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How To Find The Best MBA Program For A Career In Finance & Banking

It can seem difficult to break into finance and banking. How do you build the right connections? How do you make sure you MBA will pay off? How do you land that perfect job? Many of these challenges boil down to choosing the right MBA program for you.

For those interested in finance and banking, the outlook looks optimistic. According to PayScale, finance offers the second highest paying salary during the first five years.

Ilana Kowarski, a reporter at US News, recently released five tips from experts on how you can choose the right MBA program for finance, banking.

1) Gauge whether students can convert summer internships into full-time jobs
One important piece of advice when looking at MBA programs is to look at the institution’s conversion rate. According to Kowarski, the conversion rate is “the percentage of its students with summer internships who are hired to work full time at the firm where they intern.”

Drew Pascarella is a lecturer of finance at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management. Pascarella says an MBA program’s conversion rate is especially important for those in finance and banking.

“In investment banking, the recruiting process is centered on the summer internship process,” Pascarella tells US News. “Investment banks make the vast majority of full-time offers to their summer interns; few other offers are available. Because of this, MBAs need to make sure they can convert internships to full-time offers.”

2) Aim for a math intensive MBA program
In the finance and banking industry, quantitative analytical skills are a requirement. Before committing to a program, check out the institution’s curriculum.

Mohamed Kamara is a first-year MBA student at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Kamara tells US News that his decision to attend UPenn was based on its “rigorous quantitative curriculum.”

3) Choose schools with finance courses that intrigue you
There are various areas of focus within finance that may interest you. One of the best ways to learn more about these interests is to take a look at an institution’s finance courses.

Scott Edinburgh is the founder of admissions consulting firm Personal MBA Coach. Edinburgh tells US News that MBA programs will vary in offering different types of finance. A specific MBA program may offer a curriculum in behavioral finance—“a field that focuses on how emotions influence financial decisions and contribute to the rise and fall of markets.” Choosing the right focus for you can help you explore your interests further.

4) Look for programs with courses that apply to both publicly traded and privately held companies
Craig Everett is an assistant professor of finance at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management. Everett tells US News that an important consideration when looking at programs is to see if the courses will apply to publically traded and privately held companies. “MBA applicants should look for schools that will give them skills that can be applied at both public and private companies, especially if they plan on working in private equity, venture capital or entrepreneurial finance, since these are all fields where knowledge of private finance principles will be essential.”

5) Choose schools with a balance of theory-oriented and practice-oriented faculty
Learning concepts theoretically is important, but if you aren’t able to practice and apply what you learn, those theories won’t be of much help. Edinburgh tells US News that prospective students should choose schools that have the right balance of both theory-oriented and practice-oriented faculty. “Having a nice balance is good because you get a strong academic theory from the true academics as well as more of a real-world exposure from someone who might be a visiting professor,” Edinburgh says. “Most schools have both, but some schools have more of one than another, and that’s something that I advise clients to look at.”

Sources: US News, PayScale