Pre-Exp Masters of Finance vs. Masters in Management - Where should I attend?

I've been accepted to:

Brandeis M.A. International Economics and Finance
Washington University St. Louis M.S. Corporate Finance and Investments
Duke Fuqua Master of Management Studies
University of Virginia M.S. Commerce Financial Services Track
University of Maryland M.S. Business: Finance
Syracuse University M.S. Finance
Where should I go? How would you rank those schools in order of where I should go? How much stock should I put in the Financial Times rankings? They are the only body that ranks pre-experience Finance programs.

Background: I got a degree from a U.S. School in International Relations with a minor in Economics. I've been working for about a year in a firm specializing in pensions so I have little experience working in Finance. I want to work in Finance, Consulting, Venture Capital, or Investment Banking in California (preferably Southern Cal) after my degree because my girlfriend is doing a Phd. out there.

Thank you for any help or advice you can offer me. I really appreciate it. This is a big decision in my life.

Comments (16)

Feb 9, 2012

Duke and Olin seem to be the strongest programs, at least by entering GMAT scores and GPA. They also look to have the strongest placement in consulting, VC, and IB.

And congrats!

"When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is."
- Oscar Wilde
"Seriously, psychology is for those with two x chromosomes."
- RagnarDanneskjold

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Feb 9, 2012

UVa/Duke/WashU in my opinion. How did you even apply to UVa? I thought they only took applicants who had no work experience / graduated after Aug 2011

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Feb 12, 2012

I graduated in May 2011. They make certain exceptions if you have little to no work experience. Thank you UncleMilty and brutalglide for the posts.

One question:

The degree at Brandeis is a 2 year in both economics and finance. While the other degrees may help me get a job immediately after graduation, would having the masters level knowledge of economics help me more in the long run in addition to the finance?

Thank you!

Feb 12, 2012

The Brandeis degree seems like a fine one. Economics is to finance like biology is to medicine -- they inform but do not strictly dictate the practice. Economics is a science, finance is more of an art, I suppose.

Also, the MAief, if you were to, say do a PhD in econ, would not give you much of a leg up. It doesn't seem to be very quantitative.

The big advantages of the Brandeis program are, far as I can tell:

  1. Big fish in a small pond -- you seem to, based on admission to Duke etc., be smarter/better qualified than the average MAief person.
  2. International focus and study abroad -- for somebody with an interest in international issues, that can't hurt

On the other hand, Duke, UVa, and WashU offer:

  1. More prestige
  2. More quant-y work (at least, for WashU)
  3. Stronger student body
  4. Seem to have better recruiting
  5. And this may be the biggest one: they're ONE year.

"When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is."
- Oscar Wilde
"Seriously, psychology is for those with two x chromosomes."
- RagnarDanneskjold

Feb 13, 2012

I would take Duke or WUSTL. In MSF program now, and those seem most reputable. Stay away from Brandeis - a bit of a funny program. Good luck - let me know if you have specific questions - glad to help. Was your undergrad a good school?

Feb 23, 2012

So what do you guys think Duke or Olin WUSTL MSF?? This is really what it seems to come down to.

My undergrad was a good school, top ten public school, but not a "target" school.

I paid hardly any tuition money due to scholarships.

Feb 24, 2012

I forgot to mention for my background: I did a year at the London School of Economics. The "General Course" where you take classes as a full undergrad student for a full year. Some people I meet are very impressed, others do not care. I took courses in Intl. Relations, Economics, and Economic History (part of me wishes I had majored in this!).

I apologize for any grammar/spelling errors as it is late. And I appreciate any help! :D

Feb 24, 2012

A little more info on Brandeis - the school is not a target and definitely doesn't have prestige and recruiting of Duke, but... Brandeis is closely related to Jewish community in the Northeast - some part-time professors teach there instead of other top universities as a way to give back to the community. So, academically, it is a solid program and if you really impress some profs there, they can help with introductions. As to quant - overall, the program is not too quantitative, but it is very flexible with lots of electives. You can take classes from Prof. Reitano (PhD in math from MIT) - usually about half of students registered drop the class after first midterm because of the math :) There is also Prof. LeBaron, who teaches forecasting and computer simulation. If you are interested in FX trading, one of the professors there is among the best in research on FX markets. However, getting from East Coast to Southern California might be difficult.

Feb 24, 2012

What do you think about Duke vs. UVA vs. WUSTL?

I can't believe that not one of Stanford, Cal, UCLA, or USC has an MSF program!

Feb 25, 2012

As I said earlier, I would stick to Duke or WUSTL. Kind of depends on what you want to do as well - I hear WUSTL is pretty quantitative, whereas Duke might be better for IB/Consulting. I am at MIT MFin now, and many of my fellow students considered those options as backups. Close call, really. You said above you want to work in Cali, so perhaps WUSTL. Is one much cheaper than the other? I don't really know what those programs cost. Good luck, and congrats on having choices!

Mar 1, 2012

Well thank you to everyone for the advice. I'm not kidding - I really appreciate it. I'm 99.9% sure at this point I'm going to do the Olin WUSTL MSF. I will be doing the Corporate Finance and Investments track, not the Quantitative Finance track.

Mar 1, 2012

I'd think long and hard before investing a year and a bunch of money on WUSTL if your plan is to work in corp finance on the west coast. Have you talked to them specifically about west coast placements? I would think they place well in the midwest and new york, but no so much in the west. If I were you I'd get my application in to Claremont in the next 8 days: . they are really the only school you should be looking at to work in the west, IMO.

Mar 2, 2012

My main goal is to become employed upon graduation. It would be nice if that employment were on the West Coast, but I am realistic.

Based on countless hours spent researching on websites like this and talking to multiple people I think I made a good choice of where to go to school based on where I applied.

I didn't apply to Claremont and it is too late now. Not much I can do there.

Nov 4, 2012

Duke has a higher reputation, but management is a lot differs from finance. St. Louis Washington is a good univ. but not well-known for its finance program anyway.

Nov 4, 2012


I would probably go Duke, but for a west coast placement, maybe you should have applied to Pepperdine's MSF.

What are your stats? (GMAT, GPA), if you don't mind sharing.

Jul 30, 2015

Abhyank Srinet
Founder at

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