What role does the CFA play in the MSF program?
Chartered Financial Analyst
What areas of finance can I concentrate in?
One of the advantages at ILLINOIS is you can earn a general finance degree OR you can take a series of courses that allow you to learn more in-depth knowledge about a specific area. These specializations include banking, corporate finance, insurance and risk management, investments, asset management, quantitative finance, and real estate. An academic advisor will work closely with you to select the appropriate sequence of courses that meet your individual goals.
How many classes can I take in other departments on campus?
As an MSF student you are required to take four core classes in Finance (16 hours) and 12 hours of additional Finance electives. You can select the remaining 12 hours from a related discipline of your choice, including Accounting, Economics, Math, etc., or you can take more Finance electives.
Will I have an advisor to plan my studies?
Yes! We have a full-time faculty member with extensive experience to guide you as you develop your study plan. You will work closely with Professor Mark Vonnahme, Director of the MSF program, to define your study plan. Professor Vonnahme provides individualized attention for MSF students so that their study plans accurately reflect their academic goals.
When are classes held for the MSF Program?
Classes in the College of Business are typically held Monday through Thursday. During the summer term, MSF students take two courses which are held daily Monday through Thursday.
During the Fall and Spring terms classes are again offered Monday through Thursday, typically during the day, but in some cases a class is offered in the evening. A class is typically held two days a week for an hour and forty minutes each day.
Throughout the entire year, Friday afternoons are typically reserved for Professional Development activities such as guest lecturers, field trips, and other career development activities.
Are the same finance courses offered every semester?
The University of Illinois has a vast number of finance course offerings. However, all courses are not offered each semester. When developing a study plan, students should note the terms that courses are offered in order to sequence their courses to meet their goals. Professor Vonnahme, MSF Director, is available to guide students with their plans.
Can I study a PhD in Finance after the MSF?
In some cases graduates of our MSF program decide to pursue an academic career and continue on to a doctoral program in finance. However, this is not the route we would recommend, as both programs have different goals. The MSF is a professional program focused on practictioners of finance. Therefore, the curriculum emphasizes applications and practical approaches. Doctoral programs in finance focus on research.
The PhD program at Illinois is extremely competitive, admitting only 4 or 5 new students a year from several hundred applicants. Illinois PhD
How will the MSF prepare me for the CFA examinations?
The MSF curriculum provides very good preparation for CFA Level I and II examinations. Students also have the opportunity to attend a CFA Level I preparatory course offered every spring semester.
Should I pursue an MSF after an MBA?
The MSF program is for individuals with a strong desire to pursue a professional career in finance. MBA graduates with a strong interest in a finance career who feel they lack solid training in finance will find the MSF program very beneficial to their careers.
Are there any waivers of required coursework?
No. We offer uniquely designed required courses that focus on applications of fundamental analytical tools. Students are required to take all four courses (Corporate Finance & Valuation, Quantitative Methods, Investments, and Financial Economics) to ensure adequate preparation for electives.
How should I prepare for the summer courses?
A good way to prepare for summer courses is by reviewing material in Corporate Finance, Accounting, and Statistics. Some useful sources of basic material in these areas are:
a) Finance in a Nutshell: A no-nonsense companion to the tools and techniques of finance by Javier Estrada (MSF alumnus and Professor of Finance at the IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain), Prentice Hall, 2005
b) Understanding Financial Statements by Lyn M. Fraser and Aileen Ormiston, Prentice Hall, 5th edition, 1998
c) Statistics for Business and Economics by Paul Newbold, William L. Carlson, and Betty Thorne, Prentice Hall, 6th edition, 2006
Does the program offer preparatory courses? Are those required?
Yes, we offer two preparatory workshops prior to the start of summer courses to ensure that all students have an understanding of key basic concepts in Finance/Accounting and Math/Statistics. Students will be required to attend either or both of these workshops based on their prior academic studies.
How should I expect to use software in my coursework?
Students will be trained in using software packages, such as Excel, Crystal Ball, and SAS, for financial applications in the summer required courses. Students use these software tools in projects and applications in elective coursework.
Are there opportunities to practice my finance skills outside the classroom?
Yes. MSF students can participate in the MSF Practicum , the James A. Gentry Case Competition in Corporate Finance, and the annual Investment Challenge.
How many courses can I take during my MSF studies?
A student can take a maximum of 16 semester courses. The number of courses could be higher if a student elects to take any of the several half-semester modules in specialized topics.
Does the program require a thesis?
No. The program is solely based on coursework. Students interested in working on a research project can make arrangements with individual faculty.
Is there a minimum stay in the program? Can I transfer to another program during my studies in the MSF?
Students enrolling in the MSF program should plan to stay for one year (summer, fall, and spring). Some students transfer to other programs in the College of Business to continue their graduate education after completing the MSF program.