Whenever I read about the MSF on WSO I often see people commenting on it that have no idea what they are talking about. So I wanted to write this blog post to clear up some myths. My MSF experience is at the Villanova/Washington University/Vanderbilt/UT-Austin level.
The MSF is an excellent degree. The career focused degree will help you learn a great deal about the different types of financial careers available. You will learn a great deal about Finance, and you will take high level classes (many above MBA level) which will prepare you for your career. The biggest problem with the MSF is that not enough people in America know about it.
Myth #1: Most MSF students use the MSF to make up for a poor undergraduate background.
This is false. You won't get accepted to a good MSF program with a terrible background. Most students in my program graduated with all sorts of honors and 3.5+'s. Most students in my MSF program had degrees in the following: BSBA, Finance, Accounting, Economics, Engineering, and Mathematics. There were a handful of students with Science and Liberal Arts backgrounds. Every one of the MSF students in my program got a high score, most above 700. The students were all intelligent and driven. They were the cream of the crop from non-target schools who wanted to further their learning, take advantage of OCR at the MSF school, or get a solid financial background.
Myth #2: MSF=MFE, MiM, etc.
Duke does not have an MSF program, it has a Masters in Management program. Princeton's MSF is not really an MSF. It is more of a Financial Engineering/Quantitative Finance program that requires 3+ years work experience. An MSF usually has students with 0 to 1-2 years work experience, occasionally older students. A few programs are different. There is no standardized MSF so be sure to research the makeup of the student body and the curriculum before you attend.
Myth #3: The MSF is easy.
The MSF is not easy. The MSF is not a "fifth year" of college. If you have prior finance experience you will be prepared for some classes but it will still be very tough. The quantitative level is higher than what you will have experienced in your undergrad especially if you attend certain programs. Professors expect more of you than they would an undergraduate or even an MBA in finance classes.
Myth #4: You can't get a banking or consulting job out of an MSF.
This is not true. Multiple MSF students have been able to get the jobs they desired. However, just like with undergraduates if you don't have the proper experience or background you wont have a shot. Just having the MSF on your resume won't be enough. You need to prepare and get an internship the summer before the MSF in the field you want or have an extremely strong network going into fall recruiting season.
Myth #5: The MSF will get me a job
No. You need to get yourself a job. The MSF programs are highly regional, although alumni from your program may be located across the 50 states. You need to build your network if you want to work in a certain area.
Next time a resume hits your desk and the applicant has an MSF, give them a shot. They are smart, hardworking, and full of financial knowledge.