by Brian DeChesare Comments (309)

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 responding to the “Walk me through your resume” question, 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. Hello! I am currently a Bachelor in Science Mathematics major at a non-target school. I graduate in 3 months and would love to pursue a career in CF or IB. I have no internship or finance experience, though I have been looking into an MSF program at a top-ten school. Have you heard of Wall Street Mastermind (WSMM)? They claim to be able to land me a job in one of these areas, but I still have no experience. WSMM costs $6800 and they have worked with people who are in very similar situations to me. What do you suggest at this point?

    1. So, you should never pay $6800 for any service that claims to offer “guaranteed jobs.” That does not exist unless you know the CEO or someone very senior at the firm, or your family member is the CEO of an important pre-IPO company or something like that. If you’ve already graduated from a non-target with no internship experience, your options are:

      1) Apply for and attend a top MSF program, get in, do an internship in a relevant area, and network like crazy.

      2) Work in another industry for a few years and use an MBA to get in.

  2. Avatar
    Joel Moreau

    Hello Brian,
    I am a Junior majoring in Finance and have recently realized that I will be able to graduate in 3 years because of High School AP credits. My school has an accelerated Masters in Finance Program that I can start earning credit towards a MSF with an Analytics concentration, so I’d be able to graduate in 4 with a masters degree. I still want the full 4 year college experience, and I want more time to have an IB internship and network with more banks. Do you think that this is a good path to take? Or do you think it would be better to pursue a double major in something like accounting or Econ?

    Also, I am having trouble representing this plan on my resume and on our schools career recruiting site because I am now technically a “senior” rather than a junior and I am worried this could affect my acceptance on internship applications. Any tips on how to best exemplify my plan of degree in 3 and masters afterwards on my resume?
    Also currently going through the paid BIWS guides for 2020 and they are the most comprehensive guides I have found to date. Appreciate what you do and keep it up! Thanks

    1. Thanks. The problem is that recruiting, at least for IB roles, now starts so early that even if you stay in school for another year, there aren’t many summer 2021 opportunities left because recruiting for them began months ago.

      So, if you haven’t yet completed the relevant internships, you’ll need to stay in school for 5 years (or at least 4.5 years) to make this work.

      You should follow whichever plan will let you stay in school for just over 4 years. If you can stretch the Master’s degree out that long, that’s the best option. Otherwise, maybe add a double major. If you do that, you can then also label yourself a younger student to avoid internship application problems.

  3. Hi Brian,
    I just finished my CS degree in the UK. I would like to in the Investment Banking Division in the US. Would you recommend me to do a Master in Finance Degree or work a few years and pursue a MBA. I heard that in the US they prefer an MBA over a Masters in Finance Degree.

    1. What is your goal? Are you trying to enter right away, or very soon, as an Analyst? If so, do the MSF.

      If you want to work in another industry for a few years and then enter as an Associate, do the MBA.

  4. Hi Brian,

    I have interned with a regional BB this summer and I am wondering if I did my internship during my senior summer after graduation, can I join the firm straight away if I obtain a return offer? Or do I have to go to MSF and return after 1 year?

    1. I’m not sure how you completed a summer internship if you already graduated (??), but most of the time banks expect you to return next year if you win a full-time offer. Sometimes they let you join early, but not necessarily right after the internship ends.

  5. Hi Brian,
    I am currently studying Computer Science in Trinity College Dublin. Trinity College Dublin is a semi-target school for Investment Banks in the UK. My degree is a 4 years Bachelors Degree in Computer Science with a Optional Masters Degree in Computer Science which would increase my course length to 5 years. If I choose to do the Optional Masters Degree I would have to do a full-time internship for half of my 4th year (December – September). I am also planning to pursue a Masters degree in one of the main target schools in the UK such as LSE, Oxford and Imperial to further increase my chances of getting a job as an Investment Analyst. Do you think I should do the Optional Master Degree and then do a Masters in Finance Degree since I will be gaining valuable work experience through this way, or should I just do my Bachelors Degree and then do a Masters in Finance Degree? I would also like to know the chances of me getting a job as a Investment Analyst if I just pursue my Bachelors and Masters in Computer Science in Trinity College Dublin without doing a Masters in Finance Degree?

    1. Just do the Bachelors Degree and then the Master’s Finance Degree and complete internships during the summers or other break periods. There’s no point completing two Master’s degrees. Winning a job as an investment analyst depends more on your work experience than your degree. If you have finance-related internships, you can do it, especially if you go to a quant fund or something else that uses the CS skill set.

  6. Hi Brian!
    I am 1 year into my post-MBA job in the IB Team of a large Management Consulting (MC) firm, and would like to make a move to pure play IB at a BB or EB. (I got into MC because my employer said I could do M&A Advisory as well as MC). I did my Summer Associate internship at an EB, but didn’t get the offer as I did it in Europe, where they don’t hire MBAs straight out of school. Also, I have a Small-Cap M&A background. Modeling and running the process is my bread and butter.
    From your experience, is doable to make a transition into IB post-MBA with a pit stop in MC?
    Have you seen such kind of profiles before?
    Or would I have to do a MSF or maybe a Master of Law (with a focus on Banking Law) to make that transition happen?

    1. I haven’t seen that move (MC to IB following an MBA) very much before, but it may be possible if you have previous IB experience. I don’t think another degree is worthwhile – just use networking to win interviews at banks.

  7. Hi Brian,
    I am currently studying Computer Science in Trinity College Dublin. Trinity is the most reputable college in Ireland and it is also a semi-target school for Investment Banks in the UK. I am planning to pursue a Masters degree in one of the main target schools in the UK such as LSE, Oxford and Imperial to further increase my chances of getting a job as an Analyst. The problem is that I am unsure on whether to get a Masters degree in Finance or Computer Science. The main reason why I want to pursue a Masters in Computer Science is just incase I don’t get any offers as a Investment Banking Analyst, I could easily find a job as a software engineer in any big tech company such as Google or Microsoft. I have also read online that a Masters in Computer Science would be a fantastic choice for investment banking analyst since you will learn analytical thinking skills through this degree. So do you think I should pursue a Master in Computer Science or follow the traditional route of doing a Masters in Finance?

    1. You should do the Master’s degree in Finance or banks will be skeptical of your plans. An undergraduate degree in CS is already fine for winning most tech jobs, and tech jobs are easier to win than IB roles anyway.

      1. Do you think I should pursue a MBA or a Masters in Finance Degree?

  8. Hi Brian,

    I am an American wanting to find a job in Europe. I believe my best shot at this is to shoot for an investment banking position, most likely in London.

    I have been accepted into the MSF programs at IE, ESADE, EDHEC, and Henley Business School.

    My background: Attended a non-target school majoring in Finance, Accounting, and Int’l Business, graduated in 2019 with a 3.2 GPA. My internships include an accounting position at a small business in London during my semester abroad and an Investment Operations Internship at WF Securities. For the last year, I’ve been working as an accountant for UHG.

    My questions are:

    1. To find a job/internship, Is a better to go to a non-target school in the UK (Henley) where I will be eligible to stay and work in the UK without sponsorship for up to 2 years after graduation, or go to one of the better target schools in another European country and hope to get sponsorship from a BB firm?

    2. Since I am not able to make it to Europe until the Fall, what should I do in the mean time in terms of recruitment?

    3. Is my prior work experience relevant enough for a position at a BB firm? What are my options if this is not the case?

    1. 1) It’s better to attend a target school in another European country.

      2) Try to get some other type of off-cycle or informal internship that’s relevant to IB. There are many examples on this site.

      3) I would say “borderline.” You should try to get some other type of internship before/during the MSF program to improve your chances.

  9. Hi Brian,

    One of your students here.
    27 years old from Spain
    – Non-target business graduate
    – 2 years in a Trade Finance middle office at JPM Madrid
    – 1 year doing at Colliers CF advising RE PE on the acquisition of bank’s NPL credit portfolios
    – Took a gap year
    – 6months M&A FIG internship at a top MM in Spain (thanks to your superb FIG course btw). This internship will end in August (no FT offer possible due to Covid)
    – I will be sitting CFA level III in December

    Having said this.. what’s the best option to shoot for an BB M&A position(FIG is fine too).
    I’m considering:

    – Study CFA exam until
    December with no distractions, practice more financial modeling, and start a masters in Finance next year (such as IE MiF), but once I had finished it (April 2022) that would mean I’ll be close to 28 years old, which makes me feel a bit old to break in… Also, although I have very relevant finance experience, I kind of feel I’m getting over-experienced in order to land either an internship or a FT offer at a BB…
    So.. Would a master in finance help getting FT offers or should I pass? should I try directly an MBA instead?

    – Should I network and keep looking for other IB offers in boutiques and then try a lateral move?

    – Try getting any other job (such as a big4 transactions roles) and apply for the masters or MBA in the meanwhile (however, taking this option makes me feel like I’m getting too experienced)

    – Any other suggestion?

    (Also Brian, I wanted to ask you: do banks place everyone as 1st year analysts after finishing a MiF or do they take into account prior experience in order to place new hirings as 2nd-3rd year analysts?)

    Many thanks in advance!

    1. Honestly, I think you might need an MBA to have a good shot at this point. The problem with a Master’s degree is that you usually get hired as an Analyst out of the program, but you already have several years of work experience, so you’re a bit overqualified for the role.

      Even if they consider you as a 2nd or 3rd year Analyst, you might still have “too much experience” for that.

      I’m not sure that gaining additional work experience, such as in Big 4 transaction roles, will help because you’ve already done an M&A internship at an actual investment bank.

      I don’t necessarily think you’re too old to break in, but a 1-year MBA makes more sense than a Master’s because you’re a better candidate for post-MBA Associate roles.

      You could also keep networking and try to win offers at other banks, and that may work as well because you already have the IB experience. The risk is that you’ll spend time doing it but not get good results, especially if the hiring market stays depressed due to the pandemic (whereas an MBA would at least result in more time for things to return to normal).

  10. Hi Brian, I’m in a particular situation. I figured out about banking late and I went to a low reputation California state school. I wasn’t able to get into banking, so I double majored to give it another try, and to have enough units to transition into banking from public accounting. Again, came up empty handed, and no finance internships either. I have offers at firms, audit from big 4 and advisory from MM. Since I won’t be working 90 hr weeks I started an online business. It’s not a tech idea so I can’t get VC funding but I’m pretty confident in our positioning and strategy. It’s at a point now where I know I’ll need funding. At the same time, I’ve recently applied to an MS Finance degree online part time, which if I get into I’d like to know how best to leverage it. I’ve been cold emailing banks but I should’ve been cold calling, it’s where I shine most. I’d like to be able to email you more on the topic, maybe share my business site. I need some two cents from someone Brain. I’m hoping that someone is you. Thanks.

    1. Following up on my last comment. To be more specific, I’d like to know how best to transition into banking. Should I start cold calling now, or should I wait after a few years, make a switch into TAS, receive my MSF and then make the transition. I don’t know if just start cold calling now and maybe landing a boutique shop role is better, as it’s already banking, or if I should wait until I’ve gotten a few years, and my MSF then push for it. I was just planning on doing both but I could use some feedback. Thanks.

      1. The best strategy is always to get in ASAP rather than working in another field first and then moving in. So, start cold emailing/calling smaller firms now to line up some type of internship. But, again, you really need to decide if you want to do that or focus on your business because it will be difficult to do both.

    2. Feel free to reply to one of our newsletters if you want to submit questions via email. But I think you need to decide what you want to do first. You can’t really make an all-out effort to go for IB roles if you’re also running a business on the side. If that business already has traction and sales, you should probably just stick with it and grow.

  11. Hi Brian,
    I am currently a rising sophomore interested in breaking into investment banking. I attend a non-target school, but came in with a lot of credits from high school. If I continue with just my major in Finance, I can graduate at the end of my third year. However, my school offers a MSF that I can take during my “fourth” year. Or I can pick up a second business-related major (like accounting), which would push my Bachelors completion back to the usual fourth year. My question is: do you think it would be better to complete the MSF (from non-target school, same as undergrad) or pick up a second major?

    *I am doing everything I can to get finance-related internships and am aiming for a summer internship at a BB investment bank the summer after my third year (where I would hopefully get a return offer)

    1. Probably get the second major so that you have the option of doing the MSF at a target school in the future if you need it to make a change.

  12. Hi Brian,

    I’m a UK economics graduate from Newcastle University. I currently hold masters offers for Durham (MSc Management Finance), Newcastle (Finance MSc) and a few other finance-related MSc programmes.

    Given that Durham is the only school that could be considered top/among the target schools in the UK, would you recommend me taking the Management Finance course over a finance degree at a lower-tier University? The Management Finance course is rank 5th in the UK (higher than pure finance), and also contains relevant modules such as corporate finance and finance fundamentals.

    In the time leading up to the start date, I plan to network and cold call/email IB/PE/CF firms to see if they will take me on for a summer internship/work placement. Please let me know which masters if any, you think I should accept.

    Thank you and have a good day!

    Additional information: Interned at PwC and SME Wealth Management.

    1. I responded to your other comment, but yes, Durham is still probably the best bet here since it’s at least a semi-target in the UK. If you don’t currently have a full-time job or internship lined up elsewhere, it makes sense to stay in school for now, even if it’s “online” or some type of hybrid model.

      1. Thanks so much, Brian. I really appreciate both of your replies (to this and the other comment). All the best!

  13. Avatar
    Raphael

    Hey Brian… thank you for posting this highly relevant article. I am a 2018 Undergrad. I have two years of work exp at a big 4 in Accouting… I am 25 years old. I got a summer internship at a top pension fund in the strategy group prior to staring the MFE program at Oxford. I really want to do IBanking or PE in Toronto. I am wondering if I should skip the MFE just network for an IB/PE analyst role or if I should just focus on the internship at Pension Fund, secure a full time first then once I am in the fund full time network my way to lateral into a PE role at the fund. Again lots of variables here – like actually landing a full-time offer. Or do you think I should skip the whole internship experience and go hunting for full time opportunities. Thoughts?

    In addition to the above question, and independent of the above. I am very curious to hear what you think about doing an MFE and an MBA. I want to do a top MBA at HSW later (when I am 28) was wondering if my chances for a top MBA will decrease given I am doing the MFE. Should I skip the MFE entirely and save out for the MBA?

    1. I think it will be tough to network your way from a pension fund role into IB/PE, so the MFE is probably a better idea. It’s always easier to get into those fields via an internship converted into a full-time offer.

      An MFE + MBA seems pointless if you are already in one of those industries by then. An MBA is only useful for career changers who want to get into IB or consulting and do not have other pathways.

  14. Hello Brian,

    Just wanted to start off by saying that it’s really cool that you respond to so many of your audiences and I really enjoy reading your “cut to the chase” articles.

    Now, this comment you wrote is exactly my situation “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. ” However, I am majoring in Chemistry.

    I will be finishing my degree with a GPA of 3.3 (Expected Fall 2020). My current situation holds some problems. My GPA will be in the cutoff for BB summer internships and I do not have a related degree to apply anyways. Likewise, due to the current situation all my networking and case competitions have been cancelled. If I am looking at the situation all wrong, I am always open to criticisms.

    Nevertheless, my next best solution to give me a fighting chance was to start studying for the GMAT to offset my low GPA and apply for MSF in Canada. I will always attempt to apply for the BB IBs, but my main objective is to apply for boutique firms as their summer internship programs are offered for students who will be graduating from either a Undergrad or Masters in Finance (or related degree) in the following year. This is an effort to gain experience and to apply for the larger IBs in the future.

    So, I am asking given this situation would attempting a MSF be a bad idea ? I don’t have enough work experience to apply for an MBA and I worry at my age of 23, that I will start getting to old to apply for one as usually they are looking for a minimum of 2 years.

    Very eager to here your feedback.

    Regards,
    J

    1. I would definitely not do an MBA at this point. An MSF might be helpful, but it depends on what type of boutique internship you can get on your own. If you do not think you can reasonably get anything, then yes, the MSF makes sense, though you are taking a risk if this crisis drags on for another year or more. But if you are set on IB, it’s still your best option unless you can win off-cycle IB internships in some other way (which will be difficult if you haven’t done any finance internships before).

  15. Hello Brian,

    I just graduated from Florida State University with a 3.7 GPA with a Bachelors in Finance. Heavily interested in IB late in the game (end of Junior Year) Last summer luckily got a PE internship at a boutique but in sort of a limbo and looking at MSF programs. I applied to Vanderbilts MSF earlier this year and did not get in unfortunately due to my GMAT score (very Bad). Was wondering if you had any insight on USC MSF program (of is it worth it?) because what is throwing me off on it is that its 1.5 years which is not the most ideal but structured with room to take on an Internship for summer 2021 and then FT in summer 2022. But the thing thats intriguing me more is that now is the time to apply since all schools are waiving test scores due to COVID-19.

    So main question is for someone in my position, A. should i still pursue MSF and B. if i go through USCs program will I qualify for Large Bank Summer Internships if i’m considered a Masters Student. Because I have talked to peers saying they exclusively only take “rising seniors in Undergrad. And if thats the case I might as well wait a year Up my GMAT score and reapply to Vandy that is in similar rankings in terms of IB success.

    1. Do not know much about the USC program, sorry. West Coast programs are trickier to categorize because most finance recruiting is based around NY. If you can’t find solid placement data for USC, it seems like a better idea to apply to Vanderbilt again and improve your GMAT score.

      If you believe this report, though, 24% of 2018 graduates accepted IB offers… so who knows: https://www.marshall.usc.edu/sites/default/files/2019-05/MSF-Class-of-2018-Employment-Report.pdf

  16. Hi Brian.

    Thanks for the article.

    I’m considering an MFIN degree in Toronto Canada at Queens’ and was wondering what your thoughts are on the program, which can be completed while working.

    I am a professional Engineer in Canada, a CFA Level 3 exam candidate, and have recently retired from a 4 year career as a Canadian National Team athlete. I have a Masters of Engineering (4.0) and Bachelors of Engineering (3.0) in Mining Engineering from a top Canadian school, and have been completing the BIWS financial modelling courses as well. Also completed numerous licencing courses and the education requirements for the CFP designation.

    A significant amount of the MFIN curriculum at queens seems similar to the BIWS and CFA material, and was wondering what your thoughts are on:

    1) Completing the MFIN program at Queens and working in entry level roles in financial services or consulting at a Big 4 firm in Toronto,

    2) working as an engineer and using the CFA, BIWS, and other self directed education to progress into senior management and leadership positions at a mining company.

    Had been considering IB but believe my age (30) limits my options to break in as an analyst and that the remunerations for an analyst in canada would be equivalent to an engineering role. Long term goals are still being defined but realistically aiming for senior leadership, VP, director, executive position within a mining / resources company.

    Thanks for your input.

    1. I think you will need the MFin program because it seems like you have extensive work experience already, which means it will be harder to win entry-level IB roles (if that is your goal). Even if your goal is to work in corporate finance at a mining company directly, the MFin program, assuming solid placement, should still help you because it tends to be difficult to move straight into finance from an engineering background.

      The biggest issue with the Canada is that the market is very small, and so there’s a ton of competition for limited spots. But if you’re willing to network aggressively and get the work experience, it’s doable.

  17. Curious about recruiting for internships if I move to a MSF program directly from undergrad. For background, I completed a Global Markets summer internship at a NYC BB in ’19 and will complete a NYC BB IB internship in ’20. Should I be submitting applications now for summer ’21 IB internships? Almost every job posting indicates the bank’s preference for ’22 undergraduate date. Technically, I’ll be a ’21 undergrad and ’22 MSF. Any suggestions?

    1. Wait, why are you doing an MSF program if you already have a BB IB internship for this summer? Is it just a backup plan if you don’t win a return offer? If so, I would hold off and just wait and see what happens… otherwise it will be tricky to explain the timing if you’re doing an internship this year, applying for another one next year, and then graduating the year after that.

      1. I have a chance to go back to school for a fifth year (paid for by the university) to finish my athletic career and pursue a MSF or Masters in Business Analytics. Assuming I win a return offer at the end of this summer, would the bank allow me to defer my start date by a year? If so, would they allow or expect me to return in ’21 as a summer analyst? Or do I forego the fifth year and masters degree? Admittedly, I’m in a good spot but the decision making isn’t easy.

        As an aside, your website has been INCREDIBLY helpful as I’ve worked through my recruiting process. You have provided such great information to me, and I steer my friends to your site all the time. Thank you.

        1. Asking to defer your offer is always risky because the market environment can change very quickly (look at January 2020 vs. April 2020…). It might work, but if the economy sinks even further or hiring completely freezes by then, they could just rescind the offer. So… if you do win a full-time return offer, I would strongly recommend forgetting the 5th year and graduating as scheduled.

    2. Avatar
      Raphael

      Hey Brian… thank you for posting this highly relevant article. I am a 2018 Undergrad. I have two years of work exp at a big 4 in Accouting… I am 25 years old. I got a summer internship at a top pension fund in the strategy group prior to staring the MFE program at Oxford. I really want to do IBanking or PE in Toronto. I am wondering if I should skip the MFE just network for an IB/PE analyst role or if I should just focus on the internship at Pension Fund, secure a full time first then once I am in the fund full time network my way to lateral into a PE role at the fund. Again lots of variables here – like actually landing a full-time offer. Or do you think I should skip the whole internship experience and go hunting for full time opportunities. Thoughts?

      In addition to the above question, and independent of the above. I am very curious to hear what you think about doing an MFE and an MBA. I want to do a top MBA at HSW later (when I am 28) was wondering if my chances for a top MBA will decrease given I am doing the MFE. Should I skip the MFE entirely and save out for the MBA?

      1. I think it will be tough to network your way from a pension fund role into IB/PE, so the MFE is probably a better idea. It’s always easier to get into those fields via an internship converted into a full-time offer.

        An MFE + MBA seems pointless if you are already in one of those industries by then. An MBA is only useful for career changers who want to get into IB or consulting and do not have other pathways.

  18. Avatar
    Kashyap Soni

    Hey as you said about engineer from India, I am in 3rd year of engineering and I have a Research internship in finance from an IIM(read top 5 bschool in India), and I will be doing another internship in Finance(probably equity research or IB if lucky). GRE score is 330 and IELTS/TOEFL is yet to come(I am sure to get 105+/8).
    Is MS Finance not useful for an engineering candidate like me?

    1. Avatar
      Kashyap Soni

      Also GPA is 8.65 (Computer engineering) which translates to 4.0 as per WES and my undergrad university is a top 25 university in india for engineering

    2. The whole concept of MSF programs in India is different because recruiting there is based on attending one of the top IIMs or IITs. I don’t think traditional Master’s programs as they are conducted in Europe / the U.S. are a real pathway into the IB market there. Take a look at some of our previous articles on India for the best strategies here.

  19. Hi Brian,

    I am a third-year Bachelor of Business Administration student in studying in Belgium’s top university(not a target university for Finance). I have high grades (Cum Laude, equivalent to 2:1). I have done an Equity Research internship in Egypt’s biggest investment bank and I am currently working as a Private Equity intern in a search fund here in Belgium. over the next summer, I want to improve my chances of being accepted into a top MsF in London. My options for summer are :
    1-a summer course in LSE (Statistical Methods in Risk Management) and an Investment banking internship in the aforementioned bank in Egypt.
    2- a Business Development Internship in a growing tech company in the Netherlands.

    What do you think would serve my purpose more? Do you think me having only a 2:1 grade equivalent could obstruct my chances of being accepted?

    1. #1 is your best option if your long-term goal is to work in investment banking after the MsF. Option #2 might be better if you want to to work at a tech company or something outside the finance industry. I think 2:1 is fine for MsF programs.

  20. Hello Brian,

    Thank you for all of your insights. These articles are incredibly helpful! I was hoping to get some advice as we try to navigate through the current pandemic. I recently was admitted to a Top 5 Master’s of Accounting school, which gives me access to the same On-Campus Recruiting opportunities available to the school’s business school (It is a target school for West Coast, think UCLA/USC). They’ve placed several people in Investment Banking in years past. My own personal work experience has been healthcare, I have a 3.6 GPA and my undergrad is a top ten public school. Im really targeting Middle Market/Industry Specific Boutiques that have a high healthcare focus (Houlihan Lokey, SVB Leerink). I know you said that its imperative to have some type of finance experience going into your Master’s program, but given the current lockdown situation that is not looking very likely. Also, in one of your other articles, you mentioned how Middle Markets can serve as a solid entry point for people who decided on IB last minute. I was wondering if that still holds serve, and if a Master’s program can help someone meet that objective. There is also a very large alumni base to which I could reach out in the IB space, would that be of any benefit before I start the program as well?

    1. Yes, MM firms can still work if you decided late, and it is still important to network before the program begins and before IB recruiting starts. For the issue with a lack of finance experience and no ability to gain more due to hiring freezes, maybe wait and see if you can win a school-year internship after the Master’s program begins. You could also try for some type of online/freelancing-related role, but I don’t think it will help much unless you need to generate income / cover expenses in the meantime.

  21. Hi Brian,
    Thanks for your articles. They are really insightful. I have a few questions. But first let me describe my situation.

    Am an aerospace engineering graduate. Fair gpa just above 3.0 and graduated May 2019. I have no work/internship experience in finance but it is something I have gained quite an interest for and am very interested in switching career paths. There’s no chance of me doing an MBA at a top school as my work experience is still low. Is an MSc in finance a good step right now? Do I have any shot at investment banking with the finance masters? Would you recommend it?

    I would love to work in M&As or Fixed income trading and my career goal is to work Private Equity or a major hedge fund. Am just in a loop right now as I don’t have many finance professionals to advice me. My peers are all engineers.

    Any advice is welcomed and deeply appreciated.

    Thanks.

    1. Yes, an MSF could potentially be helpful for you, but you will need to gain finance work experience ASAP before/during the degree program. However, given the current environment with a virus outbreak, recession/depression, and frozen hiring everywhere, it may not even be a good idea to try for these roles until things become more normal… if that happens.

  22. Avatar
    Stathis Tourloukis

    Hi Brian,
    I am a third year student studying International and European Studies with many economics lessons like Macro, Micro and Econometrics in Greece. I always had a passion for finance but i only recently decided to pursue it. have no intership experience (Banks here don’t do interships unless its mandatory to finish uni). On track to earn a 3+ GPA.My plan is to apply for a MSF in London business school (cass , ICL etc) and simultaneously apply for Internships there. Do you think it is plausible ?
    Thank you for your time and all the awesome articles that you write!

    1. Yes, assuming the current virus crisis is over by the time you apply. You should focus on gaining internship experience ASAP because it will be difficult to use even a top MSF program to get into finance without at least 1-2 internships first.

  23. Hi Brian,

    I find your posts very useful. Just wanna share with you my situation and look for some recommendations:

    I graduated first honors with an arts degree in HKU. I did a full year volunteer work after graduation and got into big 4 audit the following year. Have been there for 1.5 years and almost done with my CPA exams and taking CFA level 1.

    People around me recommend a few years more in the field and switch career with an MBA. However, I really dislike the nature of auditing and would like to find new opportunities with a MSC finance degree (preferably UK G5/Singapore). My goal is primarily investment management/equity research analyst roles (also consider IB front office roles). I am open to career opportunities in HK/ other countries.

    Do you think it’s a good idea to get a masters in my situation? Would really appreciate if you can give some advice!

    1. If you can get into a top school in the US or UK and enroll quickly, yes. Once you get to the 3-year mark in your current role, though, you might need an MBA to switch into finance.

  24. Hi Brian,

    I have done an undergrad in film and tv, I’m looking to expand my career and in between three pathways. Film financing/investment
    Investment Banking
    Distribution/Sales within the entertainment industry.

    What kind of postgraduate degree could open those doors?
    MSc Finance, Master in Management, or an MBA?

    1. I know nothing about film financing/sales within the entertainment industry, so cannot recommend anything there. For investment banking, it just depends on how much full-time work experience you already have. If < 3 years, MSF is best. If >= 3 years, MBA is more appropriate.

  25. Hi Brian,

    I’m a second year student at Oxford/Cambridge. I was wondering if I should continue on for the integrated undergrad-masters program at Oxford/Cambridge and apply for penultimate IBD internships in London later this year, or if I should finish my undergrad here and go to the US for masters programs (e.g. Stanford MS&E, Princeton/MIT MFin)? The rationale for the latter is that I’d be able to apply for IBD internships in NY, which seems to be a better place to start your career than London. However, the worry is that in the US, BBs/EBs will mostly recruit from undergrads at target schools rather than master’s students. I’ve also checked the careers pages of programs like MIT/Princeton MFin/Stanford MS&E and it doesn’t seem like they place many students into BB/EB IBD in NY. Would really appreciate your advice!

    1. In general, you’re best off starting out in the same location as your university/Master’s program. There is some recruiting at Master’s programs in the U.S., but the problem is that the recruiting process there now starts so far in advance that it’s anyone’s guess whether or not you’ll be able to use it to win internship offers.

      So… you should probably stay in London, do an internship there, and then ask for an internal transfer once you’ve been working full-time for a year or so.

      1. Thanks for the reply! Part of my reasoning for wanting to do a master’s degree in the US is that you can start out as a 1st year analyst in NY and hence qualify for the on-cycle private equity recruitment process. As a 2nd year analyst in NY who transferred from London, would I have a path into MF (KKR, BX, etc) associate programs in NY?

        If there isn’t a path, would the best alternative be to (1) stay in London IBD, recruit for PE in London then try to transfer to the NY office of the PE firm; (2) do an 18-month master’s program in the US and apply for IBD NY internships – if courses start after apps open, perhaps try to recruit before starting courses? Otherwise, is there something I haven’t considered?

        1. The first thing to realize is that even if you are at a top bank, you will probably not make it into one of the mega-funds in NY. Very few Analysts do, and even if they do, most quit fairly quickly because the turnover rate is high at the junior levels (worse hours than IB, pay is not *that* great for the time and stress, rarely a path up the ladder, etc.).

          So, if that is your main motivation, you should probably re-think your goals (similar to how 50% of marriages end in divorce… yes, everyone goes in with the best intentions, but the numbers always trump “best intentions”).

          You can still win offers at these firms by going through the process as a 2nd year analyst and then staying in IB for 3 years.

          You are still probably better off staying in London, recruiting for PE there, and then trying to transfer.

        2. Hi Brian.Really useful article. I would appreciate your advice regarding my situation. I am a CA in India. passed last year and currently working in transfer pricing big 4. I don’t have any finance work experience-difficult in India. but I am preparing for CFA. Do you think it’s a good idea for me to get a masters in finance? I would be targeting careers in other countries like Singapore/ Hong Kong

          1. If you actually do the MSF in one of those other countries, yes, potentially. It depends on the total amount of work experience you have, though.

  26. Hello Brian,
    I am currently a first-year student doing a Bachelor’s in Banking and Finance in the University of Aleppo, the Second Top university in Syria, but globally it falls way behind in the rankings. Due to the poor rankings, do you think it is 100% necessary to do an MSF if I have to apply for a job in one of the Big 4 in London? And do you think it is a better idea if I apply for a Student Visa, gain an offer at a top university in the UK to do an MSF, and then work? Or apply for a Work Visa, and then do an MSF after getting employed?

    Also, the more important question, is it possible for an Investment Banking Analyst to do a full-time MSF while working full-time? If not, then is either his job or studies has to be part-time? Or is it not possible at all? And if the last one is the case, then is it possible at all to do an MSF, either full-time or part-time, while working full-time as an Associate, VP or a director?

    Also, to give you a clearer image of my situation, I am able to do internships here, but how many do yoi think I should do? See, because we don’t have branches for any of the American or British Big 4, bit we do have branches for the largest banks in the Middle East.

    1. You cannot be an IB Analyst and do any time of part-time or full-time degree. It’s completely impossible with the hours you’ll be working. You will have almost no free time in IB until you’re very senior, so it’s not even worth thinking about.

      If you want to work at the Big 4 in London, you could probably get in without an MSF in the UK, but the whole visa situation is currently unclear due to Brexit. We have no idea what will change and if it will be limited to “unskilled workers” or everyone else as well.

      You probably have a better chance if you do an MSF there, intern there, and then apply for full-time roles. But I’m not sure you need an MSF for the Big 4 in the first place – roles are less competitive than the ones offered by banks.

  27. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the great content. I graduated from a non-target with a 3.1 Gpa in Econ and Comp Sci in 2018. I was able to do an internship at a large bank (non-BB) before I graduated through the side door, but wasn’t part of the Summer Analyst program. I did work on an interesting part of the trading floor however.

    After graduating, I’ve been working for a F500 Energy firm as a Business Analyst for almost 2 years now. My worry is my undergrad GPA. If I get a better Msfin GPA and job post-graduation, I would feel like I have a better chance at a Top MBA in 4-5 years.

    Would the MsFin make sense? or should I focus on getting a better job in NYC and competing for a top MBA?

    I am considering Villanova, Rochester, Fordham, Baruch MsFin mainly. Perhaps I can shoot higher with my strong work experience and letters.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. If you can apply and win admissions to MSF programs ASAP, yes, I would recommend it so you can overcome the non-target and GPA issues. But if you’ll have to wait ~2 years to do it, I wouldn’t bother because then you’ll be over-qualified for Analyst-level roles (in that case, go for a better job first and then a top MBA).

      I would also aim for the top MSF programs if you decide to do that.

  28. Brian thanks for this content!

    I suppose I am in option B? Double majored in Mathematics and biology (3.6) and completed a masters in molecular biology (3.85). However, I have no official job experience as I just graduated. What would be the best option to break into finance, particularly with a aim of breaking into IB?

    1)Do I apply to MSF or do I apply to MBA?
    2)Is there any possibility of cold calling/emailing for a IB internship?

    1. I would take a look at some of these articles (no, don’t do an MBA – maybe consider an MSF but try to win an internship or other job first via networking):

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/biology-to-investment-banking/
      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/medical-school-to-investment-banking/

  29. Hello Brian,
    I earned my BSc in Canada (2018) and my MSc in the UK (2019), both degrees in political science. I decided I want a career in finance only during my master’s degree. I highly value growth opportunities, salary and working with inspiring and ambiguous people. I don’t worry too much about work-life balance and location because I don’t need to stabilise yet.

    I am Canadian and I am 24 yo. I have no full-time work experience or relevant internship, and I don’t know if I can stand a chance coming form a non-traditional background. My grades were good and I have held several leadership positions in university societies, but my internships were unrelated to finance.

    My questions:
    -What sort of career path would you recommend me? Do you think emerging markets, corporate finance within a global firm or credit analysis are sound and reasonable goals given my situation?
    -Should I apply for a MFin? I already enrolled for the CFA L1 for June 2020 thinking it could be a substitute for a MFin, but in hindsight I think the CFA cannot not help me in the recruiting process at this point…

    Any advice would be a huge help. Thank you in advance, it’s kind of you to answer all of us.

    1. 1) It’s almost impossible to say if you haven’t had internship experience yet. You need to try different roles and see what you like and what you don’t like first. Political science is not directly related to finance, but you might like roles that require knowledge of geopolitics and policy decisions, such as anything macro-related in S&T or groups in IB that depend heavily on government policies and regulations.

      2) The CFA will not help you with traditional finance roles because you really need internship experience. So… if you can afford it, yes, do a Master’s in Finance at a top school and start networking ASAP for internships before/during the program.

  30. Hi, Brian, thanks for the information. I worked full-time for 2 yrs in credit industry after finishing my bachelor of science in Financial Math. I applied for master school this year and will be a student at CUNY-Baruch College for MS Finance starting Jan 2020.

    I have been searching for summer internship recently, but found most of them are for undergraduate student. Do you think I can possibly get an offer if I apply as a graduate student? While it is Christmas season so I am not going to bug bankers for information sessions. Besides networking, do you know any website/way to find internships for master school student?

    1. And happy holidays!

    2. Yes, you can win internships as a Master’s student. Now is not a great time to network due to the holidays, but you can start again in the first week of January.

      Remember that most useful internships in finance come through networking, so it’s probably not even worth your time to look online, except as a way to see which firms might have openings. But once you do that, find people on LinkedIn and go through email to get the best results.

  31. Hello Sir

    I have just been recruited by one of India’s most premier financial services companies in their wealth management division. I will be working as a Management Trainee under a Relationship Manager/Financial Adviser for 3 years before becoming one. I want to enter PE/IB in the US/UK.

    I am graduating from my current MBA in 2020 as a fresher from a new IIM.

    I am confused as to:

    Whether a MSF or a second MBA program from an Ivy League B-School will help me to achieve my aspirations ?

    Do I need to switch to IB before applying for them ?

    1. Yes, an MSF or second MBA from a top business school in the US or Europe will help you get in. Degrees from the IIMs are treated differently.

      You don’t need to switch into IB, technically, but it would help to get a role that’s more relevant, such as one that involves valuation, deal analysis, due diligence, etc., as you’ll be competing against people with previous IB/PE experience.

  32. Hi Brian,

    I have just completed an MSc Finance degree at a target university (think Oxbridge, LSE, Imperial) in the UK. However, I just achieved a degree classification of a ‘Pass’ for various reasons and which I am extremely embarrassed for. The classification is below the minimum requirement of investment banks and just one notch above a ‘Fail’. I do have a couple of IBD internships incl. a bulge bracket as I did very well in my Bachelor. No bank will take me with such a degree classification. I know I can do better than a Pass. I am considering doing another Master degree, maybe in Management, to get the grades I need. Do you think I should even take another Master degree and, if so, will Investment Banks still look at my first Master degree result and still reject me based on that even if I do very well in my second master degree?

    1. I don’t see what else you can do, so yes, you will probably need a second degree and you can point to the results from that instead. Banks will still look at both, but if you do much better in the second one, it might be fine.

  33. Hi Brian,

    I went to a top public university in the US. I double majored in finance and chemistry, however I got interested in finance and investment banking very late and was not able to capitalize on the available opportunities. I currently work in consulting (public sector) and I have had a financial planning internship in the past. I am thinking of doing a masters in finance (US or UK) to break into investment banking. My current plan is to cold call and get a summer internship before the masters program starts for some experience. I would apply to intern roles and analyst roles for after the program is over, as I understand that it will be difficult to secure BB roles without prior experience. My financial modeling experience is minimum to none and I plan on taking a financial modeling course and learning on my own. Is this a viable plan?

  34. Hi Brian,

    First and foremost thank you for your insight through this site, it has been very helpful for me so far. I am currently getting an MBA with a specialization in Health Sector Management in Policy at the University of Miami. I only have one year left in the executive program and I’m looking at pursuing a part time MSF degree at either Notre Dame or Johns Hopkins. My goal is to transition into IB within the healthcare space. I am 32 years old, my current work is in overseeing the transition and acquisition of our retiring doctors practices as Associate Director. Do you have any recommendations for me? Which of the two schools would you choose?

    1. I’m not really sure why you’re getting an MSF after an MBA if your goal is IB. Normally, people work for a few years, complete an MBA, and then use that to move into IB as an Associate.

      If you really want to go that route, you’ll need some type of finance experience before/during the MSF program to have a shot, and even then, I think you might get a strange reaction from bankers because they’ll wonder why you did an MBA and then an MSF instead of just an MBA to get in.

      Notre Dame appears to be ranked much higher than Johns Hopkins in the MSF degree list, so that is probably a better option. But again, this one is putting the cart before the horse because you need a good answer/explanation for your plan.

  35. Avatar
    Himanshu Sharma

    Hi Brain,

    I’m qualified chartered accountant (India) and CFA L1 cleared in June’17, having experience of 1 year into external audits, 1.5 years into corporate finance advisory role and 1.5 years as credit manager into Working capital loans.

    I want to make carrier in equity research roles/ corporate valuations roles or Investment banking roles.

    Is it advisable to do M’fin to get into these roles.

    I’m considering warwick business school, University of Edinburgh or Trinity / UCD college in dublin, due to higher fee in other universities considering my budget.

    Please advice / guide.

    Best Regards,
    Himanshu Sharma

    1. Yes, but the biggest benefit is probably that an MFin in one of those places will let you work in a bigger/broader market (Europe). If you want to stay in India, I’m not sure how much it will help because all the recruiting for IB roles seems to take place at the top IIMs.

  36. Hello Brian your in-depth industry experiences and constructive advices are so impressive! My own background is grad from a Midwest big ten, BA in Econ, with extremely low GPA as 2.6. Mainly due to those years as an international student my English totally killed everything so it was the language skill rather than the study or intelligence ability prevented me from getting a better GPA. Since recent years I set a bigger goal for myself to reach and have completed some certificate exams now sit for the CFA 3(2020) and FRM 2 (2019) if say I am lucky enough to clear all CFA &FRM exams and combined withl >730 GMAT before MSF application, by your experience is that good enough to offset the low GPA? and which schools do you suggest me to try? Schools post student profile but only the average GPA or scores got exhibited, the tail data is always not access to so I don’t really have any clue. Another sore spot for me is I got my bachelor degree in 2011, which means I am old but not experienced. I have many years unemployed because my immigration status was frozen so I had to wait. I got 3 months equity research experience in NYC last year and was my only relevant intern.Do you consider I am even eligible? Is that still some possibility for me to break into the IB?? Thank you for your precious time in advance!!

    1. I don’t know, possibly. They do care about GPA, but if you have good enough work experience or test scores, you might be able to get in anyway.

      If your goal is to win competitive finance jobs in fields like IB, then you should focus on the schools described here.

      If you finished undergrad in 2011, it might be very difficult to win these types of entry-level roles, but it depends on how you present your experience since that time… the first question they will ask you is what you’ve been doing since then.

      Honestly, with your background, you might have better luck in less traditional fields like real estate finance, where you can get in and do well if you work hard enough and where grades/pedigree are less important.

      1. Thanks for all these supportive guides I could merely access to elsewhere. It’s very inspiring that the real estate related positions were deemed as possible ways for people not yet on the traditional track like me. Yet my passion for it is very limited though I ‘ve learned some valuation methods for buildings and REITS. Could you please figure out some other ways I might break in and start with?? I heard some PEs recruit entry analysts from college graduates, just curious if clearing CFA/FRM exams will make resume any appealing to them??

  37. Hi Brian,

    thank you for your content! I am a 2020 undergraduate from a top target school with a mediocre GPA 3.4/4.0 majoring in finance. Had two internships in boutique investment banks in NY. looking for full time right now but the chances are I am not going to get an offer due to my citizenship status. should I look into these masters programs for fall 2020?

    1. Yes, but make sure the program qualifies as STEM so you can graduate and then work for 36 months afterward: https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/international-student-investment-banking/

  38. Avatar
    Mohammad Saami

    Hi
    The question is specifically for those who are finance aspirants or want a career in finance ie. In IB, Asset management, hedge funds, investments etc. (Front office)

    Is it suggested to do a MBA in finance or MS Finance? Because what I have heard with an MBA you have more opportunities and a higher position and pay in an investment company Iike Jp Morgan etc.
    Whereas with MS since you are a fresher you would be more or less given a minor role compared to what you would have got with an MBA.

    Please help!

    1. It depends on how long you’ve been out of undergrad and how close your existing full-time work experience is. Once you move beyond 2-3 years out of undergrad and/or you have experience that is completely unrelated, you’ll probably need an MBA to get in. An MSF is more for scenarios where you “almost made it” and had pretty relevant experience, but need a bit more time and another shot at recruiting.

  39. Avatar
    Alessandro

    Hi Brian,

    I’m Italian and I’m 25 years old. I’m about to start the MSc in Accounting and Finance at LSE in September. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with the highest grade from an unknown university in Italy. I took two gap years before my bachelor’s degree and one after. In the last year, I worked at UniCredit bank as a brach consultant for 6 months and that is my only relevant experience (is it relevant?).
    Taking into account my personal situation, do you think that I could break into IB right after my master’s degree at LSE?

    1. I think you will probably need an additional internship to be competitive for IB. Something closer, such as a boutique PE or VC firm, Big 4, valuation, corporate finance, or something else like that.

  40. Would an MS finance make sense for someone in my situation to break into IB: I attended a non target state school and got decent grades (3.68/4) and double majored in accounting and finance and I now am in a financial rotation program at a F500 co. I am also beginning the recruiting process with Big 4 accounting firms (audit positions mostly). I took the GMAT after graduation and got a score above what the median at Vanderbilt and UT Austin have on their page. Would applying here after 1 year work experience be a good idea? or perhaps moving into Big 4 accounting and waiting until I am experienced enough to pursue an MBA be a better option?

    1. I think you could probably just go directly from the F500 into a “high finance” role (not sure why you would move to audit first? It seems like a step back if your goal is IB/PE). An MSF might make sense, certainly more than an MBA, but personally I would only do it if you spend some time recruiting, come up empty-handed, and decide that you need to gain better access to recruiters.

  41. Hi Brian,
    Quick question. My background is economics and I’ve always worked in corporate banking as a credit analyst (large corporates), and now front office. I have 6 years of working experience.
    I am trying to move into investment banking and willing to go for a more junior role.
    Do you think that doing a MSF, say in LSE, would help me break into investment banking having worked a few years already in corporate banking?
    I am based in London.
    Thanks

    1. I think 6 years might be a bit too much to get into IB via an MSF program. You might be able to do it since CB is closer to IB than many other roles, but they also might be reluctant to hire you as an Analyst with that much experience. You would have a better chance if you attended a top MBA program and used that instead (though MBA-level recruiting is not as well-developed in Europe, and it is a huge time/money commitment).

  42. Brian,

    I am approaching the final year of my bachelor degree in Business Administration at a semi-target in Europe. Furthermore, next summer I will be interning in the IB division at a top BB in London.

    Because I am already going into the final year of my bachelor degree, I would have a gap year between my SA stint and FT (assuming I receive a return offer).

    Would it make sense to take the GMAT in this situation and apply for top master programs (LSE/HEC/Boconni) to have a better ‘name recognition’ when starting FT? Or would it make more sense to just do a masters at my university (no requirements for internal students)?

    I am struggling with the decision if I should take the GMAT or not, especially if the better name recognition doesn’t mean anything after starting FT.

    Would love to hear your opinion.

    1. I don’t think a better-known school will help much, assuming you receive a full-time return offer at a top bank. So if you want to do a Master’s degree, just do it at your current university.

  43. Hello Brian,
    I am 28 years old and I am deciding on whether I should pursue a MS Finance or a MBA.
    I am planning to get into private equity as an analyst or associate. I have 7 months of experience in accounting and 17 months of experience in operations in a big investment Management firm.

    which one should I choose? the MBA or the MS finance?
    thank you!

    1. It will be extremely difficult to get into private equity with that type of background unless you gain deal experience, normally in investment banking but also possibly in corporate development, first. So you need to think about how to gain deal experience first. The best way to do that in your case is probably to do the MSF at a top school and use recruiting there to win an Analyst-level IB offer, and then move into PE. An MBA does not make sense because you won’t have what it takes to get into PE directly from the degree, and going into IB following an MBA will make it more difficult to get into PE later on.

      1. thanks for your time Brian =)
        very helpful!!

      2. I am sorry Brian,
        I forgot to mention I have a BBA in finance and I am looking to get specifically into a boutique private equity firm ( middle market.) does this makes any difference?
        Thanks
        Ander

        1. It does not matter. It is exceptionally difficult to get into PE no matter what you do – even if you actually have deal experience at a bank. Please see these articles to understand why:

          https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-to-corporate-development/
          https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/private-equity-recruitment/
          https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/how-to-get-into-private-equity/

  44. Hi Brian,
    I’m a long time lurker here and your guide has really helped me over the years. And I’d love to hear your advice for my situation. I’ve graduated from a Semi-targeted Canadian University with a finance degree and have been working in a boutique IB shop for a year now. I’m currently looking for lateral shift opportunities into bigger banks but is struggling to do so by just networking. My friends have suggested doing an MFin degree at a target school here to compensate for my lack of business background. Do you think its a good idea to pursue a Mfin degree at this point? I do want to complete an MBA program in the future, but as a first-year analyst I think it’s still too soon for me to do that. Any insights or suggests that you might have would be much appreciated!

    1. I think the main issue is that you’re in Canada, so the market is smaller and there are many fewer job openings since the Big 5 Canadian banks might only hire a few dozen students per year. Instead of doing an MFin or MBA, maybe think about switching regions and going to the U.S. or U.K. (much bigger markets). I don’t really think an MFin will help you move to a bigger bank because you have a finance degree and IB experience already. An MBA might help you, but more so if you use it to work in the U.S., where MBA-level recruiting is more developed and where there are more Associate positions.

  45. Avatar
    James Pope

    I am considering an MSF from a non-target school (but CFA accredited program). I have a B.B.A. in finance, and no interest in IB: I’m “older” (27), and don’t like the IB environment.

    I’m interested in corporate finance or commercial banking, but have had trouble finding job as I have no experience. Do you think an MSF make me more desirable in the market or help me land internships?

    1. It depends on what your work experience looks like. If you have literally no full-time work experience and also no internships (but what were you doing before/after university?), then yes, an MSF would help your profile and give you a better chance at winning a job. But you’ll still probably need *some* type of internship or pre-MSF internship to have the best shot at using the program to win offers.

  46. Hi Brian,
    I have one year left before completing my Master’s degree in finance at a target school in France. I have completed one internship in audit and am currently interning at one of the top French banks in M&A. Would you recommend that I enroll into a MSF in a US school if I want to find a position in the US, even though I will soon obtain one from France? I am afraid my choice will be questioned since I expect courses to be somewhat repetitive.
    Thanks in advance and keep up the good work!

    1. If you want to maximize your chances of winning a role in the U.S. and you are not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, then yes, an MSF or other additional degree in the U.S. would help since it’s easier to win a role if you qualify for the F-1 OPT program.

      Another option would be to work in Europe at a large bank and then ask about a transfer to the U.S. after 1-2 years there.

  47. Hi Brian,

    How do you feel about a Master’s of Business Analytics? I’m currently trying to decide between two acceptances I received: an MSF (Vanderbilt) or a Master’s of Business Analytics (Notre Dame – with partial scholarship).

    My goal is to go into investment banking in Chicago.

    A little background about me – Finance degree from a big state school in 2017 (3.5 gpa). I’ve spent the last two years in corporate finance at a F100 company.

    I realize I’m late to comment on this thread, but it’s so full of relevant info for me. Any insight you could give toward my decision between these two programs would be fantastic. Thanks.

    1. Unless you need Business Analytics because of visa issues (as I think it qualifies for STEM treatment, so helpful for international students who want to stay in the country), you should go with the school that has the best reputation and placements. And I believe Vanderbilt is slightly better in MSF rankings, but there’s not a huge difference if you value the partial scholarship at Notre Dame highly.

  48. Hello Brian,

    As an international candidate who wants to break into investment banking, I would appreciate your view on what degree would be more appropriate for me- MSF or MBA?

    I spent three years as an accounting officer in my country’s armed forces for national service and I have worked subsequent two years as a corporate banker in the local office of Citibank. I feel that I may be too old for MSF/Analyst route and yet at the same time, I feel underqualified for MBA /Associate route. Would recruiters consider my three-year national service a work experience?

    Just in case it helps you answer the question, I did my undergraduate degree in a target school.

    1. You will almost certainly need an MBA at this point because the 3 years of accounting will be viewed as work experience, even though it was technically in the military.

  49. Avatar
    Himanshu Sharma

    Hi Brian,
    I’m Chartered accountant from India, having CFA L1 with Over all experience of 3 yearz which includes 18 months in corporate finance role.
    I’m 26 years old. Considering my age, qualifications and experience is it advisable to do Master’s in finance.
    I had worked in accounting and auditing roles. But I had figured out that I want to work in finance only.

    Please suggest.
    I’m considering Canada at the moment. Is it a good market for finance roles.
    Further I will study by availing finance so it’s a huge decision for me carrer wise as well as Financially

    1. India is a completely different market. The guidelines here don’t necessarily apply. Please see:

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-india/
      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/india-big-4-transaction-services/
      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/startup-investment-banks-india/
      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/private-equity-india/

      An MSF won’t help much there because recruiting is so focused on the top IIMs.

      Canada is also not a great market because it’s so small and it tends to be difficult to get a work visa there.

  50. Hi, I recently found your website and I am obsessed. I have a Bachelors of Economics in Finance (3.73GPA) and I am currently doing an MBA in a non target school in SanFrancisco (Finance emphasis). I began this fall, and will be graduating June 2020. I chose to get an MBA right after my bachelors because I wasn’t sure what to do and did not want to just lay around. It’s been 3 months now and I’ve decided to go the IB route. In hindsight I would have chosen to get an MSF instead.
    I am an International student and my current program qualifies me for just one year of OPT.
    I’m considering switching to a MSF that qualifies as a STEM program just to give me more time but I feel as though that’s backwards. Not sure what to do.
    Any advice will be highly appreciated Thanks!

    1. I would definitely recommend switching to an MSF, if possible, because an MBA right after undergrad is not a great idea for IB recruiting (it will be tough to compete against others with full-time experience). This article may be helpful:

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

  51. Brian, I was just accepted into a two year MSF program and it is my intent to quit my job before the semester starts next year. I’m currently a business analyst at a consulting firm (Booz, Deloitte, ACN) and I will have been here for a year before I leave. My question is, do I really need another internship prior to starting the program if I completed two PE internships as a senior? My goal is to get a PE role a MM fund.

    1. No, probably not. It will still be difficult to win a PE role directly out of the program, but another finance internship will not change that at all. You have a good shot at other roles that lead into PE with that type of background.

      1. Thanks Brian. I figured that going straight into PE would be unlikely so I’m going to aim for IB. I graduated from a semi-target but I finished with a low GPA (2.83). My plan is to focus on getting a 3.5+ GPA in my first year and then competing for an IB role during full time recruiting. With that in mind, should I try to do a summer internship with a small IB shop in my first year to have it on my resume or would my experience with an improved resume be enough? I was also a fighter aircraft maintainer in the Air Force for a year and a half before college so I feel like I have a unique resume as is. My main concern is that is finding a balance between having enough experience and having too experience much to get an analyst role.

        1. I don’t think that plan will work because normally you win a summer internship that you then convert into a full-time role. And if it’s 2-year MSF program, you really only have 1 summer available for an internship. So, you probably need to focus on winning an IB role in that summer, ideally at a mid-sized-to-large bank so you have a reasonable chance of receiving a return offer. Of course, since recruiting is now hyper-accelerated for undergrads, it’s not clear how the timing will work for Master’s students… you can’t really apply for internships before you start the program. I don’t think you need an additional internship beyond your consulting role and PE internships to apply for IB roles.

      2. So if I’m going for the MSF->IB->PE route, do I need to have an investment banking internship on my resume to be competitive with my background?

        1. As I wrote above, no, I don’t think you necessarily need it, though it might help you a bit if you can do it before the program or during the first few months.

  52. Hi Brian,
    First of all, I would like to say that I really appreciate what You do here, especially considering that comments and questions are actually answered.
    Long story (not-so) short: I am a first year student at the Bocconi MSc in Finance, having graduated last summer. During my three-year bachelor, always at Bocconi (Finance too), I was a really good student (that’s why I was able to be admitted to the MSc program), but I did not focus at all on the working-related aspect, so that now I do not have any experience whatsoever.
    Now, getting to post-graduate level without a working experience in Italy is not uncommon at all (I would say that it is basically the norm), but still I would like to ask You what my next moves could be, considering that I was not-shockingly not able to land any bulge-bracket IB summer internship in London.
    I was thinking about either trying to get a consulting internship (MBBO), maybe in the middle east, or trying to break into Venture Capital in London (as I read in one of your articles).
    Is any of them actually a good idea, considering that I would still like to break into banking, once graduated from my master?

    1. At this point, you need to get any type of work experience you can to have a shot at winning IB roles. Internships or off-cycle roles at small PE/VC firms might work, a consulting internship might work, and even something like a Big 4 or other valuation/accounting internship might work. You’ll probably have to go outside Italy for the best chance at winning one of these because it’s notoriously difficult to win internships there, and there aren’t that many firms. The Middle East might be better, especially if you have some type of connection there, but I think you’re best off going to the largest finance market in Europe (the UK) and applying for roles there.

  53. Thanks for the articles, I have gained extensive insight from M&I over the last few years. However, I think I need advice on my specific situation. I would really appreciate your thoughts on whether a Masters in Finance makes sense for me. I am an Australian student from the University of Queensland and am about to complete my undergraduate degree in November. I am studying a dual of Bachelor of Engineering/Commerce with a double major of Mechanical Engineering and Finance. My overall GPA is 3.5+ equivalent and my Finance Major GPA is 4.0 equivalent. My career goal is a career in investment banking, preferably in the energy, mining and utilities sectors as it fits my background and are huge in Australia. My experience consists of the following:
    – worked as an undergraduate mechanical engineer at a mid-cap utilities company for about 5 months,
    – interned in an internal operations role at a mid-tier retail/commercial bank (2 months),
    – interned in audit at big 4 (2 months), and
    – interned in corporate finance at big 4 (6 months).
    With this experience, I gunned hard for investment banking internships and graduate roles throughout 2018. I managed to make the final round for graduate interviews with two bulge bracket firms. For internships, I got first round interviews with 6 firms, and made final round interviews with 3 of them (2 boutiques and 1 bulge bracket). All of these interviews were in Sydney, and many came as a result of my networking. I developed a very strong network with a senior banker at a bulge bracket, and other decent networks of analysts and associates from the boutiques. They have encouraged to keep in touch, particularly if I secured a big 4 role or boutique. Unfortunately, there are very few opportunities in my home city, where I was unsuccessful with big 4 corp finance which are the best avenue for IB in Brisbane. After this application season, I applied for many other roles just to gain more experience in relevant industries. Soon, I am about to complete a 3 month internship (Nov-Feb) in Brisbane for mechanical engineering. This is with Australia’s leading energy retailer and has the largest market share in Australian shale gas. I am also the preferred candidate for a graduate role at a services company in their project management division (contract bidding, procurement and contract administration/project execution), which will mainly consist of projects related to utilities, particularly renewable energy. This company is not a well-known name and will most likely provide a contract offer next week.
    With all this under consideration, I have mapped out this potential plan:
    1. I complete my Engg internship in 2018/2019. If successful, I could have the option to start a full time role with this energy company in 2020.
    2. My grad role for 2019 would start immediately after this internship. The job is located in Melbourne.
    3. Due to the lack of transferable skills with this role, I am planning to study a masters in finance at the University of Melbourne. Application deadlines are very soon.
    4. During 2019, I will study part time and utilize the networks and campus events to continue to try and break into banking. This will be graduate and internship applications which span from March to July. I will also continue to apply for off-market entry level positions for big 4, boutiques and maybe bulge brackets.
    Pros of plan:
    – Melbourne is the best choice as I have a job and can support myself.
    – University of Melbourne has the highest corporate finance rankings for Masters degrees, and Melbourne recruiting for IB tend to be biased towards University of Melbourne students.
    – Better than staying in Brisbane where masters programs are not as reputable and there is less access for networking opportunities.
    – Have enough time to start networking with IB Melbourne firms if I commit now.
    Cons:
    – All of my current networks are in Sydney.
    – Grad role is located in a suburban area (1.5 hours travel time from uni and 45mins from the city via public transport). With a full time job, this will make networking and going to university events more difficult, but not impossible.
    – Do not know the full demands of the grad job, where it could be very demanding as I will be frequently required onsite (maybe FIFO but not sure yet). This could hurt my grades and networking.

    Other considerations:
    – If I have time, might attempt FMI modeling certifications to demonstrate my technical skills for boutiques and big 4.
    – Not sure about a CFA instead of a masters. They are easier to manage, less time commitment and lower cost. A masters seems more beneficial though.
    – Still eligible to apply for grad roles two years out of an undergraduate (this is if I am not studying post-grad)

    What are your thoughts of my plan? Do you have any additional suggestions or alternatives? I had alarm bells when you mentioned that a Masters of Finance is not beneficial in Australia for breaking into IB. Apologies for the long-winded message, I just wanted to frame my situation as clearly as possible. Thanks for reading.

    1. The flaw in your plan is that banks do not necessarily recruit from MSF programs in Australia. I don’t know this for a fact, but I do know that MBA-level recruiting is nonexistent, which suggests that MSF recruiting may also not be great. Before going through all these scenarios and making a giant pro/con list, you should do some searches on LinkedIn and speak with alumni and see what they say about IB recruiting from the program. Always prioritize real peoples’ profiles and facts on LinkedIn over anonymous online discussion.

      The other flaw in your plan is that you want to stay in Australia, which is a notoriously small/difficult and nepotism-driven hiring market for IB roles. If you really want to get into the industry, you should try to move to a market with more roles (the UK or UK). Yes, it’s difficult, but it may still be easier to do that and find a job in another country than to stay in Australia… based on complaints from almost every reader in Australia over the past decade.

      1. I have family in Italy, so I was considering the University of Bocconi in Milan. Would this be a good option from your knowledge of the European market? Thanks again for reading.

        1. Yes, it’s a well-known university in Europe that sends graduates into banking. And almost anything beats Australia.

    2. Hey Matt, I’m in the same boat. I had numerous BB/boutique IB interviews for intern/grad in 2017/18 but wasn’t able to secure an offer. Unlike your top marks however, I have average Eng/Com marks and currently work in Big 4 CF.

      Did you end up doing masters? Would love to hear your opinion/current situation. I’m thinking of doing masters to prove to banks I’m academically capable since my marks were questioned a lot during interviews (messed around in the first couple of years of undergrad).

      Wouldn’t mind hearing a few words from you too Brian. Thanks

      1. Yes, a Master’s degree could be useful in that situation if one of the key objections was your grades, and you’re confident you can do better in the MSF program.

  54. Hey Brian,
    I have decided quite late to peruse IB, so I have had no prior internships. I have just graduated with a degree in Maths with Finance, and am currently working as an accountant. My finance experience is limited to this. Do you think it would be possible to get an internship, if so how would I go about securing one? Or your thoughts on an approach to getting into an investmant analyst position.
    Many thanks

  55. Avatar
    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. Avatar
        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!

        1. You can do it, it just depends on how much time/effort/money you are willing to spend. There is a good example here:

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

          I don’t think you are over-qualified. That only happens if you have multiple years of full-time work experience.

  56. 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 ?

        1. Yes, it could. But a high GMAT score might offset it a bit.

  57. 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.

  58. Avatar
    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.

  59. Avatar
    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. Avatar
        Suraj Bobade

        Thank you Brian for your valuable guidance.

  60. 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.

  61. Avatar
    Eden Tran

    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. Avatar
        Eden Tran

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

  62. Avatar
    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.

  63. Avatar
    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.

  64. 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).

  65. 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.

  66. 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.

  67. 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/

  68. 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.

  69. 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.

  70. 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.

  71. 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/

  72. 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/

  73. 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.

  74. Avatar
    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.

  75. Avatar
    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.

  76. Hey Brian,
    great article! I am having a really tough time trying to figure out the right course of action in my case and I would love it if you could give me some input if you find the time:

    I am originally from Germany, but completed my undergraduate degree in the US as an international student. I didn’t focus as much as I should have during undergrad and my GPA is less than stellar. (first, community college, then UCSD – Cumulative GPA from both schools: 3.03)
    After college, I did a marketing internship at a big media corporation and worked full-time in PR for one year. After that, because my family needed my help, I returned to Germany and worked in my family’s business as a sales consultant for 1.5 years.

    Now, my dream is to get an offer as an Associate at an IB firm after my (US!) MBA which I will start in Fall 2020. I have already taken the GMAT (780 – Q50), am about to finish UCLA Extension’s Finance Certificate with a 4.0 GPA and was wondering what to do, not only to best position myself for MBA applications but also for the recruiting period afterwards.
    Do you think in my case it would be wise to add another academic credential, such as a Master’s in Finance or Economics given my low undergrad GPA? Aside from a Master’s – What type of positions should I apply for? Should I just stay at the family business and try to get a PE or IB internship somewhere? Or should I try to get some full-time experience under my belt, even if it will only be for around 1.5 years?

    I am trying to figure out how to best approach this situation now that I still have some time before I start my MBA. I would love it if you could give me some input.
    Thanks in advance!

    1. If you’re already going to complete an MBA at a top school, a Master’s degree in something else won’t matter. The #1 thing you need to do is win a pre-MBA internship that’s related to finance, or get some other work experience that’s related. It will be very tough to win a full-time role, but firms are often open to short internships before your MBA program begins. I’m not sure how common it is in Germany, so you may have to be in the US to complete that part. There are some tips on pre-MBA internships here: https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/pre-mba-internship-hedge-fund/

  77. Hello,
    I am in my final semester of undergrad(Bachelors of Science in Eco, Maths and Stats) in India.
    I have completed my CFA L1 and I am now joining AIG as an Actuarial Analyst.
    I want to eventually get into investment banking and hence want to do my masters in finance, preferably in Europe.
    What are my chances of getting a job in that field in Europe? And also would MBA be a better option?
    (I dont want to study Management though)

    1. Impossible to say without knowing all your stats, but if you attend a top MSF program, you should have a decent shot. An MBA is not necessary unless you spend more than a few years working full-time.

  78. Hey Brain,

    I have come across this site recently and find it really helpful and inspiring for career changer! Thank you for the fabulous work you and your team have down!

    I’m a recent law graduate from Taiwan with Corporate Finance internship experience at ICBC and Economy Research internship experience at our local government during my undergraduate. Currently I’m serving the army and scheduled to study in MiM (master in management) program at a target school in the Netherlands this summer. Besides, I have secured an internship at a local VC, in which I’ll join the team for half year soon after my service ends. Due to my background, I couldn’t and didn’t apply for MSF (I have very very limited business related credits so I’m not even qualify for most of the application requirements).

    However, I came up with some MSF programs which don’t required any previous academic experience several days ago. The programs are MSF at Nova SBE from Portugal and Frankfurt School of Finance and Management from Germany (this one is required to attend the bridge course though).
    Now I’m quite confused. Whether I should stick to my offer and go for MiM or start applying both MSF programs, I have no idea.

    My first thought is: I have to undertake huge risks since both Portugal and Germany need local languages to even earn internships while the Netherlands has better shot without knowing much about dutch.
    What would you suggest? Would appreciate hearing your opinions!

    1. You should attend the best school you can get into. In theory, the local language is not required in the Netherlands, but in practice, banks there still heavily favor local interns for roles. It’s better if you use the Netherlands MiM program to apply to roles in London.

      1. (Sorry for the typos in my first post, I should double check before I post…)
        Really thank you for the prompt reply! Then I will go for RSM and forget about the MSF stuff. I read your article “Stuff Investment Bankers Don’t Like: 2016 Edition” and knew your opinion of learning a new language, but due to some personal reasons, I would like to live in the Netherlands for 5 ~ 10+ years so learning Dutch should be my option. Thank you once again, Brian! Hopefully, I can land a decent job there and come back to share my story with you and others:)

  79. Hi Brian,

    I am in 3rd year out of a 4 year business degree in a semi-target university. I have 2 BO internships up until now, the most recent in a top BB. Networked my way into getting a final round interview in IBD for a summer internship in the BB but just missed out. Would a Msc Finance be a good route to take in a top-uni when I finish undergrad, and therefore I would be able to apply for summer internships next year 2019 after graduating pre MSC.
    Thanks!

    1. Yes, assuming you’d rather do that than start working in a different company/group and then try to lateral over to IB.

  80. Hi Brian,

    I majored in Psychology but took Financial Accounting, MIS, Microecon, and Calc 1 and also did a project coordinator internship at a nonprofit my freshman year. I have no finance experience but worked in Retail Sales and worked as a Pharmacy Technician at a top Pharmacy. I graduated in May 2017 and haven’t gotten a finance job yet. Should I do an MSF if I want to break into IB?

    1. You need better internship experience. Even with an MSF, Retail Sales isn’t enough to get you in. If you can somehow get front-office finance experience and get into a top MSF program, yes, that is the best way for you to break into IB at the moment.

      1. Thanks for the reply Brian. I think I can get into a top MSF, but given my background, how do I go about getting front-office finance experience before the MSF?

        1. Network, cold call, pound the pavement, see all the case studies here on students who used cold calling/emailing/alumni networking to win internships… search for pre-MBA internship to get ideas…

  81. Avatar
    Eric C. Toyloy

    Hi, just looking for some advice.

    I currently have 4 years as an Investment Banker in a local bank in my country, I live in Panama. I have a local BA degree and a MBA from a well known Latinamerican school, for Latin America we could say “Im well school branded”. However Im looking to jump into a big bank or firm. These are my two options as of now: 1. Im thinking on going into a MSF program such as LBS or John Hopkins so I can get an international brand behind me or 2. simply apply trusting my current IB experience and my current degrees.

    What do you recommend from the latter?

    Thanks!

    1. I would do #2 first, and if that doesn’t work or you cannot get responses after ~6 months, go for #1.

  82. Avatar
    Pipe Kasperson

    Hi Brian, I am an international student majoring in Industrial Engineering from a University in Florida (Non-Target here in states) and from a good University in Colombia (It is a Dual Degree Program GPA: 3.5). I am also studying for the CFA level 1 and preparing for an internship that I will have at an IB Op next year. My goal for the future is to be at an Investment Bank again but working on a finance-related position but the issue is that right now much of my background is from industrial engineering and this is the first internship I will be doing here in USA. My options right now are 1) striving to get the full offer after the internship in Op and trying to move inside to another division or 2) applying to a Master in Finance Program and then reaching a summer internship again but this time in a finance-related position hoping for the full-time. What would you do in my case if you have the industrial engineering background, already interned at the company but want to move inside to a finance related position? Thank you !!

    1. I would say #2 is better because it is pretty difficult to move from a full-time role in operations into a front-office job. It would be easier if you were just doing an internship and you wanted to switch to an internship elsewhere.

  83. Hi Brian,

    If you’re reading this, I would really appreciate some input on my situation. I’m a senior CS/Finance double major at a well known but non-target US undergrad with a pretty decent GPA (about 3.7). I originally wanted to work in a startup, but after taking a futures & options course with a former investment banker I became really interested in pursuing IBD and eventually working my way into PE and VCs- maybe someday becoming the CFO of another startup.

    Problem is that I have basically 0 Finance experience- worked on a tech startup for 2 years and then some technical internships. I tried to get an internship at BBs and regional boutiques and such last year but as far as I could tell I wasn’t even considered. I’m basically the nightmare version of the #2 situation in your Engineering to Investment Banking article.

    I’ve landed here because my plan has been to rebrand myself by applying to some top Msc Finance programs like Said, LSE, MIT, etc. I’m really worried because I don’t have the IBD internship experience that all the people on the class profiles seem to have. Additionally, I’m from a non-target with a GPA that’s not exactly close to a 4.0. I’ve been studying for the GMAT and practice results look pretty solid (always been good at standardized tests), but is there even a score that exists that can make up for my shortcomings, like say 750+ (or would I need a 770+?)? What’s the best thing I should be doing right now, with deadlines looming around the corner? Do you have any advice on crafting a good story for the admissions officers for someone like me?

    Thanks for your time and excellent article!

    1. I would act like it was your plan all along to combine finance with engineering, and say that you did the startup internships to hone in on the specific area in which you want to combine finance and tech innovations. Say that you want to learn more about Topic X in the MSF program so you can use technology to innovate in that area, and don’t even act like you want to do IB. Then, try to get some type of school-year internship at a small bank, PE fund, search fund, or real estate fund, and leverage that experience and the MSF program to recruit for IB roles.

      1. Thanks for the reply!

        You said “don’t even act like you want to do IB,” which worries me because most people doing Msc Finance programs want to break into IB and these Msc Finance programs seem almost designed to feed into IB. I just don’t want the admissions person to be scratching their head wondering why I’m applying to their program.

        1. That is just so your application sounds more believable. What you tell the admissions committee doesn’t have to match up to how you’re planning to use the program. And you can always say you want to work in some other area of finance with more overlap with technology (maybe check the placement stats and see what people typically do afterward).

  84. Hi Brian,

    Brilliant article! My case is a little different: I have just secured a FT IBD offer at a US bank (think GS, JPM, MS) and would be very interested in moving to the buy-side in a couple of years.

    I have a spot for a MSc in Finance at one of the top European schools you mentioned but given the high tuition and one of your previous articles (https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/full-time-investment-banking-offer-now-what/) on what do to after getting the offer, I am not sure whether the Masters would help me in any way with buy-side recruiting.

    For background, I have a bachelors degree from a slightly lesser known university with a finance specialisation and a very high GPA.

    Do you think the MSc in Finance would give me an edge during buy-side recruiting season?

    Thanks a lot for your help!

    1. No. It’s not worth it if you already have an IBD offer at a top bank.

  85. Hi Bryan,
    Thanks for your advice! I’m really interested in investment banking. I started college as a Computational Physics major and then switched to Finance in my last year (discovered my flair for the capital markets a little late). I graduated with a BSc. Computational Physics and BSc. Finance (both in 3rd tier US colleges US News rank: 100+). I spent very little time in B-school (1.5 years) because I’d already taken all my gen eds. I think this worked against me in college recruiting because I had 3 summers work of experimental physics lab experience and corporate science research, while my mates already had internships in Goldman Sachs / Morgan Stanley PWM. I only managed to secure aN internship in KPMG advisory Kenya. After graduation (summer 2016), I gained experience in wealth management at 2 itsy bitsy unknown boutiques in NY and Kenya (where I’m from). I spent 6 months in each boutique (red flag? :( ) before accepting a role in PWC strategy consulting in Kenya, which I started a week ago. I was taken on as a generalist and have indicated my interest in Financial Services. My issue is that I don’t know how my profile will work for an MSF. I’m targeting Sloan, Vandy, and WashU or I’ll forget about the MSF altogether. (I need the STEM designation). Will my switch to consulting throw the adcoms off? Will they doubt my seriousness about Finance? Can I circle back into IBD after consulting? I sought out the PWC consulting role because BB IB barely exists in Kenya and I didn’t want to get stuck in no-name wealth management. It’s also really important to me to get international IB exposure and to
    work on big deals that I won’t be exposed to working in Kenya. Also, all the major PE/VCs were basically only hiring ex-IBankers. PE/VC is my post-IB goal.

    PS- Finance GPA:3.78 Computationa Physics GPA: 3.1
    Decent leadership and extracurricular experience
    GRE: 65th % quant, 85th% verbal, 5 written

    Please advise me on whether or not you think an MSF will help get me into Goldman IBD given my profile. Thanks! :)

    1. An MSF will help, but it’s still a bit of a stretch to aim for Goldman IBD with your profile. Other candidates simply have more internship experience. The consulting experience is less of an issue than the fact that you became interested in the field very late. You should probably not focus on the biggest banks because it’s always tough to get in, and even more so if you need visa sponsorship and you don’t have much work experience. It would be more plausible to get into a mid-sized bank.

      1. Hi Brian,

        Thanks for your response. Really appreciate your advice. Could you share a list of these mid-size banks, please? Do you mean the middle market banks like Jefferies, William Blair, Piper Jaffray etc? Do you know which are the most h1b friendly of the lot?

        Also, could you please advise me on what to do at this stage to get into Goldman? Or do
        my visa issues make my chances next to nil? I plan to retake the GRE to make me more competitive.

        Thanks.

        1. https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/boutique-middle-market-bulge-bracket/

          You can answer your other questions with a simple site search (search for international, visa, etc.) or by going to the “Get Started” page.

  86. Avatar
    TheBigPicture

    Hi Brian,
    Sort of a tangential question, but. I’m currently a fixed income analyst covering the energy sector at a small shop (under 20 front office people). I want to be in credit long term, but at a bigger shop so that I can build a network to (possibly) eventually start a credit or distressed hedge fund. Would you recommend trying to get into IB? (DCM or Rx) Or can I make the jump from my current position? And also, how much experience should I have before I make a move?
    Thanks

    1. I don’t think IB would be helpful if your goal is to start your own credit investment fund eventually. It would be easier to move to a larger fund and then go from there. I don’t know the requirements for starting your own firm, but usually to start a hedge fund you need at least several years of audited results, and even then, raising money is exceptionally difficult. You have a better chance if you do it with team members from an existing firm.

  87. Hi Brian,

    Is it still possible for me to break into investment banking? I’m 25 y/o right now, majoring in Sociology. Just finished community college with a 2.9 GPA. I know that’s very bad. When I transfer to a cal state university I plan to keep a gpa of 3.8+ so the two gpas together will average out to about 3.4. I’ll be about 28 y/o when I finish my bachelor’s degree. I plan to apply to top business schools afterward to get a MBA. Would it be better if I change my major from sociology to business? I’ll have to stay at community college for another year to finish the business major required class in order to transfer. Thank you.

    1. To have any chance at all, you need a much higher GPA and something much better than a community college, which in California basically means Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA, or USC. So if you can get into one of those and get a much higher GPA, yes, and yes, you need to change your major to something more relevant.

  88. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for a great article and the your great career support!

    I have completed my undergraduate in a top uk uni (graduated first class), 2 summer internships in bulge bracket banks in London (not IB division but AM), Internships from EM and numerous leadership positions and founder of programmes related to finance etc. at university.

    I am now really torn between the LSE finance and PE programme (this seems to be the most competitive one), the oxford MFE and MIT Finance. Given I’m European and the us option is so expensive it’s probably better to go with the former two? I’m keen on joining a top consulting firm like Bain &Co after graduation and then venture into VC. My long term goal is to start my own company. If appropriate I would like to do a top US MBA after two years of working. If consulting doesn’t work out I would go into IBD for the the first two years.

    It’s also crucial that I pick the option with most prestige as my undergrad (although one of world best in niche area) is not at all known in the finance/corporate sector. I need a course that will provide the best recruiting opportunities and alumna and prestige that open doors in the long run. The oxford option has the name but LSE is the go-to in financial industry? Bear in mind that I do not want to stay in financial industry long run – more entrepreneur and VC.

    I would be very grateful if you could provide some insights on this decision.

    1. If you want to work in Europe, pick one of the European programs. But you seem to be all over the place career-wise (Finance? Consulting? VC? Your own company?), so you should probably narrow that down first as those are all completely different industries. LSE is better for finance recruiting, which matters more than plans years or decades away (as you’ll probably change your mind again ~27 times between now and then).

  89. Hi Brian,
    I have recently been accepted into the LSE MSc in Accounting and Finance program and have enrolled to attend classes in September this year.
    I am 24 years old and have graduated from a top 10 commerce college from India and have also successfully completed the Chartered Accountancy course (equivalent to the US CPA or ACCA). As a part of this course, students are mandatorily required to work full time for 3 years which I did in PwC in their audit department.
    After this, I decided to switch to Investment Banking and therefore did a 6 month internship at a top boutique investment bank in India. To gain some experience on the buy-side, I did another internship at a PE firm for 3 months as well.

    I will be going for the LSE course as mentioned above and have decided to enter the recruitment process for IBD in London and want to work there itself. Other than the known visa issues, can you please guide me on whether I am a suitable candidate for an Analyst position in IBD at a top bank or a boutique London bank. And also what can I do to further improve my chances and focus on those areas where I lack ? I have mostly an accounting qualification with audit work experience and am going for an accounting and finance programme rather than a finance only programme.

    Also, I plan to choose only finance electives during my course and therefore will get an MSc in Accounting and Finance in Finance specialization degree.

    1. Yes, you have a good chance at IB roles in London assuming your grades and standardized test scores are also good. At this point, it will come down to networking since you already have experience and the LSE name. Getting an internship in London might also help because some bankers “discount” experience in India and other developing countries.

  90. Avatar
    Tochukwu

    Thank you Brian. I’m 39 years old with 11years work experience gained from a small accounting firm and commercial banking in Nigeria. I’m planning to get Msc in finance and management from cranfield school of management.

    I want to change career from commercial banking. Considering my age and years of experience, which career do you think I should change to? Thank you once again.

    1. I would review some of the options for older/more experienced candidates here:

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/too-old-for-finance/

  91. Hi Brian, thanks for the article.

    I’m 26, French undergrad BA in top 10 French business school, minor in finance. Masters in international business in top Latam Business School, with 3 years working experience in corporate finance at fortune 500 companies (some M&A exposure for a year as an investment valuation analyst, then controlling and treasury management jobs).
    I’m currently living in Mexico, and now want to break into IB, so I’m a “career changer” as you label it (I’ve read your article (interview) about IB in Mexico.)

    I’m thinking 3 options: 1) Getting an MBA in Europe (INSEAD, HEC, LBS) before I try to get into IB (whether in Europe or in Latin America);
    2) Getting a MSFinance in Europe as well (LBS, EDHEC, HEC); or
    3) Try in Mexico and do the MBA in 3 to 4 years.

    My questions: a/ Which option do you think is best? b/ I suppose options 2 and 3 would land me an intern/analyst job, am I correct? Or am I already too old?

    Thanks for your time.
    Best regards,

    1. It depends on 1) What level you want to enter at and 2) Where you want to work. The issue with an MBA is that there isn’t much MBA-level recruiting in Latin America. The U.S. has, by far, the most MBA-level recruiting for IB roles, followed by Europe. So an MBA might not help much in LatAm.

      If you want to work in Europe, #1 or #2 are probably your best options. Three years of work experience might be too much to be an Analyst, so a 1-year MBA such as the one at INSEAD might be a better option at this point.

  92. Avatar
    HighPassion

    Hi Brian. I have 3 questions:

    1. Between MFin and MBA, which is better if i plan to land an analyst role in HF? (buy side role)

    2. I realised that most of the ivy league and top US uni offers MBA but not MFin(besides Princeton and M.I.T). If I can’t secure a place in Princeton and M.I.T. Is it a better option for me to go for a MFin in lessor known school or MBA in top school?

    3. Does joining a MFin programme in UK university put me at a disadvantage compare to the MBA graduates from top US school if my plan is to work in a US HF?

    Thanks a lot in advance

    1. 1) MFin because MBA-level hiring is not as well-developed at hedge funds

      2) MBA at a top school

      3) Yes, you’re better off doing a program in the US if you want to work there afterward

      1. Avatar
        HighPassion

        Thank you so much!

  93. Hello Brian, it was a great article and I think it is really helpful. I’m a south american student, with a BA in Economy, and I’ve some work experience in finance related companies (more specifically in the real estate business, 3 years). I want to work in venture capital/private equity and I’m willing to apply to a MSF next year. Do you think it would be a good idea to apply to a top school for a MSF, or wait a little and pursue a top local MBA program in order to get into this world?

    1. With 3 years of work experience, it’s tougher to say, but I would go for an MSF first and then downplay what you did so you can still apply for Analyst-level roles. It might work if you focus on real estate private equity firms or something else real estate-related.

  94. Hi Brian,

    Thank you for the article. I’m an international student, currently studying in one of the top business schools in Singapore. I want to be a trader and was wondering if the MFin is the best programme to apply for if I can’t break into the industry upon graduation.

    Background: 2 internships, one in the dealing room and the other in corporate banking. Major in Finance, with CFA level I attained.

    Regards.

  95. Avatar
    Caroline

    Hi Brian,
    I went to a top 15 US university for undergrad and had an internship with wealth management, but decided to pursue IB in my senior year. I was accepted into HEC’s MSc in International Finance program, and LBS’s Masters in Financial Analysis program and would appreciate any advice regarding which program would be better for positioning myself for an IB role in either New York or London.
    I’m struggling because LBS has the better international reputation outside of the US, but the MFA program is 3 years old and has no placement statistics. HEC’s program is highly ranked and has a good track record, but does not have the same international reputation as LBS.
    As a side note, I’m also not a US or an EU/UK citizen, but I speak French.

    Thank you in advance

    1. Both of those will be far more useful in London than in New York. If you’re using the program primarily to get into investment banking, and you know a European language and want to work in London, I would say HEC is a slightly better bet for the reasons you mentioned (placement stats, rankings, shorter program length).

  96. Hi Brian,

    What are your thoughts on the Masters in Finance at London Business School (LBS).

    I should mention – it is a POST employment qualification for those with 2-3 years of experience under their belt? My understanding is that LSE’s may be PRE employment.

    Elliot

  97. Hello Brian, you write :
    “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.”

    I finished my bachelor with top grades from a non target albeit top public UNI in Italy in Economics, the problem is that i have just a summer Internship, finance related but albeit a relatively unknown company

    I have been admitted to LSE and HEC Msc in Finance so my question is.

    Can i apply for an internship position in an upcoming summer spinning the fact that i am a future student at a Target or it doesn’t count until i am enrolled since i don’t have much previous experience and my UG is not a Target for IB.

    1. Yes, you can say that you’ll be an incoming student at LSE or HEC and apply to internships like that.

      1. Avatar
        Khaled Sheikh Amin

        Hi Brian,

        Thanks a lot for sharing this. I currently have offers to attend Oxford University (MSc Financial Economics) and LSE(MSc Finance and Private Equity). My goal is to land an offer at a bulge bracket in London and move on the buy side at some point.

        I am struggling to make a decision since although LSE seems to have a better program and placement for finance, the Oxford brand name is unbeatable.

        Would really appreciate any advice or information that might help me make my decision.

        Thanks,
        Khaled

        1. I think LSE is slightly better specifically for IB recruiting, but both are about the same.

  98. Avatar
    Charlie

    Hello, I would like to ask:

    1) In the UK, are these considered ‘target’ school: City University Cass, Cranfield School of Management, and Alliance Manchester Business School? I am thinking of applying for MSc Finance here.

    2) How reliable are the ranking tables, such as the Financial Times and eFinancialCareers ones?

    Thank you.

    1. 1) I believe Cass is, the others less so.

      2) They’re directionally correct, but you should always speak with students at the school AKA real people you speak with in-person and not random idiots on the Internet like me or the people who create those lists, before you make a decision.

      1. Avatar
        Charlie

        Thank you!

  99. Hey Brain I was wondering how does Master students actually break into IBD. Do they apply for SA or FT recruiting. Are they even allowed to apply for SA roles? If so, given that banks recruit so early by the time they recruit masters student just started the program does not have a GPA. Is this a problem? I’m study in a 1.5 years masters in quant and management related area at a target school.

    Thank you for your time!

    1. It depends on the timing and graduation date of the program. If it lasts over the summer (e.g., start date in January and graduation in December), then yes, students can apply for summer roles. If it’s a 2-year program, they can also do the same. The lack of a GPA in the Master’s program doesn’t matter because you can refer them to your undergrad GPA.

  100. Hi Brian,

    I’m a 24 year old Spanish guy. 2015 UAM university Business undergrad. During my last undergrad year I did a 6 month internship in Trade Finance at JPM in Madrid. Right after finishing my undergrad, I still worked there for a year and a half as a full time role and I decided to quit last March. Last Dec, I passed CFA Lvl 1, and aiming Lvl 2 this June. In March, I quitted for two reasons:

    – I considered more experience on that role was not helping me at all on learning and actually harming as I realized I was getting “type-casted” in Trade finance.

    – two more months of experience won’t make a difference on my CV but they are making a difference it to study better for the exam.

    I’m currently applicating for full time IB/CF related job offers as well as for MiF(IE, Esade, LSE). In the scenario I’m accepted to these job offers, should I accept them and pospone the MiF to next year so I have a “close to one year” full time experience on an IB/CF role? Would this help to get into an analyst position after finishing the masters, Or would it be considered too much work experience (3 years -2 years in Trade Finance and 1 year in CF- ) for analyst entry applications after finishing the masters? I would be 26 by then. (London and Madrid would be my preferred options)

    Or should I wait for an MBA if I gain any of these roles and get more than 1 year experience in CF?

    Thank you for the advice.

    1. If you win any of those roles, it’s best just to drop the Master’s degree, work in one of those roles for a 1-2 years, and do an MBA. 3 years of full-time work experience is pushing it for Master’s programs because that’s too much to be hired as an Analyst in a lot of cases.

  101. Hey Brian,

    I was recently accepted into LSE’s MSc in Finance program, and am set to start this coming September. My short-term career goal after graduation is to join a BB/EB investment bank in London or Singapore.

    Upon speaking with current LSE students, however, I am beginning to question whether a MSc in Finance from LSE is right for me. I have been told numerous times that recruiting in London is especially difficult for non-UK/EU students. As a non-EU international from Canada, I have to say that hearing such feedback from multiple LSE students concerns me to say the least.

    Given my background (shared below), do you think it’s a good idea for me to commit the time and money to pursue a MSc in Finance at LSE? If so, how do you think I should best prepare myself before I start the program in September.

    Also, if I do decide to pursue my masters at LSE, do you think I should apply for FT positions or SA positions?

    Background:
    – B.A in International Studies/ minor in Economics from a Top 10 US University (Graduated Dec 2016)
    – GPA 3.73/4.00; GMAT 730
    – Have been interning at a MM PE firm for the past five months (Private Equity Intern)
    – Completed Junior year internship at Macquarie Capital (Investment Banking Intern)
    – Completed Sophomore year internship at L.E.K Consulting (Research Analyst)

    Thank you for sharing your insights.

    1. The issue with LSE is that it’s not that useful if you want to work in the U.S./Canada/other regions as most recruiting is London-focused. So the answer to your question is: “Are you 100% set on working in London? If so, then LSE is a good bet.” If not, consider other options.

      You’ll probably have to apply for internships and then eventually a full-time role.

    2. Avatar
      Khaled Sheikh Amin

      I am in a similar situation. As Commonwealth citizens, Canadians are eligible to sponsor themselves under the Youth Mobility visa. Hence, you can state that you are eligible to work in UK when applying to internships.

  102. Hi Brian,

    I have been working in a middle office role at a bulge bracket for almost 3 years now and graduated from a non-target university with a major in market. While working full time, I have passed level 1 of the CFA and will be attempting level 2 this June. I have tried to make the transition into IBD through the internal mobility route twice now, but ended up getting screened out after two or three rounds both times.

    I was accepted into the University of Utah’s MSF program and am in discussions with two smaller local IBD firms about internships during the school year. I’m debating if it would be better to spend another year in my current role and then go for an MBA from a school with a better reputation or to pull the trigger on the MSF & IBD internships. What would you recommend?

    1. I would do the MSF and complete the IBD internships because it’s cheaper/faster than going for an MBA at a top school.

      Although I’m not sure if there’s any recruiting at the University of Utah – check on that first. If there’s no recruiting there or most banks don’t have a presence on campus, there’s no point.

      1. Very helpful. Thanks!

  103. Avatar
    Gordon

    Hey Brian,

    I am currently working in back office for a pension fund company, and completed my under grad from a non target University as well. I have been working for about 4 years now, would you recommend I rebrand myself and hopefully break into the industry by doing the master of finance or a MBA at a top business school in Canada

    1. If you have 4 years of work experience, you will probably need an MBA at this stage. MSF programs lead to Analyst positions, and you probably have too much experience to be an Analyst.

      1. Avatar
        Gordon

        Thanks Brian

  104. Avatar
    Quentin

    Hey Brian, love the website and had a quick question. I come from a non-target school and am currently in my junior year. Just for background, I have an IB internship for the summer set up already. I am trying to decide whether to attend the LSE summer program, and how banks view the summer school. Obviously it isn’t nearly as prestigious, but is it worth the time and money to attend? I’m having a hard time finding quality info on the summer school specifically.

    1. I don’t know about it, but it could be worth it just so you can write a well-known school on your resume. It’s not worth a huge amount to do that (e.g., don’t pay $50K for it), but if it’s a few thousand, it might be worthwhile assuming you can afford it.

      1. Avatar
        Quentin

        Thanks!

    2. Avatar
      Quentin

      Also there isn’t a decision between the internship or the summer school program, the two dont conflict.

  105. Hey Brian,

    I’m applying to an MSc in Finance program at LSE and very much fall into the “Not as Useful Category” — I graduated last year from a Top 25 US University w/a BA in political science and a series of internships in politics/media. After graduating I worked in paid media analytics/budgetary resource allocation for presidential campaign and now want to career change into investment banking having taken a few econ/finance classes in undergrad.

    Should I get accepted would it be realistic to think I could network my way into a relevant internship in London for the summer before term starts or would I have to wait until fall rolls around?

    1. Potentially, yes, but I think it would be tough to win an internship even at a small firm. Maybe use this type of strategy:

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/private-equity-internship-to-investment-banking-networking/

  106. Hi Brian,

    Already wrote here some time around March asking if a big4 internship will be of help in these circumstances:
    -Non-target uni, no finance background, non-EU citizen
    -Got into a semi-target MSc Finance in the UK (supposed to start September 2017)
    -Want to work in M&A in London

    Well, I managed to secure the Transaction Advisory Big4 internship (and I am quite happy with how it’s going). Before September, I would also like to score a 2-3 month M&A internship in one of the regional (but well known) investment banks.

    Will these 2 internships (about 6 months exp) improve my CV enough to put me in contention for a BB internship in London?

    Also, I could not really deduce what kind of impact Brexit will have specifically on M&A jobs. Should I fear hiring freezes, and job cuts?

    Thanks a lot for your answers, they are very insightful!

    1. Yes, I think so.

      You can’t do anything about geopolitical events, so they’re not worth worrying about. The most likely scenario is that some banking jobs move to Dublin, Frankfurt, Paris, etc. instead of all being centralized in London. But the majority will still be in London.

  107. Hi,

    I did my Bachelors in Economics from India, and completed a Masters in Economics from France. And have 2 summer internships in commercial banking and asset management, and a 6 month off cycle internship in Development Finance. Do you think it is a good idea for me to do a second Masters in Finance from a school in Europe to make the switch to Investment Banking in Europe?

    1. I’m not sure how that would help you.if you’ve already had multiple internships and completed a Master’s degree in Europe

  108. Hi Brian, I really need your help in deciding between these 2 programmes:

    LSE – MSc Finance
    LBS – Master in Financial Analysis

    I would really like to break into investment banking, but would also like a school that has a better reputation globally. Your thoughts on this will be very much appreciated. I have a deposit payment due by the weekend. Thanks.

    1. LSE hands down

  109. Hi Brian,

    When considering MSF programs how much should location play a factor at the expense of rankings? Schools like Baruch and Fordham are either right in Manhattan or a 25 minute train ride away but are ranked in the 50’s in the TFE Times rankings.

    Even though they mention IB/AM in the placement section and even though they are very close to New York City does their low ranking relative to say Georgia State or Rochester Institute of Technology negate those positives?

    1. Location definitely plays a role, but I’m not sure if a good location makes a #50 school into a #5 school. It bumps it up in the rankings, but not necessarily by a dramatic amount. If it comes down to one of those schools vs. the very top programs that might be outside of NYC, the top programs are still better. But those programs might beat mid-ranked programs because of their location.

  110. Hello Brian, I loved your article, i have one question though.I am planning to go to Rotman Management School in Toronto.Will it be worth it. I want to get a job offer from GS or JPM. Should i achieve an MSF or MBA

    1. We responded to your question in the other spots where you asked it…

  111. Thanks for your insight.

    I am a Petroleum Engineer from The University of Texas at Austin and have a recent work experience in accounting (1 year) from a smaller company. Overall, my experience is in OFS. I’m accepted in the MSF program for a pretty good private school, and I’m currently studying for the CFA Level I and FRM Level I exams. How can I leverage my energy experience (6 years) with my educational background in finance to land an opportunity as an energy equity research analyst or portfolio manager? Please help. Thank you for your assistance in advance.

    1. You need work experience in finance first. Try to find a local asset management firm, hedge fund, etc. and do research there for a month or two before you start the MSF program. The FRM won’t help much for equity research or portfolio management. The CFA is more useful, but even the CFA won’t help much unless you have more relevant-looking experience before you start the program.

  112. Brian,

    Since graduating from Florida State in Applied Economics, I’ve done primary and secondary market research for a private equity consulting firm, and now I’m working in the derivatives operations department at a large custodian bank. By the time I plan on entering grad school, I’ll have been out of undergrad for 4 years with the CFA level I passed and solid Bloomberg experience.

    Should I be shooting for an MBA or MSF? Any tips?

    1. Probably an MBA, as 4 years of experience is likely “too much” to be an Analyst. Try to leave before the program starts and do an actual IB/PE/VC pre-MBA internship.

      1. Thank you Brian. With my background, I could likely get into the UMass Amherst MBA program paying only $10,000. But if I could get into the BC MBA program, would it be worth it to pay $100,000? (Assuming I land a solid pre MBA internship and pass the next 2 CFA levels by graduation regardless of the school I attend) Are the networking / recruiting / education opportunities really worth the money if I can get the experience anyway?

        1. I don’t think there’s much IB recruiting at Boston College, so I don’t think it’s worth that much if your main goal is IB. If you want to use an MBA to get into investment banking, it really has to be a top 10-15 program. If you don’t think you can get into one, you could go to a lower-ranked school but you’ll have to aim for non-IB roles or network like crazy and aim for smaller banks.

  113. Avatar
    Konstantin

    Hi Brian!
    What do you think of Master in Finance program at the London Business School?
    Cheers?

    1. Please see the comments below, someone already asked about this.

  114. Dear Brian,

    Thanks for your comprehensive article!! I totally agree with most of your opinions and this is also a path that I am planning to walk. I had 1.5 years experience in one of the Big 4 as an auditor already and I am really decisive to enter into an IB. However, I just get a MSc Finance and Accounting from Imperial, which is not a pure finance degree. My worry is that: will such a master help me achieve my target? Btw, my undergraduate is a non-target but not bad school in accounting and finance. I know a master may soly be a ticket for IB’s interview but surely not a guaranteed offer. I am doubting that if such a master can work as MSF.

    Appreciate so much if you can come up with some advice.
    Regards

    1. Yes, it will help. The fact that it’s Accounting + Finance doesn’t really matter as long as there is a Finance component and you gain access to recruiting.

  115. Hi Brian,

    It’s Sumit from India, currently I am doing Chartered accountancy course and I want to break in IB can you please tell me that MSF add any value after Chartered..??

    1. It’s hard to say because I don’t know your previous work/academic experience. But in India, as in other smaller markets, MSF degrees don’t help much because most recruiting takes place out of the top schools (Mostly the top IIMs with a bit from the top IITs) and, to a lesser extent, out of CA courses. I don’t think banks in India recruit much out of Master’s programs. An MSF would be more useful if you planned to work in another country.

  116. Thanks Brian,

    I have been researching MSF’s for several months and looking particularly at UT and Vandy for their 2018 matriculation. I’m currently 3.8 gpa in accounting at west coast non-target and will graduate Fall 17 with 2 boutique IB internships.

    I don’t think getting a regional or smaller IB gig would be out of the question next fall, but realistically, there’s a decent chance Big4 could be best offer upon graduation (practically no one recruits at my school).

    My current thought process is that I ought to pursue MSF right now rather than working and then maybe MBA down the road. My reasoning is that I have a VERY GOOD resume qualifications that I am confident could get me into top MSF, but would not hold the same weight for MBA admissions. (current Student-athlete, Honors College, oversee student-led VC fund, multiple other leadership positions within school and business school)

    In my mind, once I start working, no one will care that I was student-athlete, honors, etc. However, MSF would! I’m curious to hear your thoughts as to whether you agree I should utilize the strong leverage I currently have with MSF admissions rather than working Big4 for a couple of years than maybe trying to do MBA.

    1. If you already have multiple IB internships, then yes, an MSF now is better than working at a Big 4 firm for a few years and then doing an MBA.

  117. My question is a slightly unrelated, but I recently graduated and had two IB internships, but was not able to hit on my super days. I still got a FO role in NYC that I have been in working in for a couple months. I was wondering if you think that it will look bad that I had two internships in the field but was not able to break in when I try to lateral into IB in the near future? Appreciate the help.

    1. Yes, it could potentially hurt you. The best way to explain it depends on why you didn’t convert the internships into full-time roles and why you didn’t succeed in the Superdays, and you probably need something better than just getting unlucky since it wasn’t just one opportunity.

  118. Avatar
    Syrone David

    How about internships in BO roles in a BB? Are they relevant? Soecifically client onboarding

    1. Yes, they can help. It’s not as ideal as front office experience, but it’s better than nothing and better than non-finance experience.

  119. That is a very interesting article. I like the fact that you revisit topics already covered to provide alternative perspective of opportunities.
    Hypothetically, suppose if a person did undergrad in Bachelors of Business Admin with major in Finance from a non-target school with okay GPA (3.45) and after graduating he worked in a company’s finance dept for a year.
    Would you recommend pursuing MSF or MBA if he wants to pursue a career in IB, PE or similar area?

    1. Probably an MSF in that case because you have a relevant major and experience and a decent GPA. An MBA is more expensive and time-consuming and wouldn’t necessarily get you better results.

      1. Thanks for the prompt reply.
        On a side note, I am currently studying for CFA Level II. In your opinion, do you think MSF would just be an extension of that. I mean it would definitely make me more specialized but not quite versatile.
        Also, although not exactly relevant, but what is your opinion on pursuing Masters in Financial Engineering? Do you think that facilitate a transition for the quant side of the business?

        1. An MFE is better if you want to do trading or quant trading or other roles that are more quantitative (rather than working on deals).

          An MSF would add value over the CFA mainly because it would give you better access to recruiting. So it depends on how comfortable you feel networking on your own vs. how much you want to rely on structured recruiting.

          1. Thanks for your insight

  120. Apologies for the second comment box, but I wanted to ask what you meant by:

    “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.”

    What do you mean a pre-masters internship? Like apply for internships who hire university students in their penultimate year?

    1. Yes, go for internships where they don’t care that you’re in between schools or degrees. You can always spin it by saying that you’re still “in school” and just moving to a Master’s degree soon. I don’t know if pre-MSF internships really exist like pre-MBA ones do, but many smaller firms should be open to the idea.

  121. Hello Brian,

    I’m currently an Engineering Student in the last year, from a top School in Brazil. I have done so far 2 internships (both of them for a long time), but none of them was finance related. I’m planning to enter in a top 2 year MSF in Europe, so I can get a propper internship experience to land IB jobs.
    Considering that i would be at a Target European School, do you think i would be able to get into a summer internship at a BB in London at my master’s School year?

    1. Yes, you should be able to, but you’ll probably need to get some time of part-time internship first to have the best chance. Otherwise, it’s hard to move directly to a large bank with no previous finance experience.

  122. Hey Brian.

    I am an international. I have admits to Simon Business Schools STEM designated MSF and WashUs non STEM MSF. WashU ranks 4th and Simon 7th. As an international, which of these schools are a safer bet for me? From my interactions, both schools offer great education but recruiting is better at WashU.

    Background, CFA Level 2 candidate. Have an ER internship with a brokerage in India, worked in the PMO for regional bank in the UAE, had detailed exposure in FPandA and project planning for banking projects.
    PS, mechanical engineer.

    1. I think Simon is better if it’s STEM-designated. “Better recruiting” doesn’t mean much if companies are reluctant to hire you because they have to sponsor a visa.

  123. Awesome article.

    It really has given me the confidence to stick to my plan. Of course, I won’t underestimate the admissions processes for the reasons you stated, but it still helps. Thanks.

    Especially the bit that says to “Show That You Can Win Job Offers” with the fact that I do have front office experience (and may have middle/front depending on how my next job change goes) and a relevant undergrad degree with the highest grade classification.

    Honestly, for London especially, branding matters. My undergrad is a non-target and I’m confident that there’s an open secret that I don’t land other FO roles because I lack the prestige.
    Yes, I found that can overshadow experience. Also, as harsh as it is, there are recruiters who will not take you as seriously if you lack the prestige if their client wants that.

    I agree completely that prestige isn’t enough (believe it or not readers, there are still a large number of being who have prestige that don’t get the job easy). So you may be better off going to City than Oxford, for instance… though efinancialcareers tend to have a good list.

    I was told in a networking event by a number of bankers and traders that you’ll also want to select a top tier school whose lecturers/staff are connected to the industry and not just academics.

    Even MFin programmes which also have decent placement states such as Cambridge and London Business School’s MFin programme which are basically masters programmes that do not accept you unless you have about 2 years of relevant experience. (The fact they say “relevant” illustrates your point).

    Good thing is you qualify for “graduate roles” again. As some of you would’ve noticed, after some time graduate targeted roles don’t seem to like you much if you’ve got experience (or more than they want to deal with). And you won’t be flogged off for not going to a top 20, or top 5. Though, bear in mind: if your undergrad wasn’t top 5-20, there are still some places you can’t apply to.

    Though, I don’t think this is a full checklist… personally I reckon if you meet most of what you stated, you’ll be fine e.g. the head trader in my firm started his career in an operational role (in finance) and did use a masters at a top school in the UK (Reading) with their best placement programme to land a FO role at a BB bank.

    But this was in ’02-’03, so I reckon things might’ve changed, would like your take on it.

    Overall, great stuff! It is like this email came to me in the perfect time, I was actually debating whether I stood a chance of getting into some of the top programmes and if I was saving for nothing. Well, now I know I can! (Well, to sound less cocky, I know I have a feasible chance!)

    1. Yes, I think those points are generally correct.

  124. Hi Brian,
    Could you comment a bit on the difference between traditional masters in finance programs and the one at LBS in terms of perception and recruiting? Seems like it’s a different beast altogether. Thanks.

    1. LBS is closer to a traditional MBA program because you also gain access to companies that come on campus to recruit for MBA-level roles. And more work experience is required. But technically, it still counts as a Master’s program.

  125. Hello Brian,

    Can you please give some advice on taking a place at a top school in the UK (specifically LBS) with Brexit in the background?

    To be more specific to your readership audience, can you consider the prestige of going to somewhere like LBS and whether career prospects are hampered due to Brexit negotiations?

    Thanks Brian !

    1. All Brexit changes is the geography of IB jobs in Europe (more jobs will move to Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Dublin, etc. instead of being so concentrated in London). Firms will still recruit at schools like LBS and all the other top-ranked schools in the U.K. because many of the best schools in Europe are there. If something does change with the school’s reputation, it will take place over decades, not months or years.

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