AMA - top 10 MBA vs MSF vs MMS

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Post-admit questions welcomed.

I hope this AMA can help you if you're looking at MBA, MSF or MMS in your early careers.
I also have friends who were in MAcc, MSc Marketing, and hopefully I can share whatever I can find.
Background: enrolled in a top 10 MBA program; nontarget undergrad with 3.5 GPA, got my first tier MSF and returned to MBA after a bit over 2 years of work in an Asset Management firm.

For MMS/MSF/MFin applicants: Think about how MSF or MMS can help you reach your next goals? why not MBA a few years later? any need for more degrees at all? Visa/STEM problems? This is a sample & incomplete checklist.

if you want an MBA now, think about which tier schools you can get into, how to design your majors for short and Long term utility, and (early career only) how will you overcome lack of work experiences once you're in - GMATs and GPAs dont matter enough without work experiences here. Top 10-15 MBAs are where I consider worthy, and they pick up few students straight from undergrad, and often through deferred options, those lucky bastards usually have extraordinary resumes FYI.

too many Degree programs are admitting cashcow people, and promoters/loser have fundamental conflict of interest that is making you pay cash. Basically no school is literally nonprofit these days!

Unless you've been a total superstar, Opportunity cost of MSc is usually $65,000 or more. Without MSc, you save $65k and could earn more $$ and full-time experience, or save $400 per month on loans. If you also have guts for a MBA, the starting range for an experienced median T15 earns a substantially bigger amount.

just don't ask for admission profile evaluation - it's usually truly holistic, not GPA/GMAT only. Know your story and have it throughout all parts of your application.

Can't help with any essay topics, but whenever it's a Personal Statement? it's about the WHY questions below, plus short-term & long-term goals.

The hardest interview questions are generally behavioral; "describe when ____x____"
The typical questions will revolve around
Why ____program?
Why now?
Why this school fits?
Usually your 4 dimensions in the application are
1Academic ability
2Work Experience
3Extracurricular Involvements
4Communication/Leadership Traits.
**Pre-experience programs have a little more focus on academics to replace lack of experiences.

I have no incentives or affiliations that would encourage me to speak favorably to any program, unlike some other gurus that members have found to promote some programs for the wrong reasons - that's why you see ridiculous monkey shit on my thread when I'm donating my free time for just social good.

I hope to share my honest opinion for YOU to decide on programs and make YOUR money worth, and for that I will be direct, and know that I'm talking about the issues and not you.

Comments (81)

Jun 18, 2016

Why did you go for an MBA after a first tier MSF already? Isn't 3 degrees a bit of an overkill?

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Jun 18, 2016

my MBA focuses are all outside of finance - Marketing, OB and Strategy.
I'm from a nontarget, and my GMAT is well under 700, so my MSF GPA also made the case for my academics.

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Jul 2, 2016

So you preferred to do an MS (tuition, opportunity cost, time, etc.) instead of studying harder for the GMAT??

Work hard, work clean, & most of all do not give up.

Mar 24, 2017

You have a top 10 MBA?

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Jun 18, 2016

How did your MSF enhance your career path?

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Jun 18, 2016

not much. I got a job, which is nice, Most classmates were placed, jobs are good jobs, but many are not placed in big metro areas. salary stats show salary number near par to the undergraduates.

OCR starts in September, so most people have no MSF GPA or some GPA based on 2 summer classes. The race is also often lost to 2nd Year MBAs and Undergrads who are more attractive in general, so it requires quick adaptation.

While it sounds worthless to do MSF until this point, I think MSF absolutely helped me catch up in academics. I was Finance undergrad but MSF still showed me plenty of new things. Not a good signal for my undergrad quality.

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Jun 18, 2016

What was your MSF GPA? How do you think your MSF helped get you into the MBA?

Jun 19, 2016

What's your MBA story, i.e. What's your career goal upon graduation?

Jun 19, 2016

I have a quantitative background and a deep accounting background with MSF.
so my short-term goal is either Risk Management (in application) or corporate finance, for a long-term thing in planning & strategy

Jun 19, 2016

Makes sense, any traction yet?

Jun 20, 2016

What was recruiting like for investment banks at your MSF / MSF programs in general?

Jun 20, 2016

see my reply to PhoenixFire

it's not a top target but there are a few investment bank OCRs. not all are for IB though.

Jun 20, 2016

Thanks. I've been struggling with the idea of a MSF as well. Granted, I am a rising junior, but it is never to safe to think of back-up options given the uncertainty of the US economy.

When you reached out to alumni at your school (who were their for undergrad not MSF), did you find them being as receptive as much as the ones that were in the MSF program?

Jun 20, 2016

How much space do you reserve for education on your resume?

Jun 20, 2016

nearly half..... with 3 Degree listings, I'm also an alumni of a nondegree program from e.g. HBS, Stanford GSB.

Jun 20, 2016

Thanks for doing this. I'm looking at MSF programs right now. If you could, could you list a bucket of schools similar to and including the one you went to, and elaborate on the degree it prepared you to do quant work and/or work in PE/HF?

Jun 20, 2016

you'll have some strange odds for these things. look ten times at my other posts when I say - MSF recruiting is often lost to UG and MBAs who are generally more attractive.

HF - now, I know a guy got HF in my class like a Citadel type of thing? I forgot exactly but it was HF. But whatever UG requirements are, HF needs you to be pretty good. He had CFA 2 and/or some good experiences from overseas too.

PE... don't think you'd have an easy road for this. the MBAs just outside of M7 often can't even make it into PE, so I don't think MSF gives you any better odds. maybe MIT? Maybe Princeton MSF (really MFE) or UCLA/Berkely MFEs? you gotta investigate

Jun 21, 2016

I agree with another post, 1 Master level degree is more than enough.

If you are seriously thinking about enrolling, think why and opportunity costs. MBA is a one-shot reset of your career. So using it up early and you lose it if you don't make much use out of it. MBA is a chance to change direction (e.g. go into IB or PE, or change industries all together). Its also may be a small boost in mid-career to get you that sr mgmt promotion.

If you NEED it to work in a field you want to now, such as you are trying to break into finance and you can't currently, than maybe it makes sense. If you are going the quant route and want extra technical education maybe a quant MS may make sense.

MBA = One Career Boost, use it wisely.

Jun 21, 2016

Yes, thats exactly why "where to go" matters in my opinion. Some go to very regional places, and that MBA would have zero use among a higher tier of MBAs.

The problem with Master's degree these days, is such that my MSF functions more like a Undergrad degree - not MBA Finance - as salary reports suggest.

For me go to second half of top 25, I required a huge discount.... for anything under top 25, I didn't plan to apply. Top 10ish includes M7 and Tuck, Haas, Fuqua, Darden, Yale SOM and Ross, etc. so I think It's worthy to go, because these are good places even for MBB BB recruitment

Jun 26, 2016

bump. one more week and work will get busier.

Jul 1, 2016

A few questions

  1. Given that you were a Finance Undergrad, was an MSF needed (in retrospect and what did you think then), Was the job offer better than what you had got after Undegrad? (I did read your answer, I wanted to know in your case was it worth after all?)
  2. Would you have any idea, given you have colleagues that have pursued both, are an MBA in Finance (Pre-experience) and MSF, equivalent degrees if done from a Top 10 univ?

Thanks!

Jul 1, 2016
  1. MSF was needed since my undergrad had little brand to be spoken for. Its alumni base is all across the region, but still I found the my undergrad's career services to be a complete disaster, after comparing student resources and recruiter accessibility/friendliness with the MSF school. Personally, I would have fired their a$$ if I could.
  2. MIT could make it close in salary figures. otherwise check posts above. hint is Salary reports. They're generally accurate although lies are now being encouraged to boost admission/tuition.

Also pre-experience means you can undoubtedly expect below-median salary numbers since recruiters at your place will happily hire your experienced classmates first.

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Jul 2, 2016

Hey, thanks for doing this. I think you have a pretty unique background. I'm a recent college graduate with just over 6 months worth of management (not strategy) consulting experience at a Big 4-like firm (PwC, Deloitte, EY, Accenture, Capgemini). I graduated from a large complete non-target state school with a 3.4+ GPA in Economics and Statistics and I've also passed the CFA Level 1 and CAIA Level 1 exams along with having a 770 GMAT. I think I will pass the CFA Level 2 and CAIA Level 2 exams within the next year. I'm interested in enrolling in a MSF program next year at either Vanderbilt, WUSTL, UT Austin or Villanova and I'm trying to break into Investment Management at an institutional investor like BlackRock, Fidelity, Vanguard, etc. or Investment Banking. I would like to be a fundamental investor rather than a quant.

The main reason I would like to pursue a MSF instead of a MBA is because I'm just not passionate about my current job and do not see myself doing it for the next 3-5 years. Additionally, I view the MSF as a cheaper option than the MBA and I'm not confident of my chances of getting into a top 10 MBA program (I'm not willing to fork out $150,000 for a non-top 10 MBA). I was wondering whether you could provide more insight into the OCR opportunities when you were an MSF student. I know you mentioned that MSFs were at a disadvantaged compared to Undergrads and MBAs but could you provide more insight into this? Also, were there IM/IB opportunities specifically for MSF students and what made your peers who broke into IM/IB successful?

Jul 3, 2016

My thought after your paragraph - I think you need to focus. I'm not saying that you should or not do MSF, but MSF is probably not as much of a necessity to you while you have CFA, CAIA, GMAT and all those cards to play.

Consulting, CFA, CAIA, economics/statistics. 770 GMAT. Other than slightly lower GPA, which isn't really a knock if you're just between 3.4 and 3.5.... you're a smart guy alright.

But it's also a bit hard for employers to see your trajectory. e.g. I recently recruited a bit and saw someone's resume from decent b-school... ~BS Finance, 3.8 GPA in just 2.5 years... studied some foreign languages and did a year abroad after graduation.... I can see that same smarts in you too, with the impressive CAIA/CFA level completions while your job is in MC. But I don't really know what's your next career move will be, and how long you might stay in your current/future professions.

If I was you, I would grind out that MC for at least a year, and I would then open myself for both H/S/W MBA programs and top-tier PhD program within most Top 15 MBA schools( if you like PhD and the free rides too). Business PhD are pretty sought after by companies these days, especially in analytical capacity. That will ensure that you're really surrounded by people who at least as smart, and then you'd find your weaknesses easier to be identified and exploit your full professional potentials

Relating to MSF, with your proof in CFA/CAIA, MSF is just an OCR card that qualifies you for Undergraduate recruiting again. You'd be hard pressed about your short MC stint, since that's your only piece of professional career. for IB, I hear lots of networking, as well as applying for lots of time on your own (if you're not doing MIT MFin I guess). for AM, getting into those firms might be easy, but which division are you getting into... that's more of a variable that determines your success. The crowd that looks for MSF is generally smaller and more undergrad focused, so you might lose out on gold opportunities AND salary than doing an early-career MBA at top places.

Jul 2, 2016

Your best choice is usually full-time job, unless it's one of those "client service" "specialist" jobs that sounds very elevating but is really a call center rep. No disrespect to call reps, since nobody wants call reps from overseas, but it's hard to gain upward mobility with such.

Jul 2, 2016

guessing you agree with this, but the call center rep these days are literally measured into seconds - all kinds of numbers measures about the airtime during the day. Pretty brutal case of overusing data.

Oct 31, 2016

Hey whattherock!

So am graduating from undergrad in December. I haven't had a professional experience other than a required Criminal Justice internship (Didn't know what i wanted at the time), and Coaching at an elite baseball program in Northeast.

But I plan to Study for GMAT upon graduating in December (What gmat score should i be around with my GPA?) Went Private School Northeast (think Quinnipiac University), ~3.2 GPA, Finance & Criminal Justice. Was a Division 1 Athlete for 4 years, volunteered for two local organization, was baseball coach/instructor for approx. 1 year, Part of investment club, and a separate research and investment club. Bloomberg Terminal Certification

I was thinking of maybe trying to get an internship at a more valuable place to get a more reputable name on my resume and hope it gives me better opportunities full time once the school year is over in spring. As well as studying for CFA I in june.

But if I cant get a good opportunity right after grad in December, What are your thoughts on me trying for a MSF to raise my gpa before working in order to gain a more valuable and relevant work experience, so far only operations like positions offered to me.

Thanks!

CHU WANNA PLAY ROUGHH?! HOKAY!!

Nov 1, 2016

You're likely needing to prep for both. The best out there always have the most option in quantity and quality. You're right to keep the search going while applying MSF.

Numbers and stat wise i have no business to tell you what number gets in, but every school has an employment report ... Beware if you cant find them easily.... And you'll see a pre entry stats and post admit stats. So it's the most valuable to stack yourself against others who may win above median for other metrics

Nov 1, 2016
whattherock:

You're likely needing to prep for both. The best out there always have the most option in quantity and quality. You're right to keep the search going while applying MSF.

Numbers and stat wise i have no business to tell you what number gets in, but every school has an employment report ... Beware if you cant find them easily.... And you'll see a pre entry stats and post admit stats. So it's the most valuable to stack yourself against others who may win above median for other metrics

Ok so when u said prep for both u were referring to study for gmst and apply to MSF while looking for jobs incase I can't find a good opp?

And can u explain the employment report u mentioned. I don't quite understand what you meant.

CHU WANNA PLAY ROUGHH?! HOKAY!!

Nov 1, 2016

Hi Whattherock,

First of all thanks for taking the time to do this thread, very helpful stuff.

Secondly, do you know anything about how GRE is seen compared to GMAT? Is it distinctly worse? Or do they compare basically one for one?

Thirdly, I have a GPA of 3.1-3.2 and was wondering what kind of work experience might help my chances. Ive been struggling to get interviews for IB off cycles and I know my technicals pretty well, so was wondering where I should look to better my chances at getting a top MSF programme, any suggestions? I was thinking AM, but not sure if its still too competitive and requires previous experience for off cycle internships?

Cheers for the help!

Nov 16, 2016

I think they're indifferent. Nobody cares enough about the details besides big brands don't want anyone to fail miserably with culpability to employers blaming them not have screened enough. Academics are most likely shown by GPA and the tests, so underpar for both could be a red flag.

If you're not getting an interview from your school alum, then you might need to think outside technicals for some bonus

I couldn't say much about what jobs you should try. It's like a minimum function of your self valuation and how much can you wait. I couldn't wait, so I took something but did not forget my self valuation up there. Many people are caught underemployed but then they risk dragging their valuation downstairs too

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Apr 4, 2017

More schools are accepting both, but you'll still find the occasional school that is only GMAT. I don't think adcoms particularly care though so take what you want. The GMAT tends to be more forgiving for international students though.

3.1-3.2 isn't a bad GPA. You'll be lower than most schools averages, but not so bad you'll get an auto ding. Do well with the gre or GMAT, get some internships and you'll be OK.

Good luck!

Apr 4, 2017

nobody invited you to comment, and GMAT is more crucial for internationals unless they went to internationally known schools like LSE or Oxbridge. GPA isn't a ding because having a better GPA wouldn't have helped.

You had terrible advice again, and nobody asked for your shit advice. Keep walking

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Feb 28, 2017

let's give it a reboot.

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Apr 15, 2017

International here. working in big 4 TAS~4 months. Gap of 6 months due to a severe accident.
Undergrad from a top school, arts major and a finance minor. GPA ~3.2-3.5
Eventually want to end up in PE/VC . Open to good programs anywhere. I was thinking about the dual MSF/MBA degree. Do you think that's a bit of a stretch? I cannot afford MSF and then the MBA. Do you think the MSF would land me an associate at a PE/VC.

Get busy living or get busy dying.

Apr 15, 2017

If you're off campus already, it isn't easy just because you have a top school. T15 MBAs produce couple thousand grads, Let's say a modest 10% wants PE, but not all are getting it..

You probably should recount all the factors for your pursuit and against your pursuits here. e.g. You can probably get into some MSF no problem, but the Visa will hurt your search ability,

You need some parameters for your definitions in general, especially how you define VC/PE. Literally anybody with a fund can be "just another MM PE", but they aren't BlackRock or TPG. No need to tell me, but you ought to know where your dream firms hire people from.

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Apr 16, 2017

PM'ed

Get busy living or get busy dying.

Apr 15, 2017

You're in TAS now. Why not work on trying to lateral into banking. Banking is the surest path to PE. Once you're in banking you can decide later if you want an MBA. At that point in time your gap won't matter.

Apr 15, 2017
TNA:

You're in TAS now. Why not work on trying to lateral into banking. Banking is the surest path to PE. Once you're in banking you can decide later if you want an MBA. At that point in time your gap won't matter.

Your shit advice is beyond obvious. you can play board games in your own backyard

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Apr 16, 2017

I didn't end up in banking for a reason, my undergrad was a non-finance major. my school peers who were from a finance major landed in IB easily.

Get busy living or get busy dying.

Apr 15, 2017

Hi, I would appreciate any advice on my background!

4-year undergrad in Management (not Business) from a top 5 university in the U.K. On track to graduate with 1st class honours this June, but GPA conversions are lower. 3.7 penultimate year; 4.0 final year, failed intro math courses during my second year. Cumulative GPA should be 3.2-3.3. GRE 310 - equal quant and verbal spread.

Study abroad semester at UVA. I want to move to the U.S., study, work and live there for many reasons. Applied to a few programs (UVA - MS in Commerce interviewed, denied; Tulane - MFin - admitted - need to commit by 24th April; Houston MSF denied; Northeastern - hearing back in May; IIT- hearing back in May).

I'm currently waiting to hear back from Tulane alumni, I've read some very mixed reviews about the careers center and the fact that recruiters highly prefer BSM Finance students rather than MFin (90% internationals). Should I take the Tulane offer? I'm an international, so STEM status is great. Tulane would cost me around $70K. Or bite the bullet this year, do a finance and math extension course, and study harder for GRE and apply round 2 again? Short term goals are equity research (on application), long-term portfolio manager. Don't mind working in consulting, I've heard they sponsor. Pretty flexible where to work tbh

Apr 15, 2017

Why did you apply to just those schools? UVa is great, but Tulane and Houston? I'd assume you want something in energy?

Look at WUSTL and Vanderbilt. Both are great programs in the US with good placements and STEM.

IMO, is at least apply to some better programs. At least you can see if you get some better offers.

Good luck.

Apr 15, 2017
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Apr 15, 2017