Cambridge MPhil Finance vs LSE MPA vs LSE MFin vs Brown DS

A brief background: I'm an international student who finished undergrad at a low-tier ivy and I'm currently enrolled in the University of Tokyo studying economic policy. I had an internship in ER at a BB in Japan and will start another internship in another BB's ER in APAC. I'm now actually on a fellowship granted by UTokyo, but I haven't yet receive any amount of the scholarship given covid travel restriction (it's required to physically enter Japan to receive the scholarship...).

I literally hate most of classes in UTokyo MPPーmany of the requirements include PoliSci and IR. In addition, I found it very hard to connect with my classmates; yes, maybe it's because we're taking classes remotely, but OTOH, there are only few people who also express their interest in finance/consulting. Anyway, I really want to transfer!

I've accepted by a few places for a new Master's program. My immediate postgraduate plan is to land a job in finance or consulting (finance: sell-side FO, HF, AM). I also consider doing PhD in Econ-related fields after working for a while. My preference for work location (in order): US, UK, Japan, SG, HK

The following are the schools I've been admitted to:

LSE MSc Finance, LSE MPA, Cambridge MPhil Finance, Brown Data Science, Brown MPA and the following are the pros and cons for each of the program. I'd appreciate it if anyone can share his/her thoughts on which school I should go to.

LSE MSc Finance

Pros:

Courses are finance-related. The program structure is designed in a way that encourages students to be career-oriented. I've heard it has a strong alumni network in London.

I was in a final-round interview last time talking with a ED and he said LSE MSc Finance sounds like a great program.

In previous years, they've got this Work Placement Pathway that allows students to extend their graduation date to find summer internship in London, but this may not be offered this year. 

Cons:

Kind of expensive: £38,000. Have like 100+ students each year. Unlikely to continue to move to study PhD after graduation because the courses are not designed for that. 

Work Placement Pathway may no longer exist for students matriculating this year.

If I decide to go, I'll lose my UTokyo fellowship.

LSE MPA

Pros:

It's a dual degree program between LSE and UTokyo. Upon graduation next year, I'll receive two diplomas: MPP+MPA nest year.

It's cheaper: around £25,000. Also, LSE MPA is giving me £6,000 scholarship. The UTokyo fellowship accumulated thus far and the LSE MPA's scholarship will fully cover LSE MPA's £25,000 tuition.    

There's a required Capstone Project partnered with public/private sector, e.g. Moody's, Bank of England, etc. I'm kind of interested in it as opposed to normal coursework. The three other modules are free electives and the MPA program allows students to select courses offered by other departments. Most courses at MSc Finance are unfortunately not available to students outside Finance department, but still I can take other finance courses offered by the Accounting department. The data science courses offered by Stats department are also available. And I can take challenging courses like grad-level Micro/Macro/Metrics by Econ department if I want to move on to study PhD in the future.

Cons:

After being enrolled in LSE MPA, while technically I'm still a UTokyo student, I'm not sure if I can continue to receive the fellowship given that I'm no longer physically in Japan.

MPA just doesn't sound helpful for finding finance jobs. The program doesn't have too many alum on LinkedIn.

I will have to fulfill all the requirements of UTokyo MPP before my departure. I just hate those classes so much…

Only one year, not sure if I'll be eligible for summer internship (thinking about applying to take another semester in UTokyo after LSE MPA, just to put backward my graduation date)

Cambridge MPhil Finance

Pros:

30 students only. It advertises itself as pathway to PhD in Finance. But on LinkedIn I can still find alum directly working after completing the program.

I'm not sure but I've heard that because of the College system in Cambridge, the graduation time could actually be a year later, so it becomes possible for me to find summer internship.

Although Cambridge isn't very strong academically in finance, the school is still prestigious. While I went to an Ivy for undergrad (it's not HYP), I kind of want to go to Oxbridge if I'm doing grad school in the UK.

Cons:

A bit expensive, around £36,000. This is a pre-PhD program and could potentially be pretty hard so I'm afraid I'm not gonna be able to handle well both job-hunting and coursework.

Like LSE MSc Finance, if I go here, I'll probs lose my UTokyo fellowship.

The rest two programs are not my top preferences, just putting them up here as well if anyone thinks I should also consider them.

Brown Data Science

Pros:

This opens up career path other than finance and consulting.

Cons:

pretty expensive: $70,000

I can do some programming and math, but I don't have a solid background in CS or DS so I think it'll be difficult for me to find data science jobs right after graduation (program length is only one year).

Brown MPA

Pros:

cheaper: after scholarship, tuition is only $34,000

Cons:

I don't like the requirements since I'm interested in some of the PoliSci classes. And it just seems pretty difficult to find finance jobs in a year, so maybe I can try consulting only.

Finally, a few questions that I'd like to ask:

  1. Is it possible to find a job other than Sales and Trading in investment bank in Japan that does not necessarily require native Japanese proficiency?

  2. Does the program really matter in the UK investment bank's recruiting, i.e. LSE MSc Finance strongly dominates LSE MPA? Or it is like US as well that what you study doesn't really matter? My US friend told me that he thinks Finance masters have clearer career trajectory in Europe… Is it true that banks prefer hiring from LSE MSc Finance?

  3. How difficult it is to find full-time investment banking job in UK (if no return offer from summer internship)?

Thanks for reading this lengthy post. It'd be great if anyone can reply~

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Comments (5)

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jun 7, 2021 - 9:39am

In terms of outcomes for IB in the UK there is a lot of self selection into each programme determining the rates you see. 

The LSE MFin i believe is their MSC in Finance, this will have the most people recruiting and getting positions in IB as it is a mostly vocational course aimed for career minded grads.

Cam MPhil Finance does do decently in IB recruiting but this is an academic finance course so plenty of people will also be looking at academic or econ consulting roles.

LSE MPA is not a finance orientated course, so few people enter it for the purpose of exiting to finance.

For UK (i do not know of Brown) if you want to do an academic course with good recruiting do Cambridge, if you hate the idea of doing more academic minded stuff do Msc Finance LSE.

Jun 7, 2021 - 12:26pm

Thanks very much for your reply! Just wondering if you could also share your thoughts about the following questions:

1. Does the program really matter in the UK investment bank's recruiting, i.e. LSE MSc Finance strongly dominates LSE MPA? Or it is like US as well that what you study doesn't really matter? In the US, students doing IR/History/PoliSci can also break into IB....My US friend told me that he thinks Finance masters have clearer career trajectory in Europe… Is it true that banks have preferences hiring from LSE MSc Finance? Does MPA have a disadvantage in recruting?

2. How difficult it is to find full-time investment banking job in UK (if no return offer from summer internship)?

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jun 7, 2021 - 2:27pm

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