-month MFin option requires four consecutive terms in the summer, Fall, Spring, and Fall, with an optional summer internship.

7. University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)

The University of California – Berkeley Haas School of Business offers a STEM-designated Master of Financial Engineering (MFE) program that prepares students for a finance or fintech career in just one year of full-time study. Classes at Berkeley are small, with fewer than 70 students being admitted into each class, and students of the MFE program can benefit from the student-run Financial Engineering Student Association (FESA), which organizes events and opportunities and extracurricular activities. Applicants should have strong quantitative skills and be highly motivated to complete the rigorous mathematical, statistical, and computer science focused coursework. Classes at Berkeley Haas’s MFE program include Investments and Derivatives, Stochastic Calculus with Asset Pricing Applications, Asset Backed Security Markets, and The Morgan Stanley Applied Finance Project. Students must complete 30 units of coursework to graduate, with one unit equal to 15 class hours. The program begins in March, and includes mandatory internship period from October to January in addition to the 30 units of coursework, and students graduate from the program the following March.

8. University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)

The University of California – Los Angeles Anderson School of Management offers a Master of Financial Engineering (MFE) program that lasts for 15 months and boasts a low 3:1 student-to-faculty ratio. UCLA’s MSFE program is comprised of 84% international students from over 18 countries. Applicants should be skilled in computer programming, such as C++, and familiar with computer management tools. They should also have a strong quantitative background, excellent communication skills, experience with mathematical tools like MATLAB, and progress toward CFA certification. Experience with econometric applications is recommended. Coursework at UCLA Anderson School of Management’s MFE program includes Stochastic Calculus, Computational Methods in Finance, Quantitative Asset Management, and Data Analytics and Machine Learning. 60 units of coursework are required, in addition to a hands-on Applied Finance Project, which offers MFE students the chance to apply the concepts they have learned to a real-world financial engineering problem faced by a partnering corporate client, including Accenture, Hyundai Capital and Research Affiliates, PwC, and Citi, among others.

9. Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)

Harvard University offers a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Finance degree that can be completed in two years of intensive study. The first year at Harvard Business School includes two courses, Finance I and Finance II, to establish a strong financial foundation that prepares students for the second year of elective coursework. Electives include courses such as Building Sustainable Cities and Infrastructure, Creating Value Through Corporate Restructuring, Field Course: Entrepreneurship through Acquisition, Financial Management of Smaller Firms, Managing the Financial Firm, and Mergers and Acquisitions Processes and Structures. Applications are accepted in September, January, and April, and applicants must have a four-year undergraduate degree and GMAT or GRE scores, and also prove that they are analytical, engaged leaders. Harvard Business School also offers 109 alumni clubs and associations, making it easy for graduates to network with the other 80,000 fellow graduates spread across 167 countries.

10. Northwestern University (Chicago, IL)

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management offers two versions of its Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Finance – a Full-Time program and an Evening & Weekend program. Students pursuing Northwestern’s Finance major can focus on one of two areas of study, Corporate Finance or Capital Markets, and graduates are prepared for careers in consulting, investment banking, corporate finance, and more. Northwester’s curriculum features experiential learning, which gives students practice in solving the same challenges faced by real-world business leaders. Course groups include Asset Management Practicum, Private Equity & Venture Labs, NUvention Courses, Digital Marketing & Commerce Course, New Venture Course Series, Kellogg Board Fellows Program, and Lab Courses. The unique Kellogg Board Fellows Program is run by students and pairs other students with nonprofit businesses in the Chicago area to serve on their boards of directors for 14 months. Graduates of Northwestern’s program have access to Kellogg’s over 60,000-alumni network. The MBA in Finance is a full-time two-year program, while the Evening & Weekend MBA in Finance can take one to five years to complete, depending on whether the accelerated or the traditional format is chosen.

Online Masters in Finance Degree Program

An online master of finance degree can be an attractive option for some individuals who seek additional flexibility and time savings from not having to commute to a physical location. An online master’s in finance can allow you to earn your degree without having to leave your job, therefore saving tens of thousands of dollars in opportunity cost. Additionally, online education has been steadily improving and new tools like downloadable lectures, virtual lectures with real-time video interaction with the professor, and use of social technologies can enhance the learning experience.

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Georgetown University – Online MSF:

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Top 10 Finance Professor Blogs

The following finance professor blogs feature excellent content that provides valuable insights for finance students and individuals interested in pursuing a finance career.

finance blogsFinance Professor
Jim Mahar, associate professor of finance at St. Bonaventure University, writes the very detailed and thoughtful blog “Financeprofessor.com,” which would be immensely helpful to a finance student working at any university. He packs his blog full of information and links that students and professors alike would find useful, such as academic papers, videos, and recommended reading, all related to the world of finance.

Musings on Markets
The posts on Aswath Damodaran’s finance blog “Musings on Markets” include insightful and personal thoughts about corporate finance, valuation, and current events in economics and finance. The professor of finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business gives his readers detailed explanations of his topics and includes graphs, charts, spreadsheets, and a wealth of information to help make sense of everything that is going on in today’s markets.

Carpe Diem
With astute observations and well-thought explanations that will enlighten even the most uncertain readers, University of Michigan-Flint professor of finance and economics, Mark J. Perry, shares his ideas and opinions on a variety of current news and theories in economics and finance. His posts range from discussions of the turnover in America’s top earners and the upsurge in manufacturing in the Midwest to the economics of oil and alternative energies and the astounding GDP growth in North Dakota.

Prof. Jayanth R. Varma’s Financial Markets Blog
At “Prof. Jayanth R. Varma’s Financial Markets Blog,” professor Varma writes a comprehensive series of posts on his subject of choice and does so with real insight and obvious passion for the topic. A professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Varma studies financial markets and the regulation of markets throughout the world and uses his knowledge and experience to give readers a perspective on current issues as well as the history of world markets.

Dr. David Kass
Dr. David Kass, professor of finance at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, pens his eponymous blog with the sole purpose of updating readers on all things Berkshire Hathaway. Kass’s academic interests are diverse, but he clearly has a special expertise in the holding company of Warren Buffet and writes about the portfolio, annual meetings, shareholders, and even Mr. Buffet’s health concerns with detail, clarity, and perceptiveness.

Finance Clippings
The humor and unique take on his subject are immediately apparent to readers of Dr. Richard Warr’s blog, “Finance Clippings,” which offers a diverse collection of links, recommended blogs, and articles on everything financial. As a professor of finance at North Carolina State University, Dr. Warr has the expertise, but also the wit and acuity to provide his readers with an important outlook on current events and issues in finance, economics, and markets.

Everything Finance
From the finance department of the world-renowned Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University comes the “Everything Finance” blog, updated by several different Kellogg professors, both current and former. The posts from these distinguished academics provide students and other interested readers with expert perspectives and commentary on current events in finance and economics, public policy, and noteworthy areas of research.

Financial Literacy and Ignorance
The state of personal finances in the U.S. is of great concern to George Washington School of Business professor Annamaria Lusardi and she pens her informative blog “Financial Literacy and Ignorance” to address the need for financial education. Lusardi has extensive experience in the world of financial literacy and personal savings and brings that to bear on her posts which highlight educational opportunities, current issues in personal finance, and other areas of use to the individual interested in becoming more knowledgeable.

Financial Rounds
An anonymous blogger, known only as Unknown Professor, is behind the financial meets real world blog entitled “Financial Rounds.” With references to Unknown Wife, Unknown Son, and Unknown Daughter, this mysterious finance professor from Unknown University posts about his everyday life, economic and financial news, occurrences in the classroom, and other practical topics with a dash of cynicism and a huge helping of humor.

Macro Musings
Jason C. Hsu is the author of Macro Musings and an Adjunct Professor in Finance at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. His blog delves into fascinating topics like whether we should complain about income inequality and government debt explained through Orwell’s Animal Farm.

If you would like to recommend a finance blog to be added please email us at info(at)mastersinaccounting.info

Additional Resources for Prospective Finance Students

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics
2. US News & World Report