Northern Illinois University
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MS in Finance at Northern Illinois University: Empowering future financial leaders

A Master of Science in Finance degree from the College of Business at Northern Illinois University (NIU) offers an excellent return on investment. It’s more affordable compared to similar programmes, costing 30% to 65% less. It’s STEM-designated, which means graduates can qualify to extend their post-graduation stay in the US by an additional 24 months, bringing their total Optional Practical Training duration to up to 36 months.

And it has maximum flexibility, giving you the choice of schedules, concentrations and specialised certificates, according to your needs and interests.

“The programme offers full-time or part-time schedules with multiple entry points, online or in-person learning options, and synchronous or asynchronous course formats,” says Gina Nicolosi, NIU Department of Finance Chair.

These features will empower you to make the most of a curriculum that equips you with essential tools and skills that will help you navigate the complexities of the modern financial landscape. Much of this is experiential. From day one, you learn by taking part in internships, study abroad stints, competitions, and practicums in portfolio management, trading, and corporate consulting.

 Northern Illinois University

The NIU MSF prepares you for a career in a variety of fields, including investment and commercial banking, asset and wealth management. Source: Northern Illinois University, College of Business

As you enhance your practical skills and industry readiness, you will develop leadership skills as well. This is a distinguishing feature of NIU’s MSF. “Students can gain these skills through student organisation leadership positions, formal university and college committee work, conference presentations, and team-oriented classwork,” says Nicolosi. “These opportunities foster qualities such as decision-making, strategic thinking, and effective communication.”

Recent graduate Iván Alejandro Carreón Hernández describes his investment in the programme and certificate in Financial Risk Management as “worth it.” During his time in the programme, he took part in various extracurricular competitions, including the Student Managed Investment Fund Consortium and the Microsoft Excel Collegiate Challenge, organised by the Financial Modelling World Cup.

“Through different case studies, projects, and academic programmes, I have developed skills in financial analysis, investment management, and risk assessment,” says Hernández. “During the Student Managed Portfolio programme, students take on the responsibility of overseeing and managing a portfolio of long-term investments. Additionally, I also participated in the Options Trading Programme, in which students learn and put into practice different trading strategies with financial derivatives using actual contracts.”

Active collaborations with industry partners provide students with opportunities to work on capstone projects and network with C-suite executives. “I’ve also been able to attend various conferences and networking events, such as the Windy City Summit, which is one of the largest treasury conferences in the country,” says Hernández.

Like him, Olivia Lockwood finds the MSF highly valuable. She joined the programme after completing a bachelor’s degree at NIU. “I believe that the programme has greatly contributed to my preparedness for success in my career as I have had many networking opportunities, improved my professionalism, and obtained a broad knowledge base of information,” she says.

She credits her growth to the programme’s real-world experiences. In her first semester, she took part in a portfolio-building competition that required her to apply what she learned in class, such as financial modelling and data visualisation. Her group, a credit to the effectiveness of the programme. Similarly, her stint as a student analyst for the Student Managed Portfolio got her to solve real-world problems to access the market, value companies, and make important decisions. “Some of the practical skills I’ve developed from my education include problem-solving and working in a group on collaborative assignments, as well as communicating with industry professionals,” she says.

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MSF students take courses alongside MBA students, maximising interaction and learning throughout their programme. Source: Northern Illinois University, College of Business

Of course, students like Lockwood and Hernández aren’t alone. They receive keen attention from faculty members who work directly with them in small classroom settings, reply to emails promptly, and serve as advisors when necessary. This close interaction allows for personalised guidance, mentorship and industry insights, both in and out of the classroom.

The guidance goes above and beyond. Students can participate in formal mentorship programmes and career courses, which involve individually pairing up with an alumni coach. These coaches provide direct feedback on recruitment materials and interviewing techniques, enhancing one’s professional growth and leadership development. “Students are prepared to navigate the rapidly evolving field of finance as they receive accessible help with resume building and job applications,” says Lockwood.

The impact of the MSF is profound. Graduates have achieved notable career success, with many becoming financial leaders. They have secured positions in top investment banks, asset management firms, and corporate finance departments, leveraging their education, skills, and network gained from the programme. Paula Veyhle is now at McKinsey & Co., Stephen Randles-Moss is at Charles Schwab, and Uros Markovic is Assistant Vice President of Market Risk Analytics at Citi, to name a few.

These are leaders with a strong grounding in ethics. “Through coursework, case studies, and ethical discussions, students learn to uphold integrity, professionalism, and social responsibility as they assume leadership roles within the finance sector,” says Nicolosi. “This commitment to ethics ensures that graduates are well-prepared to navigate the ethical complexities of the finance industry and make principled decisions in their careers.”

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