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Master the language of money at the University of Maryland

Studying finance is a rewarding and inspiring pursuit that can profoundly impact your career and the world around you. Choosing this route means gaining the ability to speak the language of money and understand the inner workings of the global economy. This knowledge will not only be valuable for your own personal and professional growth but also for a wide range of organisations willing to pay top dollar to professionals capable of both safeguarding and increasing their wealth.

There’s no better place to become that professional than at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. This dynamic institution offers a unique and unparalleled education that cultivates creativity and encourages students to challenge the established norms, think independently and shape a better future for society. At the same time, they learn to embrace the complexities of modern business while gaining a better understanding of the financial principles that exist today and will emerge tomorrow. Two routes lead to such outcomes.

A sophisticated, high-level understanding of finance can be gained through the Master of Finance (MFin). This programme was designed for those keen on acquiring in-demand technical skills, the ability to critically think through financial obstacles and the rare skill of communicating complex financial ideas to others. In the process, they acquire the knowledge needed to excel in the Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) and Financial Risk Manager (FRM) exams.

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The programme also encourages students to explore fresh industry technologies, such as Python, R, and SAS. Plenty of lessons are covered outside the classroom as well to ensure theories are applied through projects and experiences that emulate what is currently being done by professionals in the workplace. One aspect setting Maryland Smith’s MFin apart is the focus on Climate Finance, equipping students with the ability to understand, quantify and manage the financial impacts related to climate change.

“Doing hands-on projects allowed me to better understand model development, quantitative analytics and technical programming,” says Xinyue (Sherry) Zhang, a graduate who is currently working as a Risk Analyst at the World Bank Group. “I was more than prepared to explore the finance world after graduating.”

Numbers prove that Zhang is not the only one who benefited from a Smith MFin degree. A substantial number of students go on to achieve an average starting salary of US$72,000. Some alumni received an average salary increase of 41%.

Similar success can be achieved with the Master of Quantitative Finance (MQF). This programme teaches students to hone and leverage quantitative, technology and problem-solving skills to ultimately guide companies toward making strategic financial decisions. Throughout the course, they are equipped with specialised knowledge of financial markets, institutions and the latest analytical techniques.

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“This programme is what we call a ‘turbo version’ of our existing Master of Finance because we added so many elements, in terms of quantitative skills and programming skills,” says Professor Liu Yang, who is the founding executive director of the Federal Statistical Research Data Centre at Maryland Smith and an expert in mergers and acquisitions, investments, and corporate governance. “This is to respond to the increasing demand from recruiters about the skill sets they’re looking for when hiring.”

Career readiness is further boosted through experiential learning opportunities. Unlimited access to cutting-edge analytics resources refines their programming, data management and global investment skills. Case competitions facilitate real-world application and the chance for students to network with esteemed professionals from major organisations. By joining the Manage Maryland’s Global Equity Fund, students can collaborate with their peers to manage a portion of the university’s endowment fund.

“I got admitted to two other schools, but what made Smith different from them was basically the experiential learning programmes in the curriculum and its financial programming emphasis,” says MQF student Poulami Ghosh.

Such opportunities are made possible by the Smith community, which comprises several faculty members with decades of experience, a vast array of prestigious companies, organisations and foundations, as well as 66,000 alumni globally — all of whom are thriving.

Take Akash Palkhiwala, for example, who graduated with a Smith MBA in 1999, began an entry-level role at Qualcomm and eventually worked his way up to CFO. “The first time I visited the US was when I landed at Smith,” he explains. “The professors and welcoming environment made it easy to assimilate into a new culture and ultimately find what I was passionate about — finance.”

Carly Fiorina also took on a Smith MBA before assuming the role of CEO for Hewlett-Packard in 1999 and becoming the first woman to lead a Fortune Top 50 company. The 1979 business graduate Robert G. Hisaoka is now the chairman and CEO of RGH Capital and a partner in a group of automotive dealerships and related entities. Evan Lutz, who was featured on Forbes’s 2017 30 Under 30 list co-founded Hungry Harvest from his dorm basement before graduating in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Business.

Those looking to follow in their footsteps would be happy to know that at Maryland Smith, launchpads to success are customisable. The school offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programmes. To take your pick, click hereFollow Maryland Smith on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.