LSE Masters in Finance (full-time and part-time) Part 1: The Application Stage

Introduction
This post will cover LSE’s MSc in Finance and it will be divided into 3 separate parts: (1) Application Stage (2) Year 1 (3) Year 3.

Having graduated from the course myself, I would like to share some information which prospective students might find useful in evaluating the course prior to applying. As a disclaimer, I have no affiliation with LSE and with the exception of the factual information regarding the course, most of the content represents my personal opinion.

Summary of the Course:
Official Website for Full Time Course
Official Website for Part Time Course

Most of the key information is already well summarised and laid out on the official website, so I am only listing the information that I think you might find most relevant.

Tuition for 2020/21: £36,984
Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Contents: Asset Markets, Corporate Finance, Portfolio Management, Risk Management, Fixed Income, Financial Engineering.

Full-Time or Part-Time
The choice of going full-time or part-time will really depend on your current situation. If on one hand you already have a decent job with good career prospects and don’t want to stay out of the job market, then I suggest that you go part-time (some people refer to it as the executive programme). If on the other hand, you are still light on relevant years of work experience, want to study full-time and more importantly have the financial resources to commit, then the full-time programme might be more suitable for you. The content that is covered on the course does not differ between the two options, the part-time course is just a more spread out version of the full-time course.

Why this course?
Before I get started with the course, it might be worthwhile seeing what alternatives are available to students looking to pursue a masters degree in finance. Below I list some of the most popular alternatives that myself and other students on the course considered. This post won’t be a comparison of different programmes but it will explain in detail why I ended up taking the course and why it was the right decision for me.

Warwick Business School: MSc in Finance
https://www.wbs.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/finance/

Cass Business School: MSc in Finance
https://www.cass.city.ac.uk/study/masters/courses/finance

Oxford: MSc in Mathematical Finance
https://www.maths.ox.ac.uk/members/students/postgraduate-courses/msc-mf-pt

Cambridge: MPhil in Finance
https://www.jbs.cam.ac.uk/programmes/research-programmes/research-masters/mphil-finance/

Imperial College: MSc Finance
https://www.imperial.ac.uk/business-school/programmes/msc-finance/

(the courses are in no particular order of ranking and are not a comprehensive list)

The Application Stage
Your application strategy will differ whether you go for the part-time or full-time option. The impression that I got from the students on the course was the following:

Full-time Students
Age range between early and mid twenties, few or no years of full-time work experience (mostly done summer internships), strong undergraduate degrees and solid GMAT scores.

Part-time Students
At least a few years of industry work experience (if not more) relevant to the programme and moderately strong undergrad although compared to the full-time students, a huge focus goes to the work experience and not just the academic part.

Given that I completed the part-time course, most of my advice will be geared towards this.

What is the acceptance rate?
Year 2018 (full-time)
89 Intake/1,551 Applicants ~ 5.74%

Year 2018 (part-time)
42 Intake/104 Applicants ~ 40.38%

Yes, the full-time programme attracts far more candidates compared to the part-time option which definitely accounts for the big difference in acceptance rate. However don’t get fooled by these numbers, both courses are equally rigorous and provide similar opportunities. The idea of doing a masters in finance whilst working full-time might be a daunting idea and could be enough to discourage prospective students.
but I can confirm that these numbers are consistent with what I observed for past academic years.

(SOURCE: LSE website)

What to focus on in the application (applicable to the part-time programme)?

Since the minimum entry requirements can be found on the LSE webpage, I won’t list them here but I will focus on adding some commentary on the criteria that I thought were important in getting me on the course.

Professional experience
Given that you are applying to the course as an ‘executive’, it is very important that you have at least a couple of years of relevant work experience. Most students in my year were working for banks, asset managers, consultancy firms, etc.. It goes without saying that it’s in the programme’s best interest to build a strong network so as an applicant, bringing something to the table via his/her work experience can result in an edge over other applicants. If you have an interesting career with a lot of potential, make sure to highlight this so that faculty can evaluate and consider your application based on your potential and not just your current years of experience. I will expand on this topic when I discuss about the academic purpose.

CV
Needless to say, your CV is extremely important. Although CV formats are a debatable topic, my advice is to go for the typical Banking CV format, i.e. one page, tidy and concise. Make sure that any relevant skills for the course easily stand out. If you are doing qualifications like CFA or any other finance qualifications, that might also be a bonus. The course also requires maths skills (calculus and statistics) so anything that could help you demonstrate mastery of those subjects should be helpful.

Academic purpose
The academic purpose is also very important. It allows you tell your story so make sure that you put enough time and effort in drafting it. 1-2 pages should do and make sure that what you write here is consistent with your CV and depicts a well planned, ambitious career path that can be achieved via the MSc in Finance.

Undergraduate degree
When I attended the Information Evening Event I overheard so many prospective students asking the below questions.

– do I need a 1st?
– will I get on the course with a 2.1?
– I don’t have a 2.1, can I still apply?

As you would expect, the stance is that individual applications will be reviewed on a case by case basis so there is no yes/no answer. As this answer is of no value, here is my take on the matter, hoping that prospective students can put their applications in the right context before clicking the apply button (I would like to stress that this is just my opinion).

– do I need a 1st?
A first would be ideal but not essential. The minimum entry requirements clearly state a 2.1 so if you have attained this and fulfilled the other entry requirements you should be in good shape (I got on the course with a 2.1 and so did a lot of other students in my intake).

– will I get on the course with a 2.1?
There is a slight overlap with the points that I already mentioned but just to reiterate, yes you should have good chances of getting on the course with a 2.1 if you meet the other criteria. There will be an element of luck though, the number of competitive applications that the university receives will inevitably affect your chances of getting accepted.

– I don’t have a 2.1, can I still apply?
I think there is a lot of debating that can be done on this point but my view is that not having a 2.1 will hinder your application a lot. You would have to compensate by being strong on the other criteria to get faculty to pick you over other applicants who have met the minimum entry requirements.

Motivation
Lastly, I would like to share with you what lead me to apply to the course. I was looking for a masters level degree in finance from a reputable university but I didn’t want to quit my full-time job. I was studying for the CFA exam as well and whilst some might say that completing the charter might be enough, I thought that the CFA curriculum although rich in its content, was lacking some of the practical and technical skills that I thought would be useful for my career. I will elaborate more on this point in parts 2 and 3 of these series of posts. What also appealed to me about the masters course was that it had a good mix of corporate finance subjects which allowed for MBA type discussions and case studies but also had the more classic asset pricing type subjects like, option pricing, understanding of term structures, application of optimisation problems, etc. All topics that I strongly believe should be part of a financial professional’s toolkit. Last but not least, LSE has very strong network in the City which is invaluable for future career opportunities.

Conclusion
This concludes part one of this series of posts. In the remaining two posts I will delve into the course structure and the materials covered in years 1 and years 2. I hope you’ve found this content useful and enjoyable to read. I would be very keen on hearing any comments, feedback and questions. Good luck with your application!

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3 Responses to LSE Masters in Finance (full-time and part-time) Part 1: The Application Stage

  1. zylo says:

    Hello could you please post part 2

    Like

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