A Guide to the Specialized Master’s in Finance

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Welcome to MetroMBA’s Master’s in Finance Guide. As the world’s best business schools continue to evolve, traditional MBA programs are being replaced or supplemented with specialized master’s degrees. For many schools, that means including a Master’s in Finance program to provide graduate training specific to careers in corporate finance, investment management, and financial analysis.

Scroll down to find some of the world’s best Master’s in Finance degrees offered by the world’s leading business schools: a list that continues to grow year by year. But first, what is a Master’s in Finance, what does it take to graduate, and what career opportunities are available after graduation?


What is a Master’s in Finance?

A Master’s in Finance (MFin) degree is hyper-focused on finance, covering a comprehensive range of topics within the field. It’s designed for early-career professionals and recent undergraduates hoping to ensure a future in the finance industry. Previous work experience is often not required, meaning that many applicants tend to be younger.

The degree dives into both fundamental and advanced subjects in finance, including finance theory, financial mathematics, financial accounting, financial modeling, pricing theory, and computational methods. The goal is to help students tackle the multi-faceted challenges that they’ll face in the field of finance.

Students should graduate being able to handle everything from capital budgeting to cash flow analysis, dynamic asset allocation, and big data-based investment strategies. They should also be well versed in finance ethics and social responsibility, which they’ll draw from throughout their career.

Another dimension of the Master’s in Finance degree is computational methods. Depending on the program, students might find that their degree requirements include basic programming skills in R or Python for processing and analyzing data. Finally, action learning, workshopping, and internships can play a key role in the MFin, providing students with hands-on experience in finance.

Typical Coursework

Some Master’s in Finance programs begin with core business courses covering economics and other critical business topics. Other programs jump right into financial markets, corporate finance, and finance theory. It depends on the program, but no matter what, the vast majority of the curriculum will emphasize finance.

Some typical Master’s in Finance classes include:

  • Finance theory
  • Corporate financial accounting
  • Financial mathematics
  • Finance ethics and regulations
  • Financial markets
  • Analytics of finance

Beyond that, depending on the program, you may have the option to customize your coursework to a more specific area of finance. For example, you could take courses in entrepreneurial finance or healthcare finance. Other options include:

  • International capital markets
  • Mergers, acquisitions, and private equity
  • Consumer finance
  • Financial engineering
  • Programming literacy and programming languages (usually R or Python)

Program Accessibility

Most Master’s in Finance programs tend to be shorter, requiring just 12 months to complete all requirements. Others are slightly longer in length- up to 18 months-but few, if any, reach the two-year mark. Programs can be full-time or part-time, residential or online, it all depends on the exact program you choose. No matter the case, it’s typically an intensive and fast-paced program with a busy schedule.

Admissions into a MFin program can vary based on the business school, but typically requires a high level of excellence in grades, test scores, professional experience, and communication.

Applications may consist of:

  • Resume (work experience ranges from up to10 years, but averages around one-to-three years)
  • Essay
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Academic Transcripts
  • GMAT or GRE (averaging quantitative scores in the top 80 percent)

At minimum, applicants are expected to be familiar with mathematics and business basics prior to beginning their MFin program. Common undergraduate majors include: Math and Science; Business & Commerce; Economics; Engineering; and Computer Science. A solid understanding of economics, finance, and computer science is beneficial.

Typical Cost

Tuition varies greatly among top business schools. It ranges from $50,000 to $85,000 USD for a year, plus living expenses. In many cases, funding is available for MFin students in the form of scholarships, fellowships, employer sponsorship, and teaching assistantships. There are also loans and external financial support sources available.

Career Opportunities

Master’s in Finance graduates work in finance in some way, in positions that usually require financial training beyond basic business degrees. Most often, graduates will work in investments, trading, or risk management at an investment bank, commercial banks, accounting firms, hedge fund, venture capitalist, insurance company, public institution, fintech, or consulting company.

Whether working at a Fortune 500 company or a leading-edge boutique, MFin graduates are highly sought-after employees. Potential employers include:

  • Bain & Company
  • Barclays
  • BlackRock
  • Boston Consulting Group
  • Morgan Stanley
  • McKinsey & Company
  • J.P. Morgan
  • HSBC
  • CitiGroup
  • Deloitte Consulting
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Federal Reserve Bank of New York
  • Procter & Gamble

One thing to note is that Master’s in Finance students typically earn less than MBA graduates, since they tend to have less work experience under their belts and a narrower range of skills. Projected salaries vary based on the exact career field with the highest paid earning $150,000 while some of the lowest paid earn $57,000.

Here’s how the salaries break down in terms of annual median salary (USD):

Hedge Fund Manager$115,533

Financial Managers: $100,535

Asset Manager: $83,422

Senior Financial Analysts: $79,189

Personal Financial Advisors: $57,904

The Top Master’s in Finance Programs

Sloan Master's Banner

The highly-regarded MIT Sloan School of Management offers the top-ranked Master’s in Finance program in the United States, according to The Financial Times. The MFin at MIT Sloan features a STEM-based curriculum that can be completed in 12-to-18 months, with optional concentrations in capital markets, corporate finance, and financial engineering.

A staggering 99 percent of MFin graduates earned full-time employment offers within six months of completing their degree, earning a median annual salary of $95,000 USD. Every student in the program also earned internship offers with some leading to employment at major companies like Barclays, BlackRock, and JP Morgan Chase.

Imperial Banner

London’s own Imperial College of Business offers the highest-rated Master’s in Finance program in the UK, according to The Financial Times The one-year program provides an education foundation that allows graduates to flourish in fields like investment banking, consulting, and asset management Over half of the program’s graduates, in fact, are employed in those three respective fields.

LBS Banner

The legendary London Business School Master’s in Finance program can be completed on either a full (10-16 months) or part-time (22 months) schedule with four principle concentrations: Investment Management and Analysis; Risk Management and Derivatives; Corporate Finance; and CFO. A total of 125 students are currently enrolled in the full-time program and 64 students are in the part-time program.

An estimated 94 percent of LBS Master’s in Finance grads earn employment offers within three months of earning the degree, with a 93 percent acceptance rate. Like many UK Master’s in Finance programs, the degree is especially inviting to international students, which make up a reported 95 percent of the program. Overall, students earn an average post-graduate salary of £65,555.

UMD Smith Banner

The University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business, better known as UMD Smith, offers applicants two potential Master’s in Finance degrees: the straight-forward Master of Finance, and the Master’s in Quantitative Finance. The program can be completed in one or two years.

The Financial Times reports that UMD Smith graduates earn around $83,547 per year three years after earning an MFin.

Oxford banner

Oxford University’s celebrated Saïd Business School is one of the shortest top-ranked Master’s in Finance program in the world, taking only nine months to complete. The 75 students currently in the program are, on average, 23-years old. About 41 percent of the class is represented by female students, with 96 percent international students overall. The GMAT average of the class is 743.

The The Financial Times reports that Oxford MFin graduates can expect to earn around $109,403 (USD equivalent) three years after earning the degree.

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