William Riley and Victor Chow just returned from China, where they were able to secure nearly a dozen internships for students completing the College's Master of Science in Finance (MSF) program.
Each year more than a score of students participate in the one-year master's program, which not only gives them a broad understanding of finance, but also can be a stepping stone to Chartered Financial Analysts certification from the CFA Institute.
In fact most of the students who will enter the internships in China have achieved at least Level I certification by taking a rigorous exam, the first of three levels. Students in finance are not required to take the exams, but the program prepares them should they choose to seek CFA designation.
The CFA program is a globally recognized, graduate-level curriculum that provides a strong foundation of the real-world investment analysis, portfolio management skills and practical knowledge needed for professionals in finance.
"Having the CFA definitely helps our students in the job market as well as in obtaining internships," Dr. Riley said. Last year 100 percent of students in the College's master's program who took the test passed the Level II exam, he said. The international rate for passing is only 45 percent, which indicates how tough the exam is. Riley is chairperson of the Department of Finance.
Students in the MSF program come from the United States, China, Germany, Venezuela and India. In all these countries the international CFA designation carries a lot of weight, said Dr. Chow, professor of finance and coordinator of the MSF program.
Internships are required in the master's program and Riley said students are also encouraged to earn an MBA along with their graduate degree in finance, which takes an additional year.
"Many of our students are young; so, that extra year toward the MBA degree really helps them develop their communication and presentation skills," he said. "We think the additional year broadens their management abilities so that, coupled with the finance degree, plus the required internship, they are well prepared."
The finance students are academically well prepared when they enter the program, he said. The average GMAT score for students in the finance program is 650. "These are incredibly bright students," Riley said. About 10 percent of students who earn MSF degrees go on to Ph.D. programs, he said.
Tyler Remick received a MSF degree last year, passed the Level I CFA and is studying for Level II. "I am currently a new hire at Ernst & Young in their assurance practice," he said. "Having a background in finance in addition to my undergrad degree in accounting has provided me a different perspective than that of my colleagues. Ernst & Young has recognized my educational background and therefore has deployed me on several financial service engagements. My finance degree, coupled with the CFA curriculum, will give me many opportunities to explore other career paths at Ernst & Young such as financial risk consulting and transaction advisory."
Riley and Chow landed internships for students in China at banks, a steel company and the port of Shanghai, among others. In the United States, students will be doing internships at Owens Corning and other companies.