MS in Finance FAQ

MS in Finance Frequently Asked Questions


Information included on this page:

General MSF Questions

MSF Curriculum Questions

MSF Career Questions

MSF Admissions Questions

MSF Student Life Questions


Have a question not answered here? Feel free to email us anytime at msf@umn.edu.

General MSF Question

The UMN Carlson School's MSF program is a full-time, highly career-focused program designed to give students a strong foundation in finance theory along with the quantitative and technical skills most sought-after in finance roles across industries. Our rigorous, STEM-designated curriculum, along with intensive, resume-building client work and comprehensive 1:1 career coaching, prepares students to land a job, hit the ground running, and successfully launch a lucrative career in finance.

The MSF program is a strong fit for anyone who is either:

  • a recent graduate or early-career professional interested in landing a job in finance with an upward trajectory
  • a career-changer focused on pivoting toward a financial position

and who:

  • has a basic understanding of quantitative and statistical methods, regardless of academic major or background.
  • would like to learn and apply the quantitative, computational, and technical tools and skills required to be competitive on the finance job market.
  • would like to build your resume with real client work prior to entering (or re-entering) the finance job market.
  • would like dedicated help in improving your professional and career-search skills, building your network, and landing a lucrative finance job in your field of choice.

For information on program eligibility, see our MSF Admissions Questions below, or visit our MSF Application Requirements webpage.

The best way to learn more about the Carlson School’s MSF program is to attend a Carlson School Event where you can meet our admissions staff and get answers to your questions. You can also explore our website for an overview of our curriculum, client-facing experiential learning, faculty, student life, career services and job outcomes, and our admissions process. To connect with admissions staff directly, please contact the MS Programs Office at msf@umn.edu.

The Carlson School of Management offers an MS in Finance - MS in Business Analytics (MSF-MSBA) Dual Degree program. The MSF-MSBA program is a good fit for applicants with prior knowledge and proven application of data analytics and computer programming, and who desire a rigorously technical curriculum and a heavily analytics-focused career in finance.

The MSF program offers two timelines for completion:

  • 10-Month Track - Students complete their 39 credits in one calendar year, across five semester terms (Summer, Fall A&B, Spring A&B), and return quickly to the job market. This track begins in early July and ends the following May.
  • 16-Month Track - Students add an additional summer and fall semester to their studies (at no extra tuition cost) for the flexibility to spread out their courses a bit more, and for a potential summer internship prior to graduating and joining the full-time job market. This track also begins in early July, but ends in December of the following year.

Because our curriculum is cohort based, all students begin the program together and take the majority of their classes as a group. There are no options to change the duration of the program outside of the 10-month and 16-month options. For further information, visit our MSF Curriculum webpage.

The MS in Finance program is a STEM-designated degree program. STEM-designated programs are those selected by the U.S. Customs & Immigration Services as providing an in-depth curriculum in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Students graduating from a STEM-designated program have an additional 24 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT), totaling 36 months beyond graduation. Please visit the University of Minnesota International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) website for up to date information about OPT. 

MSF students who elect the 16-month curriculum track option are eligible for CPT.

MSF Curriculum Questions

The MSF program curriculum teaches students to use and gives opportunities to apply the following languages, tools, and databases:

  • Python programming language
  • Excel VBA
  • ModelRisk
  • Compustat
  • Factset
  • Bloomberg
  • CRSP
  • Others, depending on the professors teaching the courses each year

For actual curriculum course descriptions, please visit our MSF Curriculum webpage.

The 39-credit MSF curriculum is mostly lock-step, although all students have the opportunity to choose two elective courses (2 credits each). Some popular elective courses among our MSF students are:

  • Cryptocurrency, Blockchain, and their Business Applications
  • Securitization Markets
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Behavioral Finance
  • Advanced Topics in Fixed Income and Derivatives
  • Financial Services Industry
  • International Finance Management

Graduate courses in other Carlson School of Management departments, including a variety of MBA classes, are also possible with approval from the MSF academic director.

The MSF program has 4 specialization options to choose from: Asset Management, Corporate Finance, Healthcare Finance, and Finance Research. You can tailor your electives based on your desired area of study, and are not required to know which specialization you will pursue during the time of application. Learn more about our specializations.

For more information about our curriculum, including course descriptions, visit our MSF Curriculum webpage.

All MSF students, regardless of 10- or 16-month curriculum track, gain applied experience working with real client companies during the program. Due to the strong similarity of these client projects to professional internships, many of our students include this client work directly on their resumes with the help of our career coaches.

Across the full final semester of the program, students complete an experiential learning project with a real client company--typically with a choice of company/industry. Students work in teams of four to five across 14 weeks with their partner companies on real finance-related issues, using the quantitative and computational skills learned in classes to serve as consultants to their clients and derive real business value for the companies. Project opportunities typically span across the areas of asset management, corporate finance, and risk management.

Alternatively, students interested in investment management may apply to join the Carlson Funds Enterprise (CFE - Carlson Growth Fund or Carlson Fixed Income Fund) for their final semester experiential learning component. The CFE is a top ranked, student-managed fund, for which students fully manage and market over $55 million of real investment money for real clients, who expect real returns.

For more information, visit our MSF Experiential Learning webpage.

The MSF program offers two timelines for completion:

  • 10-Month Track - Students complete their 39 credits in one calendar year, across five semester terms (Summer, Fall A&B, Spring A&B), and return quickly to the job market. This track begins in early July and ends the following May.
  • 16-Month Track - Students add an additional summer and fall semester to their studies (at no extra tuition cost) for the flexibility to spread out their courses a bit more, and for a potential summer internship prior to graduating and joining the full-time job market. This track also begins in early July, but ends in December of the following year.

Outside of the 16-month option, we do not believe our students will have the time to pursue an internship, and we strongly recommend against taking on any additional obligations (including part-time work) outside of the program itself. Between the rigorous, full-time curriculum, coursework, group and client projects, intensive career coaching, job hunting, and other program events, students are already quite busy with full schedules throughout the year.

Please visit our MSF Curriculum webpage for more information on our curriculum and track options.

MSF Career & Student Outcome Questions

Our MSF graduates land finance jobs across industries. Historically, approximately 1/3 of our graduates take on jobs in asset management, 1/3 in corporate finance, and a smaller percentage in investment banking, consulting, and other areas. The most common job titles among our graduates are Analyst, Financial Analyst, Credit Analyst, Investment Risk Analyst, Mortgage Market Risk Analyst, and Project Manager, among a wide variety others. Exact roles will depend on company, industry, and previous work experience.

Our MSF Careers webpage includes full employment reports of our graduates, including information about starting salary, location, companies, and more.

Our Carlson Business Career Center offers comprehensive services to help each student plan for and land a job that is the best fit for each individual. We have a dedicated team of career coaches and business development staff working around the clock to help our students intensively with their career skills and job search. All Carlson graduate students have access to all of our Career Center coaches, although the MSF program does have dedicated career coaches specializing in finance. 

For more information, visit our MSF Careers website, where you will also find full employment reports of our past MSF graduates.

MSF Admissions & Application Questions

Full details regarding MSF Admissions and MSF Application Requirements can be found on this website.

Prerequisites include:

  • completed university-level coursework in statistics

Our most competitive applicants will also have experience involving applied quantitative skills (e.g., through internships, full-time work experience, and/or academic or extracurricular projects).

Our admissions committee conducts a holistic review of each application, considering past academic performance (through cumulative GPA and academic transcripts--particularly performance in any quantitative courses), work experience (through current resume), personal essays, and at least two recommendations.

Submission of GMAT or GRE scores is optional for those with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above. We do not have minimum requirements for GPA, GMAT, or GRE scores. Our current averages are as follows: GRE 320, GMAT 661, GPA 3.52. We recommend, but do not require, a GMAT or GRE Quantitative section score in the 70th percentile or higher.

All applicants are required to have completed at least one semester-long, college-level course in statistics prior to submitting an application. The final grade for the course must appear on an academic transcript from an accredited college or university.

If you took a course or courses covering topics in statistics, but "Statistics" does not appear in the course title, you will need to submit a course description and/or syllabus in your application proving the calculus or statistics topics covered.

Online courses offered through Coursera, edX, Udemy, or other MOOCs do not satisfy these prerequisites. 

Applicants who do not meet our statistics prerequisite typically seek out an online extension course or a course at a local community college. These tend to be more affordable and flexible than courses offered from larger, 4-year colleges or universities. There also exist other online options offering credits and final grades directly from an accredited college or university. Please email us at msf@umn.edu with any related questions.


You are not required to have an undergraduate degree, coursework, or work experience in finance or business. While many of our students do join the program with undergraduate degrees in finance, accounting, economics, or other areas of business, we also admit students each year from a variety of other backgrounds in STEM fields (incl. mathematics, statistics, computer science, engineering, physics, chemistry, biology) as well as humanities fields (incl. political science, psychology, communications, Japanese language, among others).

Regardless of academic or work background, what is most important is proven experience with applied quantitative skills. Your resume should include details of any internship, work, academic, and/or extracurricular projects in which you used quantitative methods, data analytics, any technical software, etc.

For a profile of our most recent graduating class, scroll to the bottom of our MSF Admissions webpage.

Full-time work experience is not required for our program, but is preferred. For those applying to join the program directly after finishing their undergraduate studies, we recommend having some internship experience as well as academic or extracurricular projects in which you applied quantitative skills.

On average, our students have between 1-2 years of prior work experience, including internships. Approximately 1/3 of our students join the program directly after finishing their undergraduate studies, typically with at least some internship experience.

We also typically have a small number of non-traditional students each year with more previous work experience (10+ years). These students are typically career-changers interested in pivoting to a finance job. 

For a profile of our most recent graduating class, scroll to the bottom of our MSF Admissions webpage.

We do not offer conditional admission. All application materials must be completed, submitted, and received by us by the deadline for your desired application round. 

For a full table of admissions round deadlines and decision notification dates, visit our MSF Admissions webpage.

MSF Student Life Questions

MS in Finance students have the option to participate in any of the full-time MBA clubs and organizations. A full list can be found on the MBA Clubs & Organizations website. These clubs host events that include anything from industry speakers and site visits, camping, ping-pong tournaments, formal events, and happy hours. There is an annual membership fee as part of opting into these clubs, and they are an excellent way to get to know other Carlson students outside of your immediate program.

Graduate students at the University of Minnesota have a variety of housing options, including on-campus and off-campus accommodations. Most of our students choose to pursue housing off-campus. Visit the Housing & Residential Life website to learn more about on-campus graduate student housing. Please note that on-campus graduate student housing is quite a bit more difficult to acquire than off-campus housing.

We generally do not recommend that students work while enrolled in the MS in Finance program. Students have a rigorous academic schedule in addition to intensive career coaching, networking, and client work.  We do not believe students will have time to work in addition to the heavy course load and time constraints. 

The MSF program does not offer graduate or teaching assistantships. Because students have a rigorous academic schedule, we do not believe they will have time to commit to these type of assignments. 

Contact Master of Science in Finance