The Boston College Master in Finance Program is a very popular and routinely asked about MSF program among students looking to change careers or break into investment banking. It was one of the programs I looked at way back when I was researching for my masters in finance and is a program that I have followed for a while now. A recent graduate reached out to me and asked to do a review which I happily said yes to. Well the review is in and it is comprehensive! Thanks go out to the reviewer as I am sure this will help any of you looking into the Boston College MSF Program.
1) Why an MSF in general? Why the Boston College Master in Finance program specifically?
a. This is a question that I believe can have a variety of answers, which I think speaks to the diversity of students we have here at Boston College. For me personally, I completed my undergraduate studies in 3 years and was a little underwhelmed with the job opportunities that resulted from my economics education. Therefore, in order to garner a more applied skill set that I could point employers to, I decided to pursue an MSF degree. In addition, tapping into the BC network to attract a greater depth of employment opportunities was also an appeal.
b. Why BC? When evaluating Masters in Finance programs, I really only targeted three; Boston College, MIT and Oxford’s Financial Economics program. Being a citizen of the United Kingdom, the option of returning home for a year appealed. However, given further thought, the feasibility of returning to the US post-grad was something that I was worried about and subsequently opted to narrow my search to BC and MIT. At this point, it came down to fit, as both BC and MIT promised great programs and I was concerned with finding the right fit for me, not their rankings in the Times. Upon visiting both schools, I simply felt more at home in the smaller, more collegial environment that BC fosters. From here I met with a few professors to get a better feel for the program, and decided that BC was the place for me, and subsequently committed for the Fall of 2014. To be honest, I don’t think you can go wrong with either program, yet I’m ultimately very happy with my choice.
2) Who would you recommend a MSF to?
While the age range of the program varies from recently minted college graduates to midcareer professionals, I would recommend the program to any recent graduate (2 years or less) who feels that they need a comprehensive grasp of finance in order to better pursue their career aspirations. The program provides a firm base in Investments, Corporate Finance, Portfolio Theory and Econometrics that helps qualify a student for a wide array of jobs that they perhaps would not have been qualified for prior to the program.
3) Pros/Cons of the Master in Finance program (if any)?
While the pro’s are numerous, many of which are listed above, I would like to address one con that I believe prospective students should be made aware of: postgraduate job search for international students in the US. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart as I am an international student who has traversed this experience this year, and while I’m happy to report that I have secured a great job in New York City for the Fall, it wasn’t easy and takes an awful lot of work. As an international student at BC, and every other comparable finance program for that matter, it can be very difficult to speak with an employer who is willing to sponsor you come the end of your year long OPT. This is purely a supply and demand problem, as there are many qualified and willing domestic applicants to fill the spot you are applying for, something that perhaps isn’t the case in a field like engineering or medicine, for example. This is where I believe that a) meaningful experience prior to the program and b) hustle come into play. Myself and a couple of my other international friends have secured employment because we have been able to point to meaningful and substantial experience in our area of interest prior to the program. Great grades and a high GMAT are mere barriers to entry, not surefire qualifications for employment. These experiences, coupled with an awful lot of networking, both within BC and the wider finance community, have ensured the success of the international students who have been successful in securing a position in the United States post-graduation. Please don’t let this scare you, it should merely underscore the work required of an international student looking to stay in the US after leaving The Heights, something I’d hope you already know. However, for clarification, I’d like to point out that all domestic MSF students that I am in contact with have tapped into the great on campus presence (Big 4, Bulge bracket IB’s, boutiques etc) have been successful in securing great jobs post graduation.
4)Anything else. People usually talk about recruiting, alumni, campus, special classes, basically anything you think would be important for someone to know when deciding whether to attend BC or not.
This MSF program is successful for a few primary reasons; its world renowned faculty, the comprehensive curriculum, the BC network and the fantastic year that students enjoy while at Boston College. First, I’ll talk about the faculty. The program offers a great balance of respected academics and real-world practitioners. In my time here at BC, I have had the privilege of learning from former Freddie Mac CEO Dick Syron, who I later served as a graduate assistant. This sort of access to a man who can provide unparalleled insight into The Financial Crisis is not available at many colleges worldwide, let alone the United States. That being said, Professor Syron is only one of many truly great faculty members here at The Carroll School of Management and you can’t go wrong with any professor you’ll learn from. Secondly, the curriculum here at BC provides students with exposure to the full spectrum of finance, with the opportunity to study; equities, fixed income, derivatives, portfolio theory, investment banking, econometrics etc. This truly allows a student to gain access to such an array of topics that it would be very difficult to leave the program not knowing what specialty you intend to pursue.
Now, the BC network. I can personally attest to the tremendous power of the BC network, and the remarkable kindness they have shown me as I searched for employment. In my case alone, I have spoken with Dean Boynton, who has put me in contact with MD’s at some of Wall Street’s most prominent Investment Banks and Hedge Funds, all whom have been willing to speak with me as they believe in the value of my BC degree. Couple this with my invitation to the Boston College Wall Street Council Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York and I can honestly say that I have been blown away by the wide reach of Boston College graduates throughout the wider finance community.
Lastly, while the student experience shouldn’t dominate a students analysis of MSF programs, I will say that I can’t have asked for a better year than I have enjoyed. Whether it is the breathtaking campus, the storming of the field after the victory over USC or Marathon Monday, students of the BC MSF program get an unparalleled experience that I believe isn’t bested by any other program nationwide. I believe it represents the ‘cherry on top’ of what has been a truly great year on The Heights, one that I would strongly recommend any prospective MSF candidate to pursue.
Here is a link to the Boston College Master in Finance Program