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Non-STEM -> Business School -> MFE/MEM?

Jim Lahey, Supervisor


Hello everyone,

A little background:

-          --I work in debt capital markets/corporate banking as an analyst/underwriter

-         -- I’m concurrently studying fulltime to complete my MBA at a non-top 20 but regionally reputable/strong business school (think Northeastern/BC/Nova). Set to finish the program two semesters early. ~3.9 GPA with finance concentration.

-          --Undergrad at top 10 liberal arts school in New England with non-STEM major. Marginal GPA (3.4).


Though I enjoy the work I am doing and see myself staying with my current company for at least the near future (partly because I enjoy the work, but also because they are funding my MBA), I am feeling a bit unsettled. As I close in on the business school finish line, I am not fully satisfied with the overall strength of my educational profile or with my long-term career prospects. This is problematic for me, since an MBA is generally considered a terminal degree. And since my business school is not M7/Top 10, I will not enjoy the network or prestige associated should I attempt to lateral elsewhere or to advance in a different role. And, since business school is generally a combination of qualitative and quantitative content, I feel that I am lacking some of the quant “hard skills” I desire and that will make me more competitive in the future. With FinTech and other tech innovations likely to threaten the very model of finance in the next decade, I want to make myself as well-rounded and technically savvy as possible (i.e. I don’t want to become obsolete). I’m interested in algorithmic systems and some CS “lite” material. A CS or engineering-related degree has the potential to help in this respect.

I’ve begun investigating other degree programs I could use to shore up my quant/hard science deficiencies and to bolster my long term career chances in areas of high finance (corporate finance/development, investment/portfolio management, etc). I’ve been told that a MS in Finance would not be fruitful to pursue post-MBA, since it is kind of redundant and because most quant-focused finance professionals pursue a MSF either directly out of undergrad or soon thereafter. So I’ve started to explore MFE (financial engineering) and MEM (engineering management) degrees. I think either has the potential to provide me with what I am looking for. The two MEM programs with which I am most interested are Dartmouth and Duke; the MFE at USC has a distance learning opportunity so I’ve considered that one, as well (I don’t plan to leave the east coast). (Sidenote: my GMAT/GRE is fairly good, but I understand I will probably need to retake the GRE in order to completely crush the quant section).

However, the issue is that these programs require engineering or STEM undergrad degrees, which I don’t have. Though I have taken many challenging finance classes (investment analysis, derivatives, etc), I know that these cannot take the place of pure math/science classes one would encounter as a STEM/engineering major.

So my question(s): What do I realistically need to do to be a competitive candidate for a MFE/MEM program? What things (short of earning an additional undergrad degree, which I’m not keen on doing) can I do to bolster my profile? What certifications/courses should I be taking? Does anyone have any experience with either program, or does anyone have experience moving from non-STEM -> MFE/MEM programs? Is this scenario completely hopeless at this point (and should I be researching other programs, like an MS in Econ or an MSF)?

(Note: I do plan to contact the schools directly to ask them similar questions, but I wanted to see if anyone on GradCafe could provide some color first).

Any and all information/advice is appreciated!

Edited by Jim Lahey, Supervisor
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