The Vanderbilt University Master in Finance program is extremely popular every year and offers consistently strong and impressive placements. A recent graduate was kind enough to provide a comprehensive review of the program. I hope it helps!
1) Why an MSF in general? Why a Vanderbilt MSF in particular?
I was always passionate about finance and I was ‘hungry’ for more advanced knowledge, but I did not want a PhD because I wanted to work and be in the center of financial markets. So I mainly chose the Master in Finance in order to come to the States and work/be in the center of the markets. I also come from Europe where the MSF degree is very well respected. The funny thing is that although I could have been accepted to most of the best programs in Europe I decided to join Vanderbilt although most people do the opposite and go to LSE etc. I followed a contrarian strategy and I managed to find my dream job that I do not think I could have done in Europe.
The reasons behind my decision were:
a) Mainly the fact that I wanted to come to US and work here, also I foresaw that the situation in Europe will get worse and I knew that US will be the first to recover after the crisis.
b) I chose Vanderbilt MSF because it has one of the best finance faculties close to my interest in markets that many European schools do not have, and also the Masters in Finance program is only 40 students so you get the attention you need, whereas in Europe the MSF degree has turned out to be a big industry with many students/class (this also creates a lot of competition).
c) You are free to tailor your curriculum up to your needs and focus on the areas that you are interested
d) The Vanderbilt Master in Finance program had pretty high % of placements
They also offered me a scholarship making things easier.
2) Who would a Master in Finance be good for?
I came almost straight from undergrad and most of my classmates did the same. I would say that it is best for undergrads who want to learn more about finance and specialize more. It is also good for people that want to change career paths. Personally, I do not consider the MSF as ‘buying’ time to find a job. I’ve heard people saying that and I think this underestimates the quality of the degree. For me it is a degree that gives you cutting edge tools and advanced knowledge compared to a bachelor and MBA in order to specialize more and become really competitive in your area of interest.
3) Pros/Cons (if any) of your program?
a) One of the best finance faculty, especially if you want to work in the markets.
b) Good reputation and strong alumni network
c) Small class size d)tailor the program to your interests
d) You can do an internship throughout the year in a company in Nashville
e) Lasts for 10 months so you can start your job immediately after.
a) MSF programs in the US are not yet very well established so you have to network more
b) Not much recruiting focused on the MSFs specifically, although it has increased and every year a large number of the incoming students have internships in big firms that cooperate with the program
4) Anything else you want to add. OCR, student life, Nashville, etc. Feel free to talk about as much or as little.
Life in Nashville is great. It is the best place to be a student. Also the cost of living is low and the quality of life great. Many social events that you can attend.
I really liked the program because I had the chance to be taught and meet some of the best minds in industry, do a good internship at the same time and secure a great job three months before graduation although I was an international student. It was definitely a value-for-money.
Here is a link to the Vanderbilt University Master in Finance program