This article by Nathan Falk '14 appeared in CMC's Forum on April 25, 2011.
Just over a week ago, faculty at Claremont McKenna College approved a joint BA/MA program in Finance for undergraduate students. In four years, students interested in pursuing a career in finance are now able to receive both a Masters degree from the Robert Day School (RDS) as well as an undergraduate degree from CMC.
The purpose of this program, according to RDS faculty members, is to expose CMC students to graduate level courses before entering the workplace. In 2007, Robert Day (CMC '65) provided $200 million to fund finance and economics education. Dean of the Robert Day School, S. Brock Blomberg P'13 sees this program as consistent with Robert Day's intention to give a leg up to CMC students and provide them with as many opportunities as possible to succeed in finance-related careers. The program also offers students an incentive to take upper-level graduate courses.
The program requires 36 credits (normal CMC undergrads must complete 32) to be completed within four years. Standard general education requirements, major requirements (including thesis), and graduate degree requirements still apply. In addition, students must conduct a full-credit summer internship related to finance between junior and senior year. Students interested in the program may take summer school classes, overload during the school year, or bring in outside credit (such as AP class credit) in order to fulfill the extra requirements.
There has already been immense demand for the program. Not surprisingly, a large number of CMC students hope to work in the financial sector and see the program as a fantastic opportunity. With just a few days notice of the program's first few information sessions, over one hundred students expressed interest. The program will be phased in (as it is unreasonable to expect current sophomores and juniors to be able to meet the full requirements), but in the long-term, it is expected that students interested in pursuing the dual degree should commit by the spring of their sophomore year at the latest in order to complete the necessary classes.
This new program offers a number of benefits over the current five-year graduate degree program. Normally, students who enter the financial sector work for two years or so and return to school to receive a Masters degree. With the new BA/MA program at CMC, graduates could work straight through without interrupting their careers. Also, fresh out of college, participants in the BA/MA program will have a better understanding of complex finance than other applicants. As Dean Blomberg puts it, "without the BA/MA program, you can only go so far."
That being said, this program is designed for a very specific type of student. A Masters in Finance is not equivalent to an MBA, and as Michelle Chamberlain, director of employer relations at the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance explains, "An MBA focuses on management, advertising, marketing, and there is a finance component. The Masters in finance strips all of that superfluous non-finance curriculum and just focuses one year on finance and accounting as the language of finance." Nonetheless, this program will allow those die-hard finance fans an advanced degree at an accelerated pace. Students with a strong interest in finance should be certain to apply. In a school-wide e-mail, Kevin Arnold, director of admission at the Robert Day School, suggests that interested program candidates contact him for further information. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.