MSF Class of 2019

TNA's picture
Rank: The Pro | 40,223

Every year I do a post like this on about this date for students seeking admission. Most MSF/MMS program start their application cycle around this time so it is usually helpful. Prior years Q&A are listed below.

Ground Rules:

1) I will only answer questions from students.
2) I will answer only once. If someone has additional questions, PM me.
3) Visit my site - Masters in Finance HQ

Me - I am a 2010 graduate from top MSF program. Over a decade of finance industry experience. Advised and helped students get into nearly every MSF program. I speak with over a dozen of the main MSF program adcoms and routinely write on the specialized masters degree. I've been quoted in the NACE Journal on the subject of the MSF degree.


2017 MSFHQ Masters in Finance Ranking - In Process

Comments (353)

Oct 7, 2017

Hi TNA, thanks for doing this. Hoping to get your thoughts on my profile.

Undergraduate: BS Finance from Big Ten school 3.92 GPA (currently a senior)

GMAT: Have not taken yet, but expect to get 700-720

Work Experience: Internship at a small financial advisor, internship and full-time offer in S&T at BAML, will be a Military Intelligence officer in the Army Reserve while working full-time (did ROTC throughout college), will be volunteering for around 4-5 months after graduation and before starting full-time

Additional Notes: Should be able to get some good letters of recommendation from my finance professors. Additionally, I always done well in math and I'm planning on teaching myself some basic coding (which I think is a weak spot for me).

Target Schools: MIT, Princeton, Columbia, LSE

How competitive do you think I'd be for these schools and what weak spots do you see in my profile?

Best Response
Oct 7, 2017

My pleasure to help.

1) Great GPA and assuming your GMAT is also strong, you'll be a great candidate anywhere.

2) I like the work experience and military intelligence is a great MOS. I am sure you scored extremely well on the ASVAB if you took it.

3) I think you would be a very good candidate for MIT. LSE, you'll definitely get in. Columbia, I suppose it depends on what program, but I would say you should have little issue.

Princeton is another thing. I would encourage you to take some additional math classes as the program is in between an MSF and a MFE. Definitely make sure you meet their quant pre-requisites.

Side note - I would encourage you to try and find work right away. You have what looks to be the beginnings of a great MBA profile. The MBA is still the preferred career degree and I think you should have no problem finding a good finance career. Being a reservist and working in IB might be tough though. Maybe consider corporate banking or something a little more forgiving, and then hit IB later on as an associate.

Food for thought. Good luck and thanks for the question.

Oct 8, 2017

Unless you're at low end of big 10 and aiming no less than vandy/wustl, you have no point doing an MSF. You just need to hustle vs. sitting your butt lazy for the rest of this year!

If all else fails, apply at last rounds of MSF admission, or OH, you still have BAML offer that isn't horrible by any stretch

M7 MBA, iBanking. Top MSF grad. AntiTNA. Truth is hard to hear! But... :
DickFuld: Yeah....most of these people give terrible advice.:
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Feb 9, 2018

How are you going to attend LSE as a reservist? How will you manage your monthly drills unless you plan on leaving the reserves totally? Asking bc I am a National Guardsman curious about abroad opportunities.

Oct 7, 2017

To all genuinely seeking advice in this thread: take BillBelichick37 and wsorookie789's comments with a grain of salt. They're very anti-MSF and insist on letting everyone know on any post about the degree

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Oct 8, 2017

Honest question from TNA, if you took no econ and math courses in your undergrad or independently after your undergrad, will MIT still invitee you to interview(assuming the applicant has a great profile)?

Oct 8, 2017

Zero math is an issue. If you are short they have a boot camp, but no math is a lot.

If the people is truly that outstanding I would suggest taking those pre requisite classes at a local Community College or something.

Oct 8, 2017

Also, here's the profile of my sister who is dead-set on Boconni, LSE, & LBS MSF/MFA:
GPA: First Class Honors(predicted, only undergrad thesis submission is left)
GMAT: Haven't taken yet but she's aiming for 700+. In worst case scenario, she might end up with a lower score like 670-690
ECs: Great
Recommendations: Mainly academics because she hasn't worked(interned but didn't make great relationship with any line managers)
Nationality: Non EU, half NZlander and Pakistani
Round she'll apply in: May next year which is also the last one. She can't apply earlier than that.

Any views would be appreciated.

Oct 8, 2017

miserable troll

Oct 8, 2017

Serious question: when will you finally post your MSF rankings?

Oct 8, 2017

How good is Austin msf for accessing top employers in TEXAS? Goal: AM-ER (equity, fixed income) or real estate investing (REPE, REIB, REITs)?

Goal is to stay in Austin, Dallas or Houston, i.e. stay in Texas?

Oct 8, 2017

Thanks for the questions.

1) UTA is the best school for those who know they want to work in Texas. I don't think you can find a better brand.

Here is their placement report. What is nice about the program is that they have placements outside of finance, which is helpful for those who want consulting or something different.

You will see a number of Texas employers on that list. Below are a brief list of 2013 employers:

Citi, Evercore, Goldman, Jefferies, Raymond James, Keybanc, RBC, American Airlines, Apple, Ebay, Pepsi, KPMG, McKinsey,

So the MSF program has alumni working in Texas, in those fields that you can network with. The school obviously has great OCR with tons of Texas firms and the brand name within Texas is second to none. The program has been around for number of years now and has really developed nicely.

To answer your question, it is extremely good.

Hope that helps!

Oct 8, 2017

Hi there Anthony

Are you familiar with programs aimed at research? I want to do my masters in finance(preferable a two years one) and I'm looking for advice. My end goal is to attend the best Ph.D. program I can (in U.S / finance or accounting since I enjoy the research prospect of both) and get a job in some medium/ lower tier state college (think Lincoln Nebraska). My original plan was to strengthen my CV and apply for 2019, but since the situation in my country (Iran) is not so good right now, I'm applying this year to at least test the waters.

My GPA is 3.33 (Industrial engineering) and my GMAT is 750 (Q50/V42). I'm also taking CFA 1 this December and will most likely pass. I don't have any work experience or internship, no interesting hobbies, not anything really. So I'm not sure if I have any chance. (I'm 24 BTW). On top of all these, I have a budget of $60,000. this is supposed to cover my living costs for two years and pay for my studies. Which means I have to get a need-based scholarship at the very least.

These are the programs I'm going to apply to

  1. Bocconi: ESS / Finance
  2. Tinbergen: MPhil finance
  3. SSE: Finance
  4. St.Gallen: MiQE/F / Banking & finance

I'm not applying to any programs located in us, Canada or UK since they don't have scholarships for international students. (at least that's the impression I got). I might also apply to some cheap french programs and esade in Spain. So what do you think? Do you know any programs in the US which are cheap enough for me to attend or offer a scholarship? are there any other programs I should apply to? any advice is much appreciated.

Many thanks

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Oct 8, 2017


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Oct 8, 2017

What is nice about European programs is most of them are longer and most have a thesis required. Bocconi offers scholarships based on gmat scores (which yours is great). They are two years and have a thesis. My buddy is finishing up there and his recruiting has been great (I say this to confirm the top reputation the school has).

St Gallen and SSE are also both great programs. Top US programs will know and respect these schools.

Tinbergen, IMO, would be slightly below these other schools, but the Mphi is more a academic degree, which would align with your goals.

If your goal is academic research, I would focus on degree price and relationships with professors. You want a program where you will have some opportunity to work closely with the professors, maybe even helping them with research. This will help boost your PhD chances. If you can find this at a SSE or Bocconi type program, all the better.

Hope this helps. Shoot me a PM if you want me to connect you to my friend at Bocconi.

Oct 8, 2017

What is nice about European programs is most of them are longer and most have a thesis required. Bocconi offers scholarships based on gmat scores (which yours is great). They are two years and have a thesis. My buddy is finishing up there and his recruiting has been great (I say this to confirm the top reputation the school has).

St Gallen and SSE are also both great programs. Top US programs will know and respect these schools.

Tinbergen, IMO, would be slightly below these other schools, but the Mphi is more a academic degree, which would align with your goals.

If your goal is academic research, I would focus on degree price and relationships with professors. You want a program where you will have some opportunity to work closely with the professors, maybe even helping them with research. This will help boost your PhD chances. If you can find this at a SSE or Bocconi type program, all the better.

Hope this helps. Shoot me a PM if you want me to connect you to my friend at Bocconi.

Hi there TNA
thank you for the reply

Do you know any other programs that you think I should apply to? also and please give it to me straight, what do you think is my chance of getting into Bocconi? cause that's my first choice

and I'd pm you about your friend it'd surely help me a lot


Nov 6, 2017

Off-topic is Iran really doing that bad? I thought most of the problems were Iranian-Saudi war games...with the Saudis afraid with oil being in decline long-term that Iran would rise as the regional hegemon.

I have not looked for a while. But last I heard a few years ago Tehran was leading the world in the amount of crains in the city.

FWIW my best friend is persian. Though only visits occasionally...father a doctor in maryland.

I always thought it was odd how the US and Iran have such diplomatic troubles. On the surface its from the revolution a long-time ago, but Iran is the from what I can tell the most heavily westernized country in the middle east outside of Israel. And the thing is Bin Laden is basically a royal with the saudis. (his brother was just picked up in the recent corruption arrest..billionaire saudi). I guess its really simple for a long-time Saudis were the consistant gas station for the US.....and the Saudis hate the Persians. Not sure why that still applies after shale plus tesla.

Oct 8, 2017

@TNA I'm looking at the option to do a MSF abroad at a place like Frankfurt or London. If you choose a european MSF are you limiting yourself to those regions? Do US employers, mainly elite boutiques, boutiques, and MM banks, know about these programs and their prestige? I would think that for regions like Texas, UT would still trump Frankfurt or London schools but programs like SMU wouldn't. Thanks.

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Oct 8, 2017

London will offer you the best shot at coming back to the US with a brand that people will recognize. I'd focus on LSE and LBS.

Issue is you'll be hours ahead and networking back on the east coast will have added difficulty. It will just be easier for you to recruit for UK banks than back in NYC. I'd say you would almost have to network, get everything set up, graduate and come back to the states for a job. That might be a real possibility.

If you want to work in the states, target a US program. If you want an international experience, cool, but realize there will be added hurdles to overcome.

Oct 8, 2017

@TNA I see. I didn't even think about how hard it would be to network with the time difference and such. I also would not be able to get good internships in Frankfurt without knowing German and it seems like there are a lot of finance exiting London for Frankfurt. Might have to stick with US programs.

Thanks for your advice.

Oct 8, 2017

Makes sense. Thanks.

Oct 9, 2017

Guys don't reply to wsorookie and that bellie guy. They have nothing better to do than to give shitty advice of wso and troll around this website especially bshool forum lol such miserable guys

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Oct 9, 2017

As an MSF grad who was in retail prior to my program, I want to say that @TNA is the best person to get advice from on the MSF on this website and bellicheck and wsorookie are trolls who need to be almost entirely ignored. Honestly, @AndyLouis or just need to delete their posts from this thread. They are derailing what should be a helpful resource for those considering MSFs.

With that said, If you are on track for a top MBA program (top 20 or so) then avoid the MSF unless it is MIT/ Vandy. Like TNA said, the MBA program is still preferred in the United States. I would like to avoid an MBA but realize to reach my end-goal I might need one, that is something I will have to assess about 2-3 years from now depending on how my career develops.

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Oct 9, 2017

Agreed on most of what you said but TNA can't be trusted when it comes to Villanova. He spins their placements so people think it's a good bang for your buck when in reality it's not even a top 5 program. @Esuric is a far more pragmatic and honest MSF grad.

These programs are good if you really can't get anything decent out of UG (a lot more common for non-targets and extreme non-targets) but it's very hard to magically expect a 1-year program to give ib to someone without any internship experience.

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Oct 9, 2017

This will be the only response I give to you or the other trolls, but this is a purely bullshit statement. Please provide back up to this claim.

Every comment on Villanova is from placements they have online, me being an alumni and knowing where people have went and my experience in this space. I routinely tell people to go elsewhere. Claims of me being biased are pure trash.


You have no clue about the ability of these programs to give students IB. Plenty of students from all these programs get IB from the program or a job that they are able to lateral into IB within a year. Furthermore, not everyone wants IB. Plenty of people are seeking F500 rotational programs, corporate banking, valuation and AM.

Your information is wrong because you are a) an UG, b) haven't done one of these programs, c) haven't been around this space for over 7 years.

Oct 9, 2017

Hey TNA (and anyone else willing to pitch in), I was wondering what you thought about my realistic chances at a top MSF.

Program: Canadian university, Biochemistry & Commerce (it's an integrated program, but mostly it is 3/4 Biochemistry and 1/4 Commerce)

GPA: 3.93
GMAT: Going to take in December, aiming for 700-720
Work Experience: Current high-yield bond co-op analyst at a buy-side firm (140 billion in assets), undergraduate researcher at department of medicine, undergraduate researcher at department of biomedical sciences (1 publication), co-founder of an emergency department program, research assistant at health policy centre

ECs: Analyst at university investment club, Outreach Manager of a health technology organization, selected and partook in a competitive health systems leadership program

I think I have the grades, especially if I can get at least 700 on the GMAT. I'm worried about:

  1. My experiences - I have 1 traditional finance internship. Everything else is related to healthcare/medicine/biochemistry
  2. Lack of math courses - I did Calculus I, Stats, Microeconomics (Intro and Intermediate), Macroeconomics, Finance, Accounting. But, I read in the MIT website it would be good to have taken Algebra, Calculus II, Stochastic, etc.

Aiming for: MIT, Columbia (Financial Economics and/or Financial Engineering), Vanderbilt, LSE, LBS

I want to use the MSF to rebrand in hopes of breaking into a BB IBD in NYC/SF and work in healthcare funds/PE down the road

Oct 9, 2017

Question to you. You seem to have a good gig right now. Why not stay there or try and get a FT offer from that firm.

1) I would try networking, at least a little. Great GPA and major. You have finance experience. I could see you being an enticing candidate for healthcare IB, or something similar.

2) MSF - If I were you, I would take some of those pre-requisite classes at a local community college or talk to the MIT adcoms about their quant bootcamp. You might not need the classes after all.

MIT should 100% be top of your list. Followed by Columbia. You'd be accepted with scholarship money at Vanderbilt, no doubt. Let me know if you want an intro to MIT or Vandy also.

LSE/LBS - You should be fine there as well. Your stats are great. Do well on the GMAT (I know you will) and you will be fine.

Good luck!

Oct 9, 2017

No offense but BB IBD is very rare from MSF programs. Nonetheless, strong profile. I'd honestly just put in extra effort on the gmat.

Oct 9, 2017

exactly given the summer feeder of IB analyst pools lol. TNA at it again suggesting Canadian for UK schools to get NYC/SF. Even longer plane rides.

M7 MBA, iBanking. Top MSF grad. AntiTNA. Truth is hard to hear! But... :
DickFuld: Yeah....most of these people give terrible advice.:
Oct 9, 2017

No offense but BB IBD is very rare from MSF programs. Nonetheless, strong profile. I'd honestly just put in extra effort on the gmat.

I understand BB IBD is rare from most MSF, but I was under the impression that a MSF /MSFE in either MIT or Columbia would be good for bulge bracket firms, correct me if I am wrong. I understand the other MSF programs are not as strong

Oct 9, 2017

3.93 GPA is good for you to be top 5-10% anywhere, but your alma mater matters (more like McGill vs. some i-dont-know places). MSF makes sense if your undergrad brand isn't so great - but MSF and High GMAT will cover that quickly.

Why are you not recruiting for IB locally before chasing NYC/SF IB? and Healthcare buy side/PE too? That's a wide net and Could connect the dots a bit more here.

I'm not sure why you worry about level of quant as IB isn't a quant desk job. You knock out Trainings on the Street and you're good basically. maybe useful if you check out differences of FO, MO and BO.

Lastly, what have you been doing? MSF is not a magic bullet, but it's good for those who prepared

M7 MBA, iBanking. Top MSF grad. AntiTNA. Truth is hard to hear! But... :
DickFuld: Yeah....most of these people give terrible advice.:
Oct 9, 2017

I could likely get a couple of more internships at my current place. I wouldn't mind it at all, it is a great gig and a lot of talented sell-side analysts come here as exit opps. But, the problem is location: I want to be located in a major city (NYC, SF, Toronto) and moreover I want to first gain BB IBD experience to jumpstart my career.

My main goal is to break into BB IBD in NYC/SF, so I thought that I would absolutely need a top MSF school (MIT or Columbia) in order to break in. I'm not sure a supplemental bootcamp will help me do that - the problem is not me needing more training/classes because I know I can learn all of the materials on my own - the problem is that I am INELIGIBLE to apply for all of these BB IBD positions because I have graduated already (this past April). So, I need another recruiting cycle to make me an eligible again

Oct 9, 2017

3.93 GPA is good for you to be top 5-10% anywhere, but your alma mater matters (more like McGill vs. some i-dont-know places). MSF makes sense if your undergrad brand isn't so great - but MSF and High GMAT will cover that quickly.

Why are you not recruiting for IB locally before chasing NYC/SF IB? and Healthcare buy side/PE too? That's a wide net and Could connect the dots a bit more here.

I'm not sure why you worry about level of quant as IB isn't a quant desk job. You knock out Trainings on the Street and you're good basically. maybe useful if you check out differences of FO, MO and BO.

Lastly, what have you been doing? MSF is not a magic bullet, but it's good for those who prepared

I'm worried about the quant level for MSF application purposes, not the actual training in IBD. MSF apps for MIT and Columbia state that they would like students to have a qunatitative background, but state that these are NOT prerequisites, so I was wondering if that would affect my chances.

In the chances I do get into MIT /Columbia, I think I will be well prepared for the recruimtent cycles. I am currently interning at a buy-side firm, and I will have a couple of more finance internships before the start of the masters.

Oct 9, 2017

Hello TNA,
I have my Vandy MSF interview this Wednesday, what kinda questions can I expect?

Oct 9, 2017

Why an MSF. Career goals. How you plan on using the MSF to advance yourself. Why vanderbilt. Be able to walk through your resume. Behavioral stuff.

Who are you talking to? Maura? Cherrie

Oct 9, 2017

The email came from Maura, so I guess I am talking to her. Not particularly sure tho.

Oct 10, 2017

Admin should suspend wsorookie and belliechicks

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Oct 10, 2017

Not going to happen. Belli is at least a real poster. Rookie is whattherock. Spamming this site and nothing is done.

Oct 10, 2017

This thread has been completely hijacked by anti-MSF crusaders. While I agree that the MSF program is not a great channel to IB, and that BB IB placements are almost nonexistent, the tone here is unproductive.

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Oct 10, 2017

Lmao. It's honestly pretty hilarious when majority of MSF people want BB IB/ER/AM or something even more difficult like PE/HF.

Oct 10, 2017

Welcome to what I've been dealing with for the last 7 years. One can clearly look at all the Schools placement reports and see that BB isn't common.

Plenty of good MM firms hiring that Pay Street. Kids just don't know what they don't know.

Oct 10, 2017

Undergraduate: BS Finance 3.15 GPA - current senior with two semesters left (doing a co-op right now, so taking a semester off)

GMAT: 700-730 based on Veritas prep and other resources

Work experience: summer analyst stint at boutique in Shanghai, remote co-op for same company, co-op in Asset Management (commercial real estate) at large insurance investment management arm (think Prudential, Principal, etc). I've also helped start two startups, with one in an early growth/customer acquisition phase and the other working on monetization after just closing up a seed funding round.

Additional notes: GPA is low due to sleep disorders (severe hypersomnia, sleep apnea, hypersomnia-induced symptoms similar to narcolepsy) that went undiagnosed until the end of May - I'm now on treatment and mental clarity and focus have drastically improved. I'm expecting to see a bump in GPA for the next two semesters.

Target schools: Vandy, LSE, WUSTL, still looking at others as well.

Thanks for doing this, TNA.

Oct 10, 2017

Gpa is a little low. What type of UG institution did you go to ? Internships are positive and I like the international aspect. If that's the gmat you get, it will be strong.

I think vandy and WUSTL will be a toss up. GPA is below their average, GMAT would be above. Depending on the quality of your UG institution might help.

Really going to come down to your Recs, essays and the strength of the application pool.

LSE , depends on which MSc you apply to. Not all are treated the same and some are easier to get into (I hear recruiting is the same though). UK schools care about class rank and the gpa could be a hindrance.

I'd consider a safety option. Network and try and find a decent job that you can build experience and lateral with. You can avoid the Masters that way. Or select some back up Schools, whatever those might be.

Oct 10, 2017

Hi TNA. Appreciate the post. I am not sure if my profile is competitive enough for my target schools. what is your opinion?

Undergrad: BS in Finance at nontarget with 3.3 GPA.

GMAT: havent taken it yet, estimated around 670-700

Work: Interned at Private wealth management firm for a summer. one internship with government, and currently have an internship with the government but in finance/accounting department.

Recommendation: might get one from past government internship (from well known politician), academic professor, or from wealth manager i worked for.

Target Schools: USC, Vanderbilt, Columbia, WUSTL, Johns Hopkins

Other Schools: UCSD, UCI (heard these programs arent worth it. only considering since i think my profile isnt strong enough for target schools :/)

Are there other schools i should consider? what are my chances of getting accepting into targets?

Oct 10, 2017

GPA is OK. Not poor, not great. GMAT - higher end puts you in the middle/slightly above the average for schools. If it comes in on the lower end, you will be barely at average.

So all and all, I would say your application is OK, but nothing special. Are you domestic or international? I ask because the average scores for domestic students tend to be lower than for internationals.

Advice - 1) Higher GMAT will help offset your lower GPA. 2) Apply early for Vanderbilt and WUSTL. USC is new and they tend to favor better stats. I'd honestly give you a lower chance there than at WUSTL and Vanderbilt.

Columbia, no clue. Your stats seem low, but they have so many masters program. If your GMAT is 700 or above, I would say apply. If lower, I would say pass. Up to you.

JHU - Accepted with those stats. Same for a number of other programs. Your issue is going to be your work experience is weak, these programs have less OCR support and you'll have to work harder to find a job. If you are a domestic, things will be easier. If you are an international, be prepared to return home for a job.

IMO - if you have a decent job opportunity, I would do that for a year. You might like it and if you don't, at least you will have some additional money and your resume will be stronger for re-applying.

Oct 10, 2017

Very much appreciate the advice TNA! Im a domestic student. Not sure if im willing to work for a year before doing MSF.

Oct 10, 2017

Hi TNA, thank you very much for this post, and your contribution to this forum.

I got a campus visit + interview from Vanderbilt. May I ask what kind of questions should I expect?

Second, the Kellogg application opens this Friday. What kind of student do they like? My goal is IB, but for Kellogg I am planning to customize my essay as management consulting-oriented. Something like M&A/Financial Services division in consultancies.

And regarding Kellogg, Vandy, UVA Commerce, which program would you recommend? Thanks.

Oct 10, 2017

Campus visit is a good sign. They will usually pair you with a current student to show you around. Interview - as mentioned above, be able to articulate why an MSF, why Vanderbilt, how this will help your career, what do you want to do, walk through your resume. Behavioral stuff.

You're going to love the campus. I am supposed to go back pretty soon myself. Make sure you meet with Blake. He is amazing.

Kellogg - they like non business majors ha. Not much more to add, TBH. Good stats from applicants, It is a general management masters. I'm sure they would be more responsive to people wanting to be part of Kellogg, looking for leadership roles, etc.

UVA/Kellogg/Vanderbilt - what do you want to do, what is your background?

Vandy/UVA/Kellogg, without knowing anything else. If you are leaning towards non-finance roles, I would say UVA/Kellogg+Vanderbilt. UVA has a dual track and the school is a target. Kellogg is great, but I don't think they put as much focus on placements as UVA and Vanderbilt does.

Oct 10, 2017

Thanks for your comment TNA. Here is a general background on myself:

Top 40 non target, Math and Quantitative Econ double major CGPA 3.4, 331 GRE, Q 169.
3 leadership roles, 1 very short-term equity research project/internships, 1 3 month buy-side M&A internships, 1 small PE fund internship (currently), and WSO blogging internship.

I thought I wanted to do IB, just IB and nothing more, but I am not sure now because out of pure coincidence I spoke to a couple management consultants, and people working at IMF/World Bank/Economics Think Tanks. Honestly, I give myself two paths to choose:

  1. Economics research. (Macro department in investment banks, economics consulting, or research analysts in large public institutions like IMF) I am applying for both Master Econ and MSF programs.
  2. Equity Research. Not targeting for IB not because I don't want to, but because I am an international student, so ER might be easier to break into.

In the long-term, I want to work as an economist (I might go back school to get an Econ PhD), or as a consultant. I have never done any research or networking into consulting though.

Thanks again ! This will be my last question.

Oct 10, 2017

Here's my profile:

Senior at a state school in the Midwest/South

3.94 GPA, Finance & Econ dual degree

760 GMAT

Two internships: first one with a local bank in the mortgage secondary market, second one with one of the major CRE brokerages in a relatively small city (Think Nashville, Raleigh).

Career goals: real estate Asset Management / acquisitions in NYC, Chicago, or Dallas

For an MSF, I'm really only targeting Vandy; I'm also looking at Masters in Real Estate programs. I'd really prefer to skip the 1-year masters and hold out for an MBA, but I want to make sure I have good work experience for that, so I'll keep applying for full time jobs and if nothing good comes up I'll probably apply for MSF/MSRE in January. Also I should probably figure out a safety school to apply to just in case.

Just trying to get some advice and make sure I'm going about this the right way. I know my profile should be competitive for pretty much any program (except MIT since I don't have the math background) but any advice would be appreciated.

Oct 10, 2017

I don't know man, with that profile, why not take that CRE brokerage gig, keep networking and climb the ladder of firms. You have outstanding stats, I am sure your school has name recognition. Assuming decent work experience and EC's, you should be able to get into a T10 MBA.

If you insist on an MSF, you will 100% get into Vanderbilt. I would expect serious money as well.

Oct 10, 2017

Do people ever get full-rides to Vandy, MIT, UT, or USC? If you have like a 3.7+, internships, and a 730+ gmat do you think they'd give at least 50%?

Oct 10, 2017

Why not go to MIT..?

Oct 10, 2017

Why not go to MIT..?

Oct 11, 2017

It seems like a pretty quant-heavy program, and I don't have a very quantitative background. I literally haven't taken a math class since high school. I guess I could cram to learn a whole bunch of math from their suggested background, but right now I wouldn't stand a chance.

Oct 10, 2017


Stats: GPA - 3.0/3.1 Cum/major (Econ from Lower tier UC school)
GMAT: Will be studying for about 4-5 months to get 700-740
WE: 1 year shitty BO role
LOR: Can get decent LOR's from work
MSF programs: USC, UCI, UCSD, ASU, UCR other west coast MSF's
Other: Series 7
Career Placement goals: ER/AM/HF

What do you think of the new UCI MSF? I know that they are new, but they have an okay MBA program and a lot of job placements in the OC. I know for those people with perfect grades and internships will say that this might not be a good idea, but for me a year of MSF from almost any school will give me a chance to do an internship, take a level or two of the CFA, improve my GPA, and take a shot at OCR. My target is USC(I know that it will be very hard) but if I don't get in this year, does it make sense to beef up my resume with more experience/CFA and try for USC one more time?

Also, I am trying to understand which MSF's are geared more towards Investment management, since a lot of MSF's seem to be geared a lot towards management or accounting (@TNA I tried to PM you but you're like the busiest guy on this forum). So far I liked what I have seen on the USC curriculum(a lot of valuation/markets classes), but others like UCSD, not so much.

Lastly, I haven't considered anything on the east coast because I don't want to go too far from my family, and also don't have that much money for the app fees, but what are some programs that could potentially be a match for my stats and career interests.

Thank you.

    • 2
Oct 11, 2017

GPA is the major issue. The work experience is good though. Assuming your GMAT is in that range, the UC schools will be fine. USC is going to be tough though. Oregon has a program that you can probably get into. Might be a little too far from family, but outside of USC, it is the best brand on that side of the country offering this degree.

Oct 11, 2017

Thank you for the reply. I know that you only reply once but if you or anyone else answers it will be greatly appreciated. If everything plays out and I have to choose between UCI and UCSD, which one you think would be better. UCSD seems to be too concentrated on econometrics but has a higher rank than UCI (and UCI is brand new). Since my end goal is markets/investing, I'm a little concerned about the curriculum as well.

Once again, thank you for doing this.

Oct 11, 2017

Ahh, I'd pick whichever school gives you the most money, is the cheapest and the one with the best reputation in your area. Talk to career services and see who comes on campus. Do a Linkedin search and find out where alumni are.

Oct 12, 2017

I actually met an adviser at UCSD. Their program is literally 94% international students, mostly from China.

Since the program at UCSD is more quantitative, I was told to take courses in C++ and other mathematical programs (since i dont have rlly a strong quant background) to remain competitive.. Also, if you are domestic (which you are), you do have the upper hand, since most applicants are international students.

UCI is like 1 year old, so im a little hesitate on going there... hope that helps!

Oct 12, 2017

I think for both UCI and UCSD it's going to be an asian fest either way. I didn't realize that UCI is starting this fall and not the next, but they are both relatively new.

Oct 11, 2017


Oct 12, 2017

Hi TNA, thanks for doing this. Hoping to get your thoughts on my profile.

  • I am a recent Nigerian graduate (2016), 21 years old, and i have completed 2 finance internships and 1 consulting internship in Nigerian-based companies. I am currently completing my mandatory service year as an investment research analyst
  • I haven't taken the GRE yet, but i am targeting at least 320 (Q;160 V:160)
  • Undergraduate; Covenant University (top 5 in Nigeria): Economics, GPA: 4.51/5.00 (i used a gpa calculator and it converts to a 3.51/4.0). I started on a very low GPA (I had like a 3.08 in my first year), but I was able to improve rapidly and graduate with first class honors.
  • Volunteer at "Project one million souls" (A Student-run Non-profit Organisation); I have a diploma in leadership development (DLD) and also a Leadership certificate from a leadership academy in Nigeria. I am also the Treasurer for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) (an organization set up by the Nigerian government to involve the country's graduates in the development of the country)
  • I'm a December 2017 level 1 candidate of the CFA exam
  • I want to secure a role as a research analyst/ strategist in the US post-MFin.

Target Schools: Vanderbilt, Rochester, WUSTL, Mcgill MMF, University of Toronto MFE and i'm taking a long shot and also applying to Columbia Business Schools MFE

How competitive do you think I'd be for these schools and what weak spots do you see in my profile?
1. I am worried that my experiences wont really count since they are just Nigerian Companies and aren't well known.
2. Due to some extenuating circumstances, i wont be able to apply by the first and second deadlines. I'd only be able to meet deadlines for January and i worry that this would significantly reduce my chances.
3. I am also very worried about my GPA, especially the fact that i started poorly

Oct 12, 2017

1) That GRE converts to a pretty love GMAT (640). I would try and boost that.
2) GPA is fine. Not sure the final conversion, but 3.5 (ish) is in line with most schools.
3) Your work experience should be fine. I think the international aspect will be a benefit.

As for round 3 - all really depends on the individual schools application cycle. If it is strong, you could lose out, if its light, you could be in luck.

Rochester is your best bet. Vanderbilt, if you get the GRE up, you'd have a chance. WUSTL - same advice as Vanderbilt.

The Canadian schools, I don't have much color on them. UToronto is a top school and their MFE is supposed to be very hard. McGill is also well regarded. I know even less about them.

Oct 11, 2017


Oct 11, 2017

Hi, thanks for doing this.

Hoping you can you point out the biggest weaknesses in my profile/point out what I should work.

Undergraduate: Bachelor in Economics (quite quantitative degree by US standards), non-target European university but well-respected nationally, 3.75-3.94 GPA depending on the calculator used (top 1-3%)

GMAT: Not taken, but I'll have sufficient time to prepare so 700+ shouldn't be an issue

Work experience: 1 year of investment banking at a decently sized regional bank, 1 semester as a TA in a finance-related course, 1 year of accounting-related back office work. All work is part-time as it's been while studying.

Extracurriculars: bad

Target Schools: MIT, LSE, LBS, Oxford, HEC

I'm also interested in what other schools you suggest applying to? I've considered IE and Cambridge (don't know if it'll be possible without GRE), and I'm not sure how Imperial College London and UCL rank? I have the option of taking a decent master's degree free of charge in my country of residence, so I'm mainly looking at schools that will provide unique learning experience and brand value at London BBs.

That's a huge variance on GPA

Oct 11, 2017


Oct 12, 2017

So your GPA is good and your GMAT, if it comes out as you suggest, will be strong. Work experience is a big plus as well.

I'd apply to all of those schools and you'll get into some and won't get into others. I think you have a really good shot at LSE. MIT, I would say pretty good, especially with the work experience you have. LBS,Oxford and HEC, will all depend on the strength of the application pool of the year you apply.

Biggest weakness is something you can't change (non-target EU school). I don't think that will be a huge issue, but something adcoms will factor into your application.

Question - why do an MSF at all? You have good experience and did well in UG. You might want to just keep working and a) avoid a masters or b) do a top MBA somewhere.

Oct 11, 2017

TNA thank you for taking the time to make this thread.

Undergraduate: Finance, 3.22 GPA, State school

GMAT: Not taken. 670+

Work experience: Accounts receivable for a small company. No internships

My goal is to land a financial analyst position at one of the larger corporation (Amazon, Intel, Nike, Microsoft) in the Pacific Northwest. After reviewing the job descriptions I decided to learn basic SQL queries, become an expert in excel, and learn the basics of VBA/Python. Additionally, I will be sitting for my CFA level 1 this summer.

I'm considering apply for the MSF program at the University of Oregon to help me land the financial analyst position I'm after. I'm confident I will be accepted to the program, but I'm uncertain if it is worth the debt and loss in wages. The program is one year and $32,500, I'll lose approximately $45,000 in wages by attending this program. Factor in interest on the student loans I'll be taking out and I'm looking at $80,000+.

I'm wondering if obtaining a MSF is necessary to secure a position as a financial analysis at one of the more prestigious corporation in the PNW given my credentials. My fear is that I may be stuck in relatively unchallenging position for a number of years before breaking into one of these roles.

Should I continue working and improve the skills desired for these positions on my own?
Should I attend the University of Oregon's one year MSF program?

I'm open to suggestions of other programs on the west coast.

Oct 12, 2017

Hmm. Honestly, I would try and land a job with one of those firms with the experience you have. Maybe focus on certificate programs you can do while working (black belt, etc). The opportunity cost of attending the program is such that it would take a long time for you to break even assuming you managed to get the job you want.

I'd work for a while, keep trying to break into a bigger named firm, and if all else fails, go the MBA route. Oregon has a dual MSF/MBA if you are married to the area and want to go there for school.

Oct 12, 2017

Hi TNA, thanks for doing this.

Personal: 23 years old nordic male.
Undergraduate: Bachelor of Finance from BI Norwegian Business School. GPA of A (Numerical on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is E and 5 is A, it would be 4.52). My GPA is equivalent to first class honours at all the British schools I checked out.
I graduated before the summer, and are currently taking single courses within mathematics and informatics at the University of Oslo, while preparing my applications, GMAT and doing an internship.

Summer schools: Was nominated by my school to participate in a summer school program at Fudan university Shanghai last summer. Participated in the summer course Alternative Investments at LSE this summer, got an A.

GMAT: Not taken, but hoping for 700+

Work experience: Worked as a Sales and Market Assistant at a top Pharmaceuticals company for two and a half year (Think Pfizer, Roche, Abbot). Currently an intern in the finance department. Worked as a Teaching Assistant my last year at BI, leading seminar groups compromising of first-year students teaching mathematics and accounting.

Extracurriculars: Bad, but are in the process of starting up a Value Investing Society at the university where I'm taking single courses. Also planning to do some volunteering in Red Cross. Just chosen as one of eight students to participate in The Finance Sector Union of Norway's mentorship program. Each student will be matched with a mentor working within the financial industry that will mentor you through the year.

Target Schools: LSE MSc Finance and accounting & finance, LBS MFA, Oxford, Imperial.

Oct 12, 2017

BI is a great school. Your GPA is strong. Th Fudan and LSE things are great. I'm sure you'll get that GMAT to the 700 or above range. The work experience will also help.

Don't worry so much about the EC's. Nice to have, but you being a TA during your last year can count and is impressive.

Honestly, assuming your GMAT is in range, I think you'd have really good chances of getting into all of these programs. UK programs focus on class honors, which you have. BI is a reputable school. GMAT will be in range. You have some work experience which will help your resume. All in all, really good profile.

Oct 12, 2017

Thanks! Might shoot you a PM later on.

Oct 13, 2017

Hi TNA, thank you for doing this thread. Reading the prior years has been a great reference for me.

Undergraduate: State school (D2), December Graduation (3.5 years) Finance and Ecomics Dual Major, Accounting Minor (3.62 cumulative, 3.8 major)

GMAT: Not taken, looking for 680+

Work Experience: Small Insurance Brokerage internship, Search Fund this past summer and continuing through this fall

EC: Varsity Track and Field, RA in the dorms for 2 years, volunteer work, tutoring, investments club

Target Schools: Vanderbilt, OSU, Nova (in order of preference)

Goal: Break into investment banking in the southeast

Would really appreciate your input on my profile and if my gmat score target needs to rise. Also wanted to know if there was a major advantage of applying round 1 as opposed to round 2 (in regards to scholarships, better chance of admission, etc)

Oct 13, 2017

Domestic student, athlete, good GPA, work experience, etc.

If your GMAT is 670 and above, I think you have a great shot at getting into Vanderbilt. If your GMAT is 700, I'd say it is a lock. OSU, you'd get in with a 650. Same with Nova.

Focus on Vanderbilt. You should be in a good position. Ask for money as well.

Oct 13, 2017


Thanks for taking the time to help everyone out and I'd appreciate your input on my profile.

Undergrad: Pac 12 state school with a reputation for being a party school think Boulder, Arizona, Arizona State

Finance major with minors in Economics and Applied Data Analytics
(3.51 Cumulative GPA and 3.60 in my Finance classes)

School Projects: Currently working on a thesis comparing the valuations of tech companies today to those leading up to the dot com bubble.

Also did a year long consulting project with Intel where I reviewed their capital efficiency metrics for investment projects.

Work Experience: Boutique IB internship working with mezzanine debt, DCM internship at a MM bank (Think Baird, Stifel, William Blair), Financial analyst internship in Australia for a live event company and an Accounting internship

EC's: Varsity baseball (only for 1.5 years), Studied abroad in Spain, Business Frat (held a leadership position), Volunteer work and Finance clubs

GMAT: Not taken, aiming for 700+

Target Schools: MIT, Columbia, LSE, LBS, UT-Austin, UVA, USC, and Fordham

Goal: Break into IB in NYC or London.

Reason for MSF:

I've had both the sudden death of a close friend and a family emergency this semester making it hard to focus in class, on the GMAT, recruiting and networking. I'd use the MSF as a chance to network more, get a stronger brand name on my resume and to go through another FT recruiting cycle where my head isn't someplace else.

Since most of my attention lately has been focused on anything but school and the GMAT I'm even considering applying for the class of 2020 if my scores come back in the 600-650 range or lower. If I don't get a FT offer I'd try to work at a non profit for a year like Teach for America and apply to MSF programs while going through recruiting. Are there any charities you recommend applying to work at?

Would this help or hurt my applications if I explained my circumstances for both FT IB and MSF programs?

I apologize for the long post and want to thank you again for helping the community out. I'd appreciate any feedback you could give me.

Oct 13, 2017

1) I'd just try and land a job right now. With those internships, you should at least be able to get into a boutique IB.

2) GPA is fine. School brand isn't a pro or con. 700 GMAT would be good. MIT is going to be a stretch. UTA would be a good one. UVA doesn't accept business UG's. USC would be within range. Forget Fordham.

Honestly, if you could land a good corporate banking gig or something in capital markets, I would do that and focus on an MBA. TFA would be really cool as well, but at that point I would probably forget the MSF unless money is no object.

Oct 13, 2017

How good is US MSF for getting RE finance/investment positions?

I have 2 years of RE experience outside US, there are real estate masters from good schools (MIT, Columbia, NYU, USC, Cornell), the issue is that MSF programs with STEM designations are advantageous from immigration perspective.

I'm mostly wondering about USC, UTA and Vandy MSFs.

Oct 13, 2017

Couple things.

Look for an MSF that has real estate electives you can take. Or you can just focus on finance classes since you have the real estate experience already.
Real Estate Financial Analysis
Real Estate Investment and Development
Commercial Real Estate Transactions (short course)

USC has some electives as well.
FBE 591 Real Estate Finance and Investment Units: 3
FBE 565 Economics of Urban Land Use: Feasibility Studies Units: 3
FBE 589 Mortgages and Mortgage-Backed Securities and Markets Units: 3

UT Austin is lock step so no RE focus.

Oct 13, 2017

Hi TNA, thanks for sharing your insight. I learned a lot from looking at the past posts. Hoping to get your thoughts on my profile.

Undergraduate: BS Business Administration 3.54 GPA (concentrations: Finance 3.88/4.0, Accounting 3.7/4.0)

GMAT: 750

Work Experience: Internship at corporate finance department in a commercial bank. Currently working at one of the accounting big four firms (12 months work experience until next July).

Additional Notes: Exchanged at LSE for 1 year.
I didn't take pure math classes in undergrad (although I took some quantitative analysis classes, which focus on probability, regression, data visualization, etc), so I feel it hard to prove my math skills (not shown in transcript). I always done well in math and I was a TA for the director of our school's math resource center.

Target Programs: MIT Mfin, MIT MBA, Columbia MSAFA, Duke MQM

Goal: Career transition from Accounting Big four to corporate finance. Hoping to improve my quantitative skills.

I know some of the programs I mentioned are not Master of Finance, but if you could provide some insights, that would be great. How competitive do you think I'd be for these programs? I am also interested in what other schools you suggest applying to?

Thank you so much for you help in advance.

Oct 13, 2017

Here is my advice. Try and transfer to Val or TAS within the Big 4. Keep working and building your EC's. Do a T10 MBA in 4 years.

GMAT is awesome. GPA is pretty good. Work experience is decent and you can definitely improve it. Big 4 is a good brand, if you get into a better group you could lateral to banking, etc. LSE is solid. Double major. Get your CPA, keep grinding and you will do fine.

Oct 14, 2017

Hi TNA, I'd love to hear your opinion.

EU citizen.
GPA: >3.5 (not sure how to convert, but definitely >3.5).
GMAT: 720 (Q47, V41, IR8, AWA6)
Internships: off-cycle markets intern at a well known european bank.
EC: solid. Student clubs, sports, volunteering etc.

Will apply at top EU/UK programs and... MIT, maybe.

MIT costs almost twice as much as HEC, LBS, LSE... I don't know whether I stand a chance there, but my biggest concern is its cost.
Checking starting salary stats, MIT graduates do not earn more than those of top EU schools, so cost seems a little unjustified to me...

What would you do? Stick to european programs, or try MIT as well?

Oct 13, 2017

How relevant of a role do transcripts and grade ups and downs play. After looking at my transcripts I realized that the admins might figure out how hungover I was throughout college. While my GPA is a 2.995 (rounding to 3.0), it took me 5 years (with 3 summers) and 260 attempted units to gradute. It really makes me sick just looking back at it. There is no real pattern. I have a lot of No Credit classes (classes that I made into Credit/no credit and failed), a few D's, 1 or 2 Fs (which I retook). My biggest plus is only that I did well in my hard classes/major classes(including when I was still a science major) and my last two quarters I took 20 and 21 units with pretty hard classes, and received 3.68 and 3.58, respectively. Do they look at grades from quarter to quarter(or semester) or just the breakdown of grades? Will the admins think that I am a joker even if I somehow get an killer GMAT and the rest of my application is decent? Too bad I can't put how many beers I drank throughout that whole time.

Oct 14, 2017

They will look at for sure. End of the day, you had a difficult UG experience. Had to grow up. Do well on your GMAT, find some decent recommendations, maybe focus on working for a year or so, and then apply if you still want to.

Have to know more about your profile, your current situation, etc to give any more advice.

Oct 14, 2017

I actually posted a question few days ago (which you answered) but forgot to include that I had a messy transcript. Just wondering if it makes sense to apply now or should I do some more healing for another year. Here are the stats:

Stats: GPA - 3.0/3.1 Cum/major (Econ from Lower tier UC school)
GMAT: Will be studying for about 4-5 months to get 700-740
WE: 1 year shitty BO role
LOR: Can get decent LOR's from work
MSF programs: USC, UCI, UCSD, ASU, UCR other west coast MSF's
Other: Series 7
Career Placement goals: ER/AM/HF

Oct 13, 2017

Hello TNA,

Has there been any update regarding Texas McCombs MSF STEM-designation?

Oct 14, 2017

It is in the works. I received an email from UT Austin regarding a STEM post I had on my site.

"While we are in the early stages of obtaining STEM designation, we are not currently STEM and cannot confirm that the Class of 2019 will have the STEM designation yet either."

It is going to happen, but I am not sure when. Hope this helps.

Oct 14, 2017

Hey TNA,

You've talked about "asking for scholarship money." At what point in the application process, and how exactly does a candidate ask for scholarship money without seeming awkward?

Oct 14, 2017

When you apply, you should do all the optional essays for fellowships or scholarships. Most schools automatically evaluate your profile for merit based scholarships. Once you are accepted, you can talk with admissions and simply state that you are looking for some financial assistance. If you have more than one acceptance, you can leverage offers.

And don't forget that there are tons of scholarships outside of the ones schools offer. Don't forget this route.

Oct 15, 2017


Oct 14, 2017

I wouldn't do that. Apply and then see if you can talk with someone on the phone to learn more about the program. I sense very little traction from asking adcoms to schedule a skype call with you to introduce yourself. If you have a profile they like, they will reach out to you.

Oct 14, 2017

Thanks, TNA :) I'll be applying next fall for entry in 2019:
-3.3 GPA in Finance (school is a top 30 worldwide known for grade deflation but strong brand), have not yet taken GMAT
-Bilingual (fluent in English & another EU language) with EU citizenship
-Have completed 2 S&T internships (prop shop and commodities). Will be completing another S&T internship this upcoming summer.
-Have completed a PE internship with a focus on a hot industry
-Have strong extracurriculars/leadership experience focused on finance primarily
-Have a strong story focused on markets, good interviewing skills, good recommendations

I want to go the S&T route at a BB or HF/AM, particularly interested in macro desks. I'm interested in HEC Paris (MiM/MSF), LSE (MSc Fin/Econ or EconHistory), Bocconi and am open to other program/school sugestions. My main worry is the shit GPA which I hope to be able to bring up to 3.4-3.5 by the time I apply.

Oct 15, 2017

Yeah, the GPA is the weak point of your application. Definitely focus on bringing it up. UK/EU schools really focus on your UG performance. I know the UK schools put a lot of focus on wether you were first class honors or whatever. If you can get the GPA to around a 3.5 you will be in a much better place.

The work experience is great though and should set you apart. With a good GMAT, I am sure you will get into one of the LSE MSc programs. HEC and Bocconi will really depend on where that GMAT shakes out.

Oct 14, 2017


3.86 Econ major from a non-target

Let's assume a 700+ GMAT (estimated from sample tests I've taken from prep courses)

Work: I'm client service associate for a pretty decent brokerage firm. I could continue on to the financial advisor trajectory, but I'm really yearning to get into the corporate finance/IB realm. I worked full-time through college (I'm what you'd consider a non-traditional student), but I'm still an undergraduate and am currently interviewing for some PWM and commercial/corporate lending summer internships. I'm also Series 7 licensed.

Any thoughts on University of Utah's MSF? That's where I attend now. They claim to be a T10 MSF and I know a few grads that have managed to break into IB (WFS and other MMs).

My dream is IB, but I know that that's a reach for me right out of undergrad, especially since I became interested in finance late in the game. I would be perfectly content working in a MM though, so it's not like BB or bust for me.

Other than the University of Utah, my target would be Vandy, UT Austin, Wash U, or USC if I decide on an MSF and not to pursue an MBA.

Oct 15, 2017

GPA is really good. Assuming your GMAT is where you think, you'll be a great candidate for all the schools listed.

Utah has a very good MSF. Placements are pretty good for the school and I think it is in the right direction. You can do better though and I usually recommend going to a different school for your masters so you can have another network to reach out to. All the schools you listed will give you a shot at IB and if that fails, a shot at jobs that you can lateral into IB from.

Final comment. MM IBD isn't easier to break into. MM is simply a market segment, not a lesser role than BB.

Oct 14, 2017


Would love to hear your thoughts on my profile
School: Junior at West Coast non target
Academics: BA Finance, Cumulative GPA: 3.4 and Major GPA: 3.8
Summer Treasury Analyst at Large healthcare group
Summer Commercial Banking Internship at regional west coast bank
Upcoming Summer Tech Commercial Banking internship at top bank
Extracurricular: President of Finance Club

Other: Runner-Up CFA research competition, Involved in student managed investment fund, Completed Wall Street Prep Modeling Courses
Goal: Break into IBD, maybe stay the course in Corporate banking

Targets: Vanderbilt, USC, Others I should look at?

Oct 15, 2017

Focus on finishing strong in college. Keep the GPA where it is or improve it. I'd try and land a decent job right from UG. If that falls though, and I don't know why it would with the internship trajectory you have, then consider an MSF.

GPA is fine. Work experience is really good. Leadership roles in school are positive. If your GMAT is in line, you should be competitive with all the schools. USC would probably align best with your current alumni base (assuming you want to stay West Coast).

I'd apply to USC, Vanderbilt, WUSTL and UT Austin. Four of the best programs with some form of IB recruiting and OCR. Great alumni network as well.

Oct 15, 2017


Oct 15, 2017

I wouldn't worry about it. GMAT math is essentially high school algebra asked in the dumbest way possible. You are pre-med, with great stats, high GMAT and impressive work results (paid half your tuition - wow). Since you are pre-med, I am going to assume you've taken some math classes and have a rather quantitative background.

The schools you listed, at least in the UK, you should be good for. I have no idea about Chinese schools and what they look at. Intuitively, you should be fine though.

Oct 17, 2017

Thank you for answering! Also, thanks for taking time out to help all of us students! I think it's fair to say that we really appreciate you for doing this.

Oct 16, 2017
Oct 16, 2017

You'll get into Vanderbilt. Forget Northeastern. Apply to Columbia and MIT.

GPA is good. GMAT is great. Work experience shows well. Good EC's. You have a strong profile.

Oct 16, 2017

Hey TNA,

My name is Abhishek and I'm from Bangalore, India. I would be applying for my masters in Finance a month or so and request some input on my selection of universities. I've added the details of my profile as briefly as I could. My shortlist of colleges is given at the bottom of the comment. I'm also wondering if I should apply to universities outside of the US and would love some advice from you on that.

- 710 ( Q:48, V:40)


Completed my Bachelors of Engineering from BNM Institute of Technology ( Affiliated to Visvesvaraya Technological University), Bangalore in Computer Science with an aggregate of 71.5% ( First Class with Distinction )

Relevance to MSF
This will help me stand out when applying to programs like the MS in computational Finance course in CMU.
- Proficient in coding with C,C++,Java, Python, R Programming, VBA Excel
- Four semesters of Mathematics during my engineering where some of the topics were Differential Calculus, Differential Equations, Integral Calculus, Vector Integration, Laplace transformation, Linear Algebra, Vector Calculus, Fourier Series and Transforms, Numerical Methods, Complex Variables, Probability Theory, Sampling Theory.

- Worked on projects in C++ and Java

Work Experience

Research Analyst at Signal2Noise ( November 25th 2016 - Date ) - Signal2Noise is an Stock Market Advisory Company based in Bangalore. Responsibilities here include
- Technical Analysis, Fundamental Analysis, Equity Research, Proprietary trading, Handling clients accounts, Blog writing.


Worked as an Intern with Wudstreet Investment Services For a period of Eight weeks ( October 1st 2016 - November 24th 2016 ).
- Designed financial plans for client, analyzed mutual funds, designed risk profiling system

National Stock Exchange Certified Financial Markets Certifications

*Financial Markets ( Beginners Module ) - 93%, Commercial Banking ( Beginners Module ) - 81%, Investment Analysis and portfolio management ( Intermediate Module) - 92.5%, Macroeconomics for Financial Markets ( Intermediate Module ) - 66.25%, Fundamental Analysis (Intermediate Module ) - 91.25%, Equity Research Module ( Advanced Module ) - 76.1 %, Financial Modeling ( Advanced Module ) - 90%, Financial Markets ( Advanced Module ) - 96.25%, Derivatives ( Advanced Module ) - 72.5%, Technical Analysis ( Intermediate Module) - 78.75%,

For clearing these exams received the following certifications
- National Stock Exchange certified Market Professional Level 4
- National Stock Exchange certified Investment Analyst Professional

Securities and Exchange Board of India Examinations

NISM-Series-X-A: Investment Adviser (Level 1) Certification Examination - 75%, NISM-Series-X-B: Investment Adviser (Level 2) Certification Examination - 82%, NISM-Series-XV: Research Analyst Certification Examination - 91.5%

Other Courses and Certifications

Completed the Introduction to Financial Accounting & More Introduction to Financial Accounting" course by University of Pennsylvania on Coursera

Completed " The Ultimate Excel Programmer", R Programming and Python Courses on Udemy

Extra Curricular Activities:

* Volunteer with Youth for Seva ( July 1st 2016 - September 30th 2016 ), a Non-Non-Governmental Organisation. The work involved teaching Spoken English and Basic Computer Skills to Primary and middle School children. This continues till date in a Part time effect, with overall service time in excess of Five Hundred Hours

* Organised "Mock Stock", a stock market simulator, in an inter-college event in the BNMIT technical fest, Tatva.


- Berkely - MSFE
- CMU - MS IN Computational Finance

Mid Range
- Purdue - MSF

- Linder - MSF
- Hult - MSF
- Simon - MSF

Oct 17, 2017

GMAT is good, but not great for an international student. Good GPA, hard major. I think your profile is going to be best suited for a MFE degree.

The midrange MFE programs are all within reach. The MSF programs will be possible depending on the strength of the application pool and what % of internationals they want to have.

Ambitious programs, I would apply, but your GMAT could be higher and the reputation of your UG isn't going to make you stand out at Berkeley, MIT, etc.

Honestly, I would target the MFE programs over the MSF. More in line with your education and will appreciate your background more than a MSF would.

Oct 17, 2017

Thanks a lot TNA, greatly appreciate it. Have another question, but will PM you on that.

Oct 17, 2017

Hey TNA, thanks for doing this.

  • 3.3 GPA, Engineering and Economics double major at Target
  • Internship in ECM
  • Semester abroad
  • 335 GRE
  • Skills: Native English, Fluent Spanish, Matlab, Java, Stata
  • Thinking about doing another half a term (to graduate in Dec 2018 and apply for 2019 entry) mainly for recs (hard to get since I was abroad last year) and boost GPA
    Goals: UChicago MSFM, MIT, Columbia MSFM/MFE, Vanderbilt, LSE, Michigan. I'm having qualms about my GPA, and was wondering if I still have a chance at top MSF/MFE/MSFM programs. Want to get into Quant or maybe IB in HK since they like masters students. Thanks a bunch!
Oct 17, 2017

GPA is fine considering your major. Internships are good. Love the LSE aspect. Dual languages, very strong GRE.

IMO, I would focus on top brand MFE programs. You'd get into LSE and Vanderbilt. I think LSE would bolster you for overseas. Maybe look at LBS so you get another London brand. Definitely apply to MIT.

You are a good applicant and will get into most of the schools you apply to assuming the rest of your package fits with your scores, etc.

Oct 17, 2017

Thanks so much for the reply, feeling a lot better.

Oct 17, 2017


Thanks for your time and review here.

Undergraduate: BA Exercise Science (3.33 GPA), Top 5 "Public Ivy" School

GMAT: Have not taken yet, goal is 700+

Work Experience: summer internship in supply chain at a start-up firm, campus treasury and executive roles, internship at a Top 5 financial advising company which turned into full time offer and position after graduation (1+ year of work total), currently working as private equity research associate at industry-leading information services company

Additional Notes: To be transparent, wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my career during undergrad...have developed an interest in PE/VC over the past year but realize I need to accumulate more hard skills in finance to reach this type of sector

Target Schools (MSF): UT-Austin, UVA, Vanderbilt, USC
(if recommended) Target Schools (MBA): UNC-Chapel Hill, Michigan, UT-Austin, Columbia

Your thoughts and recommendations on continued work experience, GMAT classes, acceptance possibilities, MSF and/or MBA decisions, etc., are greatly appreciated.

Oct 17, 2017

Lower GPA in a weak major.

UG institution is a positive.

Domestic student (I assume) is a positive.

GMAT in the 700 or above range would be very good.

You have some good work experience which I think will help you when recruiting comes. Honestly, I would advise you continue to work and climb the ladder. With a good GMAT and work experience, you should be able to get into a T15 MBA program.

MSF - UVA (no) - you've been working for a year and they want graduates within 12 months. UTA - decent shot. They like non-finance students. Vanderbilt and USC, ok shot. Your app has strengths and weaknesses.

MBA - I think the ones you have are within range. Columbia will depend on how you grow professionally.

Oct 18, 2017

Hi TNA, thanks a lot!

I have visited your site MSFHQ. I must say it's a great site. I have received a lot of help from the website. Really appreciate it. I have already asked this question in other forums. If you have already answered, please ignore.

I am considering MSF/MFE/MBA Finance in US or UK. Here is my brief profile:

Indian, Male, 28
GRE Score: 170 Quant, 160 Verbal, 3.5 AWA

Undergrad (Engineering - 4 years):
- B. Tech. in Information Technology (similar to Computer Science) from College of Engineering, Pune (below IITs but in top 20-25 engineering colleges in India)
- 8.46/10 CGPA
- Had four math courses (Math-I, Math-II, Math-III, Math-IV): 10/10, 8/10, 8/10, 6/10 in the four courses
- Programming courses (C, C++, Unix programming, SQL, Matlab): 8/9/10 on all courses
- Final year project: Digital Watermarking using face recognition (in Matlab)
Post-grad (MBA - 2 years):
- MBA from Indian Institute of Management (IIM)
- CGPA 3.13/4.33
- Subjects: Quantitative Techniques I, Quantitative Techniques II, Quantitative Techniques III (3.2/4.33, 4.13/4.33, 3.3/4.33), Finance I (3.2/4.33), Finance II (2.9/4.33)
Relevant work-experience:
2.4 years post-MBA as Analyst in Credit risk function in one of the reputed US MNC Investment Banks (in India)
Other details:
- CFA L1 cleared
- Secretary of one of the committees in IIM, responsible for interfacing with the industry
- Head of the department magazine group in under-grad
- Selected for 2nd round of Astronomy Olympiad in India

I am considering following colleges:
MFE/MSF US/Canada:
Baruch College, City University of New York
University of California, Berkele, FE
Carnegie Mellon University, Computational Finance
New York University, Math Fin
Columbia University, FE
Princeton University, MS Fin
Cornell University, MEng, FE concentration
Columbia University, MathFin
University of Chicago, Financial Mathematics
Georgia Institute of Technology, Quantitative and Computational Finance
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Master of Finance
University of Washington, Computational Finance & Risk Management
University of Toronto, Mathematical Finance
NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Financial Engineering
University of California, Los Angeles, Financial Engineering
Boston University, Mathematical Finance
University of Waterloo, Quantitative Finance
North Carolina State University, Financial Mathematics

London Business School Masters in Finance
University of Cambridge: Judge Cambridge Master of Finance
University of Oxford: Said MSc Financial Economics

University of Cambridge: Judge

1. Out of the above mentioned colleges, where do I have a better chance - Ambitious, Moderate, Possible?
2. Should I prefer MBA over MSF/MFE or the other way round?
3. How are the two universities in Canada (University of Toronto, University of Waterloo) compared to universities in US/UK ?
4. Any other colleges/courses I should consider given my profile?

Thanks in Advance!

Oct 18, 2017

Great profile. Strong GRE, Strong GPA, hard major. IIM is a well known school.

IMO, an MBA wouldn't help you and a MSF wouldn't be quant enough. I'd focus on the MFE from a top brand school. Honestly, I think you have a really good profile. Some programs will deny you, but I would say it will be because of something outside your control vs. your profile not being good enough. Only MSF I would look at is MIT.

Good luck!

Oct 24, 2017

Thank you very much! Really appreciate it.

Oct 21, 2017

Hey thanks for the thread, hoping you can take a look at my profile.

Undergrad: 3.9 GPA in finance major with economics minor at a non-target state school.

GRE: Taking the GRE in December, I'm shooting for atleast a 320, but obviously trying to get closer to 330.

Internships: Had an FP&A internship over the summer where I worked on a couple projects for the CFO, and one for the VP of finance.

EC's: Nothing special, in the business club and lead a group of four people to advertise for an event to try to get sign ups.

Letter of Recommendation's: I have one from the director of FP&A from my internship (ex BB VP if it matters), and another from a current finance professor.

The schools I'm targeting are Vanderbilt, UT Austin, Southern Methodist University, Villanova, and Brandeis (in that order). The goal is to break into IB, if I'm not able to then I'd like to get into Big 4 TAS.

Oct 22, 2017

GPA is really good. GRE would obviously help you. Internship will be attractive to the adcoms and future employers. Good mix of rec's.

Very good shot at Vanderbilt. SMU/Villanova/Brandeis, all accepted.

Question - why these schools (outside of Vanderbilt). Seems like an odd selection.

Oct 22, 2017

GPA is really good. GRE would obviously help you. Internship will be attractive to the adcoms and future employers. Good mix of rec's.

Very good shot at Vanderbilt. SMU/Villanova/Brandeis, all accepted.

Question - why these schools (outside of Vanderbilt). Seems like an odd selection.

Well I'd like to get down to Texas which was a big reason for Vandy, UT Austin, and SMU. Along with that I feel those programs will give me the best shot at Big 4 TAS if IB doesn't work out. I found a lot of alumni in both industries from all three of those schools.

Brandeis I'll admit it kind of random, it's really my back up school to be honest. But I've been digging into their program and alumni the past couple days and I'm not sure if I'm going to apply there. (If you have a good recommendation for a different back up I'm all ears, I was thinking Texas A&M?)

Lastly, I thought Villanova may be a good choice because even though IB might be harder from there, I shouldn't have too much of a problem for Big 4 out of there, they also seemed to have a strong alumni network in that industry. I also have some friends in that area so making living arrangements would be easiest there.

Oct 22, 2017

OK, makes sense.

Apply to UTA, SMU and Texas A&M. Put an app into Villanova for the reasons you said. I'd forget Brandeis. If you hit the scores you say you will, you should have no problem with the first block of schools and you will definitely get into Villanova.

Nov 5, 2017

Hello Everyone,

I am an International Student seeking to pursue MS in Finance in US (preferably East coast). Below is my profile:

Under Grad: Accounting and Finance (GPA: 6.86/7)
Masters: Business Management (GPA: 6.18/7)
GRE: 318 (Q:163, V:155)
TOEFL: Not yet taken
Work Experience: 2 years in Financial Advisory Services (Big 4)

Since being an International Student, I am looking for STEM courses.

I plan on getting into either consulting or financial advisory services post graduation.

Please could you'll provide me with your valuable inputs as to where I could apply. Also I am looking for Fall 2018 intake.

Nov 7, 2017

GRE converts to a pretty low GMAT. You did UG and an MBA already. Work experience is a positive.

East Coast STEM programs. Hmm. Below is a list of programs I think you'd be competitive with and fit your geographic/STEM desire.

Vanderbilt University MSF
Syracuse University MSF
Babson College MSF
University at Buffalo MSF
Bentley University MSF - Quant Track
Rochester Institute of Technology MSF
Lehigh University MS in Analytical Finance
Brandeis University MA International Economics and Finance
Rutgers University MS Financial Analysis
Temple University MS Financial Analysis and Risk
Fordham University MS Global Finance

Nov 9, 2017

Thank you so much for your response on this. I want to know what is the difference between Brandeis MSF and MA International Economics and Finance. Also which one would you suggest I apply to?
Also would you suggest that I give another shot at GRE?

Nov 8, 2017

Hi TNA, thanks a lot! Your answers are so helpful.

International student
Undergrad: liberal art college, major in business and psychology, minor in math
GPA: 3.6/4.0, Major GPA: 3.8
GMAT: 690 (aiming for 700+, how much should I get to be more competitive?)
Internships: 2 internships in boutique consulting firms in PA and CA

I want to get into management consulting / advisory. But I am not sure how much MFE can help me get into the industry. Or maybe I should find another path to get in? What programs should I apply? Also, I have heard mixed opinions when comparing Vandy and WUSTLE, I was wondering which one is more competitive if I want to get into consulting. Thank you!

Nov 18, 2017

So both Vanderbilt and WUSTL have consultancy placements. Not at MBB, but at tier 2 and 3 firms. Obviously, the consulting is more finance focused. Your profile is pretty good though. Good GPA. 690 is a decent GMAT. You have the internship experience to sell yourself for consulting though.

My advice, get into a good MSF with consulting OCR. Start networking right now with the Accenture and Big 4 groups, if you do an MSF that allows you to take elective classes, take whatever MBA classes that make sense for someone targeting consulting.

Nov 10, 2017

Hi TNA, thanks in advance for your help!

I've transferred from physics at a non target to finance at a target since i wanted to do IB, but now i'm thinking about going back to physics to enter quant finance (tried accounting and found it extremely boring, i find much more fun coding, doing quant stuff).
I'd just like to know if going to that school i'd have a decent shot at UK / USA MFE.

Here's the profile i'd have going back to my old school:


UGRAD: Bsc Physics (including 1 C programming class, 1 computing alghorithms class, several math classes including PDEs, ODEs, linear algerbra, up to vector and complex calculus) from good university in Italy (ranked 42nd for physics by QS) but definitely not prestigious internationally.

GPA: 28.5 / 30 (don't know how it converts, i think it's 3.7-ish)

GMAT: 740

INTERSHIP: 3 months in an insurance brokerage firm in rome, doing "quant analytics" on paper, which was much more IT stuff to be honest, and some accounting.

ECs: classical volunteering, LSE summer school, member of investment club at my uni. Thinking about starting a website where i do "trading for charity", but this is still an idea.

My goal is to get into a good MFE hopefully in USA (i'll apply to almost all of them, CMU, UCLA, NYU, OLIN, GeorgiaTech, ecc) or to do a msc in applied math / statistics in UK at UCL, IMPERIAL, OXFORD, CAMBRIDGE, KING's, Paris VI, Ecole Centrale, and then leverage this acquired brand to apply again to top usa programs.

Nov 18, 2017

I mean honestly, you have a great profile. Strong GPA with a difficult major (or at least previous major). Great GMAT. Some internship stuff, LSE Summer school, etc. I'd think you would be highly competitive for all the major US and UK programs. In the US, I would look at MIT MSF and all the other top MFE programs (check out Quantnet for more on that). In Europe, focus on the ones you listed.

Nov 20, 2017

Thank you very much for the feedback, really appreciated and helpful! Just to know, are coming from bocconi bsc finance, my chances significantly higher than those i'd have had in my previous school / major (e.g. was the switch worth it in your opinion)?
Thanks a lot again for your time :)

    • 1
Nov 10, 2017

I've sat in Villanova MSF classes and know a number of Villanova MSF grads - if someone needs more details please private message me. The back and forth on this thread is not productive.

Nov 11, 2017

Nationality: Canadian

UG: Civil Engineering (Canada)

GPA: 78%

GMAT: 730

EC: None at this time

Work Experience:

  • 2 years FT at an American construction company in the US with 1 promotion
  • 1 year FT at a Canadian engineering consultant in Canada with 1 promotion
  • 2 summers of real estate brokerage (sales)

Goal: To completely re-brand myself and land a FO position at a BB investment bank as associate or analyst OR land a similar role with a buyout shop

Target Programs:

MFin: LSE, Columbia, Princeton, MIT, Suggestions?

MS&E: Columbia, Stanford

MBA: Anderson, Kellogg, Booth, Wharton, Haas, Stern, Columbia, Suggestions?

Nov 15, 2017


Nov 18, 2017

Focus on MBA programs. Will help you rebrand, change course career wise and you will come in as an associate. I wouldn't bother looking at the MFE/MSF type programs.

Nov 18, 2017

Wanted to say thanks @TNA, your info and responses on this site and yours have been extremely helpful.

Good luck to anyone else applying this year!

Nov 18, 2017

Congrats man. Hope you get in. Absolutely amazing program!

Nov 22, 2017

Hello TNA, thank you for this thread!

My query is somewhat different from those posted previously. I am a soon-to-be law graduate (continental Europe) that would like to switch to finance. Due to my limited quantitative background I have been eyeing the hybrid MSc law & finance programmes offered in the UK and the Netherlands (Oxford, QMUL, Leiden, LSE (law & accounting)).

Do you posses any information about the quality of these programmes? My goal would be to obtain a B4 TAS/CF position.

Dec 9, 2017

I don't have any direct information on European combination programs, but would assume that Oxford and LSE would do well if your goal is TAS or corporate finance. Their brand alone will open up some doors for you.

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