MS in Finance FAQs

Program Information

Do you offer part-time MS Finance programs?

No, the MS Finance program is designed to be a full-time, nine-month intensive program.

When do students matriculate each year?

All MSF students are required to attend Orientation and complete on-campus coursework prior to the start of the academic semester. Typically, MSF students report to campus the last week of July. The finalized academic calendar will be available in June for the following year.

What is the difference between a Master of Science in Finance (MSF) and an MBA degree?

The Master of Science in Finance (MSF) is an accelerated nine-month program that focuses on increasing a student’s understanding of finance and financial markets rather than the more general management offerings of the MBA. Students of the MSF program obtain a deep exposure to the technical aspects of finance and have the opportunity to tailor their curriculum by enrolling in MBA electives.

Do you accept applications for spring entry into the MSF program?

No. We accept applications for fall entrance only.

What kinds of positions will I be qualified for upon graduating and what companies recruit MSF students?

Students are hired by corporations and a variety of financial institutions throughout the banking and investment industries. Please click here for more information about typical career paths of MSF students as well as companies that recruit our students.

What salary range can I expect upon completing the program?

Salaries vary between industries and companies, as well as with job type, your previous work experience and geographic region. The average starting salary for the 2016 graduating class was $68,179. See the full 2016 Employment Report. MS Finance graduates with significant professional experience generally earn a higher salary.

What is the procedure for completing my MBA at Owen after graduating with an MSF?

Successful MBA applicants will have an average of five years work experience. MS Finance graduates will need to apply to the Vanderbilt MBA program and complete the remaining core classes and the distribution requirements in place at the time of enrollment.

Can I complete both degrees at the same time?

No, the MS Finance and the MBA programs are distinct full-time programs and are not meant to be completed together. You must apply separately for each program.

How will the courses prepare me for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam?

Course work will be highly beneficial to those planning to sit for the first two levels of the CFA exam and students will be encouraged to seek additional certifications, such as the CFA.

What are the advantages of the Owen "mod" system?

The module system allows MSF students to take a wider variety of courses. The Owen Graduate School of Management has been operating on the "mod" scheduling system for several years now with a high degree of success.

Will I be included in Owen’s social structure (student clubs, cookouts, etc.)?

Owen’s active student body offers a number of opportunities to get involved outside the classroom, and MSF students will have access to a number of professional and social clubs.

Admissions Criteria

Can MSF graduates return to Owen to complete an MBA?

Yes, MSF students can apply to the Vanderbilt MBA program. The admission standards for the MBA program are different and generally require three to five years of work experience. If you are admitted to the MBA program, some of the MSF course credit can be used to satisfy MBA graduation requirements.

Who is eligible to apply?

MSF applicants need to have completed an undergraduate program at an accredited four year undergraduate institution and should have shown high academic and personal achievement. Scores on the GMAT and TOEFL (for applicants who are not native English speakers) should be competitive with other Vanderbilt graduate programs. Candidates with related work experience will receive additional consideration, although none is required. Applicants should also have a strong mathematical background to handle the rigors of the program.

Does a particular academic or professional background give me any advantage in the admissions process?

We seek students from a wide variety of backgrounds. Diversity in all forms—academic, professional, cultural, ethnic, gender, geographic, socioeconomic—is an important component of the Vanderbilt experience.

Does the Vanderbilt MSF program accept transfer students or transfer credits?

No. Most top business schools do not accept transfer students or transfer credits.

What kind of work experience does the Admissions Committee consider?

We do not require prior full-time work experience for the MS Finance program. However, competitive applicants will have at least one internship that is applicable to career interests in finance.

What are the prerequisites to apply for the Vanderbilt MSF program?

We do not require students to have a significant level of quantitative training in mathematics and statistics. At a minimum, it is expected that students will have completed one year of calculus as well as courses in statistics. We do not require prior course work in finance. It is helpful to have taken an introduction to economics course to help you understand the theory of economic principles.

How to Apply

If I am admitted this year, may I defer my enrollment until next year?

Generally, no—we do not offer deferred enrollment. In exceptional situations beyond the candidate’s control, the Admissions Committee may offer a deferral. One exception is that all deferral requests for U.S. military personnel will be approved. Otherwise, candidates must decline an offer of admission and reactivate the application for admission and financial aid consideration the following year.

Is there any advantage to applying in an earlier application round?

We seek outstanding candidates regardless of the application round. However, space and scholarships are limited, so it is wise to apply as early as possible. Applying earlier means that you will receive an admission decision earlier, leaving you more time to plan your transition to the Vanderbilt MSF program. The earlier candidates commit to the program, the sooner they have access to our career service resources.

What is the process for reapplying?

We retain all admissions materials for two years before destroying them. You must submit an entirely new application. However, we can match previously submitted supplemental materials such as official test scores, transcripts and recommendations to your new application. We also ask that you provide an additional statement in the Optional essay area describing your personal and professional activities since the original date of application and explaining why you are now a stronger candidate for admission. If the essays have not changed since you originally applied, and your answers have not changed, you do not need to submit new essays.  Just enter “See Previous Application”.

Transcripts and Test Scores

Where should I send my supplemental materials (transcripts and other hard copy materials)?

If your official or unofficial transcript is not in English, you must obtain a notarized English translation from a certified professional and submit it with the official or unofficial transcript. If your university retains the only official copy of your transcript, we will accept a duplicate copy certified by an officer of the university.

**Please note: We do not require official documents such as official transcripts and official test scores unless an offer of admission has been accepted.  You may self-report your test scores on your test score section of your application.  You may upload an unofficial transcript with your English translation to your application materials.  We will verify the official transcripts and official test scores in May of each academic year prior to enrollment.

Once an applicant is notified of admission to the program you may send all official transcripts electronically to  You will be required to send official transcripts for each institution listed on your application.  Please ensure your conferred degree and graduation date are posted to your official transcript, otherwise you will be asked to order another transcript reflecting your conferred degree and date of graduation prior to enrollment.

**Mailing address below for official transcripts:

Center for Data Management- OWEN
Vanderbilt University
PMB 407833
2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37240-7833


Does the Vanderbilt MS Finance program require the GMAT?

The MS Finance program requires either the GMAT or GRE. You may self-report the scores on your application for the admission review process.  We will verify the scores later in the admissions process if an applicant has accepted an offer of admission to the program.

Official test scores should be sent to the Center for Data Management, Vanderbilt University, PMB 407833, 2301 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, TN 37240-7833 or electronically to for the verification process each year. 

Please list Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management as a recipient of your GMAT or GRE score on test day if you would like us to receive your official report. 

If you last took the test more than five years prior to submitting your application, you must take it again.  

We review your overall highest test score. Some candidates take the test more than once to obtain a higher score.


If my GMAT or GPA is significantly below the average for Vanderbilt MSF students, should I still apply?

Although the GMAT and GPA are important indicators of your academic ability, they are not the only factors we consider. Your overall academic record, the quality of your undergraduate institution, the difficulty of your course of studies and the consistency of your performance are also good indicators of your potential for success in the MSF program. Candidates who are weak in one area of the application (low GMAT or weak academic record) may balance that with strengths in other areas (above-average GPA or outstanding test scores).

I submitted my application before I took the GMAT. I scored lower than I thought I would and plan to retake the GMAT. Will the Admissions Committee hold my application until my new scores are available?

We recommend that you take the GMAT or GRE before submitting your application so that you are satisfied with your scores and can record your self-reported unofficial score reports on the electronic application form. If you submit different test results, we will consider and report your highest overall score. We do not take the highest section scores from multiple tests. If your scores are below average, we strongly recommend that you retake the test, prior to submitting your application, to increase your chances of admission.

Your application is considered complete and ready when we receive your online application, test scores and application fee.  Although still required for admission, the evaluative interview and any other supplemental items are not required for the Admissions Committee to deny or waitlist an applicant.

Can I take the GMAT, GRE, TOEFL or IELTS more than once?

Yes. If your scores are below average, we strongly recommend that you retake the test, prior to submitting your application, to increase your chances of admission. Keep in mind that a vast majority of those who apply can handle the work, so we also are evaluating how competitive their performance is compared to the pool and our school’s MS Finance profile. Over half of the candidates who enroll have taken the GMAT more than once.

Is there a way for international students to waive the TOEFL or IELTS?

All International applicants are required to submit a test of English language unless you qualify for a waiver.  If you are requesting an English test waiver you must select your qualification on the application under the test score section of the international application. Below are the options you may choose when completing your application. If you qualify the item will be removed from your applicant status page requirements.  The Admissions Committee has the option to request further information to review your application and waiver request.

English Test Waiver:

1. I have earned an undergraduate degree in a country where the official language is English (not just an English-speaking institution or just a country where English is spoken.)

2. I have lived and worked, for the past two or more years, in a country where the official language is English (not just a country where English is spoken).

3. I have scored in the 90th percentile or higher on the verbal component of the GMAT or GRE.

What is Vanderbilt’s school code for test score reports?

The GMAT testing center does not require a school code. You will only be asked to provide the school name to the GMAT testing center.


Our institution code is 1871 for the IELTS and TOEFL and GRE. When choosing the department please proceed as follows to ensure your scores are reported to Vanderbilt. You are given a choice of “Undergraduate” or “Graduate” as the kind of test you are taking. Please select “Graduate”.   A drop down box will then ask you to choose the “department”. Choose the last option in the drop down menu and click on “Any Department Not Listed”. 

If I take the GMAT more than once, do you consider the highest score or do you average the scores?

We will only utilize the highest score when making an admissions decision.

When should I submit my official transcripts and test scores?

1.      Take the GMAT or GRE (GMAT is preferred) and TOEFL, PTE Academic or IELTS, if required, before submitting your application so that you can include your scores in the application. If you have already taken your required tests and sent your score reports to Vanderbilt, your scores will automatically be verified by Vanderbilt.
Please send all score reports to:
Center for Data Management - OWEN
Vanderbilt University
PMB 4078332301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37240-7833    

2. You will be required to upload a copy of your transcript from every college or university you attended. Only if you are offered and accept our offer of admission, will you be required to mail official transcripts from each institution.
Please send all official transcripts to:
Center for Data Management - OWEN
Vanderbilt University
PMB 4078332301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37240-7833

Essays and Recommendations

How do I choose my recommenders?

You should submit two recommendations from professors or supervisors familiar with your work. If you are unable to disclose your plans to a current supervisor, you should provide an explanation in an additional statement and request a former supervisor to complete a recommendation. Applicants with little or no full-time work experience should obtain recommendations from professors or supervisors of part-time work and internships.

May I submit more than 2 letters of recommendation?

No. It is not recommended to submit more than two letters of reference.

Tuition and Beyond

What is the cost of a Vanderbilt MSF education?

Click here for the current estimated total cost of education for a single student during the nine-month academic year.

What are the health care costs and requirements for spouses and/or dependents?

Vanderbilt requires that all students, spouses and dependents have health care coverage. The detailed costs, forms and form completion/submissions deadlines are all available on the Vanderbilt website for student accounts.

Is it possible for MS Finance students to live in university housing on campus?

No. On-campus housing is limited to undergraduate students. For more information, please visit Vanderbilt University's off-campus housing referral service. Students who live close to Vanderbilt generally walk or bike to campus. There are restaurants and shops in the West End and Hillsboro Village areas and also within walking distance of campus. If you choose to live farther from campus, having a car would be required. Most students have cars, but this is a personal decision. You will find the cost of living in Nashville to be very reasonable.

Will I be able to obtain a parking pass? How much does a pass cost?

Students can purchase parking passes at the Office of Traffic and Parking in Wesley Place Garage, across the street from Owen on Scarritt Place. Click here for cost and other information about Traffic and Parking at Vanderbilt. Most Owen students choose to purchase a Zone 2 general permit, which allows them to park in any unreserved Zone 2 parking space. There are surface lots and two parking garages in the immediate area of the Owen building.

Interview Process

How important is the interview in relation to the rest of the application?

The interview is an important component of the application and provides you an opportunity to share your story. Through the interview, we hope to hear more examples of the types of experiences you have had in both your personal and professional life, and to get a sense of your demonstrated record of achievement, your interpersonal and communication skills and your focus—why MS Finance?

What is Vanderbilt’s policy on interviews?

An evaluative interview is required before an offer of admission can be extended, but not all applicants may be interviewed. Selected candidates will be invited to campus for a formal campus visit and will be invited to interview. If you are visiting campus (independently, not on a formal campus visit day) you may request an interview by emailing your resume and GMAT test scores to the admissions office. Please note a few possible days/times for your interview. If you are unable to interview with an admissions director on campus, you may be invited to interview via video call or telephone, only after all required application materials have been received and evaluated by the MSF Admissions Office. If you are invited to interview, we will email you with instructions for scheduling an appointment to interview via video call.

Do I have to come to Nashville for my interview?

No - we recognize that it's not possible for everyone to travel to campus, especially in the middle of the work week or from far away. If necessary, we will conduct your interview via video call once your application has been submitted and reviewed and only after you have received an invitation to schedule a phone interview. Despite that flexibility, we still strongly believe in the value of a trip to Owen, Vanderbilt and Nashville. If necessary, we will conduct your interview via video call once your application has been submitted and reviewed.  Those offered a video call interview will receive an invitation via email to schedule this interview.

Once you submit your application, you will be contacted to set up an interview. An organized campus visit allows you to attend class, have lunch with a current student, have the opportunity to be considered for an interview with a member of the MS Finance Admissions Committee, and attend a small group discussion with our career management staff. Students are encouraged to register for Campus Visit days as soon as possible!

Is there an advantage to interviewing on campus?

An on-campus interview provides an insider's view and is the best way to gain a realistic impression of life as an Owen student. When seeking to interview on-campus, consider applying early to be considered for one of our Campus Visit dates. Campus Visit days allow you the chance to attend class, have lunch with a current student, attend a small group discussion with our career management staff, and if approved, conduct your evaluative interview in person. Students are encouraged to apply early to be considered for a campus visit interview.

How long do interviews last?

The interview usually lasts 30 to 40 minutes. In general, the goal of the interview is to assess your maturity, judgment, professionalism, initiative, interpersonal and team skills, communication skills and ability to think critically.

What can I expect during the interview?

We conduct a structured conversational interview. We are interested in evaluating all candidates on a common set of criteria, but we also want to discover your individual story, unique talents and personal ambitions. Your interpersonal skills, communication ability and professional presence are at least as important as the specific content of the interview. We expect that you will wear professional attire and bring a copy of your current resume.

What should I do if I cannot interview prior to a specific application deadline?

Your application will be evaluated without the interview, and we will contact you by email with instructions for scheduling an interview if you are a competitive applicant.

For candidates who have not completed an interview, we allow two weeks for processing and preliminary review after each deadline, then four weeks for those candidates to complete their visits and interviews, and another two weeks for final decisions. After the first round of admissions, decisions are made on a rolling basis, so you may actually hear sooner than the published notification deadline.

Whom will I meet while visiting Vanderbilt?

During a formal campus visit day, you will be introduced to a student host, who will take you to his or her class, introduce you to faculty and fellow students and accompany you to lunch. After lunch, you can participate in a small group discussion with a member of our Career Management Center and Admissions team. Applicants, who have been approved to interview, will interview with a member of the MS Finance admissions committee. This in-person interview will be noted in your personalized visit itinerary.


How do I apply for scholarships? What are the selection criteria?

All admitted applicants are automatically considered for scholarships awarded by Owen. A separate application is not required for scholarship consideration. Selection criteria are based on many of the same factors evaluated for an admission decision: academic performance, GMAT scores, leadership potential and personal characteristics demonstrated through the essays, interviews and recommendations. Scholarship decisions are communicated in conjunction with admissions decisions.


Are there loans available for international students?

International students do not qualify for federally funded loan programs unless they are permanent residents of the U.S. However, an international student may apply for a private alternative source of funding, but a U.S. citizen or permanent resident is required as a co-borrower.

Who can apply for financial aid?

In order to qualify for federal financial aid, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Federal financial aid includes the Federal Stafford Loan Program. International students can apply for private alternative educational loans only with the assistance of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident as a co-signer.

How do I apply for financial aid?

In order to qualify for the Federal Stafford Loan Program, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Vanderbilt MS Finance students can complete this form online at The Title IV code for Vanderbilt is 003535. The deadline for filing the FAFSA is typically at the beginning of May. Financial aid applications submitted after the deadline may be subject to delays. Financial aid is always determined by the federal income tax information filed for the previous year.

How do I contact the financial aid office?

Contact the Office of Student Financial Aid, Vanderbilt University, 2309 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203-1725 or; telephone 615.322.3591 or 800.288.0204; or fax 615.343.8512. General office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM CST.

What is the financial aid timeline?

Filing of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step in applying for federal financial aid. The FAFSA should be completed as early as February but no later than May to assure timely processing. Four to six weeks after filling the FAFSA, you will receive the resulting Student Aid Report (SAR) for your verification. Financial aid awards will be determined based on the information supplied on the FAFSA. A financial aid package will be calculated including any Vanderbilt MS Finance scholarships, Federal Stafford Loans and a private alternative loan to meet the cost of education or academic budget for the year.

What loan programs are available to domestic and international students?

Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans are need-based loans for U.S. citizens and permanent residents only. The federal government pays the interest on these loans while the student is in school and during the grace period before repayment begins. Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans are non-need-based loans for U.S. citizens and permanent residents only. The borrower is responsible for the interest on these loans as soon as the loan is disbursed. Most of the terms and conditions of subsidized and non-subsidized Stafford loans are the same. The combined federal loan limit is up to $20,500 per year for graduate and professional students. Private alternative loans are available for all students. A number of major lending organizations offer loan programs to qualified borrowers. A listing of recommended private alternative loan providers is available upon request from the Office of Student Financial Aid. This information will include maximum loan amounts and terms and conditions of each program listed. The student may borrow up to the cost of education minus any financial aid. International students can use this resource if a qualified U.S. citizen or permanent resident serves as a co-signer.

I have been selected for a process called Federal Verification. What does this mean?

During Federal Verification, the school compares information from your application with the financial information (federal tax forms, W2s or other financial documents) you or your parents supplied to the government. Your Student Aid Report (SAR), which is a summary of information compiled from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and a variety of worksheets are used in this process. Check the first page of the SAR to see if you were selected for Federal Verification. You may download the Federal Verification Worksheets from here. You will need to mail your signed, completed worksheet with a signed copy of your tax return to the Office of Student Financial Aid, Vanderbilt University, 2309 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203-1725.

What is the interest rate for Federal Stafford loans?

To find out more about Graduate Stafford Loans (both subsidized and unsubsidized) please visit the financial aid website here.

How can I find detailed information regarding student loans?

You can search the Department of Education’s website for complete information regarding financial aid and student loans. Detailed information on the Federal Stafford Loan Programs can be found at HESSA. You can find a comprehensive website for financial aid, scholarships and information about private alternative educational loans at SallieMae.

Can I work as a student?

Most students find that life as a Vanderbilt MS Finance student is very demanding. Classes, group work, individual study, the career search, student organizations, guest speakers, recreation and social events are time-consuming activities, but they are an important part of the Vanderbilt MS Finance experience. As a result, most students do not work while classes are in session. Those who wish to work have several options to help fund their education and gain valuable experience.

U.S. citizens, permanent residents and eligible non-citizens may apply for graduate assistant positions. Opportunities to work with professors and administrators are posted at the beginning of each academic year. Students may work up to 20 hours per week, but most jobs require only 10 to 15 hours and offer flexible schedules. International students may NOT work off-campus.

There may be other opportunities for employment on campus and outside of the business school. For more information, you should contact Vanderbilt’s Student Employment Office, which is part of the Office of Student Financial Aid. In the past, some Vanderbilt MS Finance students have lived on campus and worked part-time as advisors or supervisors in one of the residence halls or international houses. To learn more about this option, contact the Office of Housing & Residential Education.

How do international students apply for a private loan?

International students can apply for a private alternative educational loan, with a U.S. citizen or permanent resident as a co-signer, for an amount up to the total cost of education. Please contact the Office of Student Financial Aid for additional information.

When and how do I start the financial aid process?

The loan application paperwork is usually available in the fall of the year prior to enrollment. Visit Vanderbilt University’s financial aid website for details.

International Students

Are there loans available for international students?

International students do not qualify for federally funded loan programs unless they are permanent residents of the U.S. However, an international student may apply for a private alternative source of funding, but a U.S. citizen or permanent resident is required as a co-borrower.

Is there a special application for international students?

No, but the U.S. government does require international students to show proof of sufficient financial resources to support themselves for the period of their studies. Therefore, international students are required to complete the Preliminary Financial Declaration portion of the online application prior to submitting. Also, note that transcripts and diplomas not issued in English must be accompanied by notarized translations.

How do international students apply for a private loan?

International students can apply for a private alternative educational loan, with a U.S. citizen or permanent resident as a co-signer, for an amount up to the total cost of education. Please contact the Office of Student Financial Aid for additional information.

Deadlines and Fees

What if I don’t respond to my offer in time or I don’t satisfy the conditions of my admission?

The Admissions Committee reserves the right to rescind any offers of admission or financial aid from candidates who have not responded by the specified deadline date and from candidates who have not completed the prerequisites required as a condition of their admission.

How much is the application fee?

The fee is $90.

Will you waive the application fee? What if I am financially disadvantaged? What if I was admitted last year but chose not to enroll?

Vanderbilt waives the application fee only in exceptional circumstances. Please email the MS Finance Admissions Team with an explanation of your request for a fee waiver, a copy of your resume and test scores (if available).

How may I pay the application fee?

You will be asked to pay the application fee by credit card when submitting your online application.

Admissions Events

I live in the U.S. but prefer not to travel to Nashville until I know I have been admitted. Will failure to visit negatively affect my candidacy?

No. In general, you are encouraged to visit campus at least once because it is the best way to introduce yourself to members of the Owen community and to learn about the Vanderbilt MBA program, the university and Nashville. If you have not visited campus before receiving an offer of admission, we strongly encourage you to visit before you make a final decision about attending Vanderbilt. Most candidates prefer to visit during the academic year so that they can visit while classes are in session. However, we encourage you to visit at any time.

How do I arrange a visit to Vanderbilt?

You may request a visit by sending your resume and preferred visit date via email to Campus Visit Coordinator. Click here for more details about the visit process.

How should I dress for my campus visit?

Our guests usually wear business professional attire if they are conducting an evaluative interview during the visit. Otherwise, most campus visitors wear business casual attire.

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