By Street of Walls Contributor
Breaking into investment banking is no easy task. For many perspective bankers, they either realize too late in the game that banking is what they want to do or maybe they work for a little bit and want to try for it again. This is where a master in finance comes into play. A master in finance, or MSF as it is commonly referred to, is a one year, specialized masters level degree. It focuses on corporate finance, financial markets, valuation, statistics and other graduate level finance topics.
The degree provides an in depth understanding of finance as well as another shot at recruiting and networking. MSF students generally have between 0-2 years of experience and are recruited for analyst roles, primarily in banking, trading and equity research. This profile is very different than an MBA which is a more broad and diversified degree of study, with a student body that has more work experience in a variety of fields and backgrounds.
These differences and benefits is what ultimately made me decide to go back to school for my MSF. I was in a good position at a large bank (not in IB though) and I wanted something different. After the financial crisis hit I was left without clear career path and needed a change. I had worked for a little over three years, but I wasn’t going to be competitive for a top program MBA program. I also had no desire to get into serious debt or waste two years at an MBA program that wouldn’t help me advance in the financial industry.
After much debate, I decided to go to Villanova for my master in finance. The program cost a fraction of what an MBA would have, only took up a year of my time and coupled with a few internships, allowed me to change the direction of my resume. It gave me another alumni network to work with and opened up new job markets which were closed before. Because of the program and my experience I was able to land a position in private equity, something that I otherwise would not have been able to get.
Many of my friends had similar stories and I have spoken to students from all over who have done the same as I have. This is why the MSF is growing in popularity. It allows you to make up for a bad undergraduate experience or a late bloomer to the world of finance. Think of it as a mini reset button or a bridge to the career you want, but couldn’t get right out of undergrad. With a little effort and a year of time you can do what I have done and countless others have done.
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