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.

Things You Need to Know Before Applying to an MBA

cap, gown, graduationApplying to study for an MBA (Master of Business Administration) degree can be a wonderful opportunity and a great investment in your future career. However it is also a big decision to make, as MBAs are usually expensive and time consuming. There are a number of things you should know before you take the plunge. This article will help you with what to consider before pursuing an MBA degree.

Before applying to study for an MBA you should consider that these qualifications can be very expensive. Depending on where you choose to study will affect how expensive the course will be, but you should bear in mind that no university will offer an MBA for under a few thousand dollars. It is also a lot harder to receive state funding for an MBA, as it is a postgraduate qualification – this means you would have to fund the degree yourself.

You should also consider that studying for an MBA can be very time consuming. Whilst it may be possible to study part-time, most courses are full-time which will mean you will struggle to work full-time alongside the course. A part-time course would of course take longer to complete, which means that you will need financial security for longer.

Before applying to study for an MBA you should also take time to carefully choose which university you wish to study at. Different universities will have different methods of teaching, different study modules and of course different prices. Be sure to look at a number of different courses before selecting which ones to apply for. You should also consider that some universities may only accept candidates who already have a Bachelor’s degree in business.

It is also important to consider whether or not an MBA is the right path for you before you apply to study for one. An MBA is most useful for people who wish to progress in a business career – often consultants, bankers and directors have MBA degrees. If you already work in business, it is worth finding out whether an MBA will help you progress within your company – some businesses value MBAs, while others do not. You should also be aware that MBAs cover quite a broad variety of business subjects – if you wish to study something more specific, for example accountancy, then an MBA may not be the right qualification for you.  Some specific advanced degrees that are popular are a Masters in Project Management or a Masters in Accounting.   Find out as much information about the course you are applying for before you apply, and make sure it is exactly what you wish to study.

All the above points aside, gaining an MBA qualification can be an excellent stepping stone in your career and is often well worth the time and expense in the future. The degree can lead to career progression, better opportunities and often higher pay, which can make studying one worthwhile. However it is important to take into account all of the above points before making the decision to study – this way you will be more likely to avoid discontinuing your course halfway through!

Photo by: Jason Low

How to Market yourself with a magnificent resume

While I haven’t disclosed much personal information yet, bits and pieces will come out as we delve further into this blog about How to Market.  I am an accountant/financial analyst that works at a local non-profit organization in Market who receives much of its funding from state and federal governments resumes.  Recently it has been discussed merging with another non-profit in the area which is teaching to people How to Market yourself.  They organizations are still in the very infancy stages of seeing if something like this is even plausible.  But I could be one day without a job because they will not need 2 finance departments for the organizations.

All of a sudden come the what-ifs.  What if I were to lose my job? Should I start looking now?  It creates a different level of stress from the day to day stress.  When planning for the future you need to take into consideration these what ifs.  One of them as is the emergency fund (insert link from the other post).  The one I want to focus on is having your resume up to date.

Your resume is your own personal marketing tool.  As you are working in your current job you should always have your resume updated with your most recent skill set and your job functions.  You never know when you are going to run into someone that may have the opportunity of a lifetime.  They may just ask for your resume and you better be able to produce.  Why keep it up to date, while you may think you have your dream job now you never know what might happen.  This is not the old times when you used to work in one or two jobs your entire life.  According to Forbes, employee/employer loyalty has shifted and attitudes have changed.  The economic climate has changed and you really have to focus on yourself and make sure you are prepared for the uncertainty.

Personal finance is a large spectrum and sitting back and taking a back seat approach is going to get you nowhere fast.  This is the approach that I had taken in years past but this blog is helping myself and my wife set our sights straight.

As with everything you do, put your best foot forward and leave nothing at the door. That is a great idea which you can use in the marketing of your magnificent resume.