by Brian DeChesare Comments (173)

Master’s in Finance Programs: The Best Last-Minute Path into Investment Banking?

Master’s in Finance Programs: The Best Last-Minute Path into Investment Banking?

If you don’t succeed the first time around, should you try and try again?

It depends on your reasons for not succeeding the first time around, but most people ignore that point and jump straight to the “try and try again” part.

And one of the most popular methods for getting a “do-over” is the Master’s in Finance (MSF) program offered at universities around the world.

These programs can be useful if you use them correctly.

But most students don’t understand when they’re helpful, which leads to wasted time and money and big disappointments:

Why a Master’s Degree?

Many students and professionals believe that a Master’s in Finance degree is a magical solution for getting into investment banking.

That explains how we get emails like the following:

“I’ve worked in marketing for two years, and I have a B.A. from a Top 50 university in the U.S. I decided to change my career a year ago, and now I am pursuing a Master’s Degree in Economics at a Top 20 university.

I have no experience in finance, but I am currently taking accounting and finance classes. Which area of investment banking should I apply to?”

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but a Master’s degree is not a great idea in this case.

But first, let’s define a “Master’s in Finance” degree and explain how it differs from other options like an MBA.

What is a Master’s in Finance Degree?

A Master’s in Finance program is shorter, cheaper, and narrower than a traditional MBA:

  • Length: Usually one year rather than two.
  • Cost: Far less because of the shorter length, though tuition still adds up to tens of thousands of USD, GBP, or EUR.
  • Scope: Covers just accounting and finance; classes are more focused than those in MBA programs. You won’t learn about operations, management, or marketing unless it’s a Master’s degree in Management or another, broader area.

You might apply for this degree right after finishing undergraduate, or you might do it after working for 1-2 years.

Applying after 5-10 years of full-time work would not be useful – go for an MBA or skip the degree altogether.

There are also Master’s degrees in other areas, like Economics or Management, but you’re best off with Finance or the Finance track if you want the types of roles featured on this site (investment banking, private equity, corporate development, etc.).

There are exceptions to the rules above: For example, many top European MBAs last for one year (INSEAD, Bocconi, etc.), and some MSF programs last for two years.

Finally, there are some differences between the U.S. and other countries because 4- or 5-year combined Bachelor’s/Master’s programs are more common in the rest of the world.

What MSF Programs Can and Can’t Do for You

MSF degrees are most useful when you’ve decided on investment banking late in the process, but not too late.

So, you have some finance-related coursework, internships, or full-time work experience, but not enough to get into banking out of university.

Here’s a specific example:

  • Useful: You majored in accounting and became interested in banking in your last year of university. You have no IB-related internships, but you did win a Big 4 full-time offer. You’re planning to work there for 1-2 years and use that experience, plus a Master’s degree, to get into investment banking.
  • Not as Useful: You majored in biology, worked in a lab for 1-2 years, and you’re going to apply to MSF programs to make a career change into banking. You were not interested in banking until you started working full-time and got bored with your job.

In the second case, you’ll have no relevant work experience, which is a big problem since you need a sequence of finance-related internships or full-time roles to get in.

An MSF degree would make sense in the second case only if you could complete finance internships before or during the program.

Here’s another example:

  • Useful: You became interested in banking when you were attending university in China, but it was too late to win real IB internships. However, you did complete a corporate finance internship at a local firm. You’ll apply to Master’s programs in the U.S. or U.K., complete several internships, and move into IB from there (a similar story from a reader).
  • Not as Useful: You completed a technical degree in India and worked as an engineer for 1-2 years. You have no finance experience. Now, you want to make a complete career change and apply to Master’s programs in the U.S. or U.K. and get into investment banking from there.

It’s the same problem as in the first example: It’s a big leap to go from no finance experience to investment banking solely through a degree.

Even if you completed an MBA instead, you would still need a pre-MBA internship in finance or something more relevant to have a good shot.

A Master’s in Finance degree helps you with:

  • Re-Branding – If nothing in your background seems related to finance, the degree will move you closer if you also get work experience.
  • Boosting Your Prestige – If you went to a lesser-known university, you could make up for it by completing a Master’s degree at a top school.
  • Access to Recruiters – If you attend a program that offers on-campus recruiting, you’ll have a much easier time winning interviews.
  • Access to Internships – You’ll also have an easier time winning internships before and during the school year if you contact firms and say you’re an incoming or current MSF student at University X.

But there are also some limitations.

For example, you won’t win IB roles as an Associate from an MSF; banks recruit Analyst-level candidates from these programs.

The usefulness of MSF programs also varies greatly by region.

They’re the most helpful in the U.S. and U.K. because of the sheer number of IB roles and because many banks recruit students from these programs.

But they’re useless in a place like Australia because most banks recruit only top undergrad students with Law and Commerce degrees, and post-graduate recruiting is underdeveloped.

The physical location of the university is also important.

It’s easier to win investment banking roles if you’re close to London, New York, or another financial center than if you’re in a small town with only a few local firms nearby.

Finally, if you’re an international student, you have to look up whether or not the degree qualifies for STEM treatment.

If it does, then you can work in the U.S. for 36 months after graduation (the OPT program) without applying for an H-1B visa, which makes it far easier to win job offers.

You cannot necessarily go by the lists of the “top” programs – you have to make sure anything you pick qualifies as STEM.

For example, the Princeton and Vanderbilt programs both qualify, so they are much better options than programs that do not.

The Best MSF Programs

On that note: I am allergic to rankings, but I’ll link to a few lists here.

In Europe, places like LSE, Imperial, HEC, LBS, Esade, IE, and several others offer the best MSF options (the eFinancialCareers list here is a good starting point).

You can find a partial list of the “top” U.S. programs here.

Note, however, that many schools are not on the list because of terminology differences.

For example, the UVA program is well-regarded, but the school calls it an “M.S. in Commerce” and offers a Finance track within that degree, so, technically, it is not an “M.S. in Finance.”

You’ll see that many of the best schools for MSF programs are not Ivy League universities, but are good state schools (UT Austin, UVA, etc.) and Top 20-30 schools (Vanderbilt, WUSTL, Notre Dame, USC, etc.) instead.

Many of these schools have stronger placements into certain industries than others, so you should always look up or request placement stats from the school before applying.

There’s an example for Villanova here.

How to Apply and Get In

It is extremely competitive at the top schools, which is another reason why these programs do not offer a sure-fire path into IB.

For example, the admissions rate at MIT appears to be ~10%; at Princeton, it’s closer to 5%.

These programs aren’t as competitive as Ph.D. programs with ~1% admission rates, but they’re also far tougher than community colleges with ~80% acceptance rates.

So, your GMAT or GRE scores must be high, your personal essays must be great, and you must have glowing recommendations and interview performances.

It goes back to the point I made in the beginning: Master’s programs are appropriate if you became interested in IB too late to get the required internships, but they aren’t a panacea.

We don’t do admissions consulting here, but a few application tips include:

  • Show That You Can Win Job Offers – These programs, especially the ones with smaller class sizes, care a lot about placement stats, so they’re more likely to admit someone who has front-office (or even middle-office) finance experience than someone who is coming in as a total career changer.

If you haven’t had full-time work experience, play up your internships and finance-related coursework. You need to give the impression that you could have won a front-office finance job if you had applied for one.

  • Show That You’re a Real Human Being – Have at least one solid interest outside of work and academics. It’s the same as telling your story in interviews, and your interests, or lack thereof, will come across in admissions interviews.
  • Show That You Can Bring Something Unique to the School – For example, some programs are more research-oriented, so if you have published research, emphasize it (even if you have no intention of pursuing a D.).

What to Do When You’re There

Much of the advice in our MBA-level IB recruiting articles applies here as well:

  • Get Internship Experience ASAP – Many of these MSF programs are full-time, so you’ll have to go for part-time, school-year internships. You should try to take time off before the program to complete a “pre-MSF internship” as well, especially if you’re making a big change.
  • And Maintain Reasonably Good Grades – Now you have two sets of grades, and they both have to be reasonably good.

As with MBA programs, the notion that you can “reinvent yourself” in MSF programs is completely false: You have to prepare for recruiting long before you set foot on campus.

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Master’s Programs: The Ultimate Second Chance?

If you use a Master’s in Finance program correctly, you won’t have to try and try again because you’ll win the offer you want the first time around.

But that only works if you’re the right candidate for MSF programs and you approach the entire process correctly.

Get any of that wrong, and you’ll be back in the “try and try again” camp for a long time to come.

M&I - Brian

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.

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Comments

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  1. servantsaber

    Hi Brian, long time lurker at this site. First of all, thank you so much for your BIWS and M&I guide, those guides are incredibly helpful for me to get to the position where I am today.

    And spoil alert: sorry for the long post

    About myself: I am a international student from China, study abroad seven years ago, currently a senior at UCLA studying Business-economics with a 3.6 GPA. I got in the recruiting game late. I start thinking about what I want to do in my sophomore year summer. That made me automatically fail for the regular recruiting route because at that point I have a blanket sheet of resume(I involved in non-business student organization in my first two years). After I talked to my friends and went to recruiting events, I I figured out that the traditional IB-PE-MBA-PE path is something I want to pursue.

    Speaking of internship experience, I got a marketing internship in junior fall, and I am lucky enough to secure a VC internship junior spring and a boutique IB internship last summer after roughly 300applications, 50cold calls, 50 cold emails.

    From the last summer until now, I tried my best in FT recruiting. I leveraged both the alumni network and some of my older network. However, it has been an uphill battle for me especially consider the fact that I am an international student with a non-stem degree.

    Speaking of FT recruiting status, I had seven interviews, four phone screen, 3 hirevue. Firms range from bulge bracket to MM to boutique. I have connection who offer me to go work at local boutique that sponsor visa. However, it will be a huge gamble since the lottery chance is incredibly low for non-stem. And more importantly, I think technically the next step for me should be big banks because it is completely doable for people at my school who spent their sophomore summer in boutique. I thought I was just a year late so I hustled and was hoping to utilize the FT recruiting season for an offer.

    Then things went out of my control – I think I did well after I studying your guide. All my interview coaches said I should be ready, but I did not move forward in two of the phone interview, which I thought I did okay. I am undecided between if I should continue FT recruiting or delay graduation for one quarter to be eligible for summer internship or a stem degree master program.

    This year will be my eighth year studying abroad so I think I am more fit in American business culture. That’s part of the reason that I really want to stay and work here for long term. Therefore, I want to pick the choice that maximize my career prospect, which is the IB-PE path. I know it will be more difficult as I became older, so now it is a crucial moment for me to make the decision.

    1. logistics about this approach – I spent my whole junior year on recruiting, so I am very inexperienced in grad school recruiting and I do not have a GRE score while it is already October, which definitely hold me back. Given my existing background and skillset, which are some of the school/program out of your mind that would give me the career prospect while not of my league?

    2. Business Analytics/Master of financial engineering program are both stem degree that are popular for international students. However, they are relatively hard for me to get in as I have zero coding/maths/statistics background. Would you think I have a shot at those? Or should I? The technical skills I developed from those program is not what I am aiming for. I think a program with good location, network and platform will be most useful for investment banking recruiting.

    3.Would you think have a non-finance stem degree will hurt my chances, such as civil engineering? Will that look bad on resume? How bad is a master degree look on an investment banking resume in general, as the majority of IBD analyst are undergrad.

    3. I know you do not do grad school counseling. But do you know any resource that can help me through this process(Like your website and WSO for IB)?

    I know it is my job to do the research and reach out to people.But I am running out of time since it is already October. I would really appreciate if you can share two cents.

    Thanks in advance!!!

    1. Honestly, I don’t know if I can answer your questions because you’re asking about things that we don’t specialize in. I would recommend this site if you want more about MSF degrees and coaching: http://msfhq.com/

      I just do not know enough about MSF options and different degree choices at that level to say anything definitive. I think the schools mentioned in this article could work, and I don’t think you necessarily need a coding/math/stats background to get into these programs (for any degree). A non-finance STEM degree might hurt your chances a bit, but if that’s your best option, take it and then spin a story (e.g., civil engineering could be spun into sounding relevant to infrastructure banking or investing).

      1. servantsaber

        Thanks! I definitely did take a look at both school mentioned. What is the odds for someone with my background to break into IB with a master degree, since it is the unconventional way. Have you seen anyone made it that way? Is a first year master degree student eligible for summer internship program in big banks or it is an automatic fail because i am “overqualified”? Or it is mostly depends on networking.

        Thanks for the website you recommended and sorry for another set of questions!

  2. Hey Brian,

    I really want to break into banking, but unfortunately finished with a 3.0 in finance from a semi-target. I completed an internship in wealth management and currently work with loans at one of America’s largest banks.It’s been really disheartening seeing my friends working in IB. I’ve always had trouble focusing and wasn’t treated for ADD until after graduation and I had to work part time at school I’m hoping admissions counselors will recognize these as a reason for low grades.

    Do you think an MSF would be a good 2nd chance for me? I’ve been studying for the GMAT and it seems I’ll get around 700

    I think Vandy is out of reach but I’ve been leaning towards SMU or Villanova

    1. Yes, an MSF might work if you can get into a top program. But I think you’ll need a better explanation for your grades because the “medical problem” angle tends not to work well for various reasons… https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/low-gpa-investment-banking/

      1. If I was able to get into a top program would my poor undergrad grades still be an issue?

        Since most recruiting happens in the Fall and I won’t have any MSF grades to report would that undergrad gpa keep holding me back ?

  3. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the useful article. I graduated from a top 20 US college with BA in Econ and GPA 3.8/4.0. I have roughly two year experience, one and half year in US Big 4 advisory and currently working as a credit analyst in a local bank in Singapore. I have a GRE of 323 and I really want to switch to a top-tier IB through the MSF program. Will the MSF help me in this sense? What do you think I should highlight when I apply for the MSF?

    1. If you can get into a top MSF program, yes, potentially it will help you. We don’t focus on admissions to these programs on this site, but point out the client-facing work you did and how it translates into other front-office roles and try to come across as a human with interests and some unique points that others won’t have.

  4. Shubhashish Sharma

    Brief About myself:

    My name is shubhashish sharma and I am a CFA Charterholder, Ive done my 3 year bachelors wih a 3 GPA and have about 4.5 years of work experience in asset management and tax litigation. My gmat score is 640 and I want to pursue a MSF from a good university , what are my odds?

    1. You would probably need a better GMAT or GRE test score to have a shot at a top MSF program (GPA will be an issue as well), but we don’t specialize in MSF admissions, so I can’t really say.

  5. Suraj Bobade

    Hi Brian,

    Here is a brief of my profile before I post my question:
    1) Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from a Top 100 Engineering college in India, GPA = 7.1/10, 2009-2013
    2) Worked in steel manufacturing and power service sector as an Electrical Engineer, 2013-2016
    3) Did PGDM (equivalent to an MBA but not MBA as such) from IIM Kozhikode (a Top 10 MBA institute in India), GPA = 3.0/4.33, 2016-2018
    4) Working as an Analyst in IB Pitchbook (Industrials sector) backoffice in Bank of America Continuum in India, 2018-Present

    I am planning to keep working in my current profile till 2020, so that makes a 2 years of finance experience and 3 years of non-finance experience.

    My question: I am really confused in choosing between an MBA (maybe my second MBA) or a MFin course?

    Also, I am interested in applying to the Top 10 universities in Finance for both the cases/degrees above.

    If I do an MBA, I can have a wide variety of choices in terms of colleges and a life time opportunity to study in colleges like HBS or Stanford, if at all I get in.

    If I choose MFin, I go into a specailized Finance course and complete my degree in less time and also spend less. Further, I will be eligible for an OPT of 1+2 years (considering I want to work in US for some years, this is very important to me) since MFin is a STEM course. However, MFin is a course mostly for freshers or with little work experience candidates.

    Thus, considering that I have a 2+3 years of work ex and a PGDM degree already should I go for MFin or MBA?

    Thank you in advance.

    Note: I am determined to work in the finance industry, mostly IB but also open to work in other roles like Portfolio Manager or Equity Analyst or Corporate Finance, etc. or even a consultant in the finance sector. However, I wish to work in the US or UK market only right after I graduate.

    1. A Master’s degree is not a good option for you at this stage if you already have that much work experience. The MSF is more for recent grads and people with less than 1-2 years of work experience. Otherwise, you’re over-qualified for entry-level IB roles. So… the short answer is that you should go for a top MBA.

      1. Suraj Bobade

        Thank you Brian for your valuable guidance.

  6. Hi Brian,

    I just started MSc in Finance after working for the last 3 years. For my undergrad I did BA in Accounting, then completed 1 year internship in the finance dept of Microsoft, following that I worked in one of the Big 4 (In their Data analytics team) firms for 2 years, where I also completed my professional accounting exams. As I came from a non target school, I felt that a MSF will boost my prestige as mentioned in your article and help me to get into IB. Given that I don’t have any prior IB experience, would you recommend that I first try to win a summer or off-cycle internship to get my foot in the door or should focus on full time analyst roles. I am based in Europe and am primarily looking at London.

    Thank you in advance!

    1. You should probably start with a summer or off-cycle internship because you won’t be that competitive for full-time roles without one of those first. And London tends to be a good place to win off-cycle internships, especially if you find smaller firms that are open to it.

  7. Hi Brian. Thanks a lot for doing this site and the article. I graduated university from a local school in a developing country, with low GPA (2.5), and I have one year of work experience as an Equity Analyst in an insurance company.

    I’m planning to go for a fairly well-known Master in Finance program in Canada to re-brand my profile, in terms of school and GPA and leverage that for a chance to break into investment banking in Canada. Could you comment on what are the odds like in my situation?

    1. If you want to stay and work in Canada, not great because the market is small and very competitive. If you can use the experience to move to a larger market such as the U.S. or U.K., you have a better shot.

      1. Thanks a lot for the advice. I always thought U.S and U.K market would be more competitive.

  8. MSF Prospect

    Hi Brian,

    Given how early recruiting happens now, is it practical for an undergraduate senior to apply for summer internships if he is planning to do a one-year MSF afterwards? MSF acceptances happen later throughout the school year so I’m not sure what I can put on my resume or “eduation” section of online applications to communicate to HR that I intend to have one more schooling. If they see that I am a senior in college, would they just automatically ding me?

    1. I think you could do that, yes, though the later acceptance date for MSF programs makes it a bit tricky. Maybe you can just list the MSF program under your current undergrad institution and say that your graduation date is one year later, but you haven’t committed to a specific program yet, though you will soon. I think as long as your real graduation date is clear, you should be fine.

  9. Larry Hertz

    Hi Brian,

    I am a huge fan of your website. I’m a 2018 summer graduate from a large university in Texas majoring in mechanical engineering. I’ve had two BB internships in NYC and didn’t receive a return offer in banking last summer (2017). I’ve interviewed at several banks over the past year and can’t land an offer anywhere. I’m debating whether to enroll in an MSF program or getting a CFA Level 1 certification. Any advice on what I should do next?

    1. It’s hard to say because I’m not sure why you didn’t receive a return offer or why you haven’t won offers elsewhere. But in general, the CFA is not that useful if you have already had multiple IB internships. An MSF could be useful if something specific, like low grades, is preventing you from winning offers, and you need to improve your profile.

  10. Hi Brian,

    What is your opinion on one getting a second bachelors in Finance?

    1. Second bachelor’s degrees are generally not worth it unless you need one to delay graduation for some reason (which also generally isn’t worth it).

  11. Hi, Brian
    Thanks for the article. I am 30 year old girl, having 7 years of experiance in banking industry mainly in corporate credit. Planning to get in MBA school or Masters in Finance, so that can get entry in Investment banking. How do you suggest ? Is it too late to go to bussiness school or for MSF at this age? i dont have finance related degree / certification. I did my graduation in agriculture science but fortunately got chance to work in bank.

    Thanks

    1. Yes, it’s too late for an MSF. An MBA could still work but only if you get into one of the top schools.

  12. Hey Brian,

    I just finished my Australian undergrad in finance, non-target school with a 2.9 GPA (improved towards the end but anchored by earlier struggles). I’m looking to get into an analyst position at a hedge fund as a long term goal. Would a Masters in a target school still be useless in this case? I really feel like i need something to boost my competitiveness on paper.

    Thanks.

    1. I wouldn’t say it’s “useless,” but you probably need more than that to have a good shot at HF roles, especially since the HF industry is quite small in Australia. You’ll probably have to go to North America or Europe, get some solid public markets experience, and complete the CFA or a top Master’s program to have a good shot.

  13. Hi Brian

    I am an IT project manager with 14 years of experience and now i want to switch to the world of Investment banking. I know it sounds crazy but so is life. I was wondering if you could give few pointers on how to get started, at one point i was contemplating of taking on a master program in finance, however given their qualification requirement, I literally don’t stand a chance, given that i don’t have a degree or any work experience in Finance. So i was wondering how can i self teach myself in getting the basics and foundation in financial modeling, derivative, M&A etc. To know how capable i am with the whole thing and from there on in if feel i have the talent for it then i am pretty confident that i will manage to break in to this industry somehow. Let me know if you could guide me to some foundation books or any other medium.

    Regards
    SP

    1. I don’t think that’s a great idea, as it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll get into the industry with that much work experience.

      Your smartest move would be to consider other fields in finance where it’s easier to win offers as a non-traditional candidate. See:

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/how-to-beat-the-intellectual-yet-idiot/
      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/too-old-for-finance/

  14. Hi Brian,

    I just got accepted into a target Masters in Management program in the US. I work as a Fortune 75 Financial Advisor. I have no IB internship so probably can’t get an IB job out of the gate. What jobs should I go for that I can use to lateral to IB after a couple years?

    1. Independent valuation firm, Big 4 firm, maybe corporate development or corporate finance.

      1. At the Big 4, I should go for valuation roles?

          1. Thanks for the advice Brian. What is the job title for valuation roles?

          2. Analyst? Try searching on LinkedIn to get ideas.

  15. Hi Brian, I am a 1st year student at a non-target UK university. I got grades BBC at A level, but I have a Corp Fin internship lined up this summer at a small, local firm. Should I try to leverage my internship and apply for BB summer 2019 internships with such low grades/non-target university, or just focus on getting into a top MSF and breaking into IB that way?

    1. If you’re still a 1st year student, you still have plenty of time, so you should not give up on IB yet. Also, you’d be applying for summer 2020 internships likely next year. You should at least try that and see what happens before committing to a top MSF and spending even more time/money on it.

      1. Thing is, because I’m at a UK university doing a 3 year degree, my penultimate internship would be in 2019. Does this change your advice?

        1. No. Low A-Levels will hurt you, but if you have at least a 2:1 in university, you should still apply for internships. An MSF is only worth it if you got started very late (which is not you since you have the corporate finance internship this year) or if nothing else has worked out.

  16. Thank you very much the article, it definitely relates to my current situation. I’m currently enrolled in an online MSF program, and was wondering if there is any stigma in the industry about web based degrees?

    1. Some, but the bigger issue is whether or not an online MSF program will give you access to recruiters and companies. That’s the main benefit of any degree, including an MSF.

  17. Hey! Great Article and information. What would you suggest to a Swiss citizen student studying Computer Science and Business at a semi-target in England? I have had a spring week insight at a BB and am in line for a summer internship at the same BB. I want to do a Masters in the US to help me break into that region and also want to complete my education.

    Thanks for your help

    1. I’m not sure I understand your question. Your plan is reasonable, and it sounds like you’re already in good shape to work in banking. For international students in the U.S., please see this article for more:

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/international-student-investment-banking/

  18. Hi Brian,

    Great article as always. Unfortunately, I’m in the “pre-med biology degree” category that you mentioned. Graduated in 2015 and I’ve been working as a medical scribe. Long story short, I’ve found the medicine isn’t the right path for me. Since you don’t recommend going into a MSF at least straight away, what would be the most reasonable path for me to break into finance? I was thinking finding any sort of Finance internship. Thoughts?

    1. At this point, you would probably need an MBA to have a realistic shot of getting into investment banking because you’ve been out of school for several years already. You might be able to win other finance-related roles if you can learn the basics on your own and network aggressively. See: https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/medical-school-to-investment-banking/

  19. I’m thinking of getting a Master’s in finance in Canada.. I have a degree in engineering with 2.9/5 gpa in Nigeria. How do you suggest that I go about it? Thanks

    1. ??? I’m not sure what you’re asking. Apply to various programs, complete the requirements, and… get in.

  20. jake smith

    Brian,

    Thanks for the article. Very useful as I decide whether this degree makes sense. I’d love your thoughts on whether this degree makes sense for me. I gradated with finance degree, 3.1 gpa, from a top 40 semi-target (many of those with 3.5+ and networking are now working at top investment banks). I had a boutique IB internship as a junior, however, I didn’t network in school and ended up nowhere in the recruiting period. I am now almost 2 years out of school working as an analyst at a commercial bank and feel like I am not gaining any skills that I could sell in an interview as to why I’m a good fit for an IB analyst. I am wondering if you think the MSF program could benefit me, assuming a finish with a 3.5+ GPA and network throughout my time? My thinking is that it could give me a chance to somewhat reset on grades and gain the modeling/excel skills that I can sell for an analyst position. I also was wondering if you knew anything about the reputation of the program at the University of Maryland?

    1. Yes, an MSF program could help you, but you need to move quickly because once you go beyond 2-3 years of experience, it’s difficult to win Analyst-level offers. I don’t know much about the program at Maryland, but you should check sites that do rankings and reviews.

  21. Aaron Isakov

    Hi Brian,

    I’m a long time lurker here and your site has definitely helped me out, but I’d like your advice for my situation. I’m currently a graduating senior at a semi target undergrad school, economics major, with only one current internship as a private equity intern at a small search fund. I got into the investment banking game super late because I was shooting for law since I was 15 and realized this December in the middle of my LSAT that I didn’t want to do law, i just wanted to do M&A. Realizing this I was super late to the game and wasted all 4 years working not networking or really applying to IB internships or roles. My background in terms of work experience is that I have a Research position from a FX firm, and a PE internship rn. No job opportunities lined up after graduation this may. I’m looking at MIT, NYU, Columbia, and my current school Baruch for MSF programs but don’t what my next step should be. Any insight into my journey would be much appreciated!

    1. You should apply to those programs, get in, and then complete another internship before it begins or during the program. And then start networking with alumni at banks to win internships. I’m not sure about the timing for 1-year programs because summer internship recruiting for undergrads now takes place over a year in advance… but I assume they can’t possibly do that for 1-year programs.

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