If you have an interest in pursuing a graduate degree in the field of finance, there are several options available to you, including the Master of Science (MS) in Financial Engineering and the Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Finance. Although these two degrees both center on the subject of finance, there are several significant differences between the two. In the sections below, we will explore the basics of each degree, what possible careers could apply, and the coursework you could take.
Comparing an MS in Financial Engineering with an MBA in Finance
MS in Financial Engineering
Financial engineering is a field of study that applies the theories and methods of physics, programming, applied mathematics, and engineering to finance. Although it has the term 'engineering' in the title, this degree isn't really a traditional engineering degree. Through a program of this type, you will learn how to develop financial models and how to solve problems in the world of finance. The MS in Financial Engineering can prepare you for a career as a securities trader, a risk manager, or an investment banker.
Master's degree programs in financial engineering will usually require anywhere from 30-36 credits depending on the program, and can take about two years to complete. The coursework involves a range of topics that include different methods and theories of modeling, computer engineering, simulation methods, and machine learning. You might also choose electives in such subjects as risk management, quantitative finance, and economics, and these electives could depend on your chosen focus area or concentration. Some programs might also require that you take a capstone class that could include a thesis or a special project.
MBA in Finance
The MBA in Finance is a business administration degree that focuses on finance-related topics such as investments, banking, stocks and bonds, and markets. This specialized MBA can prepare you for a similar career as the master's in financial engineering, and you could go on to become an investment banker, a wealth manager, or a finance director. However, unlike the master's in financial engineering, this MBA degree is strictly in the realm of business management and administration, and doesn't include coursework in the hard sciences.
The credits needed to earn an MBA in Finance range from 30-40, and you can complete your degree program in anywhere from 1-2 years, depending on the program or if you attend part time or full time. Most programs will require that you complete core coursework in the subjects of leadership skills, strategic management, and marketing management. To fulfill your finance specialization, you could also take coursework in the realm of corporate or international finance, investment theory and analysis, and the management and practices of financial institutions. You might also need to take a capstone course if your program requires it.
There will be some common entrance requirements for both types of programs, which include an application, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. More often than not, GRE scores will also be required for both programs. However, it's best to check with the specific graduate program as the GRE requirement for some MBA programs can sometimes be waived. Some MS in Financial Engineering programs might also require some prerequisite coursework in the fields of engineering, math, finance, or computer engineering.
The MS in Financial Engineering and the MBA in Finance are similar in terms of overall subject matter, but different in terms of coursework. There is a common set of entrance requirements for both kinds of programs; however, you will need a science background for admission into a financial engineering program.