Is There Any Difference Between CFA and M.Sc. Finance?

With the advent of globalization, many businesses have re-invented themselves into huge financial conglomerates that are in constant need of qualified people who understand the complex intricacies of modern finance. If you are aspiring to enter the financial world, an undergraduate degree might prove insufficient to establish your career in this domain.

Modern organisations are looking for people who can demonstrate their commitment to their professional development in finance by adding to their academic credentials. If you want to pursue a career in finance, it makes sense to study an advanced degree in the domain which can help you stay at the top of your form.

The Chartered Financial Analyst or CFA qualification and the Master’s in finance are both advanced degrees that can help you provide meaningful financial insights to your organisation. However, many get confused when it comes to choosing one of them.

If you are exploring options for an advanced financial degree, this blog post can be helpful. It lists out what these qualifications involve and what is the difference between them.

What is the CFA degree?

The CFA qualification is regarded as an important management designation across the world owing to its real-world applications. CFA graduates are often coveted by organisations for roles like portfolio managers, financial research analysts and portfolio consultants.

You can take the CFA exams on your own terms and time limits. You do not have to attend specific classes; hence you can work through the coursework at your own pace. You also do not need to meet stringent admission standards for enrolling in the CFA programme. A bachelor’s degree or work experience of 4 years is adequate to get you through.

Apart from the programme enrolment fee and the test fees, you technically do not need to invest anything else for this qualification. Hence it is much cheaper than other advanced degrees in finance.

What does a master’s degree in finance involve?

A M.Sc. in finance is a full-fledged graduate degree in the domain that allows you to specialise in a particular branch of finance. Having a master’s degree in finance can help you gain expertise in a wide range of associated subjects as well as prepare you for a wider range of career roles as compared to CFA.

Pursuing a master’s degree offers you multiple networking opportunities that can grow your professional network and an alumni base. Since you go through an extensive syllabus and testing system, you are prepared for dealing with potentially stressful conditions at work.

What are the differences between the two degrees?

Here are the major differences between a CFA qualification and a Master’s degree in finance.

CFA M.Sc. Finance
CFA does not have specific admission standards. Most universities offering M.Sc. finance have stringent criteria to maintain their academic standards.
You get to study on your own and as per your time tables. You get to study with other brilliant minds and receive the benefit of a carefully customised timetable.
CFA graduates mostly work in investment management after the programme completion. M.Sc. finance provides you with advanced skills for a wider range of careers.
A CFA qualification is comparatively cheaper. M.Sc. degree provides you with the best value for your money and also offers the opportunity for scholarships in certain cases.

The CFA vs. M.Sc. finance debate has takers for both sides. Both qualifications are great ways to accelerate your career. You should make a decision based on your interest as well as future goals. If you want to remain in mainstream finance or specialise in other branches like taxation, a master’s degree will be a perfect fit for you.

On the other hand, if you want to work in the financially rewarding domain of investment management or want to see yourself working at an international firm, a CFA qualification would be a good fit. If you are unable to choose between the two, it can help to talk to people on both sides to arrive at a decision. Consider joining one of these advanced degrees today to uplift your financial career.

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About Dequiana Jackson

Dequiana Jackson, Founder of Inspired Marketing, Inc., helps overachieving women entrepreneurs conquer limiting beliefs and create marketing plans that win. This includes one-on-one marketing plan development, digital product creation, web design and content marketing. Dequiana is the author of Know Your Business: How to Attract Ideal Clients & Sell More and runs the award-winning blog,

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