Master of Financial Economics

A master's degree in Financial Economics provides a rigorous understanding of theoretical finance and the economic framework upon which that theory is based.[1] The degree is postgraduate, and usually incorporates a thesis or research component. Programs may be offered jointly by the business school and the economics department.

The nature of the degree differs by university. Often, the degree is largely theoretical, and prepares graduates for research positions, for doctoral study in economics, or for roles in applied economics.[2][3] Some are positioned as professional degrees, preparing graduates for careers in investment banking and finance,[4][5] and are comparable to the Master of Science in Finance, though with an increased weighting towards economic theory. In some cases, programs are substantially quantitative[6] and are largely akin to a Master of Quantitative Finance.

Closely related degrees include the "Master of Finance and Economics" [7] and the "Master of Economics with a specialization in Finance".[8] Recently, undergraduate degrees in the discipline are offered.[9]

The degree is gaining in recognition: Oxford's Financial Economics MSc [10] is the fourth ranked worldwide amongst all Masters in Finance programs (Pre-experience).[11] [Notes 1]


Masters in Financial Economics are usually one to one and a half years in duration, and typically include a thesis or research component. The programs require a bachelor's degree prior to admission, but do not (usually) require an undergraduate major in finance or economics; a typical requirement is exposure to (multivariable) calculus, statistics and probability theory, linear algebra, and differential equations. Many programs include a review of these topics as an admission- or preliminary course.[3][12][13]

The curriculum is distributed between theory, applications, and modelling, with the emphasis on each differing by university and program, as above.

Comparison with other qualifications

There is some overlap with programs in financial engineering, computational finance and mathematical finance; see Master of Quantitative Finance (MQF). These degrees aim to train practitioners and "quants" — i.e. specialists in derivatives, fixed income and risk analysis — as opposed to economists, and their curricula are therefore weighted toward stochastic calculus, numerical methods, simulation techniques and programming, and are quantitative (well) beyond the level of the Financial Economics degree. Entrance requirements are similarly more mathematical. On the other hand, coverage of financial and economic theory, and econometrics, while significant, is comparatively secondary.[18] As mentioned, some Financial Economics programs are substantially quantitative and differ little from the MQF.

The overlap with general finance degrees, such as a Master of Science in Finance (MSF) or an M.B.A. in finance, is further limited, particularly where the Financial Economics program is theory oriented. These degrees are focused on financial management, corporate finance and investment management, and are practice oriented with limited exposure to the underlying economic theory. Note though, that since these courses train graduates in the use of the models developed in Financial Economics, the theory is (sometimes) covered in the context of a (basic) understanding of model assumptions. Similar comments apply to professional certifications such as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. Note also that the Master of Finance (M.Fin.) and M.Sc. Finance, as opposed to the MSF, have a significant theory component (as well as quantitative component), and largely overlap with the master's in Financial Economics.

See also


  1. Note though that Financial Economics programs are not necessarily comparable with generalist programs in finance.


  1. "U of T : Economics : Master of Financial Economics Program (MFE)". Retrieved 2010-10-19.
  2. MS in Applied Financial Economics, John Cook School of Business, Saint Louis University
  3. 1 2 3 Birkbeck Financial Economics (MSc)
  4. "Economics Department, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Youngstown State University". Retrieved 2010-10-19.
  5. Financial Economics MSc, University of Leicester
  6. 1 2 "MS in Quantitative Financial Economics". Retrieved 2010-10-19.
  7. 1 2 "MSc (Econ) Finance and Economics | School of Economics and Finance, Queen Mary, University of London". Retrieved 2010-10-19.
  8. Master of Economics with a specialisation in Financial Economics, Macquarie University
  9. e.g.: Kent; City London; UC Riverside; Leicester; Toronto; UMBC.
  10. MSc in Financial Economics, Oxford University.
  11. FT Rankings: Masters in Finance Pre-experience 2012
  12. Manchester's "Pre-Session" Mathematics & Statistics
  13. 1 2 "MCom (Financial Economics), University of Johannesburg". Retrieved 2010-10-19.
  14. Outline for ‘Financial Economics’, Royal Holloway, University of London
  15. See for example: Macroeconomics for Financial Markets, University College Cork; MSc in Financial Economics, Oxford University; MSc in Financial Economics, Cardiff University.
  16. "City University, London - Modules: MSc Financial Economics". Retrieved 2010-11-05.
  17. "Master in Finance - Bendheim Center for Finance - Princeton University". 2010-03-18. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
  18. Resolution to Establish a Program Leading to the Master of Science In Financial Economics, Columbia University Senate
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