MBA Vs Master's in Financial Engineering (MFE)

Feb 13, 2018

Here we discuss what makes a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Financial Engineering degree program unique. Explore common courses, admissions requirements and other details for each degree program.

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Although they both prepare graduates for business-related careers, Master of Business Administration and Master of Financial Engineering degree programs are very different. Students interested in developing leadership skills for careers in finance and other areas of business may want to pursue a Master of Business Administration, while those interested in the quantitative side of finance may wish to earn a Master of Financial Engineering. Continue to compare and contrast these two degree programs below.

Comparing a Master of Business Administration to a Master's in Financial Engineering

Master of Business Administration

Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree programs are broad and flexible programs that prepare students for a variety of business-related careers. Many MBA programs can be completed in 1 to 2 years, are available in on-campus, online or even hybrid formats, and allow students to complete the program while attending full- or part-time. These programs typically require an internship or capstone project for students to apply the knowledge they have obtained to real-world situations and offer a wide range of concentrations, such as accounting, finance, marketing, organizational leadership, media management, human resources, real estate, public administration, information systems, environmental management and many more.

Due to the many different concentrations, elective courses vary greatly, but common core courses usually discuss topics in financial accounting, organizational behavior, ethics, business strategy, project management, information and technology management, statistics and economics. Graduates of this degree program are prepared to work in administrative and/or leadership positions across various industries in the general field of business, including positions as executives, managers and analysts.

Master of Financial Engineering

Master of Financial Engineering (MFE) degree programs are more specific, technical and often Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) designated programs that give students the quantitative skills for more analytic careers in finance. These programs can be completed in as little as 12 to 15 months, are typically offered on-campus and may only be available full-time. Most MFE programs require students to complete an internship and final project in applied finance to gain real-world experience, and these programs offer various financial seminars.

Some common core course topics for these degree programs include fixed income markets, stochastic calculus, empirical methods in finance, financial risk management, investments, derivative markets, financial innovation and behavioral finance. There is a technological element to the program, too, with courses in computational methods, machine learning and data science. Graduates of this degree program usually work as financial engineers or similar careers in areas like risk management, academia, asset management, flow trading, exchange and other areas for the government or different organizations and businesses.

Common Entrance Requirements

MBA and MFE degree programs usually require applicants to submit the appropriate applications, official transcripts, GRE or GMAT scores, letters of recommendation, essays/statements of purpose and/or a resume. In addition to these common requirements, MBA programs may require applicants to have relevant work experience. These programs typically do not require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree in a particular field and may have a minimum GPA requirement as low as a 2.0. In contrast, MFE degree programs usually expect applicants to have experience with computational programming, strong quantitative backgrounds, strong speaking and writing skills and experience with mathematical tools. These programs usually recommend, but may not require, work experience. They usually require chosen applicants to complete an interview process prior to full admission into the program.

An MBA program is a more managerial-focused degree program that can be applied to a particular area in business, while an MFE program is a quantitative degree program that focuses on finance analytics. Each degree program offers its own diverse array of business-related courses, as well as having specific admissions requirements.

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