Master’s in Finance (MFin) or Masters in Business Administration (MBA)

Master’s in Finance (MFin) or Masters in Business Administration (MBA): What Makes the Most Sense for Finance Professionals?

If you come from a finance background, or aspire to build a career in one, chances are that this question has crossed your mind at least a dozen times. An advanced degree often becomes a prerequisite for career enhancement, and there is a moderate possibility that you might not be considered for your dream job or that upcoming promotion if you do not possess the degree.

While the lack of an advance master’s degree may not be a hurdle with early-stage businesses or high growth startups (since they themselves offer a steep learning curve), most large organization value an advance master’s as they have historical evidence of their employees performing more efficiently post their masters. Some large markets such as North America and Asia even have unwritten rules where companies will take your education into consideration while considering you for in-house and external opportunities. Thus, for finance professionals, it makes immense sense to seriously consider an advanced masters to propel their professional careers into a high growth trajectory.

When deliberating options for Finance education, the Master’s in Finance or an MBA are the default options given the relevance of their skillsets and their experience. While both the degrees are prominent options amongst prospective candidates, one must keep in mind that they are geared towards different objectives and can differ in their content as well as its delivery in the classroom.

Masters in Finance (MFin):

This degree is mainly for early career professionals with work experience ranging from 0 – 4 years, who intend to build a career in the financial services industry or in finance roles within large organizations.

While formal work experience is not a prerequisite, some programs such as the London Business School Masters in Finance or the Cambridge Judge Masters in Finance value a couple of years of work experience prior to starting the program. This degree can be a gateway to careers in Investment Banking, Private Equity, Asset Management or Corporate Finance for young graduates who seek to break into these highly competitive industries at an early stage of their careers.

Candidates who have a strong quant background, a passion for finance, love tracking the equity markets and providing their stock recommendations and have the ability to work with large data sets are the ones who will be best suited for this degree. One key factor to keep in mind is that this degree is geared towards the finance domain and hence most of the core and the electives will be relating to finance or its allied functions. Thus, one can’t expect to gain knowledge of other functions such as marketing, operations etc. through this degree.

Most Masters in Finance degrees typically tend to be 1 year in duration and will feed Analyst designations in large banks (which are entry level/slightly above entry level positions) that command a compensation in the range of a $100-120k.

Master of Business Administration (MBA):

The MBA is probably one of the most well-known and established degrees in business education which is targeted towards mid-career professionals having experience ranging from 3-8 years across multiple industries. Unlike the Masters in Finance which seeks to enhance the domain knowledge of finance, the MBA is geared towards building leadership skills and developing an overall understanding of business. Since business management is at the heart of this degree, it has a much broader target audience which spans across industries and functions since the skills tend to be more general cutting across industries. While one can choose a range of electives in finance, there is an option to also diversify your educational experience with electives across other relevant functions such as supply chain, marketing, organization behavior, public policy etc. Mid-career professionals who want to fast track their career or pivot their industries are probably the best suited candidates for the MBA. 

The MBA degree can vary between 1-year (typically within Europe) and 2-year (typically within North America) formats and will feed into the Associate / Manager designations with compensation varying between $150-200k. The classroom experience will be more case based and engaging as peer learning is a key hallmark of the MBA, additionally the electives span across a spectrum of subjects with most programs encouraging signing up for electives from different school within the parent university.


 Master’s in financeMBA
Target AudienceEarly Career ProfessionalsMid-Career Professionals
ObjectiveBuild domain expertise in financeEnhance leadership skills and business understanding
Work Experience0 – 4 years3 – 8 years
Undergraduate Education RequirementsSTEM, Business, Economics (Quant focused preferred)Open for all (Business Schools value diversity)
GRE/GMATImportant factor but can be offset with relevant courseworkImportant factor due to intense competition
Duration1 year1 or 2 years depending on program
Class sizeSmaller classroom (60-120 students)Larger classroom size (200+ students)
CoreFinance focused coreBusiness focused core
ElectivesAll electives would relate to FinanceElectives span across multiple streams and functions
InternshipTypically, absent given short durationMost MBA programs tend to have an internship option
Post graduation IndustriesInvestment Banking, Equity Research, Private Equity, Asset Management, Corporate FinanceConsulting, Investment Banking, Product Management, Leadership Programs
Postgraduation Designations (Finance)AnalystAssociate
Median compensation$100 – 120k$150 – 200k

As you can see from the table above, finance is a lucrative and rewarding career field to be in. There are many degrees across prominent schools available for the same. We, at The MBA Edge will help you make a suitable choice for your career