MSF Comparison - Making a decision: Vandy, UIUC, WUSTL or Tulane

Hey there guys,

I've applied to a few MSF programs to start this Fall 2011, and it's that time of the year to make a decision to where school should I go to. I was accepted at Vandy, UIUC and Tulane's MSF (Also Tulane's MENERGY) and am waiting to hear back from WUSTL - notification deadline is April 1st.

I've been writing down all the pros and cons of each school and was wondering if you guys could help me. What are the advantages/disadvantages of each school? Why should I pick one over the other. Is there one that is completely off the list (being much better or much worse than the others)?

I know a lot of you have been in my shoes when you were picking your grad school, so thank you in advance for helping me here. Current students and alumni, please feel welcome to put your 2 cents as well. :)

Comments (16)

Mar 27, 2011 - 1:03pm

What do you want to do with your MSF and where do you want to work? If you say you want to be a banker in NYC, I would say pick Vanderbilt. If you want to be an energy trader in Houston I would say Tulane. If you want to work in Chicago I would pick UIUC.

Real hard to rank programs that are strong in different areas and regions.

  • 1
Mar 27, 2011 - 2:48pm

Tulane!!! I'm currently in my third year at Tulane, and I couldn't be happier with my decision to come here. The culture of the city is unlike anything else, and I haven't met anyone that hasn't loved their college experience. Aside from the social life, the undergraduate business school is on the rise (business week just ranked in in the top 35). Also, a lot of students are getting internships with top bulge bracket banks (myself included) along with great placement at the big 4 accounting firms. PM me if you want more info.

Mar 27, 2011 - 3:04pm

Villanova UG business school in Business week was ranked 7th. Just saying lol.

Best Response
Mar 27, 2011 - 8:49pm

Hey guys,

Thank you so much for all the comments. I currently work in the treasury of Brazil's largest bank (not FO though), and there are basically two reasons I want to pursue a MSF.
The main reason is I want to get to (or get closer to) a front office position. I want to be a trader (energy is an interest, but I would as easily work with fixed income, fx or derivatives). I feel that the MSF is the ideal path to take, 'cause it will give me the academic background I need to do the job as well as the networking opportunity.
The other reason is I want to move to the US. I think that having a degree from a good program and being able to network for an year will help me secure a good job. I'm pretty flexible with where I live after I graduate, but in the medium-long term (3-5 years) I would like to move to Texas.

So far I am inclined to pick Vanderbilt, but I'm still undecided because all these programs seem to have strong qualities. My biggest concern is placements, given that I'm hardworking and network well, which school will most likely guarantee a trading position?

Thanks again for the help, I really appreciate it.

Mar 28, 2011 - 2:45am

I was in the same dilemma as you a couple of weeks ago. I got accepted to the same programs, except to nova instead of Vandy and only to the MENERGY program at Tulane. what track would you choose if you get accepted to WUSTL? If you want to trade fixed income, fx or derivatives, your best bet would be the quantitative finance track. I visited UIUC a few weeks ago. Almost 3/4 of the MSF class was international students. The placement statistics aren't that good, but that's mainly because it's currently hard to get work Visa's in the US. It should be no problem to get a position at one of Chicago's many prop shops, if you have no Visa issues. Tulane would be the best fit for you if you want to be a trader and live in Texas in the medium-long term. I know Houston is full of energy trading desks, but not sure about other products. In my opinion, Vanderbilt's program isn't really geared towards trading. I decided to enroll in Tulane's MENERGY program, because I have an interest in energy trading and companies are reserving spots on their payroll for graduates of this program. So it seems like this program would most likely guarantee a trading position. If you end up going to Tulane I'll see you there. BTW, you see Neymar's goals against Scotland?

Mar 28, 2011 - 8:51am

I'm in the Tulane M Fin program right now. BrazilianGuy, if you don't have your US permanent residency or citizenship I can guarantee that it will hinder your job search. You might have some luck with BB firms who have the experience handling work visas, but some of them take a hard line and won't even look at you if you need sponsorship. Also the vast majority of small to medium size shops won't care to spend the time or the money dealing with the hassles. Reason being is that if you do the MEnergy there will be 27 other people very similar to you who might not have that issue, and if you do MFin you're competing primarily with undergrads so they have an even greater selection of people. Not that we have had much luck getting jobs for US citizens in our program...

Tulane has a strong alumni network in Texas and all throughout the south, but at the end of the day you can network the s**t out of people but if their firms won't deal with the Visa there is very little you can do. As of now, I don't think a single international student in our program has been able to land a job in the US.

I wish they told us more about the MEnergy program. It looks like a stronger program coursework-wise, but I'll be interested to see if they are able to implement it with good results.

Mar 28, 2011 - 9:02am

Hey, you better contact some students in these programs and find out what the job situation is like for the international students. Job search is VERY DIFFERENT for US citizens and international students who need H1-B sponsorship. Most of the Energy firms in Texas will refuse to sponsor H1-B visas. For recruitment, their first choices are UT-Austin, Rice, A&M, and SMU.

Mar 29, 2011 - 12:43am

Hey there guys!
Thank you so much again for all the comments, I really appreciate them!

@captain and @breaux monkey,
Yes I saw Neymar's goals and still undecided which track I would choose if I get in WUSTL. At their webpage they seem to advise towards Corp. Finance track if you're planning on a S&T career, so I just don't know yet, let me wait until I hear back from them first. :)
I was a student abroad at Tulane a few years ago when I was in college and spent a semester there so I already know the school a bit and it is a great school. The fact that Tulane is strong in Texas and may help me secure a job in Houston is something that really attracts me there, but it raises two questions: (a) is it smart to just turn down the other schools when they also seems to have great (perhaps even better) programs and alumni network? (b) I'm still a little skeptical about its placements. I know this may be completely different for the MEnergy program and they may place really well, but I've heard from you and some other friends (mostly MBA grads) that people are having a hard time finding a job after graduating.

@TraderJoe and @breaux monkey,
Indeed getting a Visa will be my toughest challenge, but for the sake of the discussion let's suppose it isn't a concern and I get to work for a year on my OPT and then am able to secure a Visa. If I decide to do Tulane MEnergy then try to get a job in Houston, are the schools mentioned above really first choices over Tulane? I agree they are top schools, but Tulane is so specialized that I would think it would be at least the same level. Maybe I'm wrong?

Also, like I said, geography isn't a major concern, getting a good job is. If I prove myself successful in NYC, Houston or anywhere else, I'm sure I can worry about choosing where I want to live later when I get older and want to start a family.

I really appreciate all the tips, thanks again! I'm definitely going to try and reach more international students at the programs and see what are their biggest struggles are.
As far as which one I'm going to pick, I'm still seriously torn between all four programs. I just said the reasons why I like Tulane's MEnergy trading. WUSTL seems to be a top program and it seems so hard to decline if I get accepted there. Vandy has a prestigious name and great alumni network. UIUC also seems like a terrific and well established program. It's not an easy decision :)

Again, thank all of you for contributing. It's been very helpful and I'm sure there are other people facing similar situations that can make good use of this info.

Apr 3, 2011 - 2:23am

I never got an email from Washington University on April 1st like I was suppose to and am really frustrated as I have a big decision to make. Does not receiving an email means I didn't get in? Well, I'll let you guys know this week as soon as I make my decision.

Apr 10, 2011 - 1:28am

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