What is the best Master's program for me?


Fellow monkeys,

I am going to apply to Master's (probably in finance) programs in Europe. Ultimate goal is IB in London. I am leaning more towards 2 year programs as I have not secured SA for the summer. Currently my top choices are SSE, Bocconi, HSG. Which programs would you recommend in my situation? Maybe it would be better to do 1 year program, do SA and then a gap year?

My profile:
GMAT: 730 Q50,V40
GPA: 4.50 / 5.00
Work Experience: 1 month internship in equity research, currently interning at one of Big4 companies, valuation team
Undergrad: last year, one of top schools in CEE

Comments (24)

Dec 11, 2014 - 3:27am

SSE, Bocconi and HSG are all great schools - but they won't place you nearly as well as LSE/Oxbridge in London. Bocconi and HEC are two non-UK schools that probably come the closest and still pale in comparison.

Don't limit yourself to 2-year programs simply because you want a SA position. If you don't have experience, you can usually apply for a summer internship right after a 1-year program, which you can immediately convert to FT by the end of the internship. Most firms are receptive to this, especially if you have work authorization. If you're lucky, you might even be able to land a FT job without much experience (usually at Elite Boutiques and MM firms).

LSE MSc Finance / MSc Finance and Economics or the Oxford MFE place insanely well into IBD roles in London at top BBs and Elite Boutiques.

Cambridge MPhil Finance is also very good, but significantly more academically inclined - it is a bit more like a PhD training programme but I'm sure that students have no difficulty finding industry jobs either.

Since you're looking at ibd jobs, the LSE MSc Finance programme will be ideal - you get the brand and network without having to slog through any heavy math. However - if you're up for it - the LSE MSc Finance and Economics and the Oxford MFE are significantly more math heavy but might keep more options open in the future. Cambridge's curriculum depends on the track you take up (Financial Engineering vs Finance).

Dec 12, 2014 - 6:52am

You're a little late as admission to these programs tends to be fairly competitive, but there are obviously candidates who do apply and get in during later rounds.

You have a competitive profile (solid GMAT, around the average for all of the above schools) although I don't know your undergraduate major. If you majored in something reasonably quant-heavy (STEM / Finance / Econ), you have a great shot. Even if you didn't, you have a good shot at LSE's MSc Finance along with reasonable chances at the LSE MFE / Oxford MFE.

LSE has rolling admissions and they fill spots as quickly as possible. This might make things difficult for late applicants, but I'd still suggest you put in an application asap.

Oxford has 4 rounds of applications - which means that they definitely set a few spots aside for applicants in round 3 & 4 (however limited). You might thus have a better shot at Oxford than LSE based on the number of available spots.

Cambridge has the smallest class size and in all likelihood has the most competitive admissions process. Furthermore, they focus on students looking to enter academia which may put students with a professional focus at a disadvantage.

Regarding LBS, I assume you mean the Master's in Management programme (MiM) given that you don't have much experience. LBS is obviously a solid brand and the programme places fairly well into Consulting (28%) and IBD (19%). However, I feel that it is a bit more of a generalist management degree and you'll have a harder time landing an IBD job than if you went to LSE/Oxbridge. Nevertheless, a good choice but you're going to have your work cut out for you. Your stats are quite a bit stronger than most MiM students and you'd have a very good shot at getting in.

In short, apply as quickly as possible as you still have a shot at all schools, particularly at Oxford and LBS. Feel free to PM me if you need any more details.

Jan 4, 2015 - 5:13am

rg and co:

Thank you for such a exhaustive answer.

After reading this i'm deadset on LSE / Oxbridge, maybe LBS as well. Do you think that I still have shot at these programs? Isn't it a little bit too late to apply?

So you wanted to do a 2 year program and then received the first response in this topic and now you are "deadset on LSE / Oxbridge"? I guess you did a lot of own research prior to asking the question.

Jan 2, 2015 - 4:45pm

To be completely honest, recruiting as an international student (non-US/UK) is going to be difficult no matter where you go. The US might be marginally easier than the UK given that their work Visa policies are a bit more lenient, but I hardly think that it would be a walk in the park either.

There are no schools that I could recommend beyond the usual suspects in the UK (LSE/Oxbridge) and US (MIT/Princeton) that would increase your chances, whether you're recruiting at a major financial centre or you have to go back to your home country/EM location. For example, even if you have to go back to your home country or to a location like Hong Kong/Singapore/Brazil, the LSE/Oxbridge/MIT/Princeton name will help you stand out.

One thing that I would note is that firms are more open to sponsoring visas for technical or niche roles that require a very specific or unique skillset. I've noticed that international students recruiting for quantitative trading, structuring, quant-ish research (rates/macro/fixed income/fx research) and alternative AM roles have been significantly more successful than their IBD/Consulting/Sales/Equity Research counterparts. Obviously this isn't very relevant to you if you are dead set on IBD, but I wanted to point out that there are some less mainstream roles where you can even the odds a bit.

Jan 3, 2015 - 4:48am

Go for LSE MFin or Oxford FE. Doesnt matter that its just a one-year program. Everyone there applies for SA's anyway and most banks dont care about the fact that its only a year program. They place fenomenally well into IBD, way better than any other school/program. Looking at your program you definitely have a fair shot at both programs, although Oxford depends as well on how heavy your math background is.

Jan 3, 2015 - 6:12pm

I am not sure the advice regarding 1 year (9 months to be more accurate) programs is actually entirely correct, because some banks may actually reject your application based on the fact that you already graduated once you start your internship. So if you want to take the "safe(ER)" route, 2yr programs (or 1.5yrs like HSG) are preferred because it will allow you to do an internship and still be in your "penultimate" year.

If you are looking for placement in IBD from Master's programs, LSE, Oxbridge, Bocconi and HEC are your best bets.

I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player. Or nothing.

See my Blog & AMA

Jan 3, 2015 - 6:21pm

No. I have seen people from both get offers and from both getting rejected. The chances to get offers seem equally distributed among both and so I would suggest that you go with the options that's overall easier: Management.

I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player. Or nothing.

See my Blog & AMA

Jan 5, 2015 - 8:50am

Are the Finance programs at LSE the only ones which will increase your chances for IB in London? Because I am considering the MSc in Accounting, Organisations and Insitutions at LSE (over Finance at Rotterdam School of Management) but I am not sure if it is worth the money since it is not one of the top programs?

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