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Choosing between Graduate Finance Programs

Choosing between Graduate Finance Programs

Zicklin School of Business offers four finance programs:

  • MS in Finance
  • MS in Financial Risk Management
  • Executive MS in Finance
  • A Finance major in the MBA program.

Here we give some helpful guidelines on choosing among them.

MS in Finance (MSF)


The MSF program is a great option for a student with strong quantitative skills who wants an advanced degree that covers all major areas of the field. In brief it is a 30-credit program with:

  • 3 required core courses, for 9 credits
  • 21 credits in elective courses, equivalent to seven 3-credit courses.

Students have a lot of choice in this program, and can select their electives as they proceed through the program. They also have the flexibility to take courses at their own pace depending on their personal circumstances and preferences. MSF students are able to select any of the (non-executive) graduate courses offered in finance, including the financial risk management courses.

MS in Financial Risk Management (MS-FRM)


This is the ideal option for a student with very strong quantitative skills who is preparing for a career in financial risk management. The courses are all required, but are carefully structured so that students have a comprehensive knowledge of the field. As such, there are no electives. Students take these courses as a cohort in the order offered, and can complete the program in 16 months.

The course load is 9 credits per semester for each of three semesters, and 6 credits in one summer session. As such, students in the program qualify for “full-time status,” but the program fees are charged at part-time tuition rates.

Upon successful completion of this degree program, students will have mastered the academic background for the FRM and PRM professional certification exams, although the program is not an exam preparation program per se.

The general admission requirements are the same as for the MSF program, and students take many of the same courses. A key difference between them is that the MSF program allows students to choose their electives and flexibility in terms of how they will proceed with the program. For example, if a student wants to take two courses a semester, he or she is able to do that in the MSF program.

The advantage of the MS-FRM program for students interested in risk management is that they will be able to complete the comprehensive curriculum in just three semesters and one summer.

Executive MS in Finance (EMSF)


This is the ideal option for candidates with significant professional and managerial experience who want graduate-level training in current knowledge and practice in finance. The curriculum is designed to progress from basics to advanced coursework, and to new frontiers and challenges in finance. The coursework includes case studies that help students develop their leadership abilities in the finance function.

Like MSF and MS-FRM, it is also a 30-credit program, but has several key advantages tailored to meet the needs of mid-career professionals:

  • The curriculum is inclusive, so there are no extra or preliminary courses. The number of credits required is never more than 30.
  • Students complete the program in 11 months.
  • The capstone experience of the program is the international study tour, a 9 or 10-day trip to two destinations on another continent. Students meet with high-level executives in financial and non-financial firms and are challenged to apply and their knowledge to the areas of international business and finance.
  • As an executive program, the single comprehensive fee includes bootcamp, orientation, tuition and fees, all classroom textbooks and materials, all class-day meals, and the international trip.
  • All course registration tasks are provided by the Executive Programs Office, so students are free to concentrate on learning.
  • The cohort structure of the program, in which the students take all of their courses together, enables these students to expand their professional networks and form life-long professional friendships.
    • The cohort experience is one of the most distinctive and appealing aspects of this program.
  • As an executive program designed for experienced business professionals preparing to advance in their firms, the curriculum and courses are oriented toward providing students with managerial-level knowledge and skills. While the courses provide needed technical knowledge essential in financial analysis and decision making, they also provide analytical, reasoning, and presentation skills needed by financial executives.

Finance Major in the MBA (MBA-F)


This is a comprehensive business degree with courses in all of the business disciplines. Students with an interest in finance can select a finance major and take 4 to 6 courses in the major. The MBA major in finance enables students to acquire knowledge and develop competence in overall management at the same time they gain a foundation in finance theory and concepts. The MBA degree is ideal for candidates

  • without prior business coursework or experience, but with the desire to prepare for a career in business, or
  • with significant prior finance coursework or experience, looking to develop competence in overall management and/or other business disciplines

The MBA program is 57 credits and requires at least two years to complete on a full-time basis. Candidates can also take the MBA program on a part-time basis, which usually takes four or five years to complete.

Key Facts in Brief

 

MBA-F

MSF

MS-FRM

EMSF

Total number of credits

57

30

30

30

Number of credits in the major

12-18

30

30

30

Preliminary courses

none

0-12 credits

0-12 credits

none

Typical length of program

2 years full time,

4-5 years part-time

1-2 years

16 months

19 months with preliminary courses

11 months

Do all students in the cohort take all classes together?

No

No

Yes

Yes

Can students choose their own electives?

Yes

Yes

No

No

Can other degree students take the same classes?

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Is the GMAT required?

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, but may be subject to waiver

Is business experience required?

No

No

No

Yes

Are textbooks, classroom materials, and class-days meals included in the basic fees?

No

No

No

Yes

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