Hey all!

Current undergrad student at a target in my country with internship experience in commodities trading. I am looking at my options for when I finish my degree, and am considering various different routes especially seeing as graduate programs (and there are very few openings across the industry in general) are highly competitive. I just started looking at UNIGE's Master of arts in international trading, commodity finance and shipping. How well do students place at the supermajors and commodity houses? How would a degree here stack up against a degree from top EU schools like LSE or Oxford/Cambridge for a career in physical commos? I would appreciate any insight you guys may have into this.

Comments (26)


What intern experience do you have? In Calgary? Honestly you dont need a Masters to get into commodities trading. Direct was hiring a gas scheduler, check if they are. Someone told me Husky is looking for a Summer student in crude marketing....

PM if you want

Financial Modeling

Best Response

The Master of arts in international trading, Commodity finance & shipping at Universite de Geneve is unique.
It combines the academics of an international university in Geneve and practical on-the-job experience in Geneva...
In this 25km2, this is the highest concentration of physical traders anywhere in the world. It's the game level.

The program in partnership with the Swiss Trading and Shipping Association, STSA
David Fransen VITOL, Dominique Le Doeuil CARGILL, Nicolas Tamari SUCAFINA and so much more.

Unlike other programs, they absolutely don't do it for money, think the tuition fees is like 800 USD per year.
It's specialized in energy, shipping softs, dry and concentrates.
As you know, you have to secure a intern/apprenticeship offer with a STSA member to get there.
Usually companies who send people: Mercuria energy trading, S.A Cargill, Duferco, CS, BNP Paribas, Louis Dreyfus Commodities Suisse, Gunvor, ADM International Sarl, Koch Supply & Trading Sarl, Totsa Total Oil Trading, Addax Energy, Socar Trading, ED&F Man, Litasco, Metinvest, Gerald Metals, Englehart Commodities Trading Partners, Bunge, Barry Callebault all kind of specialized traders , gas, petroleum, sugar, cotton, coffee, metals, concentrates.

Classes are held bi-weekly Friday afternoons and Saturday morning.

Some people fly from very far ( even outside of Switzerland), reserve an hotel room in Geneve to attend these Friday afternoon classes Saturday morning... Beyond this they must think their benefits (future employability) from this program is priceless.

It gives an idea of the level of motivation and the caliber of the selectes students as well as the contacts/network you make in Commodity Trading in Switzerland

Think it's world class, and just invaluable.


Seems as if they are changing things up a bit as of 2017. From their website:
''As of September 2017, the master will have a new format and will be called Master in Commodity Trading. Students will start with one semester of core courses, then as of the second semester there will be a choice to either be a full time student or do a part-time traineeship and courses. [...] During the first semester, several core courses are proposed to the students in an inter-disciplinary spirit. From the second semester and for three semesters, the students will be able to take an internship. Additional courses may be followed for 30 ECTS, in lieu of an internship.''

From what I understand, the previous condition for admission into the program which required students to have secured an internship prior to classes starting has been altered/removed? I've been digging on their new admission page and it isn't very clear how the internship comes into play. I understand this is a very specific question, but can anyone shed light on this?


Interesting to see how this is changing. Try reaching out to the programme, hopefully their admin staff is helpful (as opposed to that of many Swiss universities, from what I've heard). I have a friends who work at STSA companies (some have done the master, some have not) and it really seems like a top opportunity.


The sponsor plays a key role.

we know someone who did not really had to write a masters thesis but still got the Masters of Arts.

18 months of classroom plus the hours of internships, enough knowledgeable.


Because the Universite de Geneve wanted to have more freedom to recruit students and not entrust the recruitment to the swiss trading and shipping association STSA[*], the internship will no longer be condition precedent to the admission in the program.

The program is still in partnership but by removing this condition, the STSA will no longer have a veto on recruitment.

[*]My thread on WSO "Cargill-Gen a freeze on new hiring ? no Commercial Management Trainee Program in 2017"posted 20 days ago gave pointers and gave some context.



someone posted that not alot of firms are sponsoring students this year?

Financial Modeling


Definitely no harm in applying, easily the best program of it's kind out there. The Shipping and Energy Msc. at Cass are probably distant seconds.

Still, I would do it as a backup if you already have contacts in the industry, not that many people have advanced degrees in commodities, including at the very top firms.


Before comparing Cass Business School with Universite de Geneve, one would first have to define Cass.

Cass being necessarily in London, where there is a strong maritime community with all the financing and related activities has a different market demand than Geneve.

Cass Business School, City University of London: one of the leading business schools for shipping.

Cass has always had a strong base of Greek and Scandinavian ship-owners who wanted to send the next generation of sons and daughters at a good school to prepare them to take over the family business and that's somewhat how they came to develop a Master in Shipping, Trade & Finance.

Among the people who have been at Cass school over the years, there are notorious founders, employees and executives from. Clarkson Research, Stealthgas Inc, Clarksons Platou, Scorpio Bulkers, Inc. Drewry Shipping Consultant Ltd, Howe Robinson Partners, Socatra Group, d'Amico. Arcadia, Hoegh LNG, TEN (Tsakos Energy Navigation), Bank of Greece, DVB Bank SE, Lloyd's Register Group, Nordea Bank, Norge ASA.

The WS banks and City Banks shipping finance-arms of Citigroup GS, HSBC Plc also have Cass alumni.
BP, Shell trading, RCMA Asset Management and I guess a few other physical traders have some.

Their Shipping and Trade is taught more from an investment point of view so I hesitate to draw the direct comparison with Universite de Geneve. It's two different schools of thought.

That's how I would define them.


Sure, I just mean in terms of your odds of getting a job in physical commodity trading job out of it, seems like UNIGE is a more directly applicable program.

I'm not crapping on Cass by any stretch of the imagination. But if you want to do commodity trading, shipping is a good second choice to get there. Part of where I am today is due to getting passing a couple ICS exams despite the fact that very little of that really applies to my job in metals.


I don't know what is "in terms of odds" in the actual context of 2017 nor could suggest the more direct applicability.

However, one thing that I know, after one deal and another: things are not straightforward.
There is no such thing as a plain-vanilla structure in physical commodity/energy trading.

A medium-term deal in Latin America with the usual complices:

The "French oil bank", its Manhattan-branch but with the credit coming from Paris with a banker who did 15 years at Paribas Geneve.
The inspection is done by a swiss-based international warehouse and inspection company.
The insurer is British.
The shipping is executed with a greek-american, both the ceo and his father are Cass Alumni.
A commodity floor provided by at a U.S Bank with the typical NYU and Boston College Alumni.

and the physical trader... with the performance risk resting on its shoulders.

Because of all the 'don't do', wouldn't it be preferable to have a plurality of 'killers' from very different backgrounds but with the hand-on expertise to put you 'off the hook.'

To know which school is better than the other would be rather a futile debate and a pointless venture.



It's a great programme (thinking of applying) but less and less companies are sponsoring positions (hence the change in structure) there are however plenty of top class companies that still sponsor.

The one thing I would say is, if you're at a good school, with relevant experience - then you may not need that masters. Try to get onto an entry level programme - definitely look for those opportunities alongside applying, theres nothing to be lost by doing that.


For those interested in the Program, just wanted to say that I spoke with an admissions representative at UNIGE today and she said for those without EU work authority, it is difficult to get a sponsorship (4-9% of foreigners typically get placed). To me, the inability to take advantage of working in the field and developing experience while in the program severely devalues the experience. Can't speak to others opinions but it seems an entry level position at a commodity house, or even somewhere down the value chain, would be more relevant and applicable as compared to forgoing salary for 2 years and living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Best of luck to you all in whatever you decide to pursue.


Having an appointment with the admissions representative this week and would be happy to ask her anything you guys might be interested in. just let me know.


I guess i'm too late...
What did she tell you? Would you be willing to share your experience?
I'm interested how many places there are/how big the class is and the GMAT requirements
This program looks really decent.


Sure thing. Well I expected the talk to be very formal but she was really supportive and clear about what they can and can not do for their students. It felt more like she is trying to open the door for people into the industry and not so much like just selling the program.

First things first....the GMAT. The minimum score is 500 and she told me that 600 is just fine(my 650 felt like total overkill). I read that about 120 people apply and that the class size is somewhere around 30.

They don't have any language requirements and according to her a lot of people don't bother to lern any french at all.

They changed the program format because they are seeking some further accreditation and therefore have to offer this more academic pathway also. If you are not interested in 2 more years of studying and rather choose to work then you could do that from February the earliest.

As far as finding work goes...they don't provide students with any help what so ever. She referred me to the STSA site (https://stsa.swiss/stsa/members)and told me that students just cold call the firms themselves. Well, no help is maybe not fair...there will be a jobs fair around October. The sense I got though was that it is totally up to us to land a job and when we do, we have to stay there for 2 years or pay back the tuition fees.

It was very difficult to get anything out of her concerning the compensation. It was my first time in Switzerland and paying 9EU for a beer just seems ridiculous so I really needed to know if it is possible to get by on the kind of money students get...and I got a clear, yes! She couldn't talk about the actual amounts because that varies significantly(experience, type of shop, ...) but she said I could rent a room for around 700francs and have enough left to get by.

Oh and btw she even mentioned St.Gallen and that people get into the business that way too. They have a few commodity related classes and the head of the MBF program told me that they want to expand on it. They also got approached by some trading association to partner up with them next year. The class size will shrink though, to 120 people next year(average GMAT of this year's class: 729).

That's pretty much it. I hope it helps.


I've met a parade of STSA operator certificate, DAS, Masters 15'16'17' graduate during the IP week.
They are all tight, very international, best-trained and think they are all absolutely competitive in Geneve.

They have lived the dream, have done some internships but seemingly they are still all seeking: landing into a Job !

This is very contextual about this industry.

Exhaustively how much positions have been eliminated versus the jobs have been created in the last 5 years. Also not helping, CS and others in the swiss banking have restarted cutting heads, these people have attributes to land into the trading houses around Geneve.


The only kinda discouraging thing I heard was that just about 50% of their graduates/students are super happy with their jobs and that they feel like it is a good fit. The other half though, keeps on struggling to find a company where they can build a career and that doesn't feel like a dead end.

But what you are saying sounds f*$%&SS? discouraging man. Well, the program director there mentioned that some people used to reapply a couple of times to be able to land a gig but what you are saying is that even after working for a company for 2 years they were unable to keep that job. Right?

Would you mind talking a bit more about the people you met there?


Have you hear of something called "national preference" ? "Les notres d'abord avant les autres".
Mercuria and others are Swiss hiring Swiss first.

Swiss have voted laws and have devices at the Canton level to protect this national preference.

The Genevan is not in love with the expat. Because the expat jack-up rents, steal jobs, does not pay taxes, doesn't give a damm about Servette and does not speak French. (wrongly or rightly)


Thanks @M. M. Plainview it did indeed help!
I've done two internships in the industry now and plan on applying 2018 at a European university. The question is if Geneva, with all the advantages mentioned, holds up against upper tier universities as St. Gallen, Bocconi, etc.


There isn't really such a thing as target universities in commodities. Departments have a tendency to reflect the backgrounds of the guys running them but since most trader backgrounds are so all over the map, it's very hard to suggest an optimal school. I went to one of those upper tier European universities and I don't know anyone from my school in commodities although I am sure there are a few.


The most recent grad I know of this program worked throughout with a major trading house, the work was quite monotonous at times (you tend to do the dull stuff) but the exposure to senior guys is second to none. Never the less this individual has/is/was struggling to find a position with said trading house, and will potentially be moving elsewhere - that being said, last I heard they weren't having loads of luck finding opportunities.

It seems like a really good course to get stuck into (as long as you have the placement job alongside it, which is no longer mandatory) but if you can get in on one of the other entry levels schemes or in an ops/logistics role, then do that!


I'm a foreign candidate and I've received an offer for the programme. If the possibility of having a work placement for us is indeed that low as per the other comments, it makes me kind of worried!


Congrats - that's great news.

I wouldn't be too disheartened, there are still sponsors taking on candidates so you have a chance, regardless of whether it has got more competitive in recent years.

Good luck with getting a placement, the few ppl i know that studied there were foreign candidates working at Swiss trading houses. In fact the more I think about it, I can't think of many Swiss nationals in commercial roles in the Geneva office - it's a real mixed bag.

Add a Comment