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MBA, CFA Get Hitched

What'll it be - a graduate degree in finance or a CFA charter? A growing number of universities have set out to provide the tools to acquire both.

Around the world, some 41 educational institutions have signed on to a partnership program that the CFA Institute initiated in April 2006. The schools embed in their graduate curricula at least 70 percent of the "body of knowledge" that forms the basis of the three CFA exams, and agree to periodic monitoring by the institute.

The linked curriculum eases the path for students to pursue a CFA charter either during or upon completing graduate study in finance or business. Participating programs within the U.S. include those of Boston University, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Georgia Tech, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Creighton University, the University of San Francisco and the University of Cincinnati. Most award an MS degree in finance or investment management. A few award an MBA.

Several more institutions participate at the undergraduate level. They embed at least 70 percent of only CFA Level I material.

Outside the U.S., CFA Program Partner institutions include Oxford's Said Business School, the London Business School, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Bocconi University (Italy), and institutions in France, Australia, Canada, Argentina and the Philippines.

Foreign-based partner institutions outnumber the U.S. contingent by almost two-to-one. CFAI officials say they have several new U.S. partners in the pipeline, but want the geographic distribution of partner schools to reflect the CFA program's increasingly global candidate base.

One Institution's Experience

The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler Business School "made a deliberate effort" to cover most CFA material when it overhauled the curriculum for its MBA in investment management a couple of years ago, says Gregory Brown, concentration leader and curriculum advisor.

"Having a CFA is a benefit for some career paths," Brown says. "We certainly encourage students interested in buy-side career paths to pursue the CFA." MBA grads who did so obtained better results when seeking work in asset management, he adds. On the other hand, Brown says CFA participation makes no difference for students who seek roles in investment banking or sales and trading.

The CFA Institute does not charge fees to participating institutions, but conducts periodic audits to make sure each program conforms with partnership requirements.

AUTHORJon Jacobs Insider Comment
  • Jo
    Jon Jacobs
    25 June 2010

    Mr. Wrong (and also Mr. Temple Barr, from 2007),

    I'm afraid it is you who are wrong - not my opinion, but a matter of statistical fact (see below).

    The remark that derivatives aren't taught in MBA programs is too silly to even bother rebutting.

    More interesting though is to look at Pimco's investment staff qualifications (which is why I alluded to Temple Barr's comment).

    A few years ago I obtained a lengthy list of Pimco portfolio managers' names and bios. I don't know if it was complete, but it contained more than 50 names. I went through the bios one-by-one and recorded their degrees and designations.

    Since these were all Pimco portfolio managers, I had expected to find 100% CFA charter holders, and somewhere north of 50% also holding MBAs.

    Instead, I found just the opposite: about two-thirds had CFA charters. AND, 100% HAD AN MBA DEGREE.

    Granted, I made this check back in 2007. The figures might be different now. But I doubt it.

    -Jon Jacobs, eFinancialCareers News staff

  • Wr
    25 June 2010

    Response to Hedgie, Hedge Funds - I think you're wrong in regards to MBA over CFA. If we are talking about investment management field, you can't do anything with an MBA as you wouldn't even know what derivatives are. CFA is a graduate degree/designation.

  • TK
    30 January 2010

    What will be the option will be availiable for me after doing CFA level 1 i have alreadu done MBA in finance i have only three month left to graduate so planing to give CFA level1 before that in this june so what will be easy option i will be having in UK after this MBA and CFA level 1 togther please let me know

  • ta
    12 May 2008

    Candidate who is willing to diversify in any field and willing to give her best . An employee who is willing to work hard under any circumstances to give her best and be flexible .

  • Va
    Varun Gulati
    31 January 2008

    To say "Holding a CFA is like saying you did well on the SAT" makes me doubt what exactly Santa Claus does at his Money Market job. CFS may not equate to MBA from say Wharton but it is definately more valuable than most MBA degrees.

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