If you’re a finance professional in Singapore, a Masters qualification could give you new skills and take your career to the next level – whether that’s clinching a more senior job or moving to the firm you’ve always wanted to work for.
And if you’re not in financial services but would like to be, having a post-graduate degree on your CV could potentially help you break into the sector in Singapore.
Whatever your career situation, you face the same challenge: given the bewildering array of Masters courses on offer, how do you choose which one is right for you? In particular, how do you choose between two of the leading qualifications: the Master of Science (MSc) in Finance, and the Master of Business Administration (MBA).
“The most common reason I hear from students who pursued an MSc over an MBA is that they wanted to do something specific to financial services that would really help their careers in finance after graduation,” says Professor Don Bredin, a Professor of Finance at University College Dublin (UCD), the university that partners with Kaplan Higher Education Institute in Singapore to run the MSc Finance course.
By contrast, MBAs are “at their heart, focused on developing management and strategic skills”, adds Professor Bredin, one of the University College Dublin lecturers on the MSc Finance degree programme at Kaplan. “An MBA is a generalist offering designed for managers wanting a broad understanding of different business functions – marketing, human resource and logistics, for example – and how they fit together to make a business viable.”
Within the financial services industry, however, Professor Bredin says there is a “global trend away from generalist qualifications to specialist ones”. “And if you do the UCD MSc Finance you gain a specialist understanding of the key elements of financial services that you wouldn’t get in an MBA.”
UCD MSc Finance students at Kaplan in Singapore study four core financial subjects – capital markets, derivative securities, portfolio and risk management, and strategic finance – and develop practical, technical skills in each area.
“The start of a module is an introduction to how that market – for example derivative securities like forwards, options and swaps – has developed historically,” explains Professor Bredin. “But then we teach the very practical issues, such as how to price risk. We also discuss the continuous innovation of products to give students an understanding of how important innovation is in financial markets.”
Once you’ve decided to pursue an MSc Finance rather than an MBA, why should you pick Kaplan over the many other MSc courses being offered globally (aside from the obvious convenience of studying in Singapore)? “The finance industry is demanding a lot more from MSc grads now – it wants high quality grads who have technical financial skills and analytical skills. Our MSc Finance degree gives you both,” says Professor Bredin.
“For example, we include a lot of project work that tests your presentation skills and how you think on your feet – both of these are crucial to having a successful career in finance,” says Professor Bredin. “When you’re doing an assignment in a group with three other people from different academic backgrounds – business, engineering, sociology – you all feed off each other and it helps with your presentation.”
Professor Bredin recommends doing “a lot of research” before choosing an MSc Finance – for starters, look at the accreditations of the course provider. Kaplan students are awarded the same degrees from UCD, which is one of only a select number of business schools accredited by the three main global centres of business and academic excellence: AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International); EQUIS, a quality improvement system run by EFMD (European Foundation for Management Development); and AMBA (Association of MBAs).
Professor Bredin says as a “second quality filter” prospective MSc Finance students should review is the school’s partnerships and alliances. For example, UCD is a member of the Community of European Management Schools (CEMS), a strategic global alliance of leading business schools and multinational companies (including several in the finance sector). It’s also part of the Global Network of Advanced Management (GNAM), which fosters collaboration between 21 elite business schools.
“Our accreditations and memberships benchmark UCD against the best in the world and mean we continually evaluate our own courses and have them evaluated by independent experts,” says Professor Bredin. “They’re a guarantee of a world-class quality degree.”
Many MSc Finance applicants conclude their research by speaking to people who’ve already completed the UCD degree at Kaplan in Singapore. “An increasing number of people are reaching out to alumni to ask them how their careers in financial services benefited from the programme.”
And they have plenty of successful alumni to choose from. Across all its courses Kaplan has produced more than 10,000 graduates in Singapore over the past 25 years, including many who are currently working in the financial services sector.
Kaplan’s partnership with University College Dublin is its longest established and allows it to draw on the Irish institution’s 160-year-plus track record of academic excellence. “Our leading lecturers visit the Kaplan campus in Singapore regularly – we’re fully committed to providing Kaplan students with the best financial education possible,” says Professor Bredin.
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