The Best Electives for an MBA in Finance

The Best Electives for an MBA in Finance

When you enroll in an MBA program with a concentration in finance, you expect to take courses that cover the technical aspects of the field. However, even though graduate school tends to be more focused than a bachelor’s degree curriculum, there is still room for elective courses in most programs. Employers want to hire well-rounded individuals who can manage the challenges of the modern business world, and that usually means that you need skills and experience beyond the strictly technical aspects of finance.

This doesn’t mean, though, that you should enroll in any random course just to get the credits. The focused nature of the best online MBA programs means that your elective choices are a bit more refined than they might have been in college. In other words, the courses outside of your core requirements should be at least somewhat related to your goals and the degree you’re earning. And to get the most out of them, you should consider taking courses in the following subjects.

Writing

Many graduate students in finance are under the mistaken impression that they don’t need to develop their writing skills, as they are unlikely to need them in the workplace. Nothing could be further from the truth. Employers want to hire individuals who can communicate well both orally and in writing, and a technical writing class can put you in a good position to demonstrate skills in the latter. It’s likely that at various points in your career you will need to write memos, letters, reports, and other documents (such as white papers or blog posts) so it doesn’t hurt to sharpen your skills in this area.

Public Speaking and Presentation

Again, communication skills are in high demand, so if you aren’t confident in your ability to speak in front of an audience, take a course that will give you the strategies you need. Many schools are now offering courses specifically geared toward making presentations both in person and online. These are useful if you aren’t comfortable with presentation software or equipment and want some experience in this area. Many financial services companies develop webinars or have other online meetings, so knowing how to use this technology and make the most of it is a valuable skill.

Ethics

A growing number of business schools include ethics courses as part of the core curriculum for all students, but even if you aren’t required to take one, you should add one to your degree plan. Many companies have moved beyond the notion of not breaking the law equating ethics, and seeking more professionalization of business practices in this area. Coursework that challenges you to understand the ethics surrounding the finance profession and gives you the skills to make ethical decisions will be useful throughout your career.

The Best Electives for an MBA in Finance

Psychology

Studying human behavior can help those working in the financial field to better understand the thoughts and actions that influence the way markets move and how people think about money. This is especially important for those hoping to work directly with clients as a financial advisor or manager, as psychology plays a significant role in how people approach money – and how you structure your recommendations. Some schools have even started offering courses specifically devoted to the psychology of finance (or behavioral finance) to help provide insight into this area.

Critical Thinking

Like ethics, many business programs have started adding critical thinking courses to their core curriculums. Understanding how to analyze and evaluate arguments and create solutions to problems that take all possible angles into account is vital to success in the financial world. A critical thinking course will teach you how to think in a logical manner, and ask the right questions to reach better conclusions.

Entrepreneurship

If you plan to hang your own shingle at any point – in any type of business -coursework in entrepreneurship can help provide the foundation you need for a successful business. From writing business plans to managing staff, entrepreneurship classes help you start off on the right foot and make good decisions for your business.

These are just a few ideas for the most valuable electives to choose for your MBA. Other good options are to choose classes from other concentrations, such as marketing or global business, that will give you a foundation in those areas that you can use to pursue other career paths if necessary. Whatever you choose, though, make sure it aligns with your goals and that it adds to your skill set and helps you get the most from your grad school experience.

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