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Energy finance emphasis to begin in 2015

gas well

WVU graduate students will have a new academic option next year. The College of Business and Economics is establishing an area of emphasis in energy finance, which was approved by the University's Graduate Council last spring.

New courses are being developed that will allow students to prepare for careers in the finance industry, particularly commodities and futures trading.

The 36-hour program will include a core of advanced finance classes, laboratory experience and practical application of theory. To receive the master's degree, students must complete a 12-month program, which is scheduled to begin in June 2015.

Paul Speaker, professor of finance, said the new program will increase collaboration between the College of Business and Economics and several other WVU disciplines including law, engineering, arts and sciences, and agriculture.

"The new energy finance program also responds to state and regional needs for greater business expertise in the energy sector," he said, "and aligns with the University's 'Mountain of Excellence' focus on the responsible use of shale gas resources." That initiative defines areas of WVU's strategic investment where there is potential for growth and substantial return on the University's investment.

The program contains the essential elements found in the most successful graduate energy finance programs, he said, and will include a year-round practicum workshop with energy-sector experts. It will also comprise traditional master's-level preparation in corporate finance, economics, quantitative methods and investments, plus a series of energy-specific courses and experiences in law, ethics, petroleum accounting, energy derivatives and energy risk management.

Engineering and finance graduates are expected to have an interest in the program, along with individuals employed in the energy sector who want to broaden their experiences to the financial aspects of the industry.

The new initiative "expands the capabilities of the MS Finance and Executive MBA, which are already highly ranked," Speaker said, "and prepares West Virginians to fill high-level analytical positions in the state."

Students may opt for a dual degree MS/MBA program, which would be attractive for applicants who do not have a background in one of the business disciplines, he said. MBA students stay an additional year after completing the core requirements and earn both degrees at the end of the second year of study.

For working professionals in the Morgantown area, the MS Finance program may be completed part-time over a two-year period. For those at a distance, WVU's top 25 ranked executive MBA program offers an on-line alternative to develop a specialization in energy finance.