Master of Finance - LSE vs Cambridge

somealpha's picture
Rank: Chimp | banana points 12

I recently got accepted into a few schools for a Master of Finance and trying to decide between LSE and Cambridge. By the time school starts in the fall, I will have 2.5 yrs of relevant work experience in a large North American bank. Which one do you think I should accept? My goal would be to get a job in a HF in London after graduation.

LSE:
+ very well-established in London
- approximately 300 people get started in various streams (PE, Economics, etc.)
-/+ most entrants have no work experience

Cambridge:
+ small program
+ Cambridge brand
- program is relatively new; not sure how well known it is in London

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Comments (36)

Jan 16, 2012

you'd be better off getting an mba than going to either

    • 1
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Jan 16, 2012
TW Pepper:

you'd be better off getting an mba than going to either

Bull. MBA teaches you nothing.

Jan 16, 2012

is it the msc finance at lse?

Jan 16, 2012

I don't know, in Europe the MSc is the more accepted degree. If your goal is to work there I would consider LSE, Oxford, Cambridge, LBS, etc.

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Jan 16, 2012

Yes, LSE - Master of Finance.

@ANT - And yes, goal is to work in London. Do you know how the various programs are perceived?

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Jan 16, 2012

Not super familiar with UK recruiting, but from what I have read it is really test based / OCR. I think LSE and LBS are very well respected. I would assume Cambridge and Oxford are the same, but not 100% sure. I would do an alumni search and compare placement stats for the respective programs.

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MSFHQ

Jan 16, 2012

At LSE, or in Europe in general for that matter, there is no real OCR as it is known in the US. You will have career services, and a job database, where all the companies will post jobs, but all it will do is link to the online application form of the company.

I have heard in the past that Oxford's career service is supposed to be shit and doesn't do much for its students. I don't know though. However, having gone through London recruiting myself, I have to say that the ACs are not as dominated by Oxbridge and LSE as many make it out to be. Sure they are represented but so are many other schools as well, and even often times outnumbering the three.

Jan 16, 2012

Matrick, How would you rank school reputation in London? As an American I tend to think of Oxford and Cambridge as the Ivy's in the UK.

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Jan 16, 2012

Is it the MPhil or the Mfin at Cambridge? I understand that these programmes are relatively new (less than 3 years running for the Mfin, but I could be mistaken) so it might be difficult to get relevant stats/benchmarks.

I doubt that you could go wrong with either long-term. In terms of short-term placement, do most of your target Hedge Funds utilise OCR at the LSE / Cambridge or is hiring more direct from other firms/banks?

Jan 16, 2012

Well, that's a tough question because I feel that UK schools in general have somewhat lost its glamour over the last few years, as I heard, mainly due to grade inflation. Too many people walking around with firsts so no one can really tell how good the students are I guess. This is how and why programs and schools from continental Europe got a better reputation.

However, going back to my original example of ACs in London, Oxbridge still dominates general reputation I think. Literally all the people whom I met during ACs from Oxbridge DID NOT study anything related to business. They were geography, history, french, arabic, politics, biology majors. This just blew my mind when I heard it because it was just crazy being the only finance/business major in the whole room and for one bank the ONLY ONE in the whole final round.

LSE still has a very good reputation and I think that the alumni network in the City is big. However, many people say that they turned into a degree factory. Look at the Finance programs. They have like six different ones now, with one course even just differing by one class from another one. LBS is mainly known for its MBA program, so the MiM is rather new but I think graduates get the benefit of the reputation anyhow. I think this is fair to be honest, as you have classes with the same instructors and they also use the same teaching methods.

When talking about London schools two come to mind that I think are increasingly placing at banks: Imperial College and UCL. Both have passed the LSE in all major rankings a long time ago and place very good.

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Jan 16, 2012

ANT, what I would like to know from you is what you personally think about the MIT and Princeton MFINs? Have you gotten feedback or student reviews how and where these programs place? MIT's program is like $100.000 - is it really worth it?

Jan 16, 2012

Hmmm.

MIT tuition is ~$80K so I suppose the best way to look at is to ask yourself if MIT is worth a $30K premium to the other MSF programs. Considering the reputation of the school and OCR recruiting I tend to think it is. Most MSF programs place well into banking, but not necessarily BB firms. Like outside of a couple here and there, I don't think any program can honestly say getting into GS/JPM/MS are routine events.

I also think you could use the MIT MSF as an MBA supplicant. It has the brand weight as well as the specialization to benefit you in something more quant. Still a rarity right now, but in the future with the ROI on an MBA declining I can see more people opting for a 1 year grad degree than 2 years of repeat business school education.

Princeton's MFin is an interesting program. It is the only graduate business program at the school so it really takes precedence there. It is almost a masters in financial math, but not exactly. Definitely more math than the typical MSF. As with the MIT program, I think the quality of placements and reputation of the school makes the tuition worth it.

The next 2-5 years will be pretty interesting for specialized masters degrees. Apps for mid tier programs are down and they need to do something to increase revenue. That is where the MSF will come in. As more people get the degree and enter the work force more people will realize what it is and hire kids with it.

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Jan 16, 2012

@Relinquis - Cambridge Master of Finance (Judge School of Business).

Has anyone here gone through it?

Jan 16, 2012

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Jan 17, 2012

do the Mfin in cambridge. This is a pre exp program similar to the one in LBS. This means you will have a very different class of people. they are further advanced in their career.

Further, I have seen Mfin Cmabridge people get hired as associates whilst LSE Msc as a non-exp postgrad study, places as analyst.

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Jan 17, 2012

Well, from seeing my Oxbridge colleagues, I can tell you that Oxbridge people tend to actively recruit people from their schools (i.e. they will disproportionately pick resumes from people who also went to Oxbridge). If your target funds have a lot of Oxbridge folks, it is a good sign to go to Cambridge. Personally, I think my LSE colleagues are better business people though (warning, small sample size that has more to do with my actual colleagues).

As I understand it LSE's masters are pretty theoretical as opposed to applied when compared to US MBA programmes (I'm not sure about the Msc Finance). I'm not sure if Cambridge's Master of Finance programme is more geared towards practice or theory (might be a personal consideration for you)... I would probably go for Cambridge because it is post experience though...

I recommend that you try to be proactive about your job search though and know which funds you want to target and their recruiting practices regardless of which programme you attend.

Jan 17, 2012

LSE the better brand name for Finance.

Jan 17, 2012

Getting a job in the USA studying in UK and without a Visa? Hard...

Jan 17, 2012

I assume Cambridge will be cheaper than London...
Also, what about the length of the programs - I thought LSE MSc Finance is 2 years vs 1 year in Cambridge.

Jan 17, 2012
marcus2012:

I assume Cambridge will be cheaper than London...
Also, what about the length of the programs - I thought LSE MSc Finance is 2 years vs 1 year in Cambridge.

Both of them are 1 year programs.

Jan 17, 2012

Wait, he does not have a U.S. Visa, wants to come back to the states, but is looking at U.K. programs? Did he apply to u.s. programs?

Cambridge mfin isn't that great to be honest. It's a rigorous curriculum but mediocre job placement. LSE is much better for getting a job afterwards, but the accounting and finance program is one of the weaker programs. Its crown jewels are finance and finance&economics.

Jan 17, 2012
mbavsmfin:

Wait, he does not have a U.S. Visa, wants to come back to the states, but is looking at U.K. programs? Did he apply to u.s. programs?

Cambridge mfin isn't that great to be honest. It's a rigorous curriculum but mediocre job placement. LSE is much better for getting a job afterwards, but the accounting and finance program is one of the weaker programs. Its crown jewels are finance and finance&economics.

He didn't apply for any of the U.S programs. The UK ones are much cheaper.

Jan 17, 2012

It's the MFin at Cambridge and not the MPhil, right? Because they're very different. If the aim was to get a job in the City afterwards, it's a no brainer: MFin Cambridge > as good as everything at LSE. My guess is that the above posters are American and take LSE's reputation to almost mythical proportions. In the UK, its reputation has declined, and in terms of placement Oxford, Cambridge and even Imperial are doing a (way) better job in finance (definitely trading/AM/hedge funds). I know this shouldn't concern you since the plan is to go to the States, but as a few others mentioned, that's going to be a very tough nut to crack.
Besides, the other students at the MFin program have, on average, 4 years of finance experience while the A&F students at LSE come straight out of undergrad and are probably rejected by LSE's MSc Finance (so they're definitely not the best of the bunch, just look at the acceptance % of the program). This makes the MFin way more interesting in terms of class profile. Also don't forget that the A&F program places for entry-level positions while the MFin targets associate or equivalent positions.
I'm not familiar with the reputation of LSE in the states, though. But it's hard to imagine that it's better than Cambridge's, one of the world's most elite universities.

Jan 17, 2012
jalalabad:

It's the MFin at Cambridge and not the MPhil, right? Because they're very different. If the aim was to get a job in the City afterwards, it's a no brainer: MFin Cambridge > as good as everything at LSE. My guess is that the above posters are American and take LSE's reputation to almost mythical proportions. In the UK, its reputation has declined, and in terms of placement Oxford, Cambridge and even Imperial are doing a (way) better job in finance (definitely trading/AM/hedge funds). I know this shouldn't concern you since the plan is to go to the States, but as a few others mentioned, that's going to be a very tough nut to crack.
Besides, the other students at the MFin program have, on average, 4 years of finance experience while the A&F students at LSE come straight out of undergrad and are probably rejected by LSE's MSc Finance (so they're definitely not the best of the bunch, just look at the acceptance % of the program). This makes the MFin way more interesting in terms of class profile. Also don't forget that the A&F program places for entry-level positions while the MFin targets associate or equivalent positions.
I'm not familiar with the reputation of LSE in the states, though. But it's hard to imagine that it's better than Cambridge's, one of the world's most elite universities.

Yes, A&F at LSE is mediocre, but the MSc finance remains quite strong and places well. I'm an American but applied to LBS MIF and LSE MSc finance this year (got into both) but did not seriously consider Cambridge MFin because the job placement didn't seem that great. Cambridge overall is a great name brand, but its strength has always been in the humanities and hard sciences, not finance. When it comes to top finance jobs in London, they lose out to LSE and LBS students.

Jan 17, 2012
mbavsmfin:

Yes, A&F at LSE is mediocre, but the MSc finance remains quite strong and places well. I'm an American but applied to LBS MIF and LSE MSc finance this year (got into both) but did not seriously consider Cambridge MFin because the job placement didn't seem that great. Cambridge overall is a great name brand, but its strength has always been in the humanities and hard sciences, not finance. When it comes to top finance jobs in London, they lose out to LSE and LBS students.

Just out of interest, how much previous work experience do you have as you applied to LBS MiF? Is it an advantage or does it matter if you apply to LSE's MSc Finance as it doesn't matter if you have experience for the program or not, if I have not mistaken.

Jan 17, 2012
trionfatore:
mbavsmfin:

Yes, A&F at LSE is mediocre, but the MSc finance remains quite strong and places well. I'm an American but applied to LBS MIF and LSE MSc finance this year (got into both) but did not seriously consider Cambridge MFin because the job placement didn't seem that great. Cambridge overall is a great name brand, but its strength has always been in the humanities and hard sciences, not finance. When it comes to top finance jobs in London, they lose out to LSE and LBS students.

Just out of interest, how much previous work experience do you have as you applied to LBS MiF? Is it an advantage or does it matter if you apply to LSE's MSc Finance as it doesn't matter if you have experience for the program or not, if I have not mistaken.

I have 4 years or work experience in BB trading in NYC. For LBS I was below average (median is 6 years of work experience) while for LSE i was above average (median is 1-2 years of work experience). With LBS you really need at least 2-3 years of work experience or you're not going to get in. LSE is much more focused on pure stats: gpa, coursework, GMAT, also relevant internships. Thankfully i was good on both counts so managed to get into both programs. Not attending though.

Jan 17, 2012
jalalabad:

It's the MFin at Cambridge and not the MPhil, right? Because they're very different. If the aim was to get a job in the City afterwards, it's a no brainer: MFin Cambridge > as good as everything at LSE. My guess is that the above posters are American and take LSE's reputation to almost mythical proportions. In the UK, its reputation has declined, and in terms of placement Oxford, Cambridge and even Imperial are doing a (way) better job in finance (definitely trading/AM/hedge funds).

Total lie. LSE places at least as good as Oxbridge in London and definitely better than Imperial. Where do you get this nonsense from?

Jan 17, 2012

"Yes, A&F at LSE is mediocre, but the MSc finance remains quite strong and places well. I'm an American but applied to LBS MIF and LSE MSc finance this year (got into both) but did not seriously consider Cambridge MFin because the job placement didn't seem that great. Cambridge overall is a great name brand, but its strength has always been in the humanities and hard sciences, not finance. When it comes to top finance jobs in London, they lose out to LSE and LBS students."

A&F at LSE is mediocre? Interesting comment. Did you know that the A&F MSc at LSE allows you to specialize in finance through appropriate selection of courses, and that in this case 80% of your coursework will be exactly the same as the MSc in Finance ? Should we assume that the LSE MSc in Finance is mediocre program as well then?

FYI the remaining 20% of the A&F coursework which differs from the MSc in Finance is very hard accounting course which would take more time of study than most of the finance elective courses...

Personally, with an acceptance rate of 12% and an average GMAT of 690+ points (class of 2012) I wouldn't call the A&F MSc a mediocre degree. Neither the LBS or Cambridge MFin programs have higher average GMAT or lower acceptance rates. You should refer to admission/acceptance facts rather than myths....

If you are really looking for a very highly competitive and difficult program in finance, maybe you should consider the LSE MSc in Finance and Economics, the MSc in Financial Engineering or the MSc in Econometrics and Financial Mathematics. Any of these three program are way better than any finance program at LBS or Cambridge.

Did anyone mention Oxford's Masters Financial Economics by the way?

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Jan 17, 2012

I wouldn't rely soley on your above average grades. (:

I would concentrate on one extracurricular activity and at least get two internships going... (you have the grades to do this)

Jan 17, 2012

Isnt Cambridge a post-experience program? With no experience you may not be able to make it through. For LSE you probably have a good chance.

You can also try Oxford MFE, HEC and IE finance programs.

Jan 17, 2012

I wiI'll definitely get some internship, however I was told that they do not play a central role in Msc admissions, I don't know if it's true though.

Regarding the Cambridge program it says it is aimed at students with less than one year of working experience, does this make it a post-experience Msc anyway?

Jan 17, 2012

I was refering to Cambridge MFin, it is 2 years work experience (see link below), but I believe you originally meant MPhil in Finance and Economics which seems a pre-experience one.
http://www.jbs.cam.ac.uk/programmes/master-of-fina...

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