Master of Science in Finance

A Master of Finance (M.Fin.) is a Master's degree designed to prepare graduates for careers in financial analysis, investment management and corporate finance. An alternate degree title is Master in Finance or Master of Science in Finance. The latter is abbreviated M.S.F. in North America, where it is becoming less common relative to the M.Fin., and "MSc in Finance", in the UK. The program generally requires one to two years of study, and may be a non-thesis degree. In the U.S. and Canada it may be positioned as a professional degree. The M.Fin. and MSc programs are generally more theoretically oriented than the MSF. In the typical program, the core curriculum is focused on investment analysis, corporate finance and financial management / managerial accounting. These topics are generally preceded by more fundamental coursework in economics, accounting, and quantitative methods (usually time value of money and introductory statistics). In many programs, these are a prerequisite for admission or assumed as known, and if part of the curriculum, students with appropriate background may be exempt from (several of) these. The program usually concludes with coursework in advanced topics — where several areas are integrated or applied — such as portfolio management, financial modeling, mergers and acquisitions and real options. In general, these programs emphasize quantitative topics, although may also offer some non-quantitative elective coursework, such as corporate governance, business ethics and business strategy. The curriculum often also includes financial economics and financial risk management as advanced topics, and sometimes managerial economics and quantitative finance / computational finance. These are areas which are usually studied as disciplines in their own right, via specialized degrees in economics and applied mathematics. On M.S.F. programs, the exposure will usually be limited to the generalist level: these areas of economics are taught to strengthen the theoretical underpin of the degree, however, since the emphasis is application, they are not developed; the computational topics, although practical, are too technical for a generalist finance degree. As regards the M.Fin. / MSc here, the treatment is generally substantive, including quantitative-oriented coursework as part of the core curriculum; see comparison below. Programs usually require a bachelor's degree prior to admission, but many do not require that the undergraduate major be in finance, economics, or even general business. The usual requirement is a sufficient level of numeracy, often including exposure to probability / statistics and calculus; the M.Fin. and MSc will often require more advanced topics such as linear algebra and differential equations. The M.Fin. may also require a greater background in Finance or Economics than the M.S.F. Some programs may require work experience (sometimes at the managerial level), particularly if the candidate lacks a relevant undergraduate degree.

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