Too old for MSF? (26)

Hey everyone I'm new to the forum but have been lurking over the past few months. Long story short I graduated college at 25 with a degree in Math, and after talking with a few people for a while and thinking about my career I've decided to try and break into finance.

I decided on an MSF after lurking/receiving advice (and not getting much of a response from job applications) and I've been studying pretty intensely for the GMAT. I've noticed that a lot of the top MSF programs have low age averages, with Vandy at 22 and USC/UT at 23. The exception is Georgetown with an average age of 30, and while Georgetown also is the most attractive to me for other reasons, I was planning on sending out multiple applications and was wondering if being 26/27 counts as a strike against you at places like Vandy/USC/UT. What do you guys think?

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Comments (17)

Nov 18, 2021 - 8:12pm

Currently an MSF student at one of the schools you mentioned. You would definitely be on the higher end of the age range (if not at the top), but there are a few students in the program that may be around your age. However, the biggest thing to consider is that at the time you enroll in the MSF program you will be 27. It would be difficult to enter job recruiting at that age because MSFs place into entry level jobs (First Year IB analyst or PE analyst, etc.). Feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions. 

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  • Intern in HF - Other
Nov 21, 2021 - 2:12pm

Why not just prepare for MBA programs?  The preparation is largely the same, but it would fit your age demographic and you would start out as an associate.  

Nov 21, 2021 - 6:49pm

I don't have any work experience, and I've been told that even if you can get into a good MBA without work experience, it wouldn't be worth it and you wouldn't get much out of the program. An MBA is something I'd love to do in my early 30s, provided I don't do an MSF and can land a decent entry level position without it. But it seems like it would only be a waste now even if I was, by some miracle, accepted. 

  • Intern in HF - Other
Nov 21, 2021 - 6:54pm

I meant to just find a job and apply to MBA later (3 years later). Perhaps, apply to MSF programs and if you can't find a decent job by decisions then go MSF. Otherwise, just work and go for a MBA. MSFs don't really have dedicated recruiting pipelines compared to MBA programs. Think it would be higher EV to just work Corp finance at some F500 company now and do MBA for associate recruiting.

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Most Helpful
Nov 21, 2021 - 7:39pm

First and foremost - you need to decide what you want to do. 

Now you have graduated at the age of 25 - which isn't normal, but you can't change it - its out of your control. Believe it or not, age will be a factor for any program you go to, be it MSF or an MBA

Now let's dive into MSF - it's a pre-experience degree which will specialize you in finance. There are many variations of it - MSF, MFE (Financial Economics and Financial Engineering, both quant based). The top MSF degrees in the US are MIT, Vandy, UT/USC. Princeton has MSF which requires 1-2 years experience, quant based, and places you into quant roles. Columbia's MFE and Haas's MFE also fall under the different variation of the finance degree and so fall into their own bracket. You also bring up Georgetown's MSF which I am not surprised. It's a great school and they do a great job advertising the degree, but it's no where close to the other schools. MSF at Georgetown is a cash cow - and so they utilize their name to lure students in, which is why you see their class profile as very different to the others. You can make something out of it - but expect it to be on your own and Georgetown may not be of much help. 
This particular degree will place you into entry level roles - which will be quite hard for someone who is 25 - may get in at the age of 26 and graduate by 27-28 (throwing age out there as I don't know the exact date). This will get you rejected from quite a bit of jobs as age (which we cannot be discriminating here) makes a difference. A lot of companies do not recruit older applicants at that age - especially since you are expected to be an MBA student at that age. 

Let's dive into MBA - This is a post-experience degree and so requires work experience to get in. This is big requirement for many top 50 and even some top 50-100 schools, but as the rankings drop - so do the requirements. Meaning that schools are willing to accept you without w/e as long as you attend (remember these are low-ranked schools). This all depends on your end goal. Do you want to pursue IB or a normal finance job anywhere in the country? Top ranked MBA can get you into IB, and low-ranked MBA with no previous w/e requirement can get you a finance job - not guaranteeing good salary. So - rankings matter to a certain extend.
So let's talk about top ranked MBAs and their requirements: 1) Academics (Prestige of school, major, GPA, your involvement with the school). 2) GMAT (pretty given) 3) Work experience (Company Prestige, Role, Level, Responsibilities, Achievements) 4) Extracurricular (Volunteer, hobbies, etc...) 5) Application (Essays, LoR). These are not in any given order. Most students that apply for an MBA are at the age of 26-27, and matriculate by 28. There are older applicants as well in the low 30's (30-34), but the higher the number the lesser chance of getting accepted. Getting accepted into MBA at top ranked colleges without work experience is possible but EXTREMELY HARD and RARE. You need a stellar profile - Olympic gold medalist, noble prize winner, top ranked athlete, billionaires kid - you name it. 
When you graduate from an MBA - you start at a mid-level position. Associate at IBs and you have more freeway to pursue what you want. With MSF you are limited since you are pursuing a specific finance degree, MBA gives you the opportunities to pursue more. Once again - this is possible with top ranked, don't expect much with low ranked schools. 

In your scenario - you need to decide:

  1. The location where you want to work
  2. What job you want to pursue
  3. If you want a finance specific degree or a general MBA
  4. If rankings matter to you - and if so, will the schools help you achieve your goal.
  5. Is the program actually well known and good - ex: Georgetown MSF. Great Uni - not so great program. 
  6. Why are you struggling with a job now? Are you applying for jobs you don't qualify? Are you limiting yourself to certain jobs? Did you not pursue internships? Can you pursue something temporarily like a local job - which will be a stepway to your goal? 

I am here to help/answer more questions as you'd like. 

Nov 21, 2021 - 8:08pm

Thanks for the reply.

Yeah I wish I had graduated earlier (my original plan was 5 years, or at 23/24) but I agree its out of my control now. However, I have to say I'm surprised by the reaction. From lurking and reading about MSFs/MBAs I saw multiple comments about people in their mid or late 20s getting one and entering recruitment, even saw stuff about people in early 30s getting entry level finance positions. I knew I was late to the party but I thought it was by a moderate, rather than extreme amount. 

A person I know who's been giving me advice has said that companies can't legally ask your age anyway so don't worry about being mid or late 20s. Is this not good advice? Can you really not get into finance unless you're 22? If so I think I should stop studying for GMAT and probably pursue a different industry.

I'm also kind of surprised to hear Georgetown's MSF is a cash cow. I looked at their employment stats and the companies all seemed good to me, and they advertise an average base salary in the six figures after the MSF. It also seemed to be a pretty respected program from looking at threads here and on reddit.

None of this to directly doubt your opinions I just wanted to let you know you're telling me a different story than everyone else I've talked to / other threads I've read, so I'm wondering which perspective isn't accurate. I don't know but I'm interested in hearing more.

As for point 6 - yeah my full story is that I switched my major around a lot and only really pursued what interested me, with no thought to career. I like math so I settled there and graduated, although 1-2 years later than I wanted to. Afterward I didn't really know what to do and started talking to people about career, I became interested in finance. I've been applying to a lot of entry level positions, mostly as financial analyst and recent graduate roles, but no dice. I did interview for financial analyst at one company but I was rejected after that first round.

I did one internship in college and did extremely well there, but that's it. Companies have been impressed by my high performance in that internship but usually for sales positions, which I don't want to do. 

If there's something I can do as a step towards financial analyst, I would love to. The only jobs that seem to want me are insurance jobs though. Wanting to do an MSF is only because I'm finding it tough to break in. If I can break in without an MSF, then that's preferable and I'd like to do that, fine-tune my GMAT score, and hope for an MBA when I'm 30-32. I was told after 32 it gets difficult. I know I'll be older than the average MBA attendee but that doesn't bother me honestly I just want to do the best I can given my situation. 

Appreciate any and all advice and thanks again for the reply.

Nov 21, 2021 - 8:47pm

I am here to help and provide my perspective. Everyone will view your situation and schools differently. So it's up to you as an adult to make sound judgement on what to go with. 

https://gmatclub.com/forum/old-for-an-mba-352223.html

The above link is in reference to Age an MBA - but you can use that for your MSF reference as well. Hopefully it helps you out in regards to age questions - why B-schools care, and employability. 

22 is not the only age people break into finance, but look at the jobs now and the current COVID-19 situation. It will get better, but you need to work your A off. Connect with school's alumni, connect with school professors, friends, linkedin. Use everything to your advantage to break in. I went to a very non-target school (pretty bad school) - 3 years out and I was able to break into consulting with networking and making small progress to get there. I wasn't able to do it straight out of college - but the 1st and 2nd job got me there. 

Georgetown's employment report - look at Vandy's MIT's employment report and compare it to Gtowns and look at the differences. 52% mean/44% median in salary. If you are spending $86000 for tuition alone, this is no where close to worth it. Average age of students coming in 28, 30 by matriculation. Average work experience is 5. For someone that has avg 5 year w/e - spent 2 years for MSF (full-time/part-time/online) - spent $86,000, is only making 112K average? MIT is regarded the best MSF in U.S. and doesn't have 6-figure salary, and Gtown does? Take the numbers as you will. And more than half of the class are part-time students - meaning that they are working professional, usually sponsored by their employers. Their employment report also does not provide majority of the detail of location break down of % by industry/function. How many got jobs at graduation or 3-months out? 

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