Jackie Wilbur on the Master of Finance Program: Confronting Global Challenges

In the last few months, the Occupy Wall Street movement has brought a lot of attention to the finance industry. However, MIT’s Sloan School of Management has been focused on this area for over 40 years. Our finance faculty have been conducting cutting-edge research, and rigorously teaching our students, ensuring that our finance students are prepared—both in theory and practice—to take on the types of leadership roles required in this area, particularly in light of the recent economic crisis.

As education must play a key role in preventing future crises, one of our goals is to educate more people in the area of finance. In 2008 we launched an innovative Master of Finance (MFin) program–a 12-month degree that provides deeper insight into finance with an emphasis on analytical skills – in addition to continuing to educate our MBAs in the areas of finance.  As Prof. Andrew Lo explained at that time, if a bridge collapses, you don’t stop training engineers. Instead, you train more engineers and you train them better.  The Master of Finance program is designed to increase the number of MIT Sloan graduates who will become the next generation of finance leaders.

Our aim in this program has been to admit students with top finance potential and to cultivate in these students an appreciation of the ethical implications of finance, including the profession’s responsibility to society. We want to develop principled, innovative leaders who generate ideas that advance financial management practice and improve the world. Our faculty believes that advancing management practice is a way to improve the world, and that our Master of Finance program employs our competitive advantage to meet these aims.

The program is different from our MBA program in that it targets younger students with 0-2 years of work experience who are specifically seeking state-of-the-art analytic skills in finance through a curriculum that combines theory and action learning. While the MBA students have the option to take up to eight finance courses, students in the Master of Finance Program take 10-12 specialized courses. They study the current and future best practices in using finance models, including a deep understanding of their limits.

MFin students are recent college graduates who typically have majored in economics, finance, computer science, engineering and math. Regardless of their backgrounds, they all share one thing: a passion for finance.

Graduates of the Master of Finance program are desirable job candidates for more entry-level positions than our MBA graduates. In last year’s class, 85% of the Master of Finance class had job offers as of graduation with most students obtaining positions in sales and trading, risk management, treasury and corporate finance, asset management, hedge funds, financial consulting, and the public sector.

We are aggressively expanding the Program. In its first two years, we more than doubled the program size from 26 to 59 students. With 73 students enrolled this year, we plan to continue our growth trajectory to reach a critical mass of 120 students in 2012.

It’s clear that education is critical in order to address the world’s financial problems. Through research, teaching, and innovative programs such as the Master of Finance, MIT Sloan continues to lead the way in confronting the great global challenges we face.

Jackie Wilbur is Executive Director, Master’s Degree Programs

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