Graduate-level courses in finance are aimed at professionals who already have experience making decisions in business settings. Due to this focus on developing in-demand skills and practical knowledge, there are clear advantages to degree programs that prioritize experiential learning. In these courses, projects focus on real-world applications of up-to-date financial practices, from analysis and investment to multinational management and ethical decision-making.
When these skills are imparted by faculty members who are engaged with the financial sector and experts in their respective subjects, students gain knowledge and abilities that may help them in their own subsequent careers. These are the kinds of experiences that may impress hiring managers and pay immediate dividends as they apply directly to the duties students may already be performing.
The role of experiential learning in studying for a degree such as a Master of Science in Finance isn’t to replace lectures and more structured lessons. These two kinds of instruction complement one another, delivering a complete picture of complex subject matter and equipping students with both theoretical and practical abilities they can leverage in years to come as they advance in their careers.
The growing appeal of experiential learning
As education in general becomes more digitally enabled, lesson plans are changing to incorporate elements that go beyond standard lectures and noninteractive sessions. As described by Inside Higher Education, educators have derived limited success at best from class structures where students and their instructors don’t interact, and information is conveyed to a passive audience. Students across disciplines want to undertake practical, experience-driven projects that simulate the reality of the roles they are studying.
Digital tool capabilities have increased in the past few decades, allowing faculty members to assign more ambitious and complex assignments to their students. For example, students can learn how to use the same software programs that are employed in real financial roles, creating in-depth data visualizations and presentations, or collaborating with team members across regions to solve problems and answer questions.
Successful experience-led learning programs come from instructors who are aware of the latest developments in their fields. Either through positions at relevant organizations or ongoing research, these faculty members possess an understanding of their respective industries.
Projects assigned in these courses may take the form of partnerships with real businesses, cases, or simulations based on real-world conditions. Students who complete such assignments can enter the next chapter of their professional careers with the confidence that they can handle their assignments, as they’ve already performed similar work.
Experience-driven MSF coursework
Hands-on learning in the financial world represents the practical outcomes of the concepts outlined in students’ lecture courses. Online MSF graduates gain an understanding of the purpose, role, and background of the most significant institutions within the global financial system, and then put their knowledge to work on projects that reflect the real-world conditions faced by financial departments. From governance challenges to data analysis and investment decisions, there are numerous scenarios that become clearer when studied in a practical context.
In the Online MSF program from Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business, students follow one of two general paths. The Corporate Finance Track is designed for those interested in taking leadership roles within large organizations, while the Investment Finance Track examines stock and securities markets from both individual and corporate perspectives, allowing students to pursue a career in portfolio or private wealth management and more. Whichever path professionals select, they will receive a mixture of practical, real-world projects and informational courses offered 100% online to grant complete schedule and geographic freedom.
One example of the experience-driven projects in the Online MSF is the culminating project in the Business Turnarounds elective course. This class focuses on the valuable skills required to guide organizations through restructuring and bankruptcy. After a period of theoretical study and focused readings, students create their own detailed turnaround plans. These detailed projects echo the real-world experience of maximizing an organization’s potential value during difficult circumstances.
Within the Investment Finance track, Fixed Income Securities and Risk is a class focused on high-interest-rate investment products. By learning from both real-world examples and in-depth theoretical studies, students become aware of how to construct risk management plans. Completing hands-on projects working with such programs is one way to highlight the real urgency and many complicating factors in the securities market. Other granular types of investment have their own dedicated courses, and students who complete this track will grasp the unique risks and rewards of each product.
The seminar course at the end of the Online MSF program is another opportunity to harness real-world practices in an academic setting, as students complete a piece of original research incorporating the most up-to-date methods of analysis. Students can focus their reading research for the seminar presentation on any of a number of broad topic areas, encompassing corporate finance, economic institutions, and investment markets. Students’ own interests and professional focus can guide them.
When to seek an Online MSF degree
Professionals who are interested in high-level financial roles and seeking continued advancement can further their specialized knowledge base through the D’Amore-McKim Online MSF program. Through close connections with the local and global business community and a faculty consisting of experienced instructors with professional and research qualifications, this program offers the type of experience-driven learning that delivers value to today’s aspiring financial leaders.
Prospective students who apply to this program must present a resume and professional references alongside their academic transcripts. Five or more years of financial leadership or decision-making experience is another preferred condition for admission, though students with fewer years in the field may present industry certifications or results from exams such as the Graduate Management Admission Test. Ambitious, driven financial employees can take on the flexible online courses while excelling in their present roles.
This focus on working professionals already active in full-time roles further demonstrates the value of experience-driven courses. Rather than going back to pure theory, students can practice applying their newly acquired knowledge right away in their workplace, experiencing the types of real-world scenarios that will prepare them for promotions within their present organizations or strengthen their candidacy for related roles on the job market. Whichever path they choose, they will graduate with a foundation of experience.
To learn more about the Online MSF program, speak with an admissions advisor.