When it comes to finding a good school to pursue a business master’s degree, engaging course materials, good facilities and notable educators should be high priority on your checklist. It’s better if an institution has a few accolades in tow like Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. It is ranked ninth in the UTD Top 100 Business School Research Rankings among North American business schools in research productivity (which is measured by the number of articles published in leading finance journals). Naturally, this is not its only achievement.
Gies College of Business comes in fifth in Poets&Quants’s list of public business schools and boasts a 79,000-strong alumni network worldwide. These accomplishments translate into a well-rounded experience no matter which master’s programme you choose.
The Master of Science in Finance (MSF) at Gies Business is highly sought after, especially as it has a flexible and relevant curriculum. This 15-month programme has a quantitative focus with a faculty that includes both industry experts and world-class researchers. Students have the option to take on a data analytics focus which gives them expertise in quant finance and financial engineering. This is a favoured choice for many of the international students who go here. With a broad range of electives, and specialisation options, as well as a focus on data analytics and fintech, the school’s MSF programme is made more flexible still.
MSF graduate Yu-Shiuan Chang enjoyed this feature of Gies Business. “Our programme has four specialisations and two concentrations and offers lots of courses,” says Chang. “That is to say, it provides the flexibility to choose our class schedules and also encourages us to explore our interests in different fields of finance. This design allows me to take the courses that intrigue me the most. As a result, I built my expertise in quantitative finance and data analytics in finance.”
The environment at Gies Business attracts driven and creative students who are passionate about their field. “My classmates are all kind and friendly,” adds Chang. “Most of them had some working experience in the finance industry. Thus, whenever I have questions about class materials or my career path, I know I can go to them and they are all willing to help. Besides, the composition of students is very diverse with respect to countries and backgrounds. I learned a lot when working with my peers since they always provide ideas and opinions that I never thought of. This helps me to think more comprehensively.”
Gies Business has an impressive 94% placement rate within six months of graduation (Class of 2021) — a feat due in no small part to its hands-on curriculum. “The capstone elective in the quantitative finance specialisation — FIN514 Valuation of Complex Derivatives — helped me the most with my future career,” says graduate Ya-Yen (Spencer) Li.
Chang feels the same way. “FIN514 Complex Derivatives Securities and FIN516 Term Structure Model really help a lot,” she says. “I found my passion in derivatives valuation through these classes and decided to pursue a career in this field. Besides, the materials include both theory and practical application. To be more specific, the projects provide opportunities to get experience valuing real-world financial instruments, which is very useful when interviewing for jobs related to derivatives valuation.”
For more experience — especially good for those who would like to expand their resume — Gies Business has a Master of Science in Finance (MSF) Practicum. Students are given the opportunity to work in a four-person or five-person team on a short-term finance consulting project at a sponsoring corporation for a semester-long project during the fall semester. This is certainly a mutually beneficial arrangement as the student gains real-world know-how while making an impact in the company that has sponsored the project. It gives students the opportunity to impress industry leaders, network for invaluable contacts, and potentially land their dream job.
Some of the companies who have taken part in this corporate project include AON Corporation, DHC Capital Management, Equity International, Illinois Holocaust Museum, Motorola, Renewable Energy and Walgreens.
At Gies Business, the flexibility, relevant course content and real-world experience help students land the jobs they want. “I received a job offer as a complex instruments valuation associate at Grant Thornton,” says Li. “Since the job description is nearly identical to the class materials, I can easily apply the knowledge during assessments and interviews. FIN514 focuses on not only stochastic calculus and continuous-time probability theory but also real-world applications. This content equipped me with strong capabilities and helped me secure a job in the US before graduation.”
To get your STEM-designated Master of Science in Finance at Gies College of Business, click here to apply now.
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