UVA vs WUSTL vs Texas for Masters of Finance

Chimpapalooza's picture
Rank: Monkey | 41

Hey all, I have been accepted to the three schools mentioned above but I am having a hard time deciding on where I want to go/what is best for me. I am from the Midwest but I am not tied down to staying there and I don't want to end up in NYC. This is where my problem is. I know that the UVA program would give me the best opportunity to land a great job in IB but I don't want to be in nyc, which is where most of the OCR is. If there are any current/ past students who participated in the MS in Commerce program, I would love to hear your input on the OCR and where most of your opportunities were located. Also as I want to pursue IB but I am not dead set on that career. If this is the case, do any of you all think one program would better set my flexible career plans?

Should I just go to the school with the best overall reputation, aka Virginia? I am way more open to the idea of working in Texas/ Chicago and would also greatly appreciate any input from students in the UT or WUSTL program as well.

Thanks

Comments (44)

Mar 18, 2016

WUSTL has a strong presence in NY and actually does not place that well in Chicago. The general consensus is that all three are peer schools with the slight edge to UVA. UT would obviously give you an advantage in Texas and on the west coast. I think WUSTL has the strongest, most well-rounded curriculum and it shows in placements. Each year the program has diverse placements in IB/ER/AM/Bval/Consulting/PE/VC.

Mar 18, 2016

Thanks for the reply... Did you receive an MSF and if so where?

Mar 18, 2016

I'm a WUSTL MSF grad (2014).

Mar 18, 2016

UT if you want to work in Texas. UVA if you don't.

Mar 18, 2016

Thanks for responding...I have used your website many times and I cannot thank you enough for all the help you've given me. Regarding Texas... what is your opinion on it and how it compares to other MSF programs. I know it is relatively new, but do you like how it has progressed since its inception and where it looks to be going for the future?

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Mar 18, 2016
Chimpapalooza:

Thanks for responding...I have used your website many times and I cannot thank you enough for all the help you've given me. Regarding Texas... what is your opinion on it and how it compares to other MSF programs. I know it is relatively new, but do you like how it has progressed since its inception and where it looks to be going for the future?

I think UTA is great. They prefer non business UG's in their admissions so keep that in mind. I think their brand is great, top 15 MBA program. Probably strongest brand you can have in Texas. Students get interviews at every top firm in finance, consulting and F500. Austin is a cool city as well.

Mar 18, 2016

Just got into dukes program...would you still pick UVA over Duke?

Mar 18, 2016

Any of the mentioned programs over Duke. Duke's MiM is useless.

Mar 18, 2016
Chimpapalooza:

Just got into dukes program...would you still pick UVA over Duke?

UVA over Duke. I like their program, but uva is smaller and does better with placements.

Mar 18, 2016

Would you mind sharing your stats (gpa, GMAT/gre, internships, major)? I will be applying to some of these schools soon and would like to see how I compare

Mar 19, 2016

I'd say there's just as many people from last year's MS in Comm class working in DC as there are NYC. There's also people in Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Seattle, LA, Richmond, etc. A lot of different locations for opportunities come up through career services. If I were you I wouldn't be too concerned with that aspect. Although I ended up in New York I had several interviews with firms in Richmond, Atlanta, and DC.

Mar 18, 2016

Thanks for the reply...I've seen on some of your previous posts that UVA undergraduates were the ones that were securing the most interviews and that people trying to get into finance that they should steer clear of the program because of the lack of finance curriculum in the first semester. I was hoping you could comment about this and how this affected you in the fall recruiting cycle.

Mar 19, 2016
Chimpapalooza:

Thanks for the reply...I've seen on some of your previous posts that UVA undergraduates were the ones that were securing the most interviews and that people trying to get into finance that they should steer clear of the program because of the lack of finance curriculum in the first semester. I was hoping you could comment about this and how this affected you in the fall recruiting cycle.

Basically I got almost no interviews in the fall. The issue is that the firms that come on campus for formal recruiting in the fall are heavily biased towards UVA undergrads. I don't think a lot of those firms really know what the MS program is in the first place. They just know that they're on campus to recruit UVA kids. When they see a resume that says University of Pittsburgh undergrad I'm sure many of them just say wtf and throw it out. So fall OCR was a complete fail for almost everyone who didn't go to UVA undergrad. Spring was the complete opposite story for me. I was getting interviews almost every week. The difference I think was that the firms recruiting for full time in the spring were smaller places. Also there's a lot of informal opportunities in the spring. I had a few leads based on alumni emailing professors looking for resumes.

As far as the finance curriculum, I pretty much agree with Esuric. The problem is that the program tries to do everything for everyone. There's a finance track, a marketing track, and now a business analytics track. And at least as recently as last year the only difference in curriculum between the tracks in the fall was the corporate finance class, which I honestly felt like I could've learned in a matter of weeks rather than months. In the spring the tracks split but there's still a bunch of pretty idiotic classes you have to take in addition to the actual finance courses.

I'm not trying to put down the MS in Comm program because at the end most of the people in the finance track ended up with pretty good jobs. Some even have excellent jobs. And it was the best year of my life so far so that's a plus. However if you want IB at a non-boutique firm you're going to need to put a significant amount of legwork into teaching yourself finance, reaching out to alumni, and slogging through all the soft management courses that are required. If you're okay with working at a boutique then spring recruiting should be fine though.

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Mar 19, 2016

I would take UVA. WUSTL is good school but really not well known. Also I don't associate WUSTL with anything economics/finance/business related.

Mar 18, 2016

When you say it's not well known do you mean on the east coast or just nationally? Why should I pick UVA ?

Mar 19, 2016

Both on the east coast and just nationally. Most people are unaware of WUSTL existence. Just being honest. UVA is recognized national brand.

Mar 18, 2016

WUSTL's curriculum really is a phd lite. You share a lot of classes with DBA's and the lecturers are top notch researchers. You're exposed to cutting edge stuff - deep theoretical finance and advanced applied methods. You'll use software such as Crystal Ball, @Risk, MatLab, RStudio, etc (in addition to traditional stuff such as CapIQ and BB). UVA's curriculum, on the other hand, is a joke. Real basic stuff.

None of this is relevant for traditional IB/consulting, which is what most want, but it will matter for the more technical fields (PE/VC/AM/QRM). This is very evident when you look at placements. UVA has an advantage is soft fields (IB/consulting) and WUSTL will send more to technical fields such as AM/QRM/VC/FI etc.

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Mar 18, 2016

Thanks for commenting again, appreciate the input... The curriculum at WUSTL is really what has me so interested in the program. Were you in the corporate finance track and did you study finance during your undergrad? If so, did the program really prepare you for your finance career and were you satisfied with your experience ?

Mar 18, 2016

I was in the corporate finance track but you can tailor the curriculum any way you like. I decided to make mine slightly more quantitative by taking a semester-long portfolio theory/coding class and a course on real option valuation. I could have taken stochastic calculus, courses in quant risk management, etc. There's really a lot of flexibility.

I did not study finance in undergrad and when I came into the program, I knew next to nothing. Overall I was thoroughly satisfied with my experience though the fixed income courses were terrible. The professor that handles that subject is bad and it's a shame. I'll leave it at that.

I would say yes, the program will definitely prepare you for a long-term career in finance but caution that it's a grueling, difficult year. This is especially true if you decide to intern throughout the year. Getting an internship is very easy and there's a lot of variety/options near campus (IB/VC/Management Consulting/Bval/Fixed Income AM/Macroeconomic Forecasting).

Most people, when they evaluate MSF programs, only consider IB placements. They don't pay any attention to curriculum quality and establishing a strong conceptual framework for an actual career. Long term, this isn't the way to go. Program A is not necessarily better than Program B because it places 37% of its students in IB versus 32% at graduation.

Mar 20, 2016

UVA isn't a masters in finance like Texas or WashU, it has a "track" where you can specialize in finance. Like another poster mentioned it's going to be less finance focused especially in the fall semester. The program is more suited for consulting in my opinion. In regards to the OCR what was said above was pretty spot on. I would think the programs would all offer similar opportunities.

Mar 18, 2016

All students who rely on OCR will run into problems with recruiters. Anyone doing one of these programs needs to network before the program even starts. While in some circumstances you'll be penalized for not being an UG, you'll also have two networks to hit up during recruiting.

Also, I agree, more recruiters needs to learn about these degrees, but things have changed a lot in the years since I've graduated. I'm sure in five more years it will get even better. The benefits of doing a program that has been around for a while is that you can reach out to alumni of your program. Additionally, reach out to other specialized masters graduates. We all share the same degree and while individual school loyalty, but we all also share a unique degree and understand the difficulties all of us share.

Mar 22, 2016

UVAs program really isn't an MS in Finance, so its hard to compare it to those other programs purely on curriculum alone. Its an MS in Commerce (i.e. business) and you can choose a concentration in finance. The idea behind the curriculum for the MS is similar to UVAs undergrad commerce program where all students spend a portion of the program rotating between modules in marketing, strategy & systems, organizational behavior, emerging markets, and finance. The MS is aimed at liberal arts students without any sort of business background, and around 45%-50% of incoming students will be UVA undergrads. The finance curriculum you take will be a joke compared to the curriculum in an MS Finance at most good schools (this is just because UVAs program isn't a dedicated finance program), but for some reason it still seems to do better than most MS finance programs at placing kids in IB, which seems to be what you really care about in the end. Also keep in mind when looking at the destinations reports that a fair amount of people in the program, including a lot that were UVA undergrads, are actually more interested in consulting than IB. I know one common complaint has been that you don't really get to the finance modules until after IB recruiting has already started, but I think they have adapted it a bit after getting feedback from the first few graduating classes.

Mar 18, 2016

So I narrowed down my choices to UT and WUSTL. Even though UVA probably has the best brand, I crossed UVA off the list because I felt that the curriculum at UVA was not very good and did not dive too deep into finance. It seemed to be the equivalent of getting a undergraduate degree in business with a quick rundown of finance. Also, after talking to more current students I have also found out that there has been a favoritism of UVA undergrads in recruiting. I also did not like the super preppy feel that UVA brings, just not me...One of the questions I have, and hopefully one of you can comment on this, is do you all think employers know of the quality of McCombs business school nationally? The University of Texas is a good school but the business school outranks the school by a wide margin. So, do you think that employers associate you more with the program you are with (McCombs) or the University as a whole. Wash U seems to be close in overall business rankings but the University has a better overall rep than Texas...This is part of the dilemma I have and please let me know if I am wrong, that Wash U has a better rep than UT but I will have a better chance of getting a job coming out of UT. So, should I put more weight in what schools gives me the best chance to get the first job, or the school who's name will say more down the line.

Some other things (hopefully you all can comment on this)...

Better prospects for a job -- UT

Curriculum -- WUSTL

Bigger Network -- UT

Campus/ Facilities -- WUSTL

Better MBA program -- UT

Better for Midwest -- WUSTL

City surrounding School -- UT

Better Nationally -- ?

When deciding where I am going to go, based on these things, what do you all think I should put the most weight in?

Apr 4, 2016

Lol dude UVA has the best brand as well as the best placements. Curriculum? lol you can learn finance by yourself, what you can't get by yourself is the UVA brand as well as OCR. Not to say UT or WUSTL are not also really good programs, they just simply do not get the placements that UVA gets, especially if you want consulting (a number of kids get MBB), which is the entire point of an MSF (or Commerce in UVA's case). Their average base+bonus for the corp fin. track is an astounding 82k (compare that to WUSTL/UT at like 70k). Only MSFs I would choose over UVA are MIT/Vandy.

p.s. to answer your question I believe McCombs has a better national brand name than Olin, but UVA's brand is a cut above both.

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Mar 18, 2016

Thanks for input. I've visited UVA, talked to current students as well as alumni of the program and the consensus I get is that even though McIntire and UVA are easily the best brand, there is a hard favoritism for people who went to UVA for undergrad. So, the OCR you mentioned is great, no doubt, but if I am receiving a lot of consistent feedback that says recruiters are turning their nose up to people who didn't go their for undergrad -- should OCR be the determining factor? I don't think so...and I have gotten feedback from many UT folk that have said there is no such favoritism for undergrads and in the state of Texas, the McCombs brand reigns supreme. I am currently leaning towards wanting to end up in Chicago, and WUSTL does place well in Chicago.

So, yes the UVA brand is great but for my preferences, I don't believe that it is the best choice.

Mar 18, 2016
BobTheBaker:

Their average base+bonus for the corp fin. track is an astounding 82k (compare that to WUSTL/UT at like 70k).

You're comparing apples to oranges. WUSTL doesn't provide total comp in its placement statistics. It doesn't try to forecast year-end, performance based bonuses. When you compare median salary + signing bonus among the two schools you get:

UVA: $63,500 + $7,000
WUSTL: $65,000 + $7,000

We don't know what WUSTL's median all-in comp would look like, but with 60% of its class going into AM/IB/Capital Markets, you can assume that it would be as high, if not higher than UVA (which has less than 13% of its class going into IB/ER).

People are under the impression that you don't need to know anything to get a job in finance and that it's all pedigree. This is mostly true for IB, though an MSF from anywhere, with the exception of MIT, won't exactly give you "pedigree." All other functions will require experience/knowledge. This is where WUSTL's curriculum adds value, and it's shown in its consistently strong buyside placements (it also helps that there are a lot of buy-side shops in the area that actively seek Olin students for year-long internships).

Relevant experience and strong fundamentals are more valuable then name-brand, especially among MSF's where the name brands aren't even that strong (obvious exception is MIT).

Mar 18, 2016

UVA is for non-business majors and has a marketing track. This is why the program has less students going into finance. Both are great programs. Plain fact is UVA has a much higher ranked and regarded UG business school. McIntire and Darden are top business schools.

Both programs provide a fine education and skills. Plenty to get into banking. Banking is the single greatest determinant to buyside placements. This idea that PE or IB require advanced finance knowledge is simply false. If it was true it you wouldn't see the vast majority of people without a MSF dominating both of these industries. You also wouldn't see Ivy League students with liberal arts degrees easily getting these jobs. The skills can be learned on the job and acquired. Is it nice to known the underpinnings of theory and have a graduate education? Yes. Does it pay off in some circumstances? Yes. Is it necessary? No.

Also, it is rather unfair to really factor in the marketing part of the program. Nearly everyone in the WUSTL program goes into some area of finance. Less than half of UVA's program does.

WUSTL - $65K + $7K (All finance & consulting - 100%)
UVA - $69K + 8K (All finance & consulting - 36%)

So UVA "wins" by $5K when you compare it appropriately.

MSF programs provide an education, an alumni base and another chance at recruiting.

WUSTL - Education "win"
UVA - Alumni "win"
UVA - Recruiting "win"

Both programs will favor undergrads who stayed to do the program. This is the same everywhere. But only one program will have nearly every top bank coming on campus to recruit students.

Does this mean WUSTL is shit? Absolutely not. It is a great program and one of the top ones. Does this mean UVA always beats WUSTL? Absolutely not. For someone who wants to work in Chicago, I really don't think UVA is the best bet. But to try and spin some case where WUSTL always or in most circumstances beat UVA because the curriculum is more technical is simply not the case.

Links:

https://www.commerce.virginia.edu/sites/default/fi...
http://olincareers.wustl.edu/SiteCollectionDocumen...

Mar 18, 2016

I can't wait for OP to get a job in Finance and realize you don't need a masters level understanding of finance to do the job.

I love finance and enjoyed learning about it at a graduate level. I will also freely admit you don't need that level of understanding to succeed. Brand matters.

Bob speaks the truth

Mar 18, 2016

Should Brand be the deciding factor then? I feel that that you are downplaying curriculum when I am deciding on where I should go, you really think that shouldn't hold too much weight?

Apr 6, 2016

Esuric usually trolls but I think he's actually kind of spot on right now lol

Best Response
Mar 18, 2016

Even though the conversation has now shifted to a debate of WUSTL vs UVA, I have decided to go to UT. Thanks for all the comments and the advice throughout the thread.

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Mar 18, 2016

You probably made the right choice.

Mar 18, 2016

Thanks man, I think either WUSTL or UT would have been great options. UT was just a better fit for me. Thanks for filling me in on WUSTL though.

Apr 27, 2016
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May 3, 2016