Is a Specialized Master's in Finance Right For You?

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019
By Hannah DeBevoise
Photo by iStock
An MBA is often the go-to degree for anyone considering graduate business school. However, the specialized master’s degree is growing in popularity.

An MBA is often the go-to degree for anyone considering graduate business school. However, it doesn’t need to be. There are different options, like the specialized master’s degree. This degree choice is fast gaining in popularity for a reason, especially if you are interested in a specific field of business.

Have you completed a bachelor's degree in economics, business, finance, or a STEM field and are interested in gaining more specialized knowledge in the field? If so, this unique approach to furthering your education may be an option for you. Kick-start your career, or add even more value to your current skills, with a master’s in finance degree.

Read on to learn if a specialized master’s in finance can help you achieve your career goals.

What Is a Specialized Master’s in Finance Degree?

This degree offers a hyper-focused approach for those interested in a finance-first career. If there is a particular sector you want to home in on, this type of specialized curriculum will allow you to get there.

So what is the difference between an MBA and a specialized master’s? Unlike the more general course selections of an MBA, with a specialized master’s you won’t skim the surface of your particular subject. Instead, you’ll dive deep into your course of study. The whole time, you'll learn the ins and outs of your desired field with a slew of related electives.

People who earn their master’s in finance degree may have job titles such as financial manager, financial analyst, proprietary trader, insurance underwriter, or personal finance advisor. Those are only a few of the many careers where such a degree may be useful and in demand.

Worried about market saturation? Who isn't? A specialized degree can give you a boost of confidence in knowing you have a distinct set of skills and knowledge that will help set yourself apart from the rest of the MBA crowd.

Many candidates competing for the jobs in the markets you’re interested in may have earned an MBA. But how many will have a specialized master’s in finance that directly aligns with the needs of the position in question? You’ll bring a different, relevant skill set to the hiring table.

How to Start Your Master’s in Finance Degree

First, complete your undergraduate program (that doesn’t mean it needs to be an undergraduate business degree!). Then, find an AACSB-accredited school. Compare the program offerings among the best business schools worldwide. What program most aligns with your goals?

Some programs don’t require that you have previous work experience in order to qualify or be accepted. Others require that you have a small amount of work or internship experience. Either way, taking the GMAT™ or GRE exam is commonly required as a qualification.

But a specialized master’s in finance is not one-size-fits-all. Degree variations allow students to choose the best specialization to fit their individual career path. Think:

  • Security Analysis and Portfolio Management
  • Applied Economics and Finance
  • Master of Risk Management
  • Financial Analysis
  • Quantitative Finance

Those are just a few of the options. Do your research. Speak with the admissions departments of the business schools you're most interested in. Ask for more information to determine whether you're a good fit for the program, and whether the program is a good fit for you.

The Pros and Cons of a Specialized Master's in Finance

Job opportunities in the financial sector are abundant—if you can get an interview with an employer who understands the unique advantages of your degree.

While a specialized degree in finance has plenty of positive aspects, it also has a potential drawback. You won’t have the same generalized foundation as graduates from a standard MBA program. An MBA provides a broad managerial approach and a broad foundation.

Employers with a more traditional mindset may prefer a candidate to have an MBA over a specialized master’s of finance degree. They may not understand the benefits of having an employee with such a specialized degree. But as these degrees become more well known, that concern should start to become a thing of the past.

Make a Specialized Master's in Finance Work for You

Think about your interests. What is your intended career and what are your professional goals? What sort of impact do you hope to make? Consider your options, compare the top business schools, and choose the best business school for you.

With part-time, full-time, online, and hybrid options available, you can make your studies work with both your schedule and lifestyle. If you finish before the two-year mark you can begin your career search faster. Plus, because specialized master’s in finance programs are available online, you can have the flexibility you crave with the isolated, laser-focused training you prefer.

Looking to stand out when you apply for jobs? Find a specialized master’s in finance at an AACSB-accredited institution that fits your needs today.

Hannah DeBevoise
Social Media Manager, AACSB International
The views expressed by contributors to AACSB Insights do not represent an official position of AACSB, unless clearly stated.
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