Comments (18)

Aug 26, 2012

Get in to a bachelors degree program before worrying about whether or not to get a masters degree prior to getting an mba.

That said, I had both a harvard mba student and an mit mfin grad working as unpaid interns at a pe firm I was at.

"...all truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

  • Schopenhauer
Aug 26, 2012
seabird:

Get in to a bachelors degree program before worrying about whether or not to get a masters degree prior to getting an mba.

That said, I had both a harvard mba student and an mit mfin grad working as unpaid interns at a pe firm I was at.

So ...... Would a mfin hurt Harvard MBA admissions?

Aug 26, 2012
Aug 27, 2012
SirTradesaLot:

Ask Betsy Massar.
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Thanks for the shout out! Yes, please ask on my thread, it's on page 2 in the business school list of threads because I got busy on a bunch of stuff this week and ignored WSO.

But I have to agree with IlliniProgrammer -- it's not really clear whether it would help, especially if the goal was just to get into HBS. In which case, it would hurt.

If someone did MFin at MIT and worked for awhile and then realized that he (she?) needed an MBA because she wants a broader business and leadership perspective, well, that would be a fine plan. But it seems expensive and feels like a whole lot of delayed gratification.

I took a course at MIT when I was at HBS. I promise I am not making this up. It was taught by Fischer Black.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-... Ask away!

Aug 27, 2012
Betsy Massar:
SirTradesaLot:

Ask Betsy Massar.
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Thanks for the shout out! Yes, please ask on my thread, it's on page 2 in the business school list of threads because I got busy on a bunch of stuff this week and ignored WSO.

But I have to agree with IlliniProgrammer -- it's not really clear whether it would help, especially if the goal was just to get into HBS. In which case, it would hurt.

If someone did MFin at MIT and worked for awhile and then realized that he (she?) needed an MBA because she wants a broader business and leadership perspective, well, that would be a fine plan. But it seems expensive and feels like a whole lot of delayed gratification.

I took a course at MIT when I was at HBS. I promise I am not making this up. It was taught by Fischer Black.

considering he died in '95 you must be quite old.

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Aug 26, 2012
GP24_7:

What would my admissions chances look like at Harvard if I had a MIT master of finance and work experince from BB IBD and private equity

Why do you need an MBA so soon if you already have an MFin?

I think that for MIT and Princetons' MFin programs, MBA vs. MFin is an almost either-or question.

Princeton is an older program, and the historical record suggests that their MFin can act as a substitute for a fairly strong M7 MBA WITHIN FINANCE. Given that the programs are fairly similar, I would expect MIT to offer the same.

So save yourself either $100K and a year or $160K and two years and try to figure out what you want to do. IMHO you need EITHER and MFin OR an MBA. But probably not both. And for 95% of people out there, it's better to spend $160K and two years on UChicago or Wharton or Sloan or Northwestern than it is to spend $260K and three years on HBS.

With a year of income at $200K; $120K pre-tax and factoring out HBS living expense, you're talking about a $40K/year salary premium required to justify HBS over Stanford, not to mention, of course, a year of your life wasted pursuing a degree designed to get you into the program you really wanted to be in in the first place.

For an experienced candidate, IMHO Princeton/MIT MFin vs. HBS/Stanford MBA is virtually an either/or decision, and I think it really boils down to whether you intend to make a career in finance or in more general industry.

If you still choose to spend $100K on an MFin with the purpose of applying to HBS with some sort of prestige boost, you're hurting yourself on a number of fronts:

1.) You're making yourself a year older, which puts you at a significant disadvantage.
2.) You ignore the fact that HBS focuses largely on career trajectory, not academics.
3.) HBS will ask the same uncomfortable question I asked. Why are you going straight back to school for a professional program after just graduating?

So no, I don't think an MFin will help an HBS app. It won't kill it, but it won't help.

The story would be very different if you might want a PhD or if you might want to be a quant, risk manager, or deal structuring specialist. Then, a top tier MFin or MFE is almost mandatory. And if you want to be a portfolio manager, work in IBD, or land some executive-level finance role some day, an MIT MFin is a low-cost alternative to HBS. MIT is about as selective, focuses on hard-core competencies, and the Asset Management shops are becoming well aware of that.

PS: If you go the MFin route, be sure to toss in an app to Princeton. Don't let the MIT guys tell you we're douchey; the graduate students are largely on par with a state school on that front. The programs are very comparable; Princeton is a bit less expensive, a bit smaller, and makes you a bit more of a member of the campus community than a purely professional program would.

Statistically speaking, both programs have people who will probably make more money than I will upon graduation, and I am not going to be the idiot claiming one program is better than the other. I've been on the other side of that with Ivy Leaguers thinking a CS degree with 12 credit hours of required courses and 120 credit hours of classics and history makes them better programmers than an algorithms TA from a state school.

If you play a really conservative game, maybe submit applications to the M7 + Princeton + Cornell MFE + MIT MFin (have to be careful though since Sloan will see both apps). See which doors open and take whichever one does. I don't think many Booth grads kick themselves and say "If only I'd gone to another school". I don't think many Stanford, Northwestern, Wharton, MIT (MFin or MBA), Stern, or HBS grads do the same either.

Aug 26, 2012

@OP Think about this, kid. If you go to MIT's MFin program and really wanted an MBA from HBS, you'll be stuck in classes taught with HBS students. (Then again, they will be stuck in classes with hardcore MIT finance geeks.) MIT's MFin program is designed to prepare you to be a financial professional and a hard-core financial expert- not someone who has some sort of chip on his shoulder about HBS. If you go into MIT's MFin program with the intention of doing HBS shortly thereafter, what do you think is going to happen?

Figure out if you want a cheap MFin or if you want to pay for the full-fledged MBA. Then do that and don't have regrets later. If you're out of undergrad, after getting four years of experience, apply to ALL of the M7 programs and the MFin programs; throw the apps up against the wall, see what sticks, and take the program you feel best about with the intention of making it your LAST academic experience.

Have a strategy so that you don't need to worry about what the top MBAs are doing or what the top MFin folks are doing. They're doing great; you're doing great. Be one of the better MFin guys studying at MIT or be one of the better MBA guys studying at HBS or Chicago. Don't look over your shoulder and wonder what the MFin or MBA folks are doing or earning. YOU are pursuing what YOU want to pursue.

Aug 27, 2012
IlliniProgrammer:

Have a strategy so that you don't need to worry about what the top MBAs are doing or what the top MFin folks are doing. They're doing great; you're doing great. Be one of the better MFin guys studying at MIT or be one of the better MBA guys studying at HBS or Chicago. Don't look over your shoulder and wonder what the MFin or MBA folks are doing or earning. YOU are pursuing what YOU want to pursue.

Best advice of the month.
I love this: "They're doing great; you're doing great."

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-... Ask away!

Aug 27, 2012

MFin and MBA are very different programs. What are your career goals? If you want to become a quant trader, researcher, risk manager, then stick with the MFin. If you are open to a number of industries and want to develop transferable business skill sets, then do an MBA. If you do the MFin, work for a few years, and then apply to b-schools, you will have to explain your career trajectory and goals in a coherent convincing manner. That may be tough if you work as a quant and then tell HBS, "hey, i realize that this was the wrong path for me, and i think i want a general management education, so i can do consulting for McKinsey afterwards."

Doing both is pretty damm expensive. It's way too premature to think about this unless you've actually gotten into MIT or have top job offers.

Sep 9, 2012

Hello Besty,

I need a piece of your precious advice on MIT Fin (and other top 15 MFE programs included), below is my profile:
My profile is extremely different from what these grad schools look for and i am not sure if it is in my advantage or not. btw i'm 29 yrs ooooold.
I graduated from a french public high school (public being the most reputable in france) with a major in Physics and Chemistry, Math was pretty advanced as well (yes we must choose a major by the end of our first year in high school), i then went to Drexel University where i graduated in Bus Admin with a Major in finance 3 GPA (pretty relaxed) i did very well in all my finance courses and pretty much all the scientific courses that were required (A's in almost all of them, Math 101 and 102, Stat 201 and 202 etc...) i did not do well in the "easier" classes, i just didn't think they were important at the time (very immature), and that's pretty much my academic background. I then went on to work for 5 years at BlackRock doing data integrity work where i was a senior associate it involved a lot of SQL and the heavy use of their in-house analytics and risk reporting tools (no programming experience) i also managed teams there and remotely (india) and worked on some very interesting projects while i was there (BlackRock was considered as the go to firm during the fin crisis, so we had a lot of risk reporting assignments, this is all prior to BGI merger so we most likely never met), i did very well at blk, my superiors and MDs appreciated my added value and i was pretty much the go to person on my team (they hired 4 people i recommended i think that signals strong trust). After 5 years i left BlackRock and went back home (morocco, personal family circumstances, i am a dual US/ Morocco citizen) while in Morocco i co-founded a startup and we launched North africa's first mobile coupon website, not a very sexy start up but for Morocco it was a good idea, we raised capital, had a good amount of paying clients, employed 8 to 10 people and were well known locally and had multiple press articles written about us (Morocco's ecommerce world is very weak so new ventures are not as common as in the usa) later on we decided to sell our stakes (for different reasons, 4 partners). I now want to go back to finance and do a master's degree in Mfin @ MIT or prin or an MFE at leading schools in this prog (columbia, nyu, cmu etc..). I am not sure if my profile is something that a top 10 MFE / MFIN program would be interested in. I looked at their class profiles and most are from a recent math UG program and are already skilled programers. I learn fast so i am not worried about the academic intensity of the program.

Do you think i have a chance? or do you think i a better fit for an MBA. personally i favor technique over theory thus the master's choice, but a strong mba i could consider as well.

    • 1
Aug 26, 2012
jackrabbit:

Hello Besty,

I need a piece of your precious advice on MIT Fin (and other top 15 MFE programs included), below is my profile:
My profile is extremely different from what these grad schools look for and i am not sure if it is in my advantage or not. btw i'm 29 yrs ooooold.
I graduated from a french public high school (public being the most reputable in france) with a major in Physics and Chemistry, Math was pretty advanced as well (yes we must choose a major by the end of our first year in high school), i then went to Drexel University where i graduated in Bus Admin with a Major in finance 3 GPA (pretty relaxed) i did very well in all my finance courses and pretty much all the scientific courses that were required (A's in almost all of them, Math 101 and 102, Stat 201 and 202 etc...) i did not do well in the "easier" classes, i just didn't think they were important at the time (very immature), and that's pretty much my academic background. I then went on to work for 5 years at BlackRock doing data integrity work where i was a senior associate it involved a lot of SQL and the heavy use of their in-house analytics and risk reporting tools (no programming experience) i also managed teams there and remotely (india) and worked on some very interesting projects while i was there (BlackRock was considered as the go to firm during the fin crisis, so we had a lot of risk reporting assignments, this is all prior to BGI merger so we most likely never met), i did very well at blk, my superiors and MDs appreciated my added value and i was pretty much the go to person on my team (they hired 4 people i recommended i think that signals strong trust). After 5 years i left BlackRock and went back home (morocco, personal family circumstances, i am a dual US/ Morocco citizen) while in Morocco i co-founded a startup and we launched North africa's first mobile coupon website, not a very sexy start up but for Morocco it was a good idea, we raised capital, had a good amount of paying clients, employed 8 to 10 people and were well known locally and had multiple press articles written about us (Morocco's ecommerce world is very weak so new ventures are not as common as in the usa) later on we decided to sell our stakes (for different reasons, 4 partners). I now want to go back to finance and do a master's degree in Mfin @ MIT or prin or an MFE at leading schools in this prog (columbia, nyu, cmu etc..). I am not sure if my profile is something that a top 10 MFE / MFIN program would be interested in. I looked at their class profiles and most are from a recent math UG program and are already skilled programers. I learn fast so i am not worried about the academic intensity of the program.

Do you think i have a chance? or do you think i a better fit for an MBA. personally i favor technique over theory thus the master's choice, but a strong mba i could consider as well.

Hi JackRabbit.

I think you're well qualified on the academics for an MFE program. The BlackRock experience and programming background is nice, but I don't necessarily see any front office work.

If I had to guess, you will probably get into 2/3 of Chicago, CMU, NYU, Columbia, and maybe Cornell. Although a 790-800 GRE.Q is generally required, it is normally a slam dunk for folks with math backgrounds.

I am not as sure you will get into MIT and Princeton. Princeton had a ~4% admission rate last year and MIT's is around 8% IIRC. They're probably both worth the $100 lottery tickets, but you may not get in. I think you'll have better chances if you get references from traders who can say you worked in their group. But even for the best candidates with FO experience, strong academics, and strong personal qualities, it's always a bit of a crapshoot.

For your odds on MBA admissions, it's been noted that folks in sales, trading, and quant research have had a bit of a harder time getting into the M7 than candidates from other industries and areas of finance.

Beyond that, I defer to Betsy on your chances for MBAs.

Aug 27, 2012

Hi JackRabbit,
I am going to ask @IlliniProgrammer and/or @TNA to weigh in on this thread, and ask you to repost this question over at my Q&A thread: http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...
Don't want to hijack this thread -- if that's ok.

Thanks!
Betsy

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-... Ask away!

Sep 9, 2012

No Love for the Stanford Mfin program. Awww.

Aug 26, 2012
<span class=keyword_link><a href=/company/goldman-sachs rel=nofollow><abbr title=Goldman Sachs&#10;>GS</abbr></a></span>:

No Love for the Stanford Mfin program. Awww.

Stanford also has an excellent MFE program. But (1) it's a transcontinental flight and (2) most of the students there aren't aiming for NYC.

Sep 9, 2012
IlliniProgrammer:
<span class=keyword_link><a href=/company/goldman-sachs rel=nofollow><abbr title=Goldman Sachs&#10;>GS</abbr></a></span>:

No Love for the Stanford Mfin program. Awww.

Stanford has an excellent MFE program.

While I think internationals add a lot to an MFE program, it's always nice to have one or two American friends studying with you.

I personally know at least 2 Americans in the Mfin program. But , no place in California will be as mayonaise as Illinois.

Sep 9, 2012

Hi Betsy,

Thanks for the replies guys. I tried to repost this to your Q&A for some reason there wasn't any comment field where i could copy it....

Just to clarify i was a finance major in college (not math or CS), i don't have any programming skills, i worked with SQL and BLK's in-house risk reporting tools...
I wasn't a trader or in FO role for that matter, my work involved data analytics, and a lot of project / team management with some heavy CRM with external clients and internal ones as well...i did a lot of research about most of the top 20 schools (quantnet ranking) so i know their stats, placements, class profiles etc...in most of these programs they show their current students as either being math or programming or both focused, most have zero to very little experience, so i was wondering if a profile like mine (which is not weak by any means) would have a shot at these schools, or if a master admission committee is purely concerned with academics since undergrads can get in right out of school without any experience in the real world.
thanks again and if i can get tips on how i could post this to Betsy's Q&A that would be great :)

Aug 27, 2012
Comment

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-... Ask away!