Hello, everyone, I pulled together some research on these two since they both are getting a lot of attention in the forum. Here are some differences I see, but I would be interested in getting everyone's thoughts and additional insights:
PRESTIGE: In the absence of reliable MSF rankings, I evaluated the overall prestige of the school. Vanderbilt's undergrad is a national university and is ranked #17 in US News and the MBA program is #25 in Businessweek. (For what it's worth, Vanderbilt Law School is #15 and Med School is #14). CMC is a great liberal arts college. In fact, it ranks #9 in US News which is pretty impressive. Both schools do what they do well, but the edge here goes to Vanderbilt since it is a much larger university with a brand that is nationally recognized. Unfortunately, CMC's low overall enrollment makes it relatively obscure outside of the region and as good as the MSF program appears to be, CMC's MBA is unranked and is just not a player in the space. That's probably a big deal since the reputations of a business school's degrees tend to rub off on each other.
ALUMNI NETWORK: Reading around the web and having spoken to some friends who have connected with alums from both programs, all these grads loved their experience and sound like they'd be helpful in the job search. That said, the size of the alum bases appear to be drastically different. The MSF programs are about the same size, but Vanderbilt graduates many more students per year and all of them become potential job search contacts. Also, back to a previous point, Vanderbilt has a ranked MBA program which should prove to be a huge advantage since I'm guessing a sizable portion of them enter finance. A quick LinkedIn search confirms this.
GEOGRAPHY: CMC has strong West Coast placement, and Vanderbilt is definitely stronger in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that Vanderbilt is a much more national brand. I've heard their undergraduate programs are basically packed with Ivy League types from NYC and Boston. Unless I knew I wanted to work out West, I would go with Vanderbilt since they cover more of the larger financial hubs which are mostly east of the Mississippi.
CLASS PROFILE: A quick look at LinkedIn and the program websites can answer this. The class sizes are roughly the same size. As far as student backgrounds, CMC looks much more regional, and a large portion of the classes come directly from CMC. The Vanderbilt classes look a lot more diverse in terms of undergraduate origin. Vanderbilt probably edges out CMC here because part of the return one should expect from a graduate program is a broader network of contacts. Those contacts are every bit as important as the education.
CONCLUSION: There's ample evidence to conclude that both are solid programs; however, Vanderbilt is pretty clearly the stronger option. In my opinion, the exception would be if I definitely knew I wanted to target California.