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Guide to MSc Finance Programs

You'll get another chance to apply for graduate recruitment schemes, and pick up some useful skills along the way

Heading to business school straight after your undergraduate degree can be a great way to bulk up your CV and can buy you more time to find a job in finance.

The flagship program at most business schools is the MBA (Masters in Business Administration), an intensive one or two-year degree, generally for people with at least three years of business experience. It’s often a requirement to move from analyst to associate level at American investment banks.

But a lot of business schools offer rigorous one-year Masters degrees in disciplines like finance, management and marketing that you can enter straight after your first degree.

These programs have several advantages. First, they’re a practical supplement to an arts, science or social science education, teaching you skills that can be applied in the workplace right away. Second, they buy you more time to do an internship or find a job: you can apply for another round of many graduate training schemes when you finish.

Also, the careers teams at business schools are very focused on finding jobs and projects for their students.

Where should I study?

For those of you with an eye on the City, but keen to ride out another difficult recruiting year for banks, a sensible option would be a London-based MSc in Finance. Both the London School of Economics and City University’s Cass Business School have well-established courses, and you can fit in networking and even an internship around studying.

If you want to differentiate yourself further, try a specialist course. Cass also offers MSc programmes in Real Estate Investment and Quantitative Finance.

You could also look at an MSc in Islamic Finance, now offered by Aston Business School. This type of expertise could place you perfectly for a junior role developing Shariah-compliant financial products for cash-rich Middle Eastern markets.

Another smart strategy might be to head to another European financial centre. You’ll have a better chance of being hired in Germany, the Netherlands or France if you graduate from a school with strong local networks.

Just outside Frankfurt, the EBS Business School offers a Masters in Finance, and several other programmes, geared at entry into one of Germany’s major financial institutions. The Netherlands’ top school, the Rotterdam School of Management, has an MSc course in Finance and Investments, and strong links to banks like ABN AMRO, ING and Rabobank.

Prices of these programmes vary widely. Aston’s one-year Islamic Finance MSc costs £9,500, while the London School of Economics’ MSc Finance will set you back £25,488. Rotterdam School of Management’s programme is only €1,690 for EEA nationals below the age of 30.

Entry requirements also depend on the school. Some require A level Maths, but others have designed their courses for the many people who can and want to be taught these skills.

Most schools have rolling application deadlines, but the earlier you apply the better.

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