HEC MSIE vs Boston MBA vs Harvard ALM vs CFA vs UIUC iMBA


UrsP

Hello,

I want to advance my career in Finance with an (affordable) online, part-time degree or certificate (MSc, Master, MBA or CFA) and would like to hear your opinions (budget max. 30k USD, less is better).

My profile: mid 20s, BSc in Engineering, few years of work experience in banking, located in Europe.

Career goal: To get into my first leadership position within 2-4 years. The degree should allow me to either further strengthen my position at my current employer, or to strengthen my CV to open doors for interviews with other companies. A manager position within Corporate Development, Strategy or Product Development in a bank would be the most obvious path with my current experiences, however, I am open to a quantitative specialist role (not manager) in other adjacent areas as well (e.g. portfolio management).

I currently see the following options:

Boston University Online MBA via edX (24k USD):
++ an MBA might be the most straightforward degree to get into a management position, the title itself is very prestigious
+ is rigorous, but at the same time from what I can read online not too time-consuming (<10 hrs per week / ~84 ECTS equiv.)
- prestigious university name - however, probably less well known in Europe
- smaller alumni network in Europe
- no finance/banking focus

HEC Paris MSc in Innovation & Entrepreneurship via Coursera (23k EUR):
++ very prestigious name, business school with great rankings (#1 QS Management Masters / #1 QS Finance Masters / #5 QS MBA)
+ European business school, larger alumni network in Europe
+ networking: higher possibility to meet other students in person (Paris is geographically much closer)
+ courses in leadership, strategy, innovation, and "soft skills" - in line with career goal
- several courses focus on entrepreneurship and start-ups (interesting, but only partly useful for a corporate career)
- more time-consuming (20 hrs per week, 120 ECTS)
- not an MBA
- no finance/banking focus

Harvard University Extension School ALM, Field: Finance (~25k USD via MITx MicroMasters):
+ Harvard brand is the most prestigious of the three universities
+ focus on finance
+ opportunity to network in person due to on-campus requirement (3 weeks total)
+ offers the most possibilities for individualization
- academically very rigorous = more time-consuming (?)
- stigma about "not the real Harvard" (mixed experiences online, some people point out that nobody looks down on them in any way when you are transparent about the degree)
- the name of the degree is a bit misleading: Master of Liberal Arts in Extension School, Field: Finance
- admission criteria weaker than other degrees
- not an MBA
- smaller alumni network in Europe

CFA Level I-III (~5k EUR):
+ very prestigious certificate in the industry
+ focus on finance, demonstrates extensive knowledge in the field
+ Most affordable
- no management focus; more suited for specialists (portfolio managers)
- certificate, not a degree (does that have any impact?)
- no networking opportunities (other options allow at least for online group work etc.)

UIUC Gies College iMSM and iMBA via Coursera (iMSM: 12k / iMBA: 24k USD):
+ Master in Management within 12 months possible
+ possibility to add ~12 months and graduate with an MSM as well as an MBA (double degree)
+ probably the most flexible programme (five start dates per year etc.)
+ established online programme from a respected university
- does not participate in rankings
- less known in Europe (probably less than Boston University?)


My opinion so far:
* I slightly prefer the HEC MSc over the Boston MBA due to the more prestigious HEC Paris brand (especially here in Europe).
* However, I fear that I might make a mistake by not pursuing an MBA right away, on the one hand.
* On the other hand, as I am still relatively young, I would have the option to pursue a part-time Executive MBA (on-campus) in 10-15 years, which could boost my career even more in the long run and allow me to network.
* The Harvard ALM is very tempting due to the Harvard brand - however, I fear that whole stigma thing around the degree is something that could backfire + it does not directly support my career goal
* CFA might be worthwhile after the HEC MSc to strengthen my finance knowledge - but it is not my first choice as it is not completely in line with my career goal

Which one would you suggest? Do you see other options?

Thanks

Hello,

I want to advance my career in Finance with an (affordable) online, part-time degree or certificate (MSc, Master, MBA or CFA) and would like to hear your opinions (budget max. 30k USD, less is better).

My profile: mid 20s, BSc in Engineering, few years of work experience in banking, located in Europe.

Career goal: To get into my first leadership position within 2-4 years. The degree should allow me to either further strengthen my position at my current employer, or to strengthen my CV to open doors for interviews with other companies. A manager position within Corporate Development, Strategy or Product Development in a bank would be the most obvious path with my current experiences, however, I am open to a quantitative specialist role (not manager) in other adjacent areas as well (e.g. portfolio management).

I currently see the following options:

Boston University Online MBA via edX (24k USD):
++ an MBA might be the most straightforward degree to get into a management position, the title itself is very prestigious
+ is rigorous, but at the same time from what I can read online not too time-consuming (<10 hrs per week / ~84 ECTS equiv.)
- prestigious university name - however, probably less well known in Europe
- smaller alumni network in Europe
- no finance/banking focus

HEC Paris MSc in Innovation & Entrepreneurship via Coursera (23k EUR):
++ very prestigious name, business school with great rankings (#1 QS Management Masters / #1 QS Finance Masters / #5 QS MBA)
+ European business school, larger alumni network in Europe
+ networking: higher possibility to meet other students in person (Paris is geographically much closer)
+ courses in leadership, strategy, innovation, and "soft skills" - in line with career goal
- several courses focus on entrepreneurship and start-ups (interesting, but only partly useful for a corporate career)
- more time-consuming (20 hrs per week, 120 ECTS)
- not an MBA
- no finance/banking focus

Harvard University Extension School ALM, Field: Finance (~25k USD via MITx MicroMasters):
+ Harvard brand is the most prestigious of the three universities
+ focus on finance
+ opportunity to network in person due to on-campus requirement (3 weeks total)
+ offers the most possibilities for individualization
- academically very rigorous = more time-consuming (?)
- stigma about "not the real Harvard" (mixed experiences online, some people point out that nobody looks down on them in any way when you are transparent about the degree)
- the name of the degree is a bit misleading: Master of Liberal Arts in Extension School, Field: Finance
- admission criteria weaker than other degrees
- not an MBA
- smaller alumni network in Europe

CFA Level I-III (~5k EUR):
+ very prestigious certificate in the industry
+ focus on finance, demonstrates extensive knowledge in the field
+ Most affordable
- no management focus; more suited for specialists (portfolio managers)
- certificate, not a degree (does that have any impact?)
- no networking opportunities (other options allow at least for online group work etc.)

UIUC Gies College iMSM and iMBA via Coursera (iMSM: 12k / iMBA: 24k USD):
+ Master in Management within 12 months possible
+ possibility to add ~12 months and graduate with an MSM as well as an MBA (double degree)
+ probably the most flexible programme (five start dates per year etc.)
+ established online programme from a respected university
- does not participate in rankings
- less known in Europe (probably less than Boston University?)


My opinion so far:
* I slightly prefer the HEC MSc over the Boston MBA due to the more prestigious HEC Paris brand (especially here in Europe).
* However, I fear that I might make a mistake by not pursuing an MBA right away, on the one hand.
* On the other hand, as I am still relatively young, I would have the option to pursue a part-time Executive MBA (on-campus) in 10-15 years, which could boost my career even more in the long run and allow me to network.
* The Harvard ALM is very tempting due to the Harvard brand - however, I fear that whole stigma thing around the degree is something that could backfire + it does not directly support my career goal
* CFA might be worthwhile after the HEC MSc to strengthen my finance knowledge - but it is not my first choice as it is not completely in line with my career goal

Which one would you suggest? Do you see other options?

Thanks
quote
MKennedy

Where in Europe? Are you an EU citizen and do you speak another language other than English?

Where in Europe? Are you an EU citizen and do you speak another language other than English?
quote
Duncan

These options make little sense. Take a MiF in the CFA partner program, ideally in the country where you see your next career steps being taken.

Consider:
https://www.bayes.city.ac.uk/study/masters/courses/global-finance
https://kcl.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-taught/courses/global-finance-and-banking-msc
https://imperial.ac.uk/business-school/masters/business-analytics-online/
https://www.frankfurt-school.de/en/home/programmes/master/online-leadership-sustainable-finance

[Edited by Duncan on Jan 06, 2024]

These options make little sense. Take a MiF in the CFA partner program, ideally in the country where you see your next career steps being taken.

Consider:
https://www.bayes.city.ac.uk/study/masters/courses/global-finance
https://kcl.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-taught/courses/global-finance-and-banking-msc
https://imperial.ac.uk/business-school/masters/business-analytics-online/
https://www.frankfurt-school.de/en/home/programmes/master/online-leadership-sustainable-finance
quote
UrsP

Thanks for your replies MKennedy and Duncan, I really appreciate it. I am located in Zurich and would prefer a programme in English and/or German, preferably English.


The only local option in part-time that I see would be an MSc in Banking and Finance at ZHAW (Zurich University of Applied Sciences: CFA affiliation programme + AACSB & EQUIS), however, that would require me to reduce my full-time work to at least 70% over 6 semesters as courses take place during weekdays morning & afternoon in person, which is a no-go.


Duncan, you would recommend an MIF instead of an MBA in my situation. King's College & Bayes Online MIF look great. However, out of interest, what do you think is the advantage of an MIF rather than an MBA (e.g. Boston MBA or UIUC iMBA with Electives in Finance)? Is it because the MBA is too broad/general and thus less useful for a career in Finance/Banking?

Thanks!

Thanks for your replies MKennedy and Duncan, I really appreciate it. I am located in Zurich and would prefer a programme in English and/or German, preferably English.


<div>
</div><div>The only local option in part-time that I see would be an MSc in Banking and Finance at ZHAW (Zurich University of Applied Sciences: CFA affiliation programme + AACSB &amp; EQUIS), however, that would require me to reduce my full-time work to at least 70% over 6 semesters as courses take place during weekdays morning &amp; afternoon in person, which is a no-go.


</div><div>
</div><div>Duncan, you would recommend an MIF instead of an MBA in my situation. King's College &amp; Bayes Online MIF look great. However, out of interest, what do you think is the advantage of an MIF rather than an MBA (e.g. Boston MBA or UIUC iMBA with Electives in Finance)? Is it because the MBA is too broad/general and thus less useful for a career in Finance/Banking?
</div><div>
</div><div>Thanks!</div>
quote
Duncan

I doubt that you'd learn much from MBA electives if you have some experience in banking. They have to be accessible to 'poets'. If your career goals are focussed on finance, then a qualification in accounting, finance or banking will be better. In particular, remember that the MBA is still a niche product in the DACH markets with limited adoption. Even the Diplom Betriebswirt at WU Wien might be more accepted.

[Edited by Duncan on Jan 11, 2024]

I doubt that you'd learn much from MBA electives if you have some experience in banking. They have to be accessible to 'poets'. If your career goals are focussed on finance, then a qualification in accounting, finance or banking will be better. In particular, remember that the MBA is still a niche product in the DACH markets with limited adoption. Even the Diplom Betriebswirt at WU Wien might be more accepted.
quote
edgar2024

MCF at SDA Boccini looks like a promising, and interesting option: https://www.sdabocconi.it/en/specialized-master-full-time-executive/mcf

MCF at SDA Boccini looks like a promising, and interesting option: https://www.sdabocconi.it/en/specialized-master-full-time-executive/mcf

quote
Duncan

It's neither online, under $30,000 nor part time.

[Edited by Duncan on Jan 11, 2024]

It's neither online, under $30,000 nor part time.
quote

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