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4 Things To Consider When Deciding Between A CFA Vs MBA

There are multiple factors to consider when choosing between a CFA vs MBA—find out how to make the decision that’s best for your career

You’ve been pondering the idea of a CFA vs MBA for a while, but still can’t seem to make the decision between the two qualifications. 

A CFA, or Chartered Financial Analyst program, provides you with the quantitative and technical skills necessary to take on top finance roles. Meanwhile, an MBA can help you enhance your business acumen and leadership skills, opening you up to a broader set of MBA jobs.

So, what if you don’t need to choose between these two programs? Integrated programs aim to make this decision between a CFA vs MBA easier by blending the skills and learnings from these two qualifications into one degree.

Here are four things to consider when choosing between a CFA vs MBA:


1. Think carefully about whether a CFA vs MBA would be better for your career

First things first, it’s time to sit down and map out your career aims. Maybe you have an aptitude for crunching numbers, or you prefer to be in a more forward-facing role, or perhaps you want a role that offers a mixture of both.

“A CFA is great if you’re interested in a career in finance, data, or quant—the curriculum covers the entire area of finance, but if you have aspirations beyond the back office and want to move into a managerial role, you’ll need both a CFA and MBA,” says Dr. Rahul Ravi, program director of the MBA in Investment Management at Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business in Montreal, Canada.

The MBA in Investment Management enables students to study both for a CFA and an MBA in one integrated program, allowing grads with an interest in finance to accelerate their path to a front-facing managerial role.

“In finance, we say mathematical models are beautiful, until they get pitted against human unpredictability,” says Rahul, “when you have to work with other people, the MBA training proves very valuable."

While students learn topics from the CFA curriculum, such as financial reporting, corporate finance, portfolio management, they also learn to see the bigger picture that drives finance. Through the MBA, students take courses in topics such as marketing, strategy, and organization behaviour.


2. Costs of studying 

It’s important to weigh up the return on investment (ROI) of any business school program. 

The John Molson MBA in Investment Management costs $72k for Canadian citizens and permanent residents and $87k for international students.

Since the average cost of MBA tuition fees is around $189k globally, the John Molson MBA in Investment Management is considerably more affordable than many programs. 

Although the program doesn’t cover the CFA enrolment fees and membership, the courses in the program are designed to give students a good understanding of the CFA body of knowledge. The CFA + MBA degree also provides CFA exam preparation workshops and access to test practice material. 

"The program provides everything necessary to achieve the full CFA qualification," says Rahul.

In Canada, risk analyst roles can attract salaries of around $84k per year, while portfolio managers can attract salaries of around $111k per year. These are just a few of the career opportunities grad can take on after graduating from the CFA and MBA program.

“While in the program, students may start their finance careers as interns and in other entry-level positions. However, their training in the program equips them with the skills and knowledge necessary to quickly rise through the ranks,” says Rahul.


3. Think about whether you’re ready for the rigor of a CFA vs MBA

There are no hard or fast rules for success—only taking the time to dedicate yourself to studies can help you to reach your career dreams.

The MBA in Investment Management, offered by the Goodman Institute of Investment Management at John Molson, is spread out across three years and studied on a part-time basis during evening and weekend classes. 

Students in the program usually fit their studies alongside their career, where they are usually working in various areas of finance, such as wealth management, or investment management.

“The CFA and MBA dual program can be demanding, a student should be mentally prepared to put in 8 to 10 hours of study time, per course, per week,” says Rahul.

 You’ll need to be prepared for this academic rigor and think about whether the current role you’re in will allow you enough time to study in your free time. 

The effort you put in won’t go unnoticed, either.

“A student working full time might be putting thirty-five to forty hours into their job. Add to that thirty hours that they have to put towards the three courses in each term. This student signals to the market that they are capable of both working hard and managing their time effectively,” says Rahul. 

The fact that you can apply the skills you’re learning to your role will help you to absorb the CFA and MBA learnings even further. 


4. You’ll gain access to a broad network with a CFA and MBA

The John Molson MBA in investment program invites guest speakers to class to talk about trends within the business and finance sphere. 

There are also monthly mentorship circles and workshops that connect students with alumni.

The program also works closely with the career team at John Molson to provide access to career fairs and internship positions.

“Our alumni are proud of their association with the program. They are our greatest ambassadors and our greatest resource. They often reach out to us about job postings at their companies before these are publicised,” says Rahul.

There is no simple answer as to whether you should choose a CFA vs MBA—it’s about what would benefit your career the most. If you’re looking to expand your leadership and business insight beyond the financial realms, an integrated program might be the answer you’re looking for.  

Student Reviews

Concordia University: John Molson School of Business

Anthony

Verified

25/11/2023

On Campus

Educational advancement

My time at Concordia College has been set apart by huge self-awareness. The steady instructors and staff have assisted me with fostering my abilities and information. The college offers a scope of administrations and extracurricular exercises, giving various open doors to understudies to reach out. In general, my involvement with Concordia has been positive and improving.

Student

Verified

16/11/2023

On Campus

My growth

"My time at Concordia University has been marked by significant personal growth. The supportive teachers and staff have helped me to develop my skills and knowledge. The university offers a range of services and extracurricular activities, providing numerous opportunities for students to get involved. Overall, my experience at Concordia has been positive and enriching.

Ashley

Verified

31/10/2023

On Campus

Communications and Culture Studies

I am currently enrolled in my first year in the Communication and Culture studies program. I have met so many incredible people and have already acquired skills that I will serve me in my professional career. The courses are dynamic, engaging and intellectually stimulating. I am happy to be a student at this university and look forward to the next 2 years here!

Student

Verified

11/09/2023

On Campus

Significant advancements

Having attended Concordia University, I can confidently state that I have seen significant advancements in my skills. The faculty and staff demonstrate great thoughtfulness and provide effective support. Additionally, the university offers an abundance of student clubs and services.

Arman

Verified

11/09/2023

On Campus

Master of Quality Systems Engineering

I completed my Master's in Quality Systems Engineering at Concordia University, where I gained a comprehensive understanding of quality management principles and methodologies. The program provided a mix of theoretical knowledge and practical applications, including coursework in statistical process control, Six Sigma, and Lean principles. I engaged in hands-on projects addressing real-world quality challenges, collaborated with experienced faculty, and conducted independent research. This experience has equipped me with the skills and expertise needed to contribute effectively to organizations seeking to enhance their quality control processes and achieve operational excellence.

Amber Lee

Verified

6/09/2023

On Campus

Awesome

The Communication program at Concordia University will prepare you for the future. The program is divided in two blocks: one more theoretical, from which you learn the concept of communications through the perspective of philosophy, history and social studies; another completely hands-on in which you learn how to produce media choosing from three streams; sound, moving images, intermedia. What I love about the communication program at Concordia is that the teachers are clever, up to date, and exited about putting the future in the hands of students. Not only there is so much to learn in the communication program, but there are also so many opportunities!

Student

Verified

3/09/2023

On Campus

Concordia is best

Concordia university is one of the top listed universities not just in Canada but worldwide. The most amazing thing about this university is it is a standalone English speaking university in Montreal that allows non francophone students to enrol and study efficiently. My program is beautifully designed with access to high quality classrooms and faculty members that are available every time to attend your queries. The huge campus of the University including the library allows students to indulge in group work and research programs. The administration staff is super supportive and polite in their conversations. I have had the most amazing experience studying at Concordia so far.

Student

Verified

5/07/2023

On Campus

Entrepreneurship and Marketing

I had the privilege of being a part of Ryerson University's Entrepreneurship and Marketing program, and it was an outstanding experience. The program's curriculum was well-designed, providing a perfect balance of theoretical knowledge and hands-on practical application. The faculty members were highly knowledgeable and supportive, creating an engaging learning environment. The program's emphasis on industry connections and experiential learning opened doors to valuable internships and co-op opportunities. The resources and facilities dedicated to the program were top-notch, allowing me to explore my passion and excel in my studies. I am grateful for the real-world skills and industry connections I gained through the program. Ryerson University's Entrepreneurship and Marketing truly prepared me for a successful career in the business world. I highly recommend this program to anyone looking for a transformative educational experience.

Student

Verified

25/06/2023

Blended

Integrated Student Life

Concordia University has done a fantastic job at providing on-campus activities and workshops for students to feel connected and less lonely in stressful times. My program, Human Relations highlights this perfectly as a human relations student to be able to see the effects these workshops have on our beings and our mental and physical health as well. The student Life at Concordia has allowed our school to feel more like a community than a school.

Dami

Verified

6/03/2024

On Campus

Study review

As a graduate student in the doctoral program in chemical engineering at Concordia University, I would rate the program as highly commendable. Although, the academic experience has been rigorous, challenging, and intellectually stimulating, providing a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of chemical engineering principles. However, my ongoing program has been equally rewarding and has equipped me with the skills and knowledge needed for a successful career in academia and industry.

Student

Verified

7/03/2024

On Campus

Amazing

In general, I love my university. It's a true representation of diversity, with students from all around the world. The system is incredibly organized, with everything functioning seamlessly, from the structure to the services.