A few weeks ago, I spent over a week in London to visit some family. Because I'm looking into studying in the UK for my MSc in Finance in a year or so, I thought this would be a great way to visit some schools there. I picked some of the obvious choices, including London School of Economics and London Business School, as well as a couple of not-as-well-known schools, including London Metropolitan University and Birkbeck, University of London. I tried to fit in Cass as well as Imperial College, but I didn't have a chance to really meet anyone from admissions, so those posts would've been me stating information that you could easily find on their website (or on ANT's site). I spent a few days to look around some campuses, do some research on the programs these schools offer, meet some people, shake some hands, etc., etc., etc. After all of this, I thought this would be a great thread to read for anyone who is interested in going to the UK for grad school. My main point for this thread, however, is...are these schools really worth it? Are they worth the sometimes ridiculous costs for tuition as well as paying for living expenses in one of the most expensive cities in the world? This week, I'll be talking about Birkbeck, University of London and I'll be keeping the thread going through May.
Birkbeck, University of London
When I started my thread a week or so ago, many people loved the idea of talking about the obvious choices of LSE and LBS, but didn't understand why I would be talking about this school (or London Met) at all. However, I saw this school as an option for people who couldn't land LSE, LBS, Cass or Oxbridge. Sure, these schools are the obvious choices, but what about some of the other schools in London? For starters, Birkbeck offers many choices for post-graduates, including MSc Accounting & Financial Management, MSc Computing for Financial Services, MSc Finance (pathways to Finance & Commodities or Finance w/ Accounting), MSc Financial Economics and others, all of which are offered both part- and full-time. Plus, they offer graduate certificates and diplomas on subjects like Econometrics and Financial Engineering which guarantee well performing students a spot in a similar master's program. As for admissions, for students from the US, they're expecting a 3.0/4.0, but they're willing to take work experience into account as well, if a falls below that. Also, not mandatory, they "highly recommend" submitting a or GRE score. However, when speaking to a counselor at their admissions office, he suggested that not submitting a score puts you at a significant disadvantage. He also said the median score is in the mid 600's. Finally, tuition isn't as harsh as LSE, with the full-time MSc Finance program costing approx. $22,790.
When speaking with the counselor at Birkbeck, I first asked how American applicants compare against other international applicants. To my surprise, he said the exact same thing that the counselor at LSE told me. Applications from Asia, particularly India and China, dominate each applicant class, so they are clamoring for more people from the western hemisphere to even it out, particularly from the US. However, the conversation soon turned to recruiting and networking, and he stressed that Birkbeck is a great option for a number of reasons. First, the whole campus is located in Bloomsbury, central London. Second, he stressed that many Birkbeck alum work in the City and are more than willing to help current students break-in. He names some companies that have shown up in the past for ocr, including, , and . Many of the professors in the finance department have worked in the private sector as well and give presentations or help current students with connecting with firms in the City. Finally, they offer a graduate internship program specifically to help graduates jump right into work once they graduate, which often leads to a FT job.
So overall, what do I think? For the students who can't get into the elite schools in London, Birkbeck can be a possible option. Also, it can be for people who simply want to study abroad for grad school and change of scenery for a year or two. The location in central London can't hurt either. Sure, one might have to hustle a bit more to network than say, an alum from LBS, but I imagine WSO has some readers out there who are used to it. The price is not to outrageous compared to the other big schools and recruiting seems better than one would think.
So there's my take on Birkbeck. Let me know what you think or if you have any questions. I still have that contact in the admin office so if you want, I can relay your questions to her. Next week, I'll be writing about London Business School.
Rundown - Birkbeck, University of London
Location: Bloomsbury, central London
Tuition: approx. $22,790 / full-time, one year
Finance Programs: http://www.bbk.ac.uk/study/pg/finance/index.html Entry Requirements: 3.0/4.0 , possible work experience, score (avg is mid 600's)