Where Can I Do An MBA And A CFA?
This article first appeared on BusinessBecause.
The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation is a globally respected and recognized investment credential. Having both an MBA and CFA provides added competitiveness in highly selective sectors.
Globally, the CFA Partner Program has about 580-member institutions (undergraduate and/or graduate degree programs) whose curriculum embeds a significant portion of the CFA Candidate Body of Knowledge (CBOK), helping students prepare for the CFA exam.
It is important to note, however, that at the end of your MBA program, you will only receive the MBA degree; there is no two-in-one qualification. You must pass the three levels of the CFA and meet their qualification to be a charter holder. Nevertheless, if your goal is to obtain both designations, then attending an institution whose curriculum includes a significant portion of the CBOK may be beneficial.
As the CFA designation is a global standard, when selecting an affiliate institution, I recommend targeting a business school that yields the best return on investment as it relates solely to your MBA. The target school selection process should include determining your geographic aspirations. I have outlined a few top CFA affiliate business schools to consider in the western hemisphere.
If your post-MBA goal is to work in investments within European organizations, the two top-ranking MBA programs to consider are INSEAD (France) and IESE Business School (Spain).
According to its 2018 employment report, about 15% of the INSEAD graduating class accepts jobs in the finance sector, and 81% of those functions are investment related. Although INSEAD is globally recognized, 43% of students remain within Western Europe post-graduation. INSEAD students interested in investment management receive a complimentary daily brief on financial markets and access to CFA Level I sample exams. A limited number of scholarships are also offered to students for the CFA program.
In Spain, IESE has a slightly higher rate of MBA students accepting finance roles (18%). For those interested in the CFA designation, IESE awards three CFA Program Awareness Scholarships to second year students.
Both institutions are highly regarded by leading financial services organizations, particularly in Europe, but also abroad.
Across the pond, four of Canada’s top 10 business schools are affiliates of the CFA Institute: Ivey, Schulich, Smith School of Business, and John Molson School of Business.
While less globally prestige than the aforementioned in Europe, Schulich, Ivey, and Smith have a higher percentage of MBA graduates taking on roles in financial services (between 30% and 37%, respectively, with significant post-MBA job placement in their respective provinces in Canada). In addition to embedding CBOK in relevant courses, they also offer the possibility of scholarship support for students interested in the CFA designation.
A one-of-a-kind three-year MBA/CFA program that fully integrates the CBOK is the MBA in Investment Management at John Molson School of Business. The program includes CFA exam-prep courses scheduled twice a week in Toronto and Montreal campuses. Their CFA Level-I pass rate is nearly double the worldwide average. There are 60 seats available in total between the two campuses and they boast a 97% employment rate three-months post-graduation. If your goal is a more integrated approach to the CFA studies, John Molson is the program. However, if you value the external recognition, then Ivey may be a better program for you.
Looking south to the United States, four of the top 20 MBA programs are affiliate partners of the CFA Institute: NYU, Darden, Johnson, and UNC Kenan-Flagler. Through electives, each business school offers content learning opportunities to prepare for the CFA exam.
Johnson also offers two credit-bearing CFA review courses to prepare for all three levels of the exam. Johnson and Darden also provide a limited number of scholarships that may include fee waivers and/or covers a portion of the enrollment fee for any of the three CFA exams. Although it offers fewer advantages, employers in the financial services sector have a particular affinity toward NYU Stern’s MBA graduates, reflected in their over 26% graduate placement in investments.
While earning an MBA in tandem with preparing for the CFA may facilitate the study required to earn the CFA designation, numerous non-CFA-affiliate MBA programs have excellent reputations within the financial sector.
With schools like Wharton, Stanford, Columbia, and more, don’t limit yourself to only evaluating member institutions of the CFA Partner Program; instead, look at business schools holistically and ensure your best professional development.
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