This is the first part of our two-part blog series on the top MS in Finance programs in the world, as ranked by The Financial Times. To read the second part, click here.
The Financial Times has released its annual ranking of the Masters in Finance Programs (both pre-experience and post-experience). The Financial Times Global Masters in Finance rankings rate the best 55 full-time MS in Finance programs for students with little or no experience of the financial industry, and the top five full-time programs for experienced participants.
The rankings are based on a survey of business schools as well as students who graduated in 2013. The data measures how successful alumni have been in their careers in terms of salary, seniority and achievements in the three years since graduating.
Top 10 MS in Finance (pre-experience) programs
- The MSc in International Finance Program at HEC Paris
- The Advanced Master of Finance Program at ESCP Europe
- The Master of Finance Program at IE Business School
- The MSc in Financial Markets Program at EDHEC
- The Masters of Finance Program at MIT Sloan
- The MSc in Finance Program at ESADE
- The Advanced Masters in Financial Techniques Program at ESSEC
- The Masters in Banking and Finance Program at St.Gallens
- The Master of Science in Finance Program at SDA Bocconni
- The MSc in Financial Markets and Investments at SKEMA
Top 5 MS in Finance (post-experience) programs
The FT ranks only the top 5 MS in Finance (post-experience) programs. These programs, in order of ranking are as follows:
- The Master of Finance Program at the University of Cambridge
- The Masters in Finance Program at London Business School
- The MSc in Wealth Management Program at Singapore Management University
- The MSc in Finance Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
- The MSc in Finance Program at Florida International University
FT MS in Finance Rankings: Highlights
- Sloan is lone US entry: MIT’s Sloan School of Management is the only school in the US to break the Top 10 European hold on on a new Financial Times ranking of master’s of finance programs for pre-experience students. Though MIT grads posted the highest alumni salaries, the school only managed a fifth place standing, with HEC Paris repeating its first place finish last year.
- Pre-experience salaries: In the pre-experience ranking, HEC Paris stayed at the top with the second highest salary in three years after graduation at $96,000, marginally ahead of IE Business School but significantly below MIT’s Sloan School of Management at $117,000.
- Tpop 5 round up: ESCP Europe finished second, while IE Business School in Spain captured third place and Edhec Business School in France was fourth among the 55 finance programs that received numerical ranks on the FT’s pre-experience list.
- US schools: The US schools grabbed only eight of the 55 ranks in the FT’s pre-experience ranking. They included No. 27 Brandeis University, No. 35 Washington University and Illinois Institute of Technology, No. 39 University of Rochester, No. 43 Tulane University, No. 45 Ohio State University, and No. 54 University of Utah.
- 100% placement: Seven of the pre-experience programs reported 100% placement rates for their graduates, three months after commencement. They were the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, Bocconi in Italy, Skema Business School in France, Peking University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Lingnan College in China, and the University of Glasgow in the UK.
- Biggest rank climb: The University of Hong Kong registered the best progression, climbing 16 places to 29. It saw a significant increase in the salary of its alumni, from $60,000 to $75,000, and it also climbed 17 places in the career rank to 31.
- Second best climb: Lancaster University Management School recorded the second best progress, climbing 10 places to 30. It did better thanks to a higher salary, from $43,000 to $55,000, and an improved career rank. It is the only school whose intake is entirely made up of international students.
- New schools in ranking: Eight schools are ranked for the first time, while QUT Business School returned to the ranking after missing out on a place last year. The new entrants include three schools from France, two from the US and mainland China, as well as one from the UK.
- New entrant positions: EMLyon of France is the highest new entrant, at 24, ahead of another new joiner, the Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The latter, in 28th place, ranked second overall for value for money, just behind HEC Lausanne.
- Cambridge displaces LBS: A separate ranking of master’s in finance programs for students with experience saw Cambridge University’s Judge Business School displace London Business School after LBS had cornered the top spot for five consecutive years. This list ranked only five schools, with No. 2 LBS, No. 3 Singapore Management University, No. 4 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and No. 5 Florida International University.
Why should you opt for an MS in Finance?
A Masters in Finance could be a stepping stone to one of the most sought-after careers in the international business and finance sectors. Whatever the economic climate, there is always huge worldwide demand for experts in fields such as banking, fund management, multinational companies, securities firms and financial consultancies. If you are a recent graduate/qualified undergraduate looking at a career in financial services, or an established financial services professional looking at career acceleration, the MS in Finance is a good bet for you.
Recent graduates/Qualified undergraduates need to apply to the pre-experience MS in Finance Programs. These programmes prepare candidates for careers in mid- to senior- level financial positions such as in financial analysis, investment management and corporate finance, while the post-experience MS in finance programmes help established financial professionals to advance in the workplace, build on and update their skills and knowledge, or change career specialisation.
Irrespective of whether you attend a pre-experience or a post-experience MS in Finance Programme – you will be required to attend lectures and seminars, and produce coursework or a thesis in an advanced topic integrating and applying several subjects learnt during the degree programme. Students may also need to attend workshops in quantitative methods, create projects to put theory into practice, and go to speakers’ events attended by industry professionals.
What will you study in an MS in Finance?
Depending on the course curriculum, you may start out by studying a selection of core finance topics, such as accounting, corporate finance, financial valuation, behavioural finance, derivatives, capital markets, econometrics, financial modelling, quantitative methods, investment management, financial regulation and financial reporting.
Further on, a Masters in Finance should allow students to choose from one or several focus areas, developing their own research project. These include:
- International Finance: International Finance is a broad branch of financial economics concerned with interrelating monetary and macroeconomic perspectives. Finance topics covered here may include international monetary systems, international taxation, exchange rates, foreign direct investment, translation exposure and political risk. Specialising in international finance could lead to financial careers in specific countries or systems, or within companies or organisations operating globally. Possible sub-specialisations include Islamic finance; finance and aid in developing economies; the intricacies of international financial law or trading in the international financial markets.
- Financial Management: This specialisation is a good option for those keen to pursue financial careers in the corporate, banking, insurance and financial services sectors. Topics covered are likely to include corporate finance, accounting, financial markets, capital budgeting, shareholder dividend policies and allocation of assets. Master’s students may specialise in a particular aspect of financial management, in preparation for a specific career path, and should become proficient in the various tools and competencies needed to manage, analyse and advise on different types of financial data and products.
- Financial Econometrics: This specialisation is regularly used in the finance industry during portfolio management, risk management and in the analysis of securities.Students specialising in financial economics will examine the relationship between econometrics and finance at the methodological and empirical levels. Topics covered may include quantitative asset pricing, financial derivatives and topics relating to volatility processes, continuous-time processes, extreme values, long memory, endogenous sampling transaction data and microstructure of financial markets.Computational finance is a closely related specialisation that uses statistical programming language to analyse financial data, estimate statistical models and construct optimised portfolios.
- Financial Markets: This specialisation explores financial institutions and regulation, monetary policy, debt and foreign exchange markets, equity and derivative markets, and international financial architecture. If you specialise in financial markets, you will learn about theories relating to the role of financial systems and monetary policy formulation, the main regulators of financial markets and their functions, the history and evolution of financial markets, private sector banking, diversification of banking, bond markets and macroeconomic analysis as it applies to financial markets, at national and global levels.
- Financial Planning: This specialisation involves learning about how to achieve financial goals through proper planning and wealth management – for both individuals and organisations of various sizes. Topics could include retirement planning, risk management or employee benefits, as well as learning how to build and maintain client relationships, the factors that can affect financial decision-making, the psychology of money, emotional intelligence and decision theory. Students specialising in financial planning will also need to consider the role of ethical responsibility within the financial planning profession.
In addition to such specialisations, candidates may also be able to take high-level professional accreditations such as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam designed to test candidates’ readiness for the professional finance world. Although the level of content is comparable to a Masters degree, the concept behind the CFA and their examination methods are different although some institutions do embed a significant percentage of the CFA programme “Candidate Body of Knowledge” into their degree programmes. While the main specialisations have been described in brief above, other possible specialisations include: behavioural finance, corporate finance, financial mathematics, financial accounting and analysis, professional practice in finance, finance research methods, advanced derivatives, management accounting, asset markets, financial reporting, financial statement analysis, infrastructure finance, mergers and acquisitions, portfolio management methods, private equity, real estate finance, risk management, structured financial products, venture capital.
To read more about specializations, application processes and salary trends, check out the second part of this blog here.