MSF Profile Evaluation: Class of 2020

Hi everyone,

Would like to get some feedback and suggestions on my profile and some schools that I am planning to apply for MSF programs (Summer/Fall 2019 intake).

* International (f-1 visa/Russia)
* Bachelors from Florida public university (Class of 2018, Finance, 3.95 GPA)
* Was part of the School's Student Investment Fund (+ fraternity/student gov.)
* Passed CFA Level 1 (Dec 2017)
* Taking GMAT in 2 weeks, expecting mid 700 (Last OG CAT - 750 Q49 V42)

* 10 months off-cycle internship at Equity Cap. Market/S&T desk for Fortune 500 Company during my senior year (no return offer 'cause international and no STEM background)
* Currently interning at a small boutique IB on my work authorization (1 year). The group is small, so I get to do everything that analyst would do, not just data entry.

Because I am already in the States and would prefer to stay here, the requirement for the MSF programs is to be STEM approved (Better chances for H-1B/3 year Work Authorization). Most of them Quant oriented. Would love to end up in NY/Boston because originally from a big city & miss 4 seasons. In addition, I threw in a couple of EU schools too. I set the expectations pretty high, but why not to try?

  • Princeton
  • MIT
  • Columbia
  • Boston College
  • U of Rochester
  • Vandy
  • UT Austin
  • SSE
  • Bocconni

What are my chances? What should I target? Any suggestions on application essays: what to mention/explain?
Also, applying to schools for Early Decision because we all know money doesn't grow on trees and scholarships don't hurt.

I'm not sure about my short-/long-term goals. I will have to go with BB or big consulting firms that would sponsor. Since the programs are Quant focused, there won't be too much use of it on PE/VC side. BB/HF are probably better. Getting into PE would be amazing. VC would be even better.

Looking forward to hearing what y'all think. Heard @TNA is the sme, could you give me some feedback please? Visited msfhq com several times, very helpful. Lmk if you have any questions.

Thank you.

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Comments (52)

Aug 2, 2018

Any reason you aren't applying to any UK schools?

Aug 2, 2018

Haven't thought a lot about them, but one of my friends just got into LSE. Any specific recommendations?

Aug 2, 2018

Oxford MSc Financial Economics and LSE MSc Finance have very good job placement.

    • 1
Aug 2, 2018

Overall or only EU/UK citizens?

Aug 2, 2018

Good placement overall, most banks and consultancies sponsor international students. UK immigration is generally a lot easier (and less luck/lottery based) than US immigration.

    • 1
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Aug 2, 2018

@econecon101 Thank you! I wrote them down, will dig some more info. You know anything about Imperial?

Aug 6, 2018

Add LBS MFA/Cambridge MFin to the list.

Aug 9, 2018
Pan European Monkey:

Add LBS MFA/Cambridge MFin to the list.

Yes. Especially LBS MFA +++. Would prioritize it over LSE M.Sc. Finance for sure (& probably also even over Oxford Said's MFE...).
(Cambridge Judge M.Phil* [pre-experience (albeit research-focused]
(& not M.Fin, which is post-experience).

    • 1
Aug 19, 2018

Would you know anything about their placement rates for non-EU citizens?

Aug 20, 2018

I would definitely apply to MIT. Great GPA and a strong GMAT.

You'll get into all the other programs with those scores. If you apply outside of MIT, focus on fellowships and grants.

Aug 20, 2018

Thank you. I will start applying now so I can catch the early rounds for scholarship considerations.
Would you recommend applying to WUSTL at all?

Aug 23, 2018

No significant gap in opportunities between EU and non-EU:
Once you're able to gain admittance to these kinds of highly selective elite pre-experience programs, the fact that you're an international student/graduate won't matter anymore.. I am specifically speaking about those aforementioned Tier 1 programs: the Financial Times recently published a piece just a few months ago showing how [mostly Tier 2 & below] UK business school are failing to live up to international graduate's job goals.

    • 1
Aug 2, 2018

I wouldn't waste time with BC or Rochester. Columbia's program is an MFE. If you're into MFE's, look into Berkeley, CMU, UChicago, etc.

Princeton should be your target followed by MIT. Vandy would be a safety.

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Aug 2, 2018

Could you please explain your position on BC/Rochester? Just curious to learn more.

I was trying to pick STEM Finance related grad program with a rep/location, so that's how Columbia got on the list. I will check those schools out and see if they have STEM designation. Not a huge fan of west coast though.

Is Princeton's Finance program on par with MBA programs or something like that? MIT actually reached out to me as an outreach to international students. I don't think I have strong enough math knowledge that they look for, but I think they offer prereq classes before the program.

Most Helpful
Aug 2, 2018
  1. BC/Rochester are super safety's for you. Their placements, particularly BC, are not on par with someone of your academic credentials.
  2. Princeton's MFin is basically its flagship business program. It doesn't have an MBA. The program is incredibly selective (like <5% acceptance rate) and the placements are beyond fantastic.
  3. MIT's program actually doesn't need a very strong math background. It has this reputation because it's MIT, but the MSF is highly customizable. There are "tracks" or concentrations. Some are very quant, others aren't. Also, you got a 49 in the quant section of the GMAT, so I definitely wouldn't worry.
    • 3
Aug 2, 2018

@Esuric Thank you, this is helpful. Would you recommend to do anything specific for MIT/Princeton applications?

Aug 9, 2018


Aug 9, 2018

Princeton should be your target followed by MIT.

Isn't Princeton's program a too-Quant-focused MFE as well? (just asking ^^")

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Aug 2, 2018

Princeton is pretty quant and if you look at the profile of students, most have serious work experience.

MIT should be your focus with Vanderbilt as backup if you want a true MSF. If you want something more quant, you have a lot more options.

Aug 2, 2018

Considering MIT/Vandy selectivity, what would you focus on in your application? Thank you

Aug 6, 2018

MIT is going to be more raw scores, so GMAT, GPA, etc.

Vanderbilt is focused on placements. So make sure your resume is polished, you have some internships or work experience, you can articulate what you want to do post MSF, etc.

The head of career services is part of the admissions process.

Aug 17, 2018

@TNA Just got my GMAT score: 730 50Q 39V. I have also thought about some general idea for my essay, i think i can write a good one. Do you think that will be enough to get into MIT?

Sep 7, 2018

@TNA @econecon101 @Starfall Just got an e-mail from INSEAD about its PhD program. No way I am going into academia, but I haven't considered France and the programs there at all. What's the situation with the programs there?

Sep 7, 2018

INSEAD is a wonderful program and well respected around the world. As with most programs overseas, the brand is bigger there than here, but you won't have an issue finding people in NYC/Chicago/LA/SF that have heard of and respect the school.

Sep 25, 2018

If you want to give a shot to a solid France-based pre-experience MSF Program:
Look no further than HEC Paris's Master in International Finance (MIF).
The program is 100% English-taught and is an LBS MFA-like very practical program whose primary aim is to achieve good placements for its graduates.

Be aware though:
Unlike LBS's London location, HEC is a rural campus way outside of Paris.

Bottom line:
Only solid program in France for you : HEC Paris MIF. (targeted towards London IB).
It's - by an extremely large margin - trust me, I live in Paris - the most well-regarded and best school in France.
Other France-based programs pale in comparison.

Throw an application out at HEC. Can't hurt. Applying to the top UK Programs+HEC seems like a fairly good strategy.

INSEAD only has post-experience MBA Programs. Unlike LBS which launched its first pre-experience MiM Program in the Fall of 2009, INSEAD is yet to join the frey of MSFs.

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Sep 27, 2018

@TNA @Starfall thank you for your input! Hopefully, this thread will be helpful to someone in the future. Since my main goal is to stay in the U.S., all EU schools are just alternative options if something doesn't go right with the U.S. For example, I got an outreach from IE, but I think I will pass and just stick to only a handful above-mentioned programs.

As of right now, I have already submitted Rochester, UT Austin, and Vandy applications. In addition, had a very positive phone call with Vandy adcom, so we will see. Only WUSTL, MIT, Columbia, and Princeton (just for the sake of it) are left from US list.

Oct 11, 2018

So, an Assistant Dean and the MBAn (Business Analytics) Program Director from MIT Sloan hosted a presentation event for both the MIT MFIN and MIT MBan programs at some fancy hotel in Paris.

I was among the 60-or-so prospective students in attendance.

Later, I had a talk with them about the maths & quant requirement to be able to perform in the MFin program. It turns out, those Maths self-assessment questions on the program's webpage aren't just for show.

So apparently, someone who joins should already have a strong knowledge of any finance coding software (Python, R) as well as advanced mathematics (stochastic calculus, integrers, etc.).

I know of no MSF Program (LBS MFA, HEC MIF, Oxford MFE, LSE, Vandy) that requires such technical prerequisites. Especially the Python/R part.

It was really a big delusion for me as there is no way on earth that someone sane enough from a non-quant, non-finance background, would self-study on his own Python/R and other advanced mathematics subjects.

So prospective applicants to MIT MFin should be aware of that.

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Nov 6, 2018

Thank you for this post. I was visiting Vandy two weeks ago and met a guy who applied to MIT last year and he said pretty much the same stuff. By looking at the students' profiles, I got the same idea - everyone had some quant heavy experience, but there are still a couple of outliers with business degrees. In addition, it is crucial to take a look at domestic/international student ratio - MIT's program is 95% international

Aug 3, 2018

second most of what @Esuric said. TARGET looks like Vandy to me but who knows. MATH though, I'm not sure GMAT math is any good measure but if they admit you, you'll be fine. Not to worry on app stage anyway when your goal is to look good

No goal is a BIG problem, because if you cant story your hopeful path, you'll screw up interviews and not make these schools look good on employment reports. Do fix that before you pay app fees.

I'd apply with a few schools for each bucket: Safety, Likely, and Hard-but-I'll-Try.
Without hurting quality of EACH app and pissing off recommenders for the same thing 10 times, applying more cannot hurt except in application fees. And save some OPT for internship

    • 1
Aug 3, 2018

@antivirus thank you. I was planning to do the different tiers of school just as you said.
There is a difference, however, between the goal and the reason "why", no? My goals are to stay in the states permanently and to get on the buy side, and I want to help people build their businesses, get involved on operational/management sides. So ideally it's PE and VC firms. Considering current administration and it's view on h-1b, things don't look prettt and in order to boost my chances I need masters and with stem designation (2-3 birds with one stone). I will have a year of CPT (same as opt but during the school) and up to 3 years of STEM OPT which does help hiring a lot. In addition, firms that would sponsor are big and mostly international banks/consulting firms, so they will be the targets.

My issue is that I wouldn't be able to clearly describe why I want this and eventually why did I do all of those things and why will I continue. It's not the money drive nor the fame/reputation rather it's a desire to challenge myself and go on a discovery.

Feel free to criticize as much as possible, the more feedback the better.

Aug 3, 2018

Your goal is usually what jobs you want, what makes you excited of that stuff, and what it takes for you to get there + what makes you good for it

Aug 19, 2018

Among the schools you listed, you are pretty much guaranteed at everywhere except for the top 3. Princeton is very quantitative and your profile might be a little inadequate. IMO, you have equal chances at MIT and Columbia. The Columbia financial economics master program used to be very very selective (maybe one of the most selective in the world), but it became much easier to get into in recent years. It's still very very competitive, but I think your profile has a shot.

    • 1
Aug 20, 2018

Thank you, I will start the process now so I'm 100% prepared. Do you know anyone from those programs by any chance?

Aug 20, 2018

I'd love to help you get in touch. But just for your own benefit, I strongly encourage you to reach out to the admission offices and ask them to put you in touch with someone in the program. It shows your enthusiasm.

    • 1
Aug 20, 2018

That's a good point. Thank you for the suggestion. Actually, was checking Columbia's Class Profile and saw that 2018 intake had an average GMAT of 750 :| That's intense

Aug 20, 2018

Yes the program is still very very competitive, but years ago it was absolutely insane. They used to only take the best students from the best universities in the world. But in recent years people with normal intelligence have a shot.

    • 1
Aug 23, 2018

Let's not fool ourselves here.

It might be very demanding and highly selective, it does remain a quant program whose main purpose is to train quants, if I'm not mistaken.

Aug 23, 2018

It is quantitative of course, but the main purpose is not to train quants. Columbia has two other programs, MFE and MS in MFin, whose main purpose is to train quants.

Aug 23, 2018

I don't see them that often to say who really teaches them sort of stuff (Prof from CBS, Econ or Fu Engineering), but ok don't they have the same sorts of classes that overlaps?

Also dont take my word on which programs are good/bad. look at where alumni got to.

Oct 12, 2018


Oct 13, 2018

did you send in your MSF applications? I'm also looking to apply to a few. 700 GMAT but 3.0 GPA

Nov 6, 2018

@BirdBath @Esuric @TNA been a busy month, I apologize for not updating the thread. I ended up deciding to focus my efforts only on U.S. schools: UofRochester, UT Austin, Vandy, MIT, Princeton. The range is from super safety to super unreal, but trying something won't hurt.

Had Skype interview with UT Austin, went up to Vandy for the interview, and having the interview with UofR today. Quite surprised that I haven't heard from UTA yet, but I have just got an offer from Vandy (50% scholarship) this week. I still have to submit my applications for other three just to see, but I feel like Vandy is the sweetest offer.

Dec 15, 2018

2013-17: BS from Flagship State University (non-target)
GPA 3.4
Major Economics (GPA 3.7)
Minor Math (3.8)

As in Differential Calculus, Linear Algebra, Differential EQ, Probabily Theory, Capstone Math Research, Statistics etc

Bs in Business Info Systems, Econometrics, Abstract Math

Lowerclassmen GPA 3.2
Upperclassmen GPA 3.6-3.7

Excellent recommendations from Math
and Econ professors

GRE 330

CFA Level 2 Candidate (June 2018)

No relevant work experience. Seeking MSF to change career direction from PhD in Economics to IB Analyst

Applying to UTA

Dec 15, 2018

I am not sure how GRE scores translate to GMAT scores, but if you are in the top 5 percentile, I would try MIT given your quant background.

Be aware of applying to UTA as they don't like "IB or bust" mindset. I may be wrong, but that's what I have picked up from extensive research. Also, UTA is a good option if you want to stay in the South. I believe its placement report shows 0 placement in NYC.

For full disclosure, I accepted Vandy's offer as I was able to renegotiate it a little bit. I believe @Esuric and @TNA have more experience and can give you a better piece of advice.

Dec 16, 2018

Thanks for the heads up about IB.

The GRE 330 is equivalent to GMAT 720 according to the ETS predictor. So top 6%?

You are right, McCombs has a heavy footprint in TX, but not so big outside the State

By the way, from my experience, MSFs should be able to use the greater McCombs network. The BBAs and MBAs appear to recognize the program as highly selective, rigorous and competitive, in which the same MBA Finance and Accounting courses are taught by the regular MBA faculty in an accelerated 10 month period.

MIT is not a pre-experience program. So probably may not be a good a good fit

So what are the chances of getting into UT?

Dec 17, 2018

I had a very good interview with them and I think the crucial to be able to answer the question "why do you want it?/why finance?" which seems like you can. Per my conversation with UT, don't have high hopes for scholarships given it's a state school.

& you are correct about the wide network. Vandy's electives are mixed with MBA & MSF students and adcom really stresses that the network you get is not just previous MSF students, but everyone in general.

Not sure if MIT is not a pre-experience, but I can be wrong - I think some kids didn't have experience at all. check their class profiles/blog.

    • 1
Dec 18, 2018

Looks like my earlier response didn't post.

Have lined up a likely Spring internship and a SA position at an IB in Houston in the Energy Division. So UT is a great fit

    • 1
Dec 18, 2018

Good job and yes, in this case, UT is probably the best option for you. Congrats. Given your stats/possible opportunities with Energy IB, I wouldn't expect any issues getting into UT.

    • 1
Dec 21, 2018

Accepted by UTA

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Dec 25, 2018
Dec 16, 2018
Dec 20, 2018