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What Are the Prerequisites for a Master’s in Finance?

Although every graduate program or department will have unique requirements, there are standard prerequisites for a Master’s in Finance. These prerequisites ensure that students are prepared to take and pass challenging financial classes in Master’s in Finance programs.

What Prerequisites are Required?

Most Master’s in Finance programs will require students to have taken classes in various financial topics. This includes corporate finance and accounting analysis courses that cover the principles and practices of business finance professionals. These courses focus on capital structure, project evaluation and corporate governance. Students should be familiar with standard corporate policies toward debt, equity and dividends. Classes on money or capital markets will be required. These will cover the behavior, organization and management of financial institutions. They will also introduce students to monetary policies, financial institutions and the Federal Reserve System.


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Classes on investments will cover the operations of security markets, procedures for analysis of securities and the sources and demands for investment capital. Microeconomics and macroeconomics are two required prerequisites for Master’s in Finance programs. The former will cover things like resource allocation and price determination, while the latter will cover the factors that impact employment, income, price levels and fiscal policies. Program candidates must also have a quantitative background that includes courses in probability, statistics, linear algebra, multivariate calculus, numerical analysis and differential equations.

What Prerequisites are Sometimes Required?

Depending on the specialization, some Master’s in Finance programs may require prerequisites in communication, mathematical tools, computer programming and statistical and econometric applications. Students who want to work in the information technology side of trading and investments may be required to be familiar with C and C++ programming. Students who will focus on market research or computational and management tools will need to have taken classes in Matlab software. Most undergraduate students will have taken classes in physics, economics, engineering, computer science and applied mathematics.

Students should have taken class in writing, speaking and presentation skills. These could be classes in English writing, speech or composition. Business communication classes are becoming required more and more because students must know the theories and practices of effective communication in business environments. It may help the student’s application if they have taken classes on public speaking that involve oral presentations and written assignments. Students should also take a class on technical writing that introduces them to the rhetorical approach to reading and writing argumentative discourse.

Ideal Candidates

The strongest candidates for Master in Finance programs have an impressive breadth of strengths. At the minimum, they will have high GRE or GMAT test scores and exceptional grades. Their personal statements and recommendations will be impressive. What sets apart the strongest candidates is a passion for financial excellence, accountability and corporate responsibility. It is very helpful to have internship and employment experiences in various financial fields.

Candidates should have a basic understanding of the fundamental quantitative tools employed by financial professionals in various sectors. These include computational tools related to risk statistics, probability, operational optimization and economic theory. Quantitative tools and analysis are the keys to strengthening risk management practices. A driving force behind students should be a passion for academic research and the real-world financial industry.

Having completed more prerequisites for a Master’s in Finance program will allow students to spend their time and energy on acquiring the advanced skills that will prepare them for a wide range of careers both inside and outside the financial industry.

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