Master of Science in Finance at the University of Alabama

 

The University of Alabama’s Master of Science in Finance (MSF) program is a unique program with an extended history. Initially designated the Master of Arts in Banking and Finance degree available as early as 1961. Over the decades, the rigorous MSF program has evolved to include three specific tracks: financial risk strategy, financial policy, and real estate. Our MSF program is unique in that the financial risk strategy track integrates C++ within the financial derivatives curriculum.

In addition, MSF students participate in a portfolio class in which they manage an investment portfolio funded by Birmingham-based firm Stern Agee.  The students compete against Auburn University, University of Georgia, University of Mississippi, and the University of Louisville to generate the greatest return while learning valuable investment skills.

Students in the program have historically placed into jobs with significant earning potential. Notable alums of the program include Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia.

Demographics, Class of 2012

  • Class size: 28
  • Mean GPA: 3.63
  • Mean GMAT: 690
  • Female: 32%
  • International Students: 28%

 

Overview

The University of Alabama’s Department of Economics, Finance and Legal Studies has a rigorous one-year Master of Science in Finance that equips students with the skills necessary to excel in today’s financial marketplace.

The course of study is designed to provide insight into the following topics:

  • The important role of financial intermediaries
  • The management of financial intermediaries and an understanding of the markets in which they participate
  • The valuation of financial assets such as stocks, bonds, derivatives, and other specialized assets, and how they are managed in a portfolio
  • The determination and behavior of interest rates and rates of return on assets
  • The incentives and determinants of corporate behavior.

The MSF program is designed to offer advanced applied, and theoretical expertise in investments, banking, corporate finance, and/or financial engineering. Interdisciplinary courses covering asset and portfolio analysis, banking, quantitative methods, and economics support each track, which are structured to encourage analytical thinking, creative problem solving, and strategic decision making.

 

The MSF program offers curriculum with focused training in finance in the following specializations: Financial Policy, Financial Risk Strategy, and Real Estate.

Financial Policy

The Financial Policy Track is designed to offer advanced applied expertise in financial decision making. The main focus of this track is analyzing and solving financial and strategic business problems. This program is designed to provide students with the more advanced background necessary to work in the problem solving area in a major corporation, in the business consulting area with an investment banking firm, or in setting up and running the financial aspects of a small business enterprise.

Financial Risk Strategy

The Financial Risk Strategy Track addresses modern techniques for managing financial risk. Students selecting this track are trained in state-of-the-art techniques for valuing and using derivative securities, with a particular emphasis on mortgage-backed securities, structured notes and computer-based solution design within an object-oriented framework. Many financial firms have recognized the growing importance of harnessing technology in their firms’ strategies. We seek to prepare students for this changing environment.

Real Estate

The Real Estate Track is designed to provide students interested in real estate related careers with a rigorous background in real estate fundamentals, including real estate finance, valuation, real estate taxation and investment analysis. Students will also be introduced to property management and land use and development concepts in order to support multiple career development paths.

 

Portfolio Management Class

The portfolio management class, Finance 597, is a two-semester course that exposes candidates for the Masters Degree in Finance to the problems encountered in the management of an investment portfolio.  During the Fall and Spring semesters the students manage a $50,000 portfolio funded by the Birmingham based firm of Sterne Agee.  In doing so they are required to do the following:

  • Decide on an organizational structure
  • Establish a decision process for both asset allocation and individual investments
  • Understand client imposed constraints and structure the portfolio accordingly
  • Identify and select individual investments
  • Monitor the success of the overall portfolio strategy and individual investments
  •  Make changes when either strategy or individual investments are not performing as expected

The portfolio is managed in competition with four other universities:  Auburn University, University of Georgia, University of Mississippi, and University of Louisville.  At the end of the measurement period the group with the best return is recognized with a plaque. Sterne Agee shares the return generated by each portfolio by presenting a check for 50% of any positive return to the appropriate University.

 

Here is a link to the University of Alabama Master in Finance Program