MSF, CS degree, or just network to get finance or finance related work experience for top MBA programs?

Hello everyone,

I'm a recent liberal arts grad and I've developed an interest in finance careers. I had no finance internships so it's going to be hard finding finance or finance related jobs. I did take some business courses in undergrad and found them interesting.

I've decided to get an MBA in the future to break into finance. Due to my lackluster experience, I don't think I can get into a top MBA program so I'm thinking about networking to get finance or finance related work experience, doing an MSF, or a second degree in CS then get an MBA after I work for a few years. My parent's don't want to fund my MSF aspirations but they will fully fund the CS degree and plus I'll be living with them so I'll get free food and housing. I'll also get a very small stipend for gas, food, credit card bills, etc.

The CS degree might take me 3 years while the MSF degree is 1 to 1.5 years and I'll have to take out a 50k-100k loan for the MSF degree. I won't be working so I might lose 1.5 to 2 years of income if I do CS. The CS degree is more broad though. I can get tech and finance jobs while the finance degree can only get me finance jobs.

What do you think?

Comments (4)

Oct 29, 2018

Hi ozilgoff, the silence is deafening, sorry about that.... Any of the threads below helpful?

  • Best Master of Finance (MSF/MFin) Programs? have plenty of PhD or MBA. Is there a ranking for Master of Finance (MSF/MFin) NOT financial engineer ... competitive. What to Look for in a Masters of Finance Program Now that we know what schools are the best ... For Master In Finan
  • Physics undergrad admitted to top b-school will probably allow me to apply with good chances to all top b-schools for an msc. Here are my ... the opportunities it seems to offer I decided to apply to a few b-schools in europe (Bocconi in italy ... banking/consulting/business Economics and Finance: PROS:-higher probabi
  • Why I decided NOT to go to B-School one year masters, and then use that as a catalyst to get into one of the better B-Schools after I get ... In general, most of my ambitious undergraduate friends are going to Law school or B-School (Macc, ... here is how I see it: Students are rushing like stampeding cattle to get into a masters
  • Need help selecting B-schools to apply to Hi, I'm in the process of selecting B-schools to apply to in the first round (Sep-Oct 2018), ... i'm ok to return back. So, my expectations of the business schools are, in order of priority: 1) ... don't care. So my current list looks like this: Dream b-schools: H, S (will try an MBA /MSx ...
  • Biggest Decision of My Life: Undergrad B-School Was a direct admit to Ross. Strong alumni network. Lots of clubs. Pretty similar to UVA (slightly ... better for consulting Carnegie Mellon Tepper: Pro: Best quantitative finance program (computational ... a crucial decision. In college I want to pursue Finance (with a qunat emphasis). I am deciding
  • Columbia B-School NEW Masters program- Opinions? Is it worth it? Columbia's PHD students are undoubtedly top tier the program is stated to be between a regular masters and ... Hi guys, So, I've been admitted into this very new Masters program at Columbia Business ... School- Masters of Science Accounting and Fundamental Analysis. 2017 would be the program's first ...
  • To anyone considering an MBA pursue b-school Despite the fact that I am on a partner track without having an MBA, I made the choice to ... B-school is an opportunity for people to develop this soft skill through frequent interactions with others ... worth it. For others, a top 50 program could be the boost they need to get on the right t
  • Request for advice: choosing programs in B-schools Willing to choose a b-school in MSF /MFE/ MBA in U.S or Euro to further my education and finally get ... situation) Thanks for your advice! B-School ... program(MSF/MFE/MBA) is more suitable for me? 2.Any programs suggest? (according my career goals and financial ...
  • More suggestions...

Hope that helps.

Nov 5, 2018

Have you considered a one year post-undergrad general business program such as Fuqua MMS, Michigan Ross MiM, or LBS MiM? These programs require little to no experience and groom liberal arts and STEM undergrads to land finance and other business related roles. You could then work for a few years and get an MBA.

Here's an article that one of my colleagues at Stratus Admissions Counseling wrote regarding MFE versus MBA. MSF may be slightly different but you should be considering many of the same things as you decide.
Take a good look at the roles those finishing the CS programs you are looking at are going into. If the positions don't put you on track to develop skills to ultimately end up in a finance role, this might be several years of heading in the wrong direction.

    • 1
Feb 26, 2019

So hopefully this will be of some use to you coming about 4 months after your post:
I'm on the cusp of breaking into the industry, and we have some similarities in background and pathway ideas.

I was a music performance major. Turned down Berklee for excess from a state school in a metro area, got a wrist injury, turned to markets (my second passion), and decided to make finance my next career prospect.

It has been a severely uphill battle as I was a "target" in performance, but pondscum in finance. I had no idea how insane the stuck up bs was in the industry about name and such. I came from something actually perfomance based, so I was very naive. Keep this in mind when evaluating programs.

I was basically done with undergrad, so I had to act fast; I tested out of prereqs to squeeze in a finance minor and applied for a local MSF program(top 15 TFE Times, I don't think that means anything at all though). I topped the undergrad classes and started the MSF this Fall.

Between programs I got an internship at a very small business valuation shop. It was mostly droll, but it was relatively technical, and I got some good experience.

I received a rude awakening starting the MSF. I expected the recruiting/placement to be significantly better, but certainly nothing like a target. Their undergrad always placed a few at BB, and the school seemed very connected locally(in the heart of our financial center). I apparently expected way too much, because I expected more than zero. I came into the program knowing time was scarce for summer internship recruiting, but the program worked against me. MSF's are short, so this was not good.

I'm on the cusp of securing a good buy-side internship thanks to me networking a ton, not my MSF. After I finish the program in December, I plan to start a CS Masters with a more reputable school while working FT. I want to be in the hedge fund space, so this seems very practical given my background and aspirations.

I just wrote a ton about myself to hopefully give some between the lines ideas of what to look for and think about. I'd suggest answering the following questions, at least to yourself:
I've seen lots of Liberal Arts people "give up" and decide Finance or Accounting is the thing to do. They sucked at their craft and they suck at Finance because they lacked passion in both. Do you really want to be in this industry?
What are the areas that in the industry that interest you the most? Go deeper and understand why. For me, CF is a death sentence. I care about markets, not your payables. I'm perfectly fine with doing valuation models though. ML is fascinating to me. I think market microstructure is really interesting. I like those things, but I more importantly like using my understanding of them to take and manage risk. That's what I want. Understand what will and won't make you happy.
Are you willing to accept that you are currently at a major disadvantage and will have to bust your ass to *maybe
get a shot interviews?

Other quick things in case they weren't obvious:
Put the placement and connections of any program under a microscope.
Teach yourself a lot regardless of your path; I didn't just waltz into MSF, and I'm not just waltzing in CS. The information is out there.
Internships are crucial. After you build some chops on your own as mentioned above, let the world know that you want to break in. Network hard.

Dude, having parents to fund a CS degree plus some living costs IS your current opportunity. It's not sexy, but it's a chance for you to bust your ass without a negative carry and position yourself well. You could change a ton in that time. I took my first finance class 1.5 years ago, and in about a year, I may very well have the FT buy-side HY gig I want while starting a CS degree. So while I would normally say that the degree you choose should depend more on the specific part of the industry you want, I'm gonna say do the one that gives the most opportunity to bust your ass on the side for the next couple years. Then, like me, start the other one haha.

Feb 28, 2019