Thursday, April 03, 2008

Analytical Finance vs. Finance Concentrations

This post is for those of you wondering why there's two finance concentrations. While you can view the requirements for each concentration online (Finance = 4 classes, Analytical Finance = 10 classes) that doesn't clarify why one would choose one over the other.

I don't believe that you need a concentration at all to graduate. While it's great to have a plan or theme of interest, I recommend that you read through the catalog, highlight everything that sounds useful/fun/intriguing and then just take what you can. Take what interests you and let the concentrations fall where they may. Trying to achieve a particular concentration for the sake of putting it on your resume doesn't make any sense to me. When you recruit for internships you will have taken only 3-4 classes so your concentration is still hypothetical at that point. While concentration may be most useful to career changers hoping to signal dedication to a particular career, the summer internship (which comes before you have a concentration) is arguably more important for full-time recruiting success. The bottom line is that I don't think concentration makes much of an impact career-wise other than the skills that you gain by focusing on certain topics. So just focus on the skills you want to gain.

So ... the Analytical Finance concentration is for folks who are serious about finance and really enjoy it. You take 20 classes to graduate from the GSB so (if I'm following this correctly - all the sudden it seems like an awful lot of finance classes ...) 10 courses = half your coursework! (Wow. I think I just realized that. Ha. Someone correct me if I'm wrong ...) Allegedly this concentration is for the quanty types (aspiring traders, portfolio managers, etc.) but one could go into those careers with just a Finance concentration or no Finance classes at all (if one has prior work experience). So really, in my mind, Analytical Finance is for the students who discover that courses in decision making or managing or leading or strategizing get are best consumed in limited doses and need something else to get them through b-school. The depth of the finance curriculum at the GSB is fantastic. And although the non-finance courses are interesting and well-taught, it's the finance courses which I am still most interested in taking during my time here. And the Analytical Finance concentration caters to those who appreciate that depth.

But again, don't worry about it. Just take classes that excite you. (And if none of them excite you, then you're pursuing the wrong degree.)


HappyBunny said...

Interesting idea. It is true that different people have different needs even with same post-mba goal. I'll see you at the GSB live. :P I'll be the one wearing the bunny suit (j/k)

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the analysis. I think that some of the 6 courses required for the analytical finance concentration overlap with the 4 required for the finance concentration, so one could complete the analytical finance concentration with only 6 courses. Although it is not really clear from the GSB description.

Anonymous said...

Though as a caveat to the above, the basic Investments course does not count as one of those 6. So to finish the concentration with 6 classes, you'd have to replace Investments with something else.