While many of the best masters in finance programs can be found at European business schools—with top programs at HEC Paris, ESCP Business School, and Essec Business School—MiF programs are increasingly found in Asia and the United States.
Like other business school degrees, a Master in Finance doesn’t come cheap. European programs like the Master of International Finance at HEC Paris come in at around $35k in tuition, while US MiF programs like that at MIT Sloan cost in excess of $87k.
So, is a Master's in Finance degree worth it?
MiF jobs | Working for top financial institutions
Many of the first MiF programs in France, such as HEC Paris and ESCP Business School, were set up by French chambers of commerce in order to create the next generation of leaders in the financial industry.
“MiF degrees are very focused on the theoretical aspects of all things finance. With such a focused approach, candidates end up with very strong fundamentals in finance-related fields,” explains Piyush Ranjan, founder of admissions consultancy Management Masters.
As a path into top jobs at the world’s leading financial institutions, a Master in Finance is still second to none. At HEC Paris, the world’s best Master in Finance program according to the Financial Times, companies like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and BlackRock rank among the top employers of MiF graduates.
The same goes for top-ranked programs like MIT Sloan in the US and Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance in China, which act as stepping stones to financial hubs like Wall Street or the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
Clement Dumur, a Master in Finance graduate from HKUST Business School, landed an investment management job at Credit Suisse after graduation. He often leans on the expertise he gained from the program.
“Many of my clients don’t know much about finance, and I have to explain a lot of concepts,” he notes. “The way I do this has been influenced by my teachers at HKUST, who made things very accessible.”
MiF jobs| Alternative job opportunities in finance
Not all graduates take up conventional roles in investment banking or wealth management. Increasingly, Masters in Finance programs offer students an insight into the alternative routes in finance.
Fintech is a popular subject area, and is attracting more attention for those looking to combine a technology interest with a financial specialization. Private equity and venture capital are other areas that are increasingly popular with MiF grads.
“You can apply these skills in almost any industry across a wide range of positions. You’re able to have both international mobility and to move from one sector to another. When you think about it, there are few functions that can allow this.”
The public sector also remains popular for students from a Master in Finance background. Bocconi MiF graduate Elena Falcettoni is now an economist at the US Federal Reserve, working to widen access to healthcare.
“My MSc in Finance was very practical, using very quantitative tools to address real life issues,” she says. “As an applied economist, that’s what I’m still doing, just at a higher level.”
Master in Finance | Average salary
Among specialized master’s programs, Masters in Finance graduates are among the highest paid. The latest Corporate Recruiters Survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) found the median starting salary for US MiF graduates to be $85k.
Within three years of graduating, this tends to increase quite quickly. HEC Paris graduates are the best paid, and can expect to earn around $149,750 annually.
Graduates from Chinese schools are increasingly well compensated, with the advantage of tapping into China’s booming economy and financial industry. MiF graduates from Tsinghua University, Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance, and Peking University can expect to earn in excess of $130k.
The impact of COVID-19 on the global economy means that salaries the world over could take a hit. Despite economic downturn, the financial industry may not be as impacted by coronavirus as other industries like hospitality and retail.
For those looking to shore up their job prospects, and strengthen their employability, a Master in Finance is sure to be a good investment.