As an early career program, MIT’s Master of Finance targets those who are graduating from their undergrad — specifically from STEM topics. “We love the engineers, mathematicians, and computer scientists,” Pickett says.
The program enrolls approximately 120 students per year, and is 18 months in length with an optional 12-month fast track. With ‘action learning’ a core part of MIT, the school prides itself on taking theoretical knowledge and putting it into practice to prepare students for real-world situations. In the 18-month format, students also complete an internship to provide experience in the finance industry. It’s also mandatory that each student take at least one finance action learning course where they work alongside a company that’s solving a real problem.
“Given the mission and values of MIT in improving the world, a lot of our students come in with the mindset that they’re going to use finance to do some pretty innovative things that are going to create opportunities,” Pickett explains.
Pavel Lebedev chose MIT’s Master of Finance after several conversations with Pickett. “I believe that MFin’s academic curriculum is more technical, robust and quantitative, which aligned with my desire to explore the scientific and technological frontier of modern finance,” he says. “The fact that my program gives a lot of freedom to take classes across disciplines was valuable to me because I was eager to absorb that knowledge outside of my discipline. Also, Heidi Pickett showed me that MIT had the culture and camaraderie that I cherish.”
Alumni from programs all over the world speak about the importance of a flexible curriculum.
While many students are drawn to MIT for its hands-on learning model, its flexibility is another major asset. “Students can tailor their experience to meet their interests,” Pickett says. “This means they not only get a deep-dive into finance, but can also access courses taught across MIT.”
Plus, learning from the high-calibre faculty is another highlight for students, adds Pickett. “They get the opportunity to learn directly from Nobel laureate Professor Robert Merton, who is part of the Black-Scholes-Merton formula, which are formulas and techniques that are used in industry every day.”
MIT’S UNPARALLELED LEARNING
In recent years, the program has added concentrations such as financial engineering, capital markets, and corporate finance to help students go deeper into areas in which they want to bring expertise in the industry. Pickett says that with the rise of quants, they’ve added more quantitative courses such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, specifically in the context of the finance industry. Plus, they’ve incorporated a required programming literacy test, which all of their students must pass in order to meet their degree requirements
While Pickett says they don’t compare themselves to other master’s of finance programs, she’s proud of the breadth they have in their curriculum. “We’re not just training software engineers or financial engineers. While that is certainly a path our students can go, we also graduate a lot of students that are going to go into investment banking, asset management firms, hedge funds, and high frequency trading.”
Some background may be helpful before entering a master’s in finance program. Interested candidates must have a solid foundation in mathematics prior to beginning a graduate degree, according to Pickett. “Whether you want to be a quant or not, you’re going to have to know how to program. It will make your experience and academics that much easier since math is the foundation of finance.”
She also advises people to explore and understand the industry before joining a master’s program. “Gain an understanding of what the opportunities are and what is the most interesting to you so that you can determine which curriculum will be the most beneficial to your goals.”
For those interested in applying to MIT Sloan, Pickett says that passion is key to thriving in the graduate degree as well as a solid academic background. “We’re looking for somebody who loves finance and who comes to us with an understanding of what the finance industry can provide,” she says.
ADVICE FROM GRADUATES
Alumni also provide some words of encouragement for those applying for a master’s in finance. Monika Tran, a graduate of UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, emphasizes the importance of getting outside of your comfort zone. “Talking to strangers might be daunting, but the online webinars and conversations with current students and recent alumni will let you solve any uncertainties and questions you might have. Everyone will be happy to help you, as long as you reach out.”
“Make sure you really show your passion for finance and particularly what industry you find most interesting,” adds Imperial College Business School’s Ana-Maria Simionescu. “I think it is important to show how your interest in the topic impacted different areas of your development, be that reading a book, taking on a course or an internship. Also, don’t forget to showcase your personality a little bit — it’s important to demonstrate you are a well-rounded person.”
Max Lamberti, a UC Berkeley Haas School of Business grad, recommends that prospective students dive deep into interesting personal projects that showcase their interest and passion for finance. “Many candidates have great GPAs and test scores that will help them get through the initial screening process,” he says. “However, if you want to set yourself apart from the pack in interviews, one of the best ways to do so is to dazzle your counterpart with the impressive coding or data project you’ve been developing in your own time.”
Learn more about the educational and career journey about these Master’s in Finance students who are creating impact. Click on the links below.
MEET THE MASTERS
|Alumni Member||Master’s In Finance||Current Employer|
|Max Lamberti||UC Berkeley (Haas)||TransMarket Group|
|Bob Hoogendoorn||University of Cambridge (Judge)||Bank of America Merrill Lynch|
|Justine Buries||Georgetown University (McDonough)||The Boeing Company|
|Frédérick Sluzaly||HEC Paris||Credit Suisse|
|Ana-Maria Simionescu||Imperial College Business School||Willis Towers Watson|
|Zijie Sheng||NYU Shanghai and NYU Stern School of Business||Chuanghouse Capital|
|Elena Vollmer||University of Oxford (Saïd)||European Central Bank|
|Monika Tran||UCLA (Anderson)||ZS Associates|
|Jasmin Johnson||Vanderbilt University (Owen)||UBS|
|Pavel Lebedev||MIT (Sloan)||Jump Trading|
|Shruti Iyengar||London Business School||Sustainable Ventures|
|Sofía Arriba||IE Business School||Duff & Phelps|