The Masters in Finance (MSF) is a specialized, one-year graduate degree, focused entirely on finance. Often misunderstood or overshadowed by the Master in Business Administration (MBA), it has been gaining popularity and exposure. According to the GMAC 2011 report: “83 percent of programs reporting an increase in the number of applications received” while at the same time MBA programs reported a contraction in applicants.
The MSF differs from the MBA in a variety of ways. It is typically a one-year program, compared to two years for the MBA. Students in the MSF are usually more junior with less than two years work experience, with many of them coming straight from undergrad. The potential career path is much more focused with an MSF. Graduates typically enter corporate finance, investment banking, asset management, etc, compared to an MBA which will allow for much more broad and diversified career prospects.
My experience with the MSF was a little different than the typical student. I had been out of school for a little over the years and was working as a corporate sales representative at a large European bank when the financial crisis hit. With my career turned upside down I began thinking about going back to business school. I thought about an MBA, but wasn’t really interested in it. I had wanted to do a master in finance as soon as I finished at Syracuse University, but got pulled into working instead. Throughout the years I had tried to go back and do an MSF part-time, but it never worked out. Now, with my future at the bank unclear, I made the decision to go back to school full-time and finally get my MSF.
I looked at a variety of schools, but ultimately decided on Villanova University because of the program, close-knit feeling and alumni base. The proximity to Philadelphia and NYC was a big plus since I knew that I wanted to intern and work in the north-east. I gave my notice and packed my bag. Grad school here I come!
The program was challenging and in-depth, more than I had ever imagined. Through the course of the year I made close friends, met Warren Buffett, competed in a variety of financial competitions and interned all over Philly. The skills and network I gained over that year helped me land a full-time position in Philadelphia, where I am currently working now.
My story is similar to many young people who I speak to on a daily basis. They are looking to either get that first job in an industry they have dreamed about or use the MSF to change jobs into something they want to do. It used to be that the MBA was the only way to do something like this, but now they don’t have to wait for three to five years. The degree is still growing and expanding, but hopefully in the future it will be on par with the MBA. The more stories like my own that get told, the closer we will get to that day.
Anthony DeAngelis is a 2010 graduate of the Villanova MSF program. He now runs the website http://msfhq.com/ to help educate those interested in studying for a Masters in Finance.