Vanderbilt vs. MIT for MSF

Sswag's picture
Rank: Senior Monkey | 81

I know that MIT is considered to be the best MSF program, but is it that much better than Vanderbilt? It seems the placements are very similar. With MIT costing roughly twice as much, would you choose MIT over Vanderbilt? This short recent review I found online makes the decision difficult:

http://msfhq.com/vanderbilt-visit/

"You get very bright students at Vandy and they have a personality. I was remarking with a guy I know that I don't think I'd have as much fun at a MIT event. If you want pure brand name, go MIT. If you want a great program with great recruiting and a fun year, go Vanderbilt."

Also, does your schooling matter much once you start your career for promotions, or is it simply to help you get in the door?

Comments (9)

Mar 22, 2015

a few thoughts on what you've said

"you get very bright students at vandy and they have a personality"
i feel like a lot of this is due to the fact that MIT has lots of indian and asian male students who people often assume have less personality. objectively, it's impossible to prove this.

"If you want pure brand name, go MIT. If you want a great program with great recruiting and a fun year, go Vanderbilt"
to be honest, neither program will be particularly fun. they are both intense, and while MIT has more of a quant focus, you won't be at either school to have fun- you'll be there to work and go through recruiting. also, MIT has recruiting which is just as good as vandy

Fundamentally, the MIT degree is much different from the Vandy one. Vandy's is much more generalist- MIT is more quant focus. people at the two schools usually have different goals and aspirations; still, it isn't good to generalize

Mar 22, 2015

MIT first choice, Vandy second choice, CMC third but that depends if you want to live there. Vandy has the brand name also and as it gets old, it's becoming well known. MEaning that it'll get you job no matter if it's in cali or NY or MN. as long as you network

Mar 22, 2015

As the guy who wrote that post and just coming back from vandy I'd say to ask yourself what kind of person you are and what kind of experience you want. Both will place into bank and give you a great education. MIT is going to be much more classroom focused while vandy is going to be a more collegiate experience.

I've known the program for a while and every student I met was going into top positions post grad. Everyone else went out as a group, went on spring break, etc. Tons of fun. I was drinking with the class and remarked to a friend that I couldn't see having this experience with the MIT class.

Decide how you want your year to go and the decision is pretty easy.

Mar 22, 2015

I have enjoyed all of your information @TNA on your website and this forum. Thank you for your posts. With MIT costing roughly twice as much, would you say this difference in cost is worth it (based on education, career outlook, reputation)? If one was to move to another job a few years down the line, would the MIT mfin degree look more highly upon than Vanderbilt's MSF?

Mar 22, 2015
Sswag:

I have enjoyed all of your information @TNA on your website and this forum. Thank you for your posts. With MIT costing roughly twice as much, would you say this difference in cost is worth it (based on education, career outlook, reputation)? If one was to move to another job a few years down the line, would the MIT mfin degree look more highly upon than Vanderbilt's MSF?

Aaahhh, MIT is a powerful brand, but Owen is no joke. If your goal is banking both will do it. PE is a function of banking, group and experience. What you do once you have the job is on you.

IMO, it comes down to the personality you have. MIT is great and I'm sure it's fun also (a good friend is in the program now). Vandy just had a whole different feel. I'd visit both and experience them and decide for your own. I've been to both places and programs and you'll know right away which suits you the best.

Congrats either way. Two top programs to get into.

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Best Response
Mar 23, 2015

I don't see how you justify choosing Vandy over MIT. I'm a huge fan of Vandy's program. It is, without a doubt, the best managed program in the country and, I have been saying this for a while now, it's clearly ranked #2. People take issue with ranking MSFs on the ground that the programs are relatively new and therefore more regional, but that's clearly no longer the case. Many programs are clearly superior to others and I don't see a reason to conceal this fact.

That being said, Vandy is a very distant #2, and for a few key reasons:

1. Curriculum

Vandy's curriculum is relatively unsophisticated and will pigeonhole candidates into either IB or in CF. This is what most MSF applicants, as of now at least, seem to be interested in, but it puts the candidate in direct competition with top-tier undergrads and MBA applicants. As time progresses, I think it will become more and more obvious that the MSF true value add ias the valuable, tangible technical skills that it provides. This is how most MSF grads find employment - even at the top schools, only about 35% get into IB/ER.

MIT, on the other hand, has the most dynamic (in the truest sense of the word) curriculum available. You have the flexibility of taking courses and specializing into any functional FO finance role. You can completely design your academic experience in a way that's suitable to you. If you're not a deal pitching, PP presentation making type of guy, you can take all sorts of quant courses and get into FI, quant HF roles, risk management, etc. If you're not really a quant guy, you can combine all sorts of corporate finance, valuation and strategy courses and go down the IB/consulting route (MIT's MSF consistently places people into MBB).

2. Faculty

Vanderbilt has an excellent faculty. There's no doubt. It just pales in comparison to MIT. We're talking about the opportunity to learn finance from the likes of Merton and Cox.

3. Location/Reputation

It's truly amazing how strong Vandy's placements are considering its natural disadvantages. It's in Tennessee and its business school is generally thought to be in decline. Owen has been slipping in all of the major rankings for some time now. This, obviously, isn't a problem for MIT. Excellent location with a much better opportunity to find meaningful internship experience during the school year (invaluable for many MSF candidates that generally have weaker experience) and is considered a world-renowned institution. It will give you geographical flexibility if desired (for those interested in working in Asia, EU, South America).

I understand the desire to want to have fun during your MSF. I for one had a lot of fun, probably too much fun. At the end of the day, though, it's just a one year program. If you don't like the people you're with, you won't have to deal with them for too long. You'll keep in touch with your friends afterward but people generally tend to go their own way. In other words, you shouldn't pass up the opportunity to study finance at MIT just because you think that it will be easier to make friends/get laid at a Vandy football game.

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Mar 22, 2015

I agree with the managed comment, but would say Claremont competes with vandy evenly. Outside of MIT these programs are still regional. While vandy places all over, they are still strongest in the south.

Their curriculum is also flexible so you can dial it up or down as you want. They also have consulting placements. MIT gets MBB because of the brand, not the program necessarily.

Double the cost and half the experience isn't for everyone. MIT and Vandy both win and loss students. I met with a couple people who chose vandy over MIT. Different strokes for different folks.

MIT really wins with the International students though.

Mar 22, 2015

Thank you for your responses @"TNA" and @"Esuric". I guess it somehow got construed that I was valuing the party scene as much as the academics. Of course I want the best education and opportunities upon graduation, but being in class with other individuals who are more social would be a plus.

Mar 22, 2015
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