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The M.B.A. degree used to be a sure thing, but today it may be becoming obsolete. T-Rex with a busted ankle, hobbling towards the Cenozoic. How quickly the world can change...

Not too long ago, with a Top 5-10 M.B.A. in tow, you could write your own ticket. Guys and gals going through the M.B.A. pipeline in the late 90's/early 00's had six-figure offers in the multiples by the end of their first-year summer. I'm including the undergrad physical recreation majors and latin poetry majors with little tangible work experience.

The cyclical nature of markets is magnified in M.B.A. world , a cold planet where feelings of self entitlement and superiority go to die, nowadays.

According to Business Week , 16.5% of Top 30 MBA program grads in 2009 did not get a single offer by the time their schools published placement statistics 3 months post-graduation. More and more schools are listing "N/A" in the "% hired" column of their program catalogs. Many recent grads are joining support groups . Heads up to all you GMAT 99-percenters.

As applications decrease across the board, Executive M.B.A. programs are thriving, recording a 59% increase in apps. This may be a telling tale of the future value (at least in the near term) of the M.B.A. diploma.

Their validity may only serve as a compliment to those already in management roles.
As to what the future holds for this often debated degree, it is likely to be strongly correlated with the overall economy. Meanwhile, with job scarcity and higher demand for specific areas of expertise, bespoke suits such as Masters of Finance and Masters of Management programs (up 24% and 20% in recent applications, respectively) are worn far more than ever before. We may even see a return to the double-breasted suit and belt buckle loafer.

If you're interested in Finance and not sure the M.B.A. is for you, I suggest checking out Anthony's web site . It offers in depth analysis of a great alternative degree for those of you more interested in a technical focus...and quite possibly...employment.

Like every Saturday, I wish you guys a fun weekend a preferably another notch...

Enjoy.

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Comments (61)

  • TNA's picture

    Oh Midas, how do I love thee lol

    I still think a top MBA is the way to go, if anything simply because so many people on Wall Street have it. I do think that outside of WS getting a specialized masters might be the smart decision. I know from my personal experience that most F500 recruiters very a masters as a masters. The government looks at graduate level education the same.

    In the next 10-20-30 years I feel that you will see a movement towards these specialized degrees. Lets face it, a MS only takes 1 year vs 2 for the MBA. Less time out of work, less debt, increase in skills.Usually a win win. At the very least I think you will see an increase in the desire and marketability of these dedicated MS degrees.

    Good post Midas!

  • Affirmative_Action_Walrus's picture

    i agree that the USA is trending towards the European view of masters degrees. In europe, MSc Finance degrees are very popular, arguably more so than MBAs.

  • In reply to TNA
    Midas Mulligan Magoo's picture

    Anthony .:
    Oh Midas, how do I love thee lol

    I still think a top MBA is the way to go, if anything simply because so many people on Wall Street have it. I do think that outside of WS getting a specialized masters might be the smart decision. I know from my personal experience that most F500 recruiters very a masters as a masters. The government looks at graduate level education the same.

    In the next 10-20-30 years I feel that you will see a movement towards these specialized degrees. Lets face it, a MS only takes 1 year vs 2 for the MBA. Less time out of work, less debt, increase in skills.Usually a win win. At the very least I think you will see an increase in the desire and marketability of these dedicated MS degrees.

    Good post Midas!

    Hahaha. Thanks bro. You do good work over there. You deserve some pub.

    I think a lot of people get suckered into a Master's level degree or in many cases, sucker themselves into thinking they need one. It's not for everyone.

    Even though you can't simply make schools outside of the Top 10-25 dead their M.B.A. programs the overall foundation is cracking. I see quite an interesting correlation developing between BB--->boutique migration on Wall Street and M.B.A----> MSF type movements in education. I think you're right about the 10-20 year window.

    Though you never know, man. You start posting pics from the Barcelona campus...could be a lot sooner!

  • In reply to Affirmative_Action_Walrus
    Midas Mulligan Magoo's picture

    Affirmative_Action_Walrus:
    i agree that the USA is trending towards the European view of masters degrees. In europe, MSc Finance degrees are very popular, arguably more so than MBAs.

    Not so sure whether it's a change of attitude or a lack of employment opportunities and fear of getting pushed out by complacent middle management.

  • In reply to Midas Mulligan Magoo
    Affirmative_Action_Walrus's picture

    Midas Mulligan Magoo:
    Affirmative_Action_Walrus:
    i agree that the USA is trending towards the European view of masters degrees. In europe, MSc Finance degrees are very popular, arguably more so than MBAs.

    Not so sure whether it's a change of attitude or a lack of employment opportunities and fear of getting pushed out by complacent middle management.

    well i think it's that more students are taking these MSc degrees, and simultaneously more employers are finding value in students taking these degrees...add in the fact that it costs 1/2 of the price of an MBA, and pretty soon you'll find that an MSc is a popular and well-known degree.

  • TNA's picture

    More well known schools are offering them also.

    MIT, NYU, John Hopkins, Cornell, all have really good MS in Real Estate

    MIT, Princeton, WUSTL, Vanderbilt all have good MSF's

    CMU, Columbia, and many more have awesome MS in financial engineering or comp finance

    Not only are these degrees financially half price, but they are half the time and half the opportunity cost. Every school offers an MBA also so the degree has lost a lot of cache. Now this is not an attempt to devalue the amazing opportunities that a T10 MBA will still offer, but it is showing that there are a lot of other options out there now.

    My prediction for the MSF degree. It will really become popular once the top schools start offering it. I think you will see a NYU MSF soon, I think you will see a Gtown MSF soon. Maybe a UCLA MSF. Once you start seeing T10-20 schools offer the degree you will know it is main stream.

    Honestly, it is an easy transition and a easy money grab. NYU for example. There has to be at least 20 UG's who are smart enough, but do not have jobs. You can just make them take 9 MBA level finance classes with a class in stats and a class in econometrics and give them a MSF. After a couple years open the program to other students. MIT did something similar. NYU could charge 40K or more for their MSF.

    40K x 20 students = 800,000. Almost a million bucks additional revenue with not that much added cost. Once the program takes off you can increase it, make it PT, make 2 cohorts, whatever. I could juice a NYU program to a 1.5-2 million a year program in 3-4 years.

  • MPBYO's picture

    I believe we are going to see a more apprenticeship style of deveopment for white collared jobs, and more specialized degrees like MSF could become of more value than MBA's in the near future.

  • In reply to TNA
    Midas Mulligan Magoo's picture

    Anthony .:
    More well known schools are offering them also.

    MIT, NYU, John Hopkins, Cornell, all have really good MS in Real Estate

    MIT, Princeton, WUSTL, Vanderbilt all have good MSF's

    CMU, Columbia, and many more have awesome MS in financial engineering or comp finance

    Not only are these degrees financially half price, but they are half the time and half the opportunity cost. Every school offers an MBA also so the degree has lost a lot of cache. Now this is not an attempt to devalue the amazing opportunities that a T10 MBA will still offer, but it is showing that there are a lot of other options out there now.

    My prediction for the MSF degree. It will really become popular once the top schools start offering it. I think you will see a NYU MSF soon, I think you will see a Gtown MSF soon. Maybe a UCLA MSF. Once you start seeing T10-20 schools offer the degree you will know it is main stream.

    Honestly, it is an easy transition and a easy money grab. NYU for example. There has to be at least 20 UG's who are smart enough, but do not have jobs. You can just make them take 9 MBA level finance classes with a class in stats and a class in econometrics and give them a MSF. After a couple years open the program to other students. MIT did something similar. NYU could charge 40K or more for their MSF.

    40K x 20 students = 800,000. Almost a million bucks additional revenue with not that much added cost. Once the program takes off you can increase it, make it PT, make 2 cohorts, whatever. I could juice a NYU program to a 1.5-2 million a year program in 3-4 years.

    True and true. Unfortunately, I think some of the MBA luster is gone precisely because of this sort of approach. A bubble in education's like any other bubble...has to burst, eventually.

    Do you know if there's a general requirement for MSFs to have a dissertation-style capstone? I think if this were an across the board requirement the degree would maintain validity even if every 8th tier school in the country offered it and "polluted the gene pool".

  • Czech-yo-premiz's picture

    I think part of the problem is "lifers" who go from undergrad straight to MBA with no experience what so ever. It happens in ever school regardless of status and those guys tend to cheapen the degree.

    Second, there is a diminishing marginal returns to an MBA. (as you point out) They are simply more and more of them every year, so if you want them 6 figs you have to go abroad. BRICs for example.

    I also think the current cycle is an issue too as new grads have to compete with experience "old grads" for few opportunities that exist. Specialized training tends to give people a leg up or one can do something like MBA + CFA, or some other value designation.

    Everything is an investment with its own present value.

  • George Washington's picture

    You people are forgetting to add the value of the status - both psychological and societal - that comes with earning an MBA at a top 10 school. Besides, you look at the bios of all the top MD's, Partners, VPs, and it's top ten MBA through and through.

  • nrthfrk16's picture

    As a follow-up, the reason I ask is because I have zero finance work experience however I do have more than a few years of management and sales experience. As I graduate from a non-target with a degree in finance with a decent major GPA (3.7), I am worried that a MSF would limit my options if I cannot find an opportunity in finance (which I am concerned about because of my lack of any work experience related to finance).

  • In reply to nrthfrk16
    John Rolfe's picture

    nrthfrk16:
    As a follow-up, the reason I ask is because I have zero finance work experience however I do have more than a few years of management and sales experience. As I graduate from a non-target with a degree in finance with a decent major GPA (3.7), I am worried that a MSF would limit my options if I cannot find an opportunity in finance (which I am concerned about because of my lack of any work experience related to finance).

    I would suggest networking..nearly anything is possible with networking.

  • jumbles's picture

    MSF offers a TON of flexibility. Does not pigeon-hole in the least.

    1- Night classes. Thus you can do internships OR work FT during the day OR do nothing. Up to you.
    2- Lets say the program is 36 hours (3 semesters). You get a FT job, you can simply reduce the course load and extend your graduation date out another session or two.
    3- Don't have job lined up and graduation approaching? Drop a class and graduate later, use the time to network. People don't realize exactly how long your program is or when you started it. To them you are just "in school".
    4- All new GPA. Get a 4.0 your first semester and people won't focus on that 3.0 undergrad as much. Basically 4 A's helps cover up 100+ hours of B's.

    I am doing a MSF, started in the spring and worked PT that semester. Found an internship for the summer so didn't do school. This fall was taking 12 hours but got FT job and dropped to 9. Will graduate Summer 2011.

    Let's say I don't like my FT job, I network this whole year and time it so I leave my job just as I'm graduating. Makes it seem like the job was to gain experience while in school vs that "first job of your career" where you need to stay longer and everything is referred back to it.

    Finally, YOU CAN STILL GET YOUR MBA.

    5th year is basically a reset button and gives u tons of flexibility. Best decision I have ever made.

  • Haywood J'Ablowme's picture

    Great post...I agree that the MBA has been devalued, unless you make it into a top program. Even then, graduating from one of these great schools saddles you with so much debt that you need to land the big jobs. The MSF is catching on, for alot of good reasons (as stated above) but usually this means that the costs will be rising as well. Something like the CFA, CA, CPA, etc.gives you the education while working, especially the CFA which has gained respect due to the pass rates. Most peole forget education is one of the largest industries in the world and they will teach you classes as long as you can pay for them... I often wonder how much education is enough? I am starting to see the swing back to a preference for experience now that everyone is over-educated.

    For those who are looking into an MBA here is a link to help the decision a bit:
    http://poetsandquants.com/

    ~If money could talk, it would say "goodbye".

  • trailmix8's picture

    I recently took the GMAT and did well enough to be competetive for top 10 MBA. However, I have been talking to friends and colleagues with regards to what is being said in this post. Do MSF programs look at GMAT?, or are there different requirements than MBA generally?

  • terrence's picture

    yes they look @ gmat some take GRE as well.

  • tsong's picture

    MSF and MBA are for different things.

    MSF is for specialized skill/knowledge, such as finance/accounting; MBA is for more general business education: a combination of finance/marketing/accounting/soft skill development.

    MSF is more for that first job out of school, or if you want to gain more specialized skill / knowledge within your industry
    MBA is to make you see the big picture, to be prepared for that management role / to have a strategic view / to be able to discuss business ideas with top management

  • TNA's picture

    @Midas - Not every school has a Masters Thesis. I know a lot of UK/Euro schools have it, but I don't know of too many here in the states. I think it is a nice idea, but it is a remnant of when the MSF was a track towards a PhD. The degree has become more of an applied knowledge type degree and a thesis was sort of a baby academic research paper. I am toying with the idea of doing a thesis or some type of research work during my MBA program just to keep sharp and build out my MSF.

    @ George - Yes, prestige and protocol are why the MBA is the de facto degree. As more and more people get an MSF you will start seeing associates, VP's and eventually MD's with them. I actually know one MD with an MSF and not an MBA. Very rare right now, but in the future it might be more common. As for prestige, Princeton and MIT offer MSF degrees (well MFin's which are a little more mathematical, but still close enough to the MSF to be associated with them). I don't think anyone with a Princeton MFin would feel any less proud or elite. As more top schools offer the degree you will see people who are in search of "prestige" going to school for the MSF degree. Right now well known schools, but not overly prestigious schools offer the MSF. Hopefully that will change.

    The MSF is very technical. It doesn't teach leadership or anything else. MBA's are great for people with limited business experience, for people who do not have a business background or for people looking to refresh their skills.

    For those with a business background, who have leadership experience and who have no intention of going into a field outside of finance, then I think getting a specialized degree might work. I do not think leadership can be taught in a classroom. MSF will never replace the MBA, but I think there could be some competition. Competition is good.

  • In reply to TNA
    Affirmative_Action_Walrus's picture

    Anthony .:
    @Midas - Not every school has a Masters Thesis. I know a lot of UK/Euro schools have it, but I don't know of too many here in the states. I think it is a nice idea, but it is a remnant of when the MSF was a track towards a PhD. The degree has become more of an applied knowledge type degree and a thesis was sort of a baby academic research paper. I am toying with the idea of doing a thesis or some type of research work during my MBA program just to keep sharp and build out my MSF.

    @ George - Yes, prestige and protocol are why the MBA is the de facto degree. As more and more people get an MSF you will start seeing associates, VP's and eventually MD's with them. I actually know one MD with an MSF and not an MBA. Very rare right now, but in the future it might be more common. As for prestige, Princeton and MIT offer MSF degrees (well MFin's which are a little more mathematical, but still close enough to the MSF to be associated with them). I don't think anyone with a Princeton MFin would feel any less proud or elite. As more top schools offer the degree you will see people who are in search of "prestige" going to school for the MSF degree. Right now well known schools, but not overly prestigious schools offer the MSF. Hopefully that will change.

    The MSF is very technical. It doesn't teach leadership or anything else. MBA's are great for people with limited business experience, for people who do not have a business background or for people looking to refresh their skills.

    For those with a business background, who have leadership experience and who have no intention of going into a field outside of finance, then I think getting a specialized degree might work. I do not think leadership can be taught in a classroom. MSF will never replace the MBA, but I think there could be some competition. Competition is good.

    to add to what Anthony was saying about MDs having MBAs and not MSF/MSc's- obviously as the MSc becomes more popular in the USA, you'll see more and more MDs with them (10 years from now)

    in Europe, where the MSc is arguably more popular than the MBA, you'll see many senior professionals who have a non-MBA masters degree. A common thing in europe is to get your undergrad degree, go directly to the MSc program, start working at an IB, and then either 1) direct promote to associate or 2)join a private equity shop. Europeans have already more or less figured out that the MBA is a relatively useless qualification for finance.

  • nrthfrk16's picture

    A question regarding MBA vs. MSF: When applying for a non-experienced position with say a BB, will you apply as an Undergrad or a MBA if you are in the process of completing your MSF or already have.

  • ThaVanBurenBoyz's picture

    This discussion is missing a key component of an MBA for those in IB and PE: the class network. At the senior level, brining in deals or investment opportunities relies heavily on relationships. Graduating in a large, diverse class is one way to facilitate this. Many of your MBA classmates will go on to work at corporations, or start their own thing. Having that connection goes a long way when they need a banker, or a buyer.

    An MSF program, or any specialized degree, does not fulfill this benefit by the same magnitude. In a specialized program, your classmates end up in similar roles. At an MBA program, you'll meet the future CFO of X company, the future Head of Strategic Development at Y company, and the Founder of Z company. For a banker, especially, this is why an MBA will always trump a specialized degree.

  • FabulousFab's picture

    I think for someone seeking a job in financial markets an MBA is a waste of time. An Msc after graduation from college will be quite enough to find a job in S&T and to have some opportunities. An MBA will be more accurate for people working in IB.

  • eokpar02's picture

    Anthony, do people who receive a MS in financial engineering typically start off as analysts or associates? And how did you get so knowledgeable about this stuff?

    I am not cocky, I am confident, and when you tell me I am the best it is a compliment.
    -Styles P

  • In reply to eokpar02
    Gloomberg's picture

    eokpar02:
    Anthony, do people who receive a MS in financial engineering typically start off as analysts or associates? And how did you get so knowledgeable about this stuff?

    I used to help out on recruiting. MSF students generally start off as 2nd/3rd year analyst. We gave a guy who has an MBA from a top10 B-School a 3rd year analyst position (he went straight from undergrad to an MBA). He declined our offer an joined MBB instead as an associate.

  • bucky's picture

    Does anyone here actually have an MBA or are you all just speculating? I may not know what I'm talking about but I'll at least qualify myself: 2nd year MBA at top 30 school, starting the fall with an offer at one of those TARP taking firms worth over $100k, and not a stand-out by any metric. GPA 3.5, GMAT was lower than average, and work exp prior to school was closer to 2 years than 3.

    I get to credit my school for bringing this employer to me, because two years ago they wouldn't give me the time of day, and the employer is only interested in MBAs. Several of my classmates, like me, are starting school this year with an offer already. Some may take it because we know the days of multiple offers at a time are over. What is being ignored here are the dozens of fields one can get into with an MBA. So many students are career switchers, and don't really know what they want to do. Going from school teacher to brand manager is a tough transition, but one that can't be made through networking or a masters of marketing.

    The specialized degrees are great, but their service is put to use best when someone already has something lined up. You either really know you want to do marketing research, or financial engineering. The reason the MBA is still appreciated is that those that have them themselves know it's really two degrees. Last year I did the management stuff. This year it's the finance. When I'm done I'll have taken the same amount of finance courses as an MSF at Sloan (I just picked a random school's curriculum). And the classes are the same, because my school offers the MSF, and it's just all the MBA finance electives.

    So if you don't know what you want to do or just have an idea, get the MBA, trust me it's still paying off. If you know exactly what you want to do and have the network to get there yourself, the specialized MS is better, cheaper and faster. The data referenced in this blog post is old (though it is the most recent public information). The class of 2010 was in better shape, and the class of 2011 (me) is shaping up to be in great shape. The landscape has changed, though I doubt it's permanent. The MBA rises and falls with the tides of GDP.

    This is my first (and likely only) comment on this website, so I thank you for taking the time to read it.

  • TNA's picture

    I will agree with above to an extent.

    There are two ways to do an MSF degree. Some schools make their students take a handful of MBA level finance classes and maybe a stats class or something and that fulfill the MSF requirement. Pros of this approach is that MSF students get to network with MBA students. Cons is you really aren't coming out of the program any smarter than an MBA.

    The second approach is to take specifically MSF classes. The program at Villanova is only for MSF students. MBA's can't take our classes. Why is this good? Look at a MBA class profile. You have people from all backgrounds. MBA finance classes have to be a little introductory just because you have a mix of people. MSF programs tend to be mostly finance undergrads. Right off the bat everyone has basic knowledge and understanding. What you are taught and expected to learn is at a much higher level then in a MBA class.

    MBA's do have awesome networks, but so do MSF classes. My programs class was only 20 people and we took every class together. We all became very close and I consider them life long friends. Out of that program I have a number of friends doing banking, couple doing PE, friends with their CFA and a bunch working in various capital market areas. I have no interest in working in anything other then finance so my whole network is finance focused. I also know a shit load of Villanova MBA's and they are all mid level at Vanguard, J&J, Merck, Blackrock, Pfizer, etc. If I ever wanted to talk to someone in F500 I would have no problem. Just because you are getting a MSF does not mean you have zero exposure to MBA's. In fact a lot of MSF students tutor MBA students.

    @Eok - if you get a MFE you typically do not have that analyst/associate title. MFE places in quant roles or complicated risk management positions. You are going to be doing some complex stuff. Check out Quantnet.com for more info on that degree. If your goal is to be a banker then you really don't want a MFE.

    How did I get so knowledgeable about this stuff? Well I have an MSF degree already and spent a lot of time looking at different programs. I have always wanted a MSF so I am naturally a believe in it. When I started my program I found that a lot of people didn't understand the degree or know what it is. That caused me to want to promote it, increase awareness and do whatever I could to make it as well known as the MBA. With this goal in mind I just started reading about every program out there. Speaking with other students and adcoms, basically learning everything about it. I know a lot, but I still have more it know.

  • In reply to bucky
    Car Ramrod's picture

    bucky:
    Does anyone here actually have an MBA or are you all just speculating? I may not know what I'm talking about but I'll at least qualify myself: 2nd year MBA at top 30 school, starting the fall with an offer at one of those TARP taking firms worth over $100k, and not a stand-out by any metric. GPA 3.5, GMAT was lower than average, and work exp prior to school was closer to 2 years than 3.

    I get to credit my school for bringing this employer to me, because two years ago they wouldn't give me the time of day, and the employer is only interested in MBAs. Several of my classmates, like me, are starting school this year with an offer already. Some may take it because we know the days of multiple offers at a time are over. What is being ignored here are the dozens of fields one can get into with an MBA. So many students are career switchers, and don't really know what they want to do. Going from school teacher to brand manager is a tough transition, but one that can't be made through networking or a masters of marketing.

    The specialized degrees are great, but their service is put to use best when someone already has something lined up. You either really know you want to do marketing research, or financial engineering. The reason the MBA is still appreciated is that those that have them themselves know it's really two degrees. Last year I did the management stuff. This year it's the finance. When I'm done I'll have taken the same amount of finance courses as an MSF at Sloan (I just picked a random school's curriculum). And the classes are the same, because my school offers the MSF, and it's just all the MBA finance electives.

    So if you don't know what you want to do or just have an idea, get the MBA, trust me it's still paying off. If you know exactly what you want to do and have the network to get there yourself, the specialized MS is better, cheaper and faster. The data referenced in this blog post is old (though it is the most recent public information). The class of 2010 was in better shape, and the class of 2011 (me) is shaping up to be in great shape. The landscape has changed, though I doubt it's permanent. The MBA rises and falls with the tides of GDP.

    This is my first (and likely only) comment on this website, so I thank you for taking the time to read it.

    I think this is by far the most relevant post in this thread. What seems to be missing from this discussion is that no matter how valuable you could be to an organization (let's just say investment bank), most of these places won't talk to you for an associate role unless you have an MBA. While I am of the differing opinion that all associates should be analysts first, that's simply the way it is. Regardless of the knowledge gained in business school, the real value is in the networking and the opportunities it presents.

    Think about the summer associates that are recruited a month or two into their first year at business school. It's not as if they are highly sought after for the vast amount of knowledge they have gained in that first month. The schools act as an easy filter for high quality candidates, and that's why the banks look at only the top 20 schools or so. Until the firms doing the recruiting change their approaches, the MBA will still be a highly valuable degree if you want to go into banking or consulting.

  • In reply to Haywood J'Ablowme
    econ's picture

    Haywood J'Ablowme:
    I often wonder how much education is enough? I am starting to see the swing back to a preference for experience now that everyone is over-educated.

    That, and most learning takes place outside of the classroom. To really learn something, you gotta study it in your free-time, talk to people about it, apply it, etc. How many of us have taken classes where we did okay, but still didn't feel like we really understood the concepts? On the flip side, how many of us have got interested in something, read a few books, talked to some people about it, and then felt we knew a good deal about it? If masters degrees actually cause increases in salary, I'm starting to wonder if it's mainly about earning the credential/signalling (or even networking) as opposed to learning/human-capital, because I'm pretty confident I could learn most of the important MSF/MBA curriculum in my free-time via self-study.

  • TNA's picture

    I am getting my MBA. Classes are weak and mushy. The reason MSF students come in as analysts and not associates has nothing to do with the degree, it has to do with experience. Princeton's MFin program places people into associate roles because a lot of the students have previous experience.

  • ideating's picture

    No one doing hiring on wall street gives a shit about your curriculum or how you "take all the same courses as the MBA". It matters to a certain degree to show you're serious about a career path (i.e. a HBS marketing major vs. a HBS finance major) but is irrelevant across schools.

    It's great if "you want to learn finance" but the bottom line is that these programs always have been about networking and getting a job - MBAs will continue to crush MSF, MFE or Msc.

    If you can't get into a good MBA program, shoot for the best name school - I have never seen or heard of anyone on the street with a grad degree from Seattle, WUSTL or Villanova (some of the schools I saw when I skimmed this thread). I've only seen one girl with a masters from Johns Hopkins but she had a great undergrad, prior work ex and a network. It's an admittedly small sample size but take that for what it's worth.

  • TNA's picture

    WUSTL places very well in NY as does Villanova. Both programs are about 5 years old so they are relatively new. Villanova is just about to crack 100 MSF graduates this year. This is talking about the future development of the degree not the current situation.

  • In reply to TNA
    Midas Mulligan Magoo's picture

    Anthony .:
    @Midas - Not every school has a Masters Thesis. I know a lot of UK/Euro schools have it, but I don't know of too many here in the states. I think it is a nice idea, but it is a remnant of when the MSF was a track towards a PhD. The degree has become more of an applied knowledge type degree and a thesis was sort of a baby academic research paper. I am toying with the idea of doing a thesis or some type of research work during my MBA program just to keep sharp and build out my MSF.

    Any topic ideas? Lots of interesting financial modeling orthodoxy ready to get ripped to shreads IMHO.

  • TNA's picture

    I welcome topic suggestions lol. I am pretty busy with a host of things so it is something on the back of my mind, but I struggle with time to develop it. I think most MSF programs should have it though, really highlights what you learn.

  • Midas Mulligan Magoo's picture

    Swamped at the moment myself. I'll shoot you some suggestions in the near future, though. Have a few thoughts.

  • Joshua.D's picture

    Great read guys, very informative. Keep it comin!

  • TNA's picture

    No problem Josh. I always have something to say about this topic. For anyone interested in checking out MBA degrees I came across a cool site.

    www.poetsandquants.com

    I blogged it on my website and it seems to be pretty popular. I would check them out. Hopefully I might be able to get some air time on their site to promote the MSF as well.

  • econ's picture

    A couple comments came up about non-top-10 MBAs becoming obsolete. Do you guys really believe this? I thought non-top MBAs could still be quite useful for advancing your career, especially if you have a strong geographic preference?

  • In reply to ideating
    nelly0's picture

    ideating:
    No one doing hiring on wall street gives a shit about your curriculum or how you "take all the same courses as the MBA". It matters to a certain degree to show you're serious about a career path (i.e. a HBS marketing major vs. a HBS finance major) but is irrelevant across schools.

    It's great if "you want to learn finance" but the bottom line is that these programs always have been about networking and getting a job - MBAs will continue to crush MSF, MFE or Msc.

    If you can't get into a good MBA program, shoot for the best name school - I have never seen or heard of anyone on the street with a grad degree from Seattle, WUSTL or Villanova (some of the schools I saw when I skimmed this thread). I've only seen one girl with a masters from Johns Hopkins but she had a great undergrad, prior work ex and a network. It's an admittedly small sample size but take that for what it's worth.

    You said it yourself. It's a really small sample size. Therefore, it's not worth much. WUSTL MSF is 5 years old and has < 200 graduates of the program. MBA programs like HBS have 900 students in each class and have been graduating students for 70-80 years. Your observation that "I have never seen anyone on the street with this degree" isn't really that useful either.

    As far as MBA programs. WUSTL just broke the top 20. IB only recruits from T15 schools. Obviously you won't see to many Olin kids on the street.

  • In reply to econ
    TNA's picture

    econ:
    A couple comments came up about non-top-10 MBAs becoming obsolete. Do you guys really believe this? I thought non-top MBAs could still be quite useful for advancing your career, especially if you have a strong geographic preference?

    I think there are really good regional programs that will help you move up the ladder in your F500 or local job, but as far as banking goes, if you don't get into a top program you should look at an MSF over a non top MBA. Furthermore, if you are just looking to move up in your career you should go the PT MBA route. No need to take 2 years off if you are only going to get a small improvement in position and salary.

    Outside of a top program the MSF offers a focused, 1 year program over a 2 year, generalized program.

  • ThaVanBurenBoyz's picture

    ^ What? I have a hard time believing that the 10-30 MBA pool is getting beat out by MSFs in investment banking recruiting. Many in that range are still recruited by BBs, and are near locks for regional firms.

    Econ, what's your geographical preference?

  • In reply to ThaVanBurenBoyz
    econ's picture

    ThaVanBurenBoyz:

    Econ, what's your geographical preference?

    Not sure, just asking more out of curiosity.

    Also, are you guys talking more generally, or mainly about IB (when you say non-top MBAs are obsolete)? The reason I ask, is because I'm honestly not even interested in IB. I'm thinking more along the lines of investment management (or maybe even trading), or possibly something out of finance completely. I'm not really sure if I could get into a top-10 MBA program and maybe not even a top-15, so chances are I'd be in the high-teens to low-30s, and wonder how much value these programs have.

  • ThaVanBurenBoyz's picture

    My comments were with investment banking in mind. I'm not very knowledgeable about AM and trading, and feel like Anthony is the man to talk to there (MSF probably makes more sense for those fields). Outside of finance completely (F500 jobs), there are some solid options at the late 1st-tier, and 2nd-tier level: ND, Texas, Emory, Georgetown, Minnesota (for all the Minneapolis F500s), etc.

  • In reply to ThaVanBurenBoyz
    TNA's picture

    ThaVanBurenBoyz:
    ^ What? I have a hard time believing that the 10-30 MBA pool is getting beat out by MSFs in investment banking recruiting. Many in that range are still recruited by BBs, and are near locks for regional firms.

    Econ, what's your geographical preference?

    I think outside of the T15 schools your odds of getting into banking as an associate diminish rapidly. There are a few schools in the 15-30 mix that might place some people, but the odds are very much against you. I think the 15-30 MBA is the ideal target for the MSF degree to take away market share.

    How about we just say top 10 programs are ideal, 10-20 will still give you a shot, but outside of 20 you might as well get an MSF instead of spending 2 years for a generalized degree. I think that is fair.

  • In reply to ThaVanBurenBoyz
    TNA's picture

    ThaVanBurenBoyz:
    My comments were with investment banking in mind. I'm not very knowledgeable about AM and trading, and feel like Anthony is the man to talk to there (MSF probably makes more sense for those fields). Outside of finance completely (F500 jobs), there are some solid options at the late 1st-tier, and 2nd-tier level: ND, Texas, Emory, Georgetown, Minnesota (for all the Minneapolis F500s), etc.

    I will agree with this post.

  • In reply to TNA
    ThaVanBurenBoyz's picture

    Anthony .:
    ThaVanBurenBoyz:
    ^ What? I have a hard time believing that the 10-30 MBA pool is getting beat out by MSFs in investment banking recruiting. Many in that range are still recruited by BBs, and are near locks for regional firms.

    Econ, what's your geographical preference?

    I think outside of the T15 schools your odds of getting into banking as an associate diminish rapidly. There are a few schools in the 15-30 mix that might place some people, but the odds are very much against you. I think the 15-30 MBA is the ideal target for the MSF degree to take away market share.

    How about we just say top 10 programs are ideal, 10-20 will still give you a shot, but outside of 20 you might as well get an MSF instead of spending 2 years for a generalized degree. I think that is fair.

    From observation, all of these MBA programs outside the T10 are better than an MSF for IB recruiting:
    Cornell (NYC)
    Dartmouth (NYC)
    NYU (NYC)
    UCLA (Cali)
    IU (Chicago)
    UVA (NYC, Charlotte)
    UNC (Charlotte)
    ND (Chicago)
    Texas (Houston)
    Emory (Houston)
    Georgetown (NYC, Charlotte)
    Minnesota (Minneapolis)

    Admit it, if you know you want to work in Chicago IB, getting an MBA at IU or ND is better than getting an MSF at Wisconsin. I've never even seen an MSF grad in Chicago IB, but Kelley and Mendoza grads are all over the place. Same can be said with the rest of my list and their regional focus.

  • In reply to ThaVanBurenBoyz
    TNA's picture

    ThaVanBurenBoyz:
    Anthony .:
    ThaVanBurenBoyz:
    ^ What? I have a hard time believing that the 10-30 MBA pool is getting beat out by MSFs in investment banking recruiting. Many in that range are still recruited by BBs, and are near locks for regional firms.

    Econ, what's your geographical preference?

    I think outside of the T15 schools your odds of getting into banking as an associate diminish rapidly. There are a few schools in the 15-30 mix that might place some people, but the odds are very much against you. I think the 15-30 MBA is the ideal target for the MSF degree to take away market share.

    How about we just say top 10 programs are ideal, 10-20 will still give you a shot, but outside of 20 you might as well get an MSF instead of spending 2 years for a generalized degree. I think that is fair.

    From observation, all of these MBA programs outside the T10 are better than an MSF for IB recruiting:
    Cornell (NYC)
    Dartmouth (NYC)
    NYU (NYC)
    UCLA (Cali)
    IU (Chicago)
    UVA (NYC, Charlotte)
    UNC (Charlotte)
    ND (Chicago)
    Texas (Houston)
    Emory (Houston)
    Georgetown (NYC, Charlotte)
    Minnesota (Minneapolis)

    Admit it, if you know you want to work in Chicago IB, getting an MBA at IU or ND is better than getting an MSF at Wisconsin. I've never even seen an MSF grad in Chicago IB, but Kelley and Mendoza grads are all over the place. Same can be said with the rest of my list and their regional focus.

    I don't know, most of those places are sometimes part of the T10 (Cornell/Dartmouth) and if not in the T10 they are close. The rest usually fall within the T20. I will admit that if you want to work in specific regions some will place strong, but within the T30 schools there are some that do not place well in banking at all.

    Mind you, I am saying that in the future the MSF will steal market share from these. Right now I think a Princeton MFin, a MIT MSF, a WUSTL MSF will place better than a lot of those lower ones.

  • TNA's picture

    Top Ranked U.S.
    1 University of Chicago (Booth)
    2 Harvard University
    3 Northwestern University (Kellogg)
    4 University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
    5 University of Michigan (Ross)
    6 Stanford University
    7 Columbia University
    8 Duke University (Fuqua)
    9 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)
    10 University of California - Berkeley (Haas)
    11 Cornell University (Johnson)
    12 Dartmouth College (Tuck)
    13 New York University (Stern)
    14 University of California - Los Angeles (Anderson)
    15 Indiana University (Kelley)
    16 University of Virginia (Darden)
    17 University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler)
    18 Southern Methodist University (Cox)
    19 Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)
    20 University of Notre Dame (Mendoza)
    21 University of Texas - Austin (McCombs)
    22 Brigham Young University (Marriott)
    23 Emory University (Goizueta)
    24 Yale University
    25 University of Southern California (Marshall)
    26 University of Maryland (Smith)
    27 University of Washington (Foster)
    28 Washington University - St. Louis (Olin)
    29 Georgia Institute of Technology
    30 Vanderbilt University (Owen)

    I think an MSF would be a better investment for someone looking at a shot at banking, but would settle for F500 if they were looking at #29,27,26,25,22,18.

    Vanderbilt has an MSF as does #27. So does #26.

    My statement still stands.

  • econ's picture

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