LBS MFA vs. Bocconi Master Finance

Situation: I’ve been accepted to both the MFA program at London Business School (LBS) and the Master in Finance program at Bocconi University, the latter with a 100% scholarship. Now, I’m faced with the challenge of deciding which program to enroll in.

Quick profile: I’m a final year Portuguese undergraduate student in a Portuguese double bachelor’s program in law and business management. I’ve had some finance courses but, in my opinion, not nearly enough to break it into the IB/PE scene without first having a good master’s education from a top European business school. I am yet to have any internship experience in a relevant sector (only did a corporate tax internship at a Big 4 in Portugal). I am inclined to return to Portugal for work after the master’s, mainly for personal reasons but also because I have a bigger chance of landing a good position (especially in PE) that gives me decent responsibilities from an early stage.

My perspective is that LBS is more pratical and getting-the-job inclined, while Bocconi is more academically rigorous and demanding. I do feel the need to have a very strong education in financial topics, and I do not completely push away the possibility of doing a phd in the future (although it’s not a main goal), which is something that makes me lean to Bocconi, but I also feel that the extra year at Bocconi might be 1 year of work experience that I lose.

I would appreciate any help regarding this subject, thank you!

First off, congrats on getting those offers. They are both quality institutions. Also, please remember these are very personal decisions, and meaningful too, so do take what I say here with a good pinch of salt. At the end of the day, its your life to live.

With that said, it sounds to me like you’re not sure what your goal is. If you’re aiming for a phd and an academic career, an MFA is probably a very expensive distraction, since its aim is to be practical and work focussed. If however you’re aiming for a corp fin career, then you could probably get started now without the MFA.

Dont forget, there are 3 sets of skills needed for a good career in PE: 1. technical / corp fin skills, 2. organisation, to manage the chaos that is the dealmaking process, and 3. human/relationships, since you cant manage a business without people on side with your plan. The MFA would help with 1. but not so much 2. or 3., whereas these latter two points are the most critical as you progress in your career. While in IB, you can learn 1. on the job.

Lastly, if your aim is to get into IB but you feel the MFA will give you a better shot at the prize, then dont forget the networking element. At LBS, you’ll be able to network with the London crowd to try and get a seat, while at Bocconi, you’ll probably more naturally network with the Italian crowd. If you wanted to work out of Milan on Italian banking say, ofc you’d have a great shot at Bocconi.

At the end of the day, the coursework at either will be more than enough to get the job done while in your seat. Think about what your objective is, and stay focussed on it until you hit your goal. Good luck.

Both programs offer excellent opportunities, but given your goals and circumstances. LBS has a strong global reputation, especially in the finance sector. Its alumni network is extensive, which can be beneficial for landing jobs in IB/PE. Bocconi also highly respected, particularly in Europe. The 100% scholarship makes it financially attractive. Given your inclination towards returning to Portugal and the financial benefits, Bocconi seems like a strong choice. The comprehensive education and the scholarship can provide you with a solid foundation in finance, making you well-prepared for the job market. However, if you prioritize entering the workforce quickly and leveraging a strong global network, LBS could be the way to go.