Growing up in Athens, Greece, George Manalis had always wanted to live the American dream and climb the corporate finance ladder. When the time came for him to pursue a master’s degree that would advance his skills, he knew it was time to go to the US. His first order of business was deciding which university to apply to.
While researching the country’s business schools, he found Gies College of Business at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and its unique characteristics, listed among the upper echelons of B-schools.
“Apart from being a top-ranked business school, Gies College of Business is well-respected for its knowledge in financial markets,” he explains. “Furthermore, it was unique in the sense that it allows students to tailor their degrees without restriction, enabling us to avoid ‘mandatory’ courses that were irrelevant to our goals.”
Manalis is right. The STEM-designated Master of Science in Finance (MSF) was designed to thoroughly prepare students for the dynamic world of finance. It also boasts a comprehensive, cutting-edge curriculum taught by an impressive lineup of expert educators, industry leaders and world-class researchers.
It is also extremely relevant. The 15-month curriculum provides learners with a strong foundation in the principles, practices and emerging concepts used today in the industry. Students are encouraged to customise their qualifications with one of five specialisation tracks: Asset Management, Corporate Finance, Data Analytics and Fintech, as well as Quantitative Finance. Each specialisation requires a minimum of 16-credit hours.
In addition, students also have the choice of completing one of the three concentrations that MSF offers: Accountancy; Business and Public Policy; and Data Analytics in Finance. A minimum of 12 course credits is required for a concentration.
A wide range of electives further ensures no two curricula are ever the same, covering the topics of Financial Engineering, Financial Modelling, Enterprise Risk Management, Wealth Management, Real Estate Fundamentals, Behavioural Finance, Health Care Policy, Social Impact Investing, Growth Corporate Capital Funding, Project Management, Financial Innovation, International Finance, and Investment Banking, amongst many more.
With endless options comes the need for keen guidance. Thankfully, the Master of Science in Finance has plenty of it. Student Arkin Shah from Mumbai, India, confirms this, stating: “Professor Martin Widdicks would meet with me plenty of times throughout the semester to help me choose my classes and also to support me academically with any questions I might have. He was extremely patient with me considering the number of times I showed up for help.”
Widdicks, MSF academic director, is one of the many approachable and supportive Gies College of Business faculty members, setting the standards of excellence in research, teaching and mentoring. Their reputations present the perfect opportunity for students to get a glimpse into their future well before graduating.
Once students are confident enough to follow in the footsteps of their mentors, they could opt to pursue an optional full semester practicum project. The opportunity entails working on real-world projects for national and international organisations.
Dhivyaanganaa Venkataraman Sekar from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, credits the business school’s robust Career Services office for always lending a helping hand. With their guidance, she landed the summer internship of her dreams.
Manalis is equally grateful. “The team has taught me a lot when it comes to CVs, cover letters, searching for jobs, and networking,” he says. “Before coming to Gies College of Business, I never thought I could be taught to build my network. However, the career services team has really helped me grasp the art of networking effectively.”
Little wonder why graduates step out of Gies College of Business and into the workforce ready to immediately add value. As investment analysts, business valuation associates or even data analysts, they go on to work for major corporations such as PwC, Enfusion, Nanhua USA, Bloomberg, Deloitte, and KPMG China. 93% of 2021 MSF graduates landed a job within three months of graduation.
With four deadlines for the Fall 2022 intake, becoming a finance student at Gies College of Business has never been easier. So what are you waiting for? Click here to fast-track your journey to becoming a Master of Science in Finance student today.