There is an amusing FedEx TV commercial available on YouTube which has the slogan “Even an MBA can do it.” Perhaps this shows there is a gentle backlash against the pretentions of MBAs in the US, the numbers of which have grown to rival lawyers.
But at Cambridge Judge Business School the MBA and MFin degrees work closely together and I teach on both courses. The MFin structure is similar to that of the MFin and a number of applicants consider both degrees. So a common question is, what’s the difference and why do we have different admission rules?
The MFin is for people with finance experience who are pretty certain they want to work in finance for some years to come. Students need to be very good analytically to pass the degree because that’s what is needed in the finance business. We typically require a GPA of 3.6 or higher, depending on the university. We don’t require GMAT because it’s a broader qualification that tests a wider range of skills.
For people who lack finance experience or are less sure about their career future, an MBA makes more sense. They can still learn quite a lot of finance but they keep their options open. They need a broader range of skills and experience to do well on the MBA and the analytical requirements are lower, but still high.
A recent candidate from Germany told me that many continental Europeans might not be aware of the MFin alternative to an MBA. We clearly need to do more marketing and spread the word for that for some people – a relatively small fraction – an MFin may be a better way of using their graduate degree year. The MBA, having been around for many decades, is the default degree choice for many people considering a post-graduate qualification.
The recent introduction of greater degree interchangeability in Europe (the Bologna process) means that people with a first degree from many European universities can now apply for a masters at another. Mostly this will affect people doing pre-experience masters degrees but it should increase the potential flow of people eligible to do the Cambridge MFin, subject to their having relevant finance qualifications.
For the rest of the world, it’s a slow process of spreading the message that the MFin is a possible alternative to an MBA for some people. In the US and Europe the MBA industry is pretty mature, though the product should continue to evolve. The finance industry in those areas is also fairly mature. But the potential for growth of the MFin and similar finance masters degrees is quite high because we currently take such a small number of people relative to the potential applicant pool.
Business schools on this side of the pond are like country clubs. MBA programs offer a mediocre intellectual life for its students but open doors for its alums.