USF School of Management Master of Science in Financial Analysis - Professional
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FAQs

How is the MSFA different from an MBA?

Unlike an MBA in Finance, the MSFA Program is targeted at individuals who are looking to build up expertise in a specific field - investment management and financial analysis. MSFA students seek to increase their knowledge to compete and be successful in the financial profession. They receive training in all the areas deemed crucial by the investment management profession and embodied in the Chartered Financial Analyst CFA® designation by the CFA Institute®. The MSFA curriculum is structured around the areas of knowledge and skills deemed necessary for this designation. MSFA students thus receive training in areas deemed essential by practicing financial analysts and investment.

How is the MSFA different than Financial Engineering?

Financial Engineering is primarily focused on pricing Derivative instruments using sophisticated math (stochastic calculus) and computer programming (C++). It is an extremely narrow and technical degree with a very small choice in jobs after the degree. Financial engineers tend to have been undergraduate physics or electrical engineering majors and know very little about finance or financial markets.

The MSFA program is focused on a broader set of careers in finance. A knowledge of economics, accounting, math and statistics is combined to produce students with keen insight into how the world, and financial markets, work. MSFA students may become Industry Analysts at investment firms, work in Mergers and Acquisitions at an investment bank, manage mutual funds or hedge fund investments, or advise high net worth clients and institutions on their investment strategies.

What types of professions do MSFA students pursue?

The MSFA Program provides people who work, or plan to work, in professions such as equity analyst, bond analyst, portfolio manager, investment advisor, private wealth manager, securities trader, financial risk manager, compliance officer, investment banker, and venture capital investments, among others.

Will the MSFA program ensure I pass the CFA® exams?

The MSFA program is an academic degree program. It is not related to the CFA® exams or the CFA Institute directly, nor is it simply a CFA® Review course. Students who complete the MSFA program will have learned the material covered by the CFA® exams, however, considerable self-study is necessary for any student to prepare adequately for the form and specific content of any of the exams.

Are the CFA exam prep course and exam required?

You do not have to take the CFA® prep course. A Master of Science in Financial Analysis is a professional degree that has a value in itself, in the same fashion as an MBA degree. And, while the MSFA degree is structured around the areas of knowledge and skills deemed necessary for the CFA® designation, the knowledge and skill set training received is valuable unto itself for practicing financial analysts and investment managers. Most graduates of the MSFA program take at least level one of the CFA Exams.

Is the MSFA program a CFA Partner Program?

Yes, as a CFA Program Partner, the MSFA program curriculum is closely tied to professional practice and is well suited to students preparing to sit for the CFA exams. As a Program Partner of the CFA, the MSFA Program has an official relationship with the CFA Institute as having demonstrated that a significant percentage (70% or more) of the CFA® Program Candidate Body of Knowledge has been embedded into our curriculum and that we cover CFA Institute ethical and professional standards.

How long is the program?

The Professional MSFA program is four semesters (Fall, Spring, Fall, Spring). The first year emphasizes the fundamental knowledge required for the Level I CFA® exam. Second year courses build on this material to provide a solid foundation for the Level II and III CFA® exams.

The Professional MSFA calendar is structured to finish instruction by the first week of May each year, allowing students time to study intensively for the CFA® exams held at the end of May or beginning of June. Exams in the Fall semester are scheduled for mid-December, approximately two weeks after the December Level I CFA® exam date.

The Accelerated MSFA program is structured to provide a one year curriculum that covers all important area of the CFA® body of knowledge.

When and where are classes held?

All MSFA classes are taught at USF's San Francisco Downtown Campus. The Professional MSFA classes are held on Saturdays: the first class meets from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and the second class meets from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Accelerated MSFA classes are held on weekdays and weekday evenings. The schedule of classes varies each semester, and from year to year.

What is the cost of the MSFA program? Is financial aid available?

Please visit the Financial Aid & Tuition page for more details. All U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible for the Federal Student Loan program, unless a student has defaulted on a previous student loan. Financial Aid Discounts may be available to firms that commit to a minimum of three students in any cohort.

The MSFA Accelerated Program offers a small number of merit-based scholarships available for select applicants. There is no separate application for these scholarships; all international and U.S. applicants are equally considered for this aid during the admission review.

When are the admission deadlines?

The Professional MSFA program starts once a year in August (fall admission). The Accelerated MSFA program has two admission cycles. One is for August (fall) admission and one for January (spring) admission.

Admission is done in rounds, three rounds per cycle. Please visit the Admission page for exact dates for the admission rounds each year. Any applications received after the final admission date will be reviewed if space is still available. Applicants may be admitted to the next incoming semester if the cohort enrollment for the intended semester is full.

What foundational background is required to apply for the MSFA?

All students are required to have foundation courses in economics, financial accounting, math, and probability and statistics prior to starting the MSFA Program. Students with undergraduate degrees in Economics, Business, Finance or Accounting usually have enough courses as part of their major to satisfy the Foundation requirements. Students outside of these majors generally do not have the necessary Foundation courses, often in Economics and Financial Accounting. Such a student may be admitted conditionally to the MSFA Program but will be required to complete the missing Foundation courses before beginning the MSFA program at USF.

Who is the typical student in the MSFA Professional Program?

The typical student in the MSFA Professional Program is a full-time working professional in the finance industry with at least 2 solid years of post undergraduate work experience.

Who is the typical student in the MSFA Accelerated Program?

The typical student in the MSFA Accelerated Program has the required academic background but does not have the required 2 years of work experience in the finance industry that is required for the MSFA Professional Program.

What is the GRE/GMAT requirement?

The GRE/GMAT requirement is only required for application to the MSFA Accelerated Program. A score that is at least in the 80th percentile of the quantitative portion of the test is required.

How many students are accepted into each year's cohort?

We accept approximately 30 students into the Professional version of the MSFA program. The MSFA Accelerated Program accepts a larger cohort, based on the quality and quantity of applications received. Over 500 applications are received for the Accelerated MSFA program every year.

Are internships offered in conjunction with the MSFA Program?

Internships are not part of the MSFA Program curriculum. Some students may find the rigor of the program too difficult to balance with an internship. International students, in particular, may find it very challenging to secure an internship while in the United States. Internships are very competitive, especially amongst the well-known companies. This challenge does not mean that an international student would never get an internship. It does mean that the likelihood of an international student securing an internship is low and significant effort is required on the part of the student.

What is the Dual MSFA/MBA Program?

The MSFA program offers its students the opportunity to apply for the MBA at USF after completing the first 19 units of MSFA coursework. This dual program offers a savings of tuition cost and time. The MBA can be completed with a little over one additional year of courses (36 units). To be considered for the MBA option of the MSFA, students must have completed the first 19 units of MSFA coursework with a GPA of 3.0 or greater. Before applying, students must notify the MSFA Program Office by email of their intention to apply. An online application to the MBA Program is required and can be located on the Admission page.