Master of Science in Finance
Master of Science in Finance (MSF) is a
Master's degreedesigned to prepare graduates for careers in financial analysis, investment managementand corporate finance. The MSF is generally a one-year, non- thesisdegree, and is often positioned as a professional degree.
In the typical MSF, the core
curriculumis focused on investment analysis, corporate finance and financial management/ managerial accounting. These core topics are preceded by more fundamental coursework in economics, accounting, and quantitative methods ( time value of moneyand introductory statistics) - if these are not a prerequisite for admission, or assumed as known; students with appropriate background may be exempt from (several of) these. The MSF usually concludes with advanced topics - where several areas are integrated or applied - such as portfolio management, financial modeling, mergers and acquisitionsand real options. In general, MSF programs emphasize quantitativetopics, although may also offer some non-quantitative elective coursework, such as corporate governance, business ethicsand business strategy.
The MSF curriculum may also include
financial economicsand financial risk managementas advanced topics (and sometimes managerial economicsand quantitative finance/ computational finance). Here, the exposure will likely be limited to the generalist level; these areas are usually studied as disciplines in their own right, via specialized degrees in economicsand applied mathematics. These branches of economics are usually taught to strengthen the theoretical underpin of the degree - however, since the emphasis on MSF programs is application, they are not developed. The computational topics, although practical, are too technical for a generalist MSF - see comparison below.
Programs usually require a
bachelor's degreeprior to admission, but many do not require that the undergraduate major be in finance, economics, or even general business; the usual requirement is a sufficient level of numeracy - often including some exposure to calculusand / or probability. Some programes may require work experience (sometimes at the managerial level), particularly if the candidate lacks a relevant undergraduate degree.
Comparison with other qualifications
Although there is much overlap with an
MBA, the MSF provides a broader and deeper exposure to finance, but more limited exposure to general management topics. Thus, an MSF focuses on financeand financial markets, while an MBA, by contrast, is more diverse, covering general aspects of businessnot dealt with in the MSF - such as human resource managementand operations management. Note that an MBA without a specialization in finance will not have covered many of the topics dealt with in the MSF (breadth), and - often even where there is specialization - those areas that are covered may be in less depth. (Some MBA candidates will "dual major" with an MBA/MSF, or later pursue an MSF degree, to gain specialized finance knowledge; some universities also offer this combination as a joint degree.)
Some MSF programs overlap with degrees in
financial engineering, computational financeand mathematical finance(see Master of Quantitative Finance). Note, however, that the treatment of any common topics - usually financial modelingand risk management - will differ as to level of detail and approach. The MSF aims to produce finance generalists, whereas these programs aim to train "quants" (i.e specialists in derivatives, fixed income, alternative financial instrumentsand risk analysis). Their curricula are therefore weighted toward stochastic calculus, numerical methods and simulation techniques, while at the same time, their coverage of corporate finance, accounting, equity valuationand portfolio management is only at a high level (if at all). Entrance requirements to these degrees are similarly more mathematical than those for the MSF.
Chartered Financial Analyst(CFA) certification is sometimes compared to a Master's in Finance, and in fact, several universities have embedded a significant percentage of the CFA Program "Candidate Body of Knowledge" into their degree programs. In general though, the CFA program is focused on portfolio managementand financial analysis, and provides more depth in these areas than the standard MSF, whereas for other areas of finance the CFA coverage is in less depth. A further distinction is that many MSF topics entail " training" in advanced such as financial modeling- while training, "per se", cannot be included in the CFA program. Similar comments apply to other certifications such as the Certified International Investment Analyst (CIIA); the so-called " Indian CFA" is, in fact, a Master's degree.
* [http://www.bus.lsu.edu/academics/finance/faculty/dchance/MiscProf/MSPrograms.htm Finance Programs at U.S. Universities]
* [http://www.ualberta.ca/~ozsoy/msclist.htm Finance Programs outside U.S.] , [http://www.cob.ohio-state.edu/fin/journal/jofsites.htm#ois alternate list]
*Programs with a focus on Quantitative Finance / Financial Engineering: [http://www.global-derivatives.com/schools/quantfinanceprograms.php by region] ; [http://www.iafe.org/resources_acad.html Alphabetic]
* [http://www.cfainstitute.org/cfaprog/university/partners.html Degree programs based on the CFA Candidate "Body of Knowledge"]
* [http://www.cob.ohio-state.edu/fin/resources_education/edcourse.htm Finance Courses on the Web]
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