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International Option: Pros and Cons of Earning a Master’s in Finance in the UK Instead of the U.S.

UK finance masters

A Master’s in Finance is fast becoming one of the most popular degrees in the world. According to The Financial Times, “global demand for masters in finance (MiF) degree courses increased slightly in 2018,” due to a number of factors including ROI, career paths for graduates, and costs.

In particular, interest in a MiF degree has increased dramatically because it’s usually more flexible and cheaper than an MBA program. It’s a great middle-ground for students who don’t want to give two years to an MBA, but still want many of the same benefits when it comes to working in M&A, capital markets, sales and trading, and investment banking.

If you’ve already decided a Master’s in Finance is for you, there’s only one question left, “Where should you earn your degree?” There are hundreds of top programs around the globe that offer quality MiF degrees, so where should you go to school?

To help you make the right choice, we’re comparing the pros and cons of earning a MiF degree in the UK instead of the US. Read on as we break it down.

Top Master’s In Finance Programs in the UK

For MiF candidates interested in attending a top globally ranked program would be better served by going to school in the UK. According to two 2018 rankings by the Financial Times, there are more top-rated MiF programs in the UK than in the U.S.

Best Post-Experience MiF Programs

According to FTs 2018 Post-Experience Masters in Finance ranking, the top two programs are located in the UK: London Business School and University of Cambridge Judge School of Business. Both of the UK schools offer an impressive post-graduation salary increase of 89 percent, reaching $160,593 USD at LBS and $131,821 USD at Judge.

The U.S. programs place fourth and fifth in the Financial Times ranking with a much lower post-graduation salary. Fourth place Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign MiF graduates can expect to earn just $82,281 USD with Florida International University: Chapman graduates earning $83,372 USD.

LBS alumni can expect to earn the most money in the world among MiF graduates, at around $160,593 (USD).

Best Pre-Experience MiF Programs

Based on the 2018 Financial Times Pre-Experience MiF ranking, the UK once again beats out the US. Only one U.S. program—MIT Sloan—made it into the top 25 while four UK programs held the same distinction. And though MIT Sloan ranks the highest (seventh overall), the Imperial College Business School was close behind in the ninth spot.

Also in the top spots for the UK after the Imperial College Business School are:

The op U.S. programs after (#7) MIT Sloan are:

The UK Finance Masters Career Prospects

When it comes to post-graduation career expectations, the U.S. and the UK are fairly comparable. In both countries, MiF graduates can expect to earn an average starting salary in the high $80,000’s and low $90,000’s with Oxford Saïd graduates expected to earn the highest salary at $109,000.

But while starting salary is important, what matters most is the percent salary increase pre and post-degree. On average, MiF graduates can expect to earn around 50 percent more after earning their degree. The highest percent increase is in the UK at Warwick Business School (96 percent) and the second-highest is in the US at MIT Sloan (63 percent). For the rest, the figures are somewhere between 41 percent and 54 percent.

Warwick Business School MiF graduates can expect the highest difference between pre and post-graduate salaries, increasing at a rate of 96 percent on average.

As for where graduates can earn a job, the top employers are the same no matter where you earn your degree. You can work at:

  • JP Morgan
  • Morgan Stanley
  • KPMG
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Bank of America
  • Citi
  • HSBC
  • McKinsey
  • Bain & Company
  • Barclays
  • Etc…

UK Programs Are Much More Affordable

To compare program costs, we looked at the top three programs in the U.S. and the UK to see where it’s more affordable to earn your MiF degree. The UK was the definitive winner.

The most expensive UK finance masters program (Saïd) was just $56,423 USD; almost $30,000 less than the most expensive U.S. program (MIT Sloan). Even the most affordable U.S. program (UMD Smith) was $10,000 more expensive than the highest tuition program in the UK.

The Facts: UK VS UK MiF Programs

To give you a quick breakdown of the top schools in the U.S. and the UK, we’ve broken down the key information below.

Institution UK/US FT Ranking Tuition Fees (USD) Avg Starting Salary % Salary Inc. Employment Status (w/in 3 months)
MIT Sloan US #7 $85,807 $95,000 63% 90% employed
Imperial College Business School UK #9 $45,013 $91,602 43% 95% employed
University of Oxford Saïd Business School UK #12 $56,423 $109,403 45% 81% employed
Warwick Business School UK #13 $44,512 $86,200 96% 95% employed
University of Maryland Smith School of Business US   #30 $65,247 $83,547 41% 71% employed
Brandeis University International Business School US #35 $82,258 $88,063 54% 94% employed

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About the Author


Kelly Vo    

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and personal development.

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