a different MBA question

Getting right to it- I just started an MBA program. Live, in-person, on-campus. First accounting class seems like it’s going to cover in aggregate <25% of CFA LI FRA material. 25% is being generous.

Question- does an MBA program eventually turn into an experience where you learn something? Some other gems I’m looking forward to include classes called “Leading People and Organizations”, “Business Process Management”, and “Managing for Results”.

Observation- not sure how some people made it to the graduate level still have questions on the concept of accumulated depreciation.

Still a pretty common question. The answer is the same for CFAvsMBA topics.

MBAs are better for networking and finding your dream job. CFA is better at teaching you finance.

To answer your question: Not really. You may learn something stupid in Organizational Behavior about how workers are happier if they’re sitting equidistant from the breakroom and restroom.


What? Networking? What about learning to move size and cash checks? I believe I also heard a mention of models and bottles.

So my DMs have been flooded with questions. For example; “Don, Don, has your experience improved? Have you found the value you were looking for? Have you learned anything that you can take away? Did your career get a shot of nitrous oxide? Did you get a yuge salary bump? Have you added any heavy hitters to your professional network? Have the models and bottles made their way into your life in a significant way?” The list goes on.

I’m truly sorry for having kept all of you on the edge of your seats for so long. I wanted to finish the program and really provide a full and accurate review. Here it is.

No. No to all. If you’ve taken a CFA exam, you know more than you’ll learn in an MBA program. This of course applies to Finance and Accounting classes, with everything in between being fluff that you forget about almost instantly.

“But what about networking, Don? Surely there are others in the program that are looking to cash fat checks?”

Sorry. I’m going to go with a hot take and say that they’ll let anyone in and push them all the way through. Below is a direct quote from one of the program’s best and brightest minds.

“The objective of passive investing is to gradually generate income over time. This can also be identified as the buy and hold method. The complete opposite of an active portfolio where an investor would be looking to make profit off of numerous trades of stocks, instead of holding onto safe investments. There may not be instant growth or always consistent growth %’s, however over the long-run, it is more likely than not that the portfolio will see gains. This is due to the type of investments that are made. The growth may not be as large as an active account making constant trades, but these buy and hold investments are much more safe and reliable.”

So there it is. Overall, I’m glad I did it, if only so I can die without wondering if anything would have been different if I had gotten an MBA.

On a more serious note, I really just wanted to put this out there for anyone thinking about pursuing an MBA. Maybe I’m overly cynical. Maybe the experience is different at a top 10 school, I don’t know. I’d say if your job is going to pay for it, knock yourself out. Otherwise the NPV of the time and money spent is deeply negative.

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You nailed it. I am an MBA 2 decades since from a decent B -School ( top 25 in my time now among top 30). Major credit in Marketing and minor in Operetions. The world is gradually but surely waking up to a harsh reality :

MBA wherever you do it from is a bit of humdrum without much value add. It’s not completely worthless because after investing a fortune you atleast know this is how the world works:) so you take that lesson. Otherwise in terms of value it is pretty much overhyped. And I am talking about the top 10/20 B Schools.

You can’t compare a course like CFA with an MBA. The amount of value add in the CFA program in terms of applied finance is priceless not to mention the challenge of passing the exams. In the end, I am glad I did my MBA, I am glad I did not study Finance in my B School, I am glad I did my CFA ( and FRM). I cherish them all.

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On a side note, if you want a rigorous program that teaches about finance, you could try a masters program from a top institution, for example the Master of Science in Computational Finance by Carnegie-Mellon University - although if you can study on your own it’s much cheaper to just work through their books. Stochastic Calculus for finance by Steven Shreve, for example, is an excellent book, although pretty advanced.

It’s worth noting that CFA is making major changes to the curriculum in 2022, so that things like CAPM and Statistics is being removed from the syllabus and replaced with things such as ethics and behavioral finance.

haha this made me chuckle

I’ve looked at something like this as an option. That ship may have sailed for me. From what I can tell, most of these programs (where there’s some value) are only offered on a full-time basis and I can’t quite figure out how it’s do-able for working adults with kids and a mortgage.

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If you look up the current state of online master’s degrees, there is an increasing pool of quality schools offering online part time programs for full degrees. Hopkins, Georgetown, Columbia to name only a few.

I may do this for at least one degree at some point. And I am old AF.

Online post-graduate education seems to be the future and master’s degrees are perfectly positioned for that since there is no resident teaching component to it, unlike a typical top PhD program. With a master’s, it’s purely study and a thesis or capstone project at the end.

Cheers and good luck with your academic pursuits!

Have they ? I mean the Georgetowns and Columbias.

Are these masters valued? I mean are they recognised well enough in the industry and the industry attaches due importance to them ?
If so, I would like to give a shot to Quant Finance

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I guess one must research each program and talk to graduates or students from there - the programs should be able to put you in touch with class ambassadors and alumni to learn more about their experience and how they perceived the process and results after. I know that when online degrees were relatively new, they were not valued as much. But now that online education is becoming more of a “thing,” I think they are valued more now - the quality of classmates is much higher and there seems to be better recruiting possibilities. For instance, Georgetown has a real estate master’s degree that is now decently well regarded in the real estate industry. It’s gained in acceptance. Probably the same for certain other programs too. Columbia’s programs typically have CFAs and CFA candidates in them, I’ve had discussions with their admissions teams in the past. Probably the Hopkins programs and similar level programs are pretty good too, and at the end of the day you get a full degree from the institution not some quasi-degree. But definitely speak to the programs and ask the hard questions as part of your due diligence. In principle - I think online is a growing trend and it will become continuously more recognized as the trend persists.

The key is, as I understand it, to learn about your classmates (who will become your network and part of your future human capital) and also their graduate recruiting program. Having said that, just having a master’s degree in a key topic can be helpful on LinkedIn and Indeed and similar job seeking sites. Because recruiting companies spot that you’re trained in a topic. Your master’s degree will be like any other master’s degree, it won’t say “online” or be like a certificate of study. And, with that in mind, they are now priced like a regular master’s degree so just be prepared for that too.

There are some great EMBA programs that give you the same MBA degree and recruiting access basically, that are mostly or entirely online. NYU/LSE/Paris HEC have a combined EMBA that’s mostly online. You have a couple weeks of on-site study overall, but that’s all. I have a friend who did that program while working and raising a family, and he did very well from it. If I’d known about this program at the time, I definitely would have applied for it too: https://www.triumemba.org/

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Thanks Elder. That’s insightful. I will surely follow your advice should I decide to pursue one.Any mode of study requires critical mass and traction to gain acceptance in the mainstream industry context. Some jobs would de facto want a masters. With the online disruption the border between physical classroom and the virtual one is blurry.

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im doing a part time mba right now. everything is pretty much review. whole class dont even know what goodwill is. lol

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Probably much of the MBA accounting, econ, finance and quant methods etc. will be review for you or quasi-review since you’ve got your CFA. Hopefully when you get into other topics like operations and project management and other elective topics you will start learning newer-type things. I ended up being fascinated by stuff like lean/six sigma and never expected that. I also studied Behavioral Econ which was pretty cool. But that’s going to be part review for you since you studied Behavioral Finance already. In the MBA class they should get more into the utility formulas behind prospect theory etc.

Honestly your MBA after the CFA will probably end up providing mostly a great network and job opportunities, instead of being a gauntlet of brain busting topics. But enjoy the advancement opportunities it will provide you, the network you will get, and enjoy learning some new things hopefully in the non-finance topics👍

While on the topic could not help wondering whether the online masters could lead to an equally desirable pHD. Don’t get me wrong. For God’s love I am overgrown on masters, cfa, frm et all. But I believe one sure shot way to finding out the academic ( and probably industrially) value of online masters is how well and how smooth the transition from the masters to pHD is.

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It’s an interesting question that will surely evolve over time! Particularly as more undergrad programs begin to provide more remote learning options, the opportunities for remote PhDs as a transition from remote master’s degrees will become more doable I think. Because at least in the USA there is often an undergrad teaching component as part of PhD study program activities. There actually are some online PhDs but I am not sure how they pull it off.

When applying to a PhD program, again at least in the USA, it seems like they make you retake their master’s program anyway. So you repeat it regardless of where you got your master’s originally. At least this was the case for my friends who did their master’s in Econ then went for their PhD a few years later. So the master’s degree just became a part of their PhD program application, showing their grades and their thesis paper. It didn’t accelerate their study program when they went back for the PhD insofar as my limited experience with seeing my friends and how they had to repeat. But a good master’s degree should look good on your general application as a candidate for any other post-graduate degrees, PhD or otherwise, I would imagine.

Having said all that, it might be different outside the USA, and maybe someone with personal experience also might have found that some of their classes translated over into a new school later, I will defer to anything they say on the topic of course.

May I ask where from you are doing your masters ? What are the networking opportunities and/or the Industry clout ?

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usc mba. goal is to network with rich ppl, maybe switch to tech or repe. program is big in consulting/tech/media. biggest fucntion is mgmt consulting and product management.

I had the same experience. I almost fell out of my chair when someone had to have the concept of depreciation explained soup to nuts. I couldn’t figure out how a student could make it all the way to a master’s program without having at lease a rudimentary understanding of accounting. It struck me later that perhaps non-business undergrads never have to take an accounting class.

I’d agree 100% that it’s all a review. As I said previously, if you’ve taken the Level I exam, there’s no material in the MBA that you haven’t seen before. I had a class called Information Systems & Data Analytics that got into linear programming, which was interesting- but it’s something that you lose if you don’t use it regularly. And then Leadership, Marketing, Managing Business Processes- that’s in and out as soon as the class is over.

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Truth be told ( and I am not being disrespectful at all). MBA and especially MBA finance is a joke regardless of where you do it from as compared to the CFA ( and may I add the FRM too restricting of course to Risk Management). But hey the point is we need the masters … as silly as that could be.

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