Even a global ranking that gives short shrift to B-schools in the United States pays its respects to the school that styles itself “the birthplace of modern finance.” MIT Sloan School of Management’s Master of Finance was again the only U.S. finance master’s program to make the top 25 in the Financial Times‘ annual ranking of pre-experience programs, landing seventh in a sea of European schools in the just-released 2018 list. HEC Paris was named the top pre-experience program (in which students possess little to no background in finance), while London Business School was named the No. 1 post-experience program (comprised of students who have already worked in the financial sector).
For MIT, the No. 7 rank was a mark-down from the No. 5 spot of the last two years — this despite the school again achieving the top spot for the highest average salary in 2018 out of all 65 participating schools: $140,888. That makes three years in a row MIT has outclassed all comers in what many consider the most important stat of all: how much grads can expect to make. HEC Paris was next-highest at $135,873.
“MIT is known for its rigor, and MFin is no exception,” says Heidi Pickett, director of MIT’s MFin program, in a news release. “Our rigorous and quantitative STEM curriculum creates collaborative problem solvers, with the skills necessary to hit the ground running.”
‘ACTION LEARNING’ AND THE MOST ADVANCED THEORIES & MODELS
Launched in 2009, MIT Sloan’s MFin features a 12- or 18-month STEM curriculum that emphasizes a foundation in how markets work and “are engineered around the most advanced financial theories, quantitative models, and banking and finance industry practices,” according to the school’s announcement of its No. 7 spot in the FT ranking. “An MFin degree positions students for success among highly sought-after employers: asset managers, consulting firms, investment and corporate banks, brokerage firms, financial data providers, ratings firms, hedge funds, venture capitalists, insurance companies, public institutions, fintech, international finance and more, from Fortune 500 companies to leading-edge boutiques.”
MFin students participate in “action learning” in one of two ways: through Proseminars, which offer real-world financial problem-solving experiences, or via the Finance Research Practicum, with a focus on team research and analysis. “While only one of these courses is required, students often choose more than one to gain additional practical experience in finance and social skills critical for success in a diverse global economy,” according to a MIT news release. “Students work alongside corporate partners, faculty, and a diverse cross-section of fellow MIT students on collaborative teams, gaining insight and coaching from experts, building networks, and enhancing portfolios of outcome-oriented case studies.”
After MIT, the next U.S. school in the FT pre-experience ranking was the Master of Finance at the University of Maryland Smith School of Business, up 8 points to No. 30. Brandeis University International Business School was 35th (down from 22nd), and previously unranked Bentley University was 40th; among the 14 total U.S. schools ranked by FT, none was an M7 school. Missing in action were such prestige players as NYU Stern, Georgetown, Texas-Austin, and Washington University or the master’s in quant-heavy financial engineering graduate degrees at UC-Berkeley and UCLA Anderson, or the computational finance master’s program at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School (see our Specialized Master’s Degrees In Business Directory for even more options). In the post-experience ranking, which comprises just six schools, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was fifth and Florida International University’s Chapman Graduate School of Business was sixth. (See the bottom of this page for the post-experience finance master’s ranking, and pages 2 and 3 for the complete 65-school pre-experience ranking.)
ESCP EUROPE: ‘NUMBER 1 IN THE UK AND 2 IN FRANCE’
The FT rankings are based on information collected in a pair of surveys: The first is provided by the business schools and the second by alumni who completed their degrees in 2015. The rankings’ methodology includes, among other factors, career progression, salary increase, and percentage of female faculty members.
After a year hiatus in which fellow French school EDHEC unexpectedly claimed the crown, HEC Paris returned to the top spot in the FT pre-experience ranking, where it has been three of the last four years in the now-eight-year-old ranking. EDHEC, meanwhile, dropped back to No. 3, leapfrogged by ESCP Europe, whose Advanced Master in Finance was ranked No. 4 in 2017. With campuses in both France and the UK, the ESCP program can — and does — claim to be “number 1 in the UK and 2 in France,” which “reaffirms its position as the best finance course.”
It certainly ranks highly in key categories, at any rate. The ESCP program earns a No. 1 for its career progression, international experience, and its career services, and also achieved an impressive 92% in its “aims achieved.”
“Our alumni community has a strong involvement in keeping the course relevant,” says Philippe Thomas, ESCP professor and academic director of the finance master’s program. “They are very active in our Advisory Board, and work closely with our faculty to ensure high course quality teaching and careful selection criteria for students.”
Adds ESCP Europe Dean Frank Bournois: “This ESCP Europe Specialized Master is a program striving for and achieving academic and professional excellence. It enjoys the unique positioning of campuses in two countries, which allows students to grasp, in addition to the technical aspects of the trade, the individual characteristics of two very different marketplaces. The presence in London, the financial center of the world, also makes the program attractive to students from around the globe.”
AT IMPERIAL, A STRONG STATEMENT ON FEMALE REPRESENTATION
After HEC Paris first, ESCP second, and EDHEC third, the top 10 pre-experience programs are still very Gallic-centric — just as they were last year: Skema Business School, based in Lille, France, at No. 4; France’s Essec Business School at No. 5; Switzerland’s University of St. Gallen at No. 6; MIT Sloan at No. 7; Italy’s SDA Bocconi at No. 8; Imperial College Business School at No. 9; and the Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance at No. 10.
The first strictly UK school on the list, Imperial’s MSc Finance enters the global top 10 in the FT rankings for the first time, having been in 12th last year and 13th in 2016. It is also the only B-school in the top 10 to have achieved equal numbers of men and women in its program, which Leila Guerra, associate dean of programs at Imperial, says represents the school’s strategic priority in striving for gender balance across its programs.
“This result highlights two of our core strengths: our strong reputation in finance, and the diversity of our student body,” Guerra says in an announcement hailing the school’s No. 9 ranking. “Today’s ranking is a testament to our hard work and commitment to all our finance programmes. In a technology driven world, our students are best positioned to succeed in the finance industry.”
According to Imperial’s latest employment report, 95% of MSc Finance students from the 2017 graduating class were employed three months after graduation. That plus the new ranking are not a bad way to mark the program’s 20th year, says Lara Cathcart, director of Imperial’s MSc Finance.
“This ranking is an excellent result for the School and for our MSc Finance program,” Cathcart says in a prepared statement. “In particular, the climb to 1st overall in the UK for achieving equal gender representation on the program highlights the support that Imperial is giving female professionals in the finance industry, which has for so long been male-dominated. We hope that the program’s strong female representation will encourage greater diversity across our other MSc programs and also in the city and elsewhere.”
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