Joint CFA And Masters Programs

An increasing number of schools have been working with students and finance professionals helping them to work both on getting a masters degree but also passing the CFA program. How? Students will often start their masters in August/September, get ready for the level 1 exam, and then as the program evolves, it also tracks the CFA curriculum in order to help you pass the levels #2 and #3. It’s not a new idea but it is becoming increasingly popular as candidates feel they need both a masters and a CFA title to get the job of their dreams.

My Thoughts On Such Programs

To be honest, I think the concept is brilliant and if given the opportunity, I probably would have jumped on it (or should have done so). Obviously, the masters degree is usually a masters in finance as an MBA would be too general and broad to really get into the CFA material.

That Being Said

While I think the concept is great, there are still a number of things to consider before signing up. Here are the main things in my experience that you need to check prior to committing yourself:

Track Record: Schools will generally keep records of how well students in the program have performed in the CFA exams, it is important to consider because in such a context, the school will play a major part in you passing or not because of the way it structures its program. These programs should have passing rates much higher than the average CFA passing rate.

Masters Material: While the CFA material will be part of your prgram, a 2 years or so masters should be able to cover much more than that. If you’re going to survive (yes that’s the word) a Masters+CFA program, you might as well learn stuff that will be very relevant. You might think it’s a given but all kinds of candidates attempt the CFA, with very different career objectives. I would make sure that the material is both relevant and interesting to you.

Past Candidates: Some candidates probably completed the program, what are they up to now? What type of careers do they now hold? You could even try to speak to some of those. Not only would it provide you with valuable contacts that could help down the line but you will more likely get an honest opinion about the program. You should expect candidates in well paid and very motivating jobs once they graduate from such programs.

Huge Sacrifice

I think that it’s critical to think about the sacrifices involved in joining such a huge undertaking which will end up being significantly more than the already huge commitment required in order to pass the CFA. If you are going to jump, there’s no point in doing so half-heartedly. You either go all out or not at all.


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