How Do I Decide Between An MBA And A Masters In Finance?

MBA admissions expert, Betsy Massar, answers your Applicant Question of the Week

It's time for another Applicant Question of the Week here at BusinessBecause.

Every week, we give you the opportunity to ask one of our chosen admissions experts anything you want to know about getting into business school. One question each week is chosen for our expert to answer.

This week, the question comes from Alu Sixishe.


Alu is a 31-year-old experienced manager from South Africa. Since graduating from her Bachelor in Commerce and Applied Management degrees, she has headed sales departments in both medical and media companies. She is also the director of a startup marketing and creative agency.

Now, she is wondering if an MBA or a Masters in Finance could increase her efficiency in her business pursuits.

Her question is answered by Betsy Massar, a graduate of Harvard Business School and founder of Master Admissions, an independent MBA consulting firm.

Applicant Question of the Week:

Dear BusinessBecause,

I'm interested in boosting my career, but I'm unsure whether to an MBA or a Master in Finance. How do I go about choosing between them?

The Answer:

No matter which degree, it makes sense to research, not only online, but by talking to people. LinkedIn is your friend in this regard—ask graduates of both degrees for their honest opinion of their return on their investment in terms of time, money, and energy.

Here are a few things to think about when looking at the two degrees:

1. Flexibility (MBA wins)

While both degrees can boost your career in finance, the MBA offers more flexibility if you decide to use your finance degree to immediately work in another function within a company, consulting firm, and even in a financial institution. The Master in Finance will help you get deeper into your field but might make it harder to move around industries or even within your own organization.

2. Employability (Draw)

The Master in Finance is a more technical degree and sets you up for very specific roles. So if you are trying to boost your career in finance and you want to get more quantitative, the finance degree offers a deeper specialization.

3. Timing (Master wins)

The Master in Finance degree is usually one year (compared to the MBA program, which is often, but not always, two years for a full-time program). That also means lower all-in and opportunity costs.   For example, the estimated tuition for MIT Sloan’s 12-month Master in Finance is $78,000 vs. the MBA program, which costs $148,000 for two years.

4. Entrepreneurialism (MBA wins)

These days, I see many students want to become entrepreneurs or at least work in small, growing companies, with the hopes of becoming the next unicorn. The Master in Finance is, I hate to say it, a little less about entrepreneurial and design thinking and more about learning analytics. However, most finance programs offer entrepreneurial finance and venture capital electives.

5. US Visa extension (Master wins hands down)

Many schools in the US now qualify for a STEM designation, which lets students with F1 visas apply for a 24-month extension after completing the degree.  The MBA degree does not fall under this category, and graduating students may not be able to stay in the US beyond graduation.

With all these considerations, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Ask around and figure out what’s right for you, and take the time to consider the availability of financial aid and location of potential employers from each school.  It’s a complex decision, but a fun one as well. 

Ask an Admissions Expert a Question!


Next week Steven Ji, assistant director of MBA admissions, marketing, and financial aid at China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), will be here to answer any questions you have about applying to business school!

Steven has nearly 20 years of experience in MBA admissions and likens his own role to that of a venture capitalist, encouraging applicants to approach the process with a clear story of why the school should invest in you rather than the next applicant.

With decades of experience hiring the best MBAs, he's interviewed up to 180 candidates a year, so he knows what a business school is looking for in an applicant.

Got a question for Steven? Visit our Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn pages to ask a question, comment below, or email us at!


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