How do I get into a target/top MSF program coming from a non-target undergrad. Advice would be hugely appreciated

Hi there,

I'm a transfer student, started off as a Math major at a public university, transferred to a private university, and changed subjects. Now I'm a 3rd year undergrad, studying Finance & Minoring in Math at a non-target private university in California. I have a 3.7~ gpa, and no internship experience thus far, but I'm confident I will have a position by the time I graduate (I have next summer too, it will take me an additional semester to graduate since I transferred and picked up the minor). 

I want to rebrand myself after my undergrad by going to a high end masters program. I'm am truly prepared to study my butt off for the GREs and really devote most of my time to preparing and going for as high end of a program as I can possibly get into. I have some decent extracurricular involvement, good electives in upper division math courses, some computer science courses, and overall I think my academic record will be very solid.

For those of you who were able to go from a non-target undergrad to a target grad school, how was the transition for you? Is recruiting for internships & jobs out of a high end grad program solid? I'm fine with either corporate finance or banking, but I want to do the absolute best I can. 

Thank you, any advice would help 

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Comments (5)

May 4, 2021 - 1:16am


I went from a non-target to a higher end MSF (Vandy/George/Washu) and it worked out pretty well for me. I think the oversimplified way to describe an MSF from a top program is basically: "I didn't go to a target for UG, so here's my do-over". Depending on the school (reputation, alumni network, location) you'll get access to the pipelines for recruiting that are normally insanely hard to get into. There will be a ton of work from the networking side. Just based on your broad resume, you'll be able to land at one of these programs fine. 

May 4, 2021 - 2:16am

Thank you- through personal connections I am confident I'll be able to have a finance internship before graduation at a F500 company at the bare minimum, and it's a relief to know that some of those pipelines are still available to MSF students at top programs.

I have a few more questions, any input would be appreciated:

For internship recruiting out of a 2 year MSF, are these the same openings that are available to undergrads or are there distinct positions for grad students?

Did you take the GRE or GMAT? Do MSF programs prefer one over the other?

I'm really prepared to network and actively trying to at the moment (via connecting to alumni, professors, etc...); do you think that a high end MSF program really went a long ways towards 'covering up' your undergrad in some sense?

Thank you

May 4, 2021 - 2:45pm

Definitely need some experience - it'll help a lot with admissions as well as interviewing in the future. So definitely do your best to secure that asap.

Generally, the openings are usually available to UG students at semi-target / target schools in my experience. Hence the "do-over" logic. There are some positions, if you have work experience, that may be distinct for grad students. I saw some classmates with prior IB experience get Analyst II / Senior analyst positions. 

I think it depends on the school, but I did GMAT. Just seemed like the standard one for the most part.

High-end MSF mostly covered it up for me. It showed that I could play ball "at the next level" to an extent. I don't think having the non-target UG harmed me much at all during my interviews after having the MSF on my resume. My UG has a good local reputation but no rep outside of town, so it helped when I recruited locally but didn't impact me when outside the region. 

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