Master of Finance Curriculum

Foundations in Econometrics and Empirical Finance

The program emphasizes rigorous training in empirical finance, quantitative methods, financial econometrics, data analysis and risk management. Students are given a solid foundation in econometric modeling and empirical finance. This program satisfies the growing demand for graduates who are able to understand and implement financial models and to innovate and improve upon current empirical methods using structured and non-structured data.

The Master of Finance program is a 52-unit STEM Designated degree program. The curriculum consists of four core courses, eight 4-unit elective courses and a 4-unit capstone. There is also a mandatory Pre-Term Orientation approximately 2 weeks before Fall quarter.

The program of study is expected to be completed over four consecutive quarters, which is one full year including the summer quarter.

Required Core Courses

  • MGTF 401: Financial Accounting
  • MGTF 402: Investment Analysis
  • MGTF 403: Advanced Financial Risk Management
  • MGTF 404: Financial Econometrics and Empirical Methods

Elective Courses

Master of Finance students must complete 32 units of offered elective courses, including coursework in Professional Development. Among potential electives:

  • MGTF 405: Business Forecasting
  • MGTF 406: Behavioral Finance
  • MGTF 407: Valuation in Corporate Finance
  • MGTF 408: Real Estate Finance
  • MGTF 409: Mergers, Acquisitions, and Corporate Restructurings
  • MGTF 410: New Venture Finance
  • MGTF 411: Stochastic Calculus and Continuous Time Finance
  • MGTF 412: Financial Statement Analysis
  • MGTF 413: Computational Finance Methods
  • MGTF 415: Collecting and Analyzing Financial Data
  • MGTF 495: Data Science for Finance using Python

Professional Development

Master of Finance students complete coursework focusing on professional development.

  • MGTF 416: Professional Seminars Finance introduces industry trends and issues and includes regular industry discussion forums on current events and issues.
  • MGTF 417: Professional Communications addresses the communication skills required for effective professionals in the financial services sector. Includes presentations and report writing, as well as networking and career-related communications.

Capstone

  • MGTF 490: Capstone: Applied Finance Project

The Master of Finance capstone is a project-based course. Students complete a project that demonstrates the application of skills gained in the Master of Finance program.

Students will typically work in teams of 4 and will research topics of interest to firms in the industry. Prestigious firms collaborate with the students, suggesting a topic and, in many cases, helping to guide the research. In this way, the firms get to know the students and the students obtain real industry experience that aids them in their job search. Projects typically involve application of the empirical skills developed in the program.

It is also possible for a team to define their own project subject to the approval of the instructor and willingness of a faculty member to supervise.

A small sample of recent project titles and cooperating firms are listed below.

Sample Capstone Companies

  • Altegris (San Diego)
  • BestX (London)
  • Blackrock (San Francisco & London)
  • BNP Paribas (New York & London)
  • Brandes Institute (San Diego)
  • CalStrs (Sacramento)
  • China PNR (Shanghai)
  • Citibank (Shanghai & New York)
  • Deutsche Bank (Hong Kong)
  • Encore Capital (San Diego)
  • Goldman Sachs (London)
  • Integral (Palo Alto)
  • Makena Capital Management (Menlo Park)
  • Moody's (New York, San Francisco)
  • PIMCO (Newport Beach)
  • Schroder's (London)

Sample Capstone Projects

  • Announcement Effects of Chinese Debt-Equity Swaps
  • Blending Active and Passive Funds
  • Early Warning Indicators of 'Flash Crash'
  • ESG Investing and Portfolio Returns
  • Evidence of Behavioral Biases in Financial Advisors
  • Expected Duration of Algorithmic Trade Execution
  • International Equity Hedging Strategies
  • Internet finance and the Fintech industry
  • Modeling Expected Long-run Returns to Equities and Bonds
  • Long-term Risk in Mutual Fund Performance
  • Modeling Credit Risk and Automating Underwriting
  • Regime Switching and Asset Allocation

Pre-term Orientation

Rady organizes a 1-2 week mandatory Pre-term Orientation for all incoming students. During this time, students will attend workshops about academic requirements, career services, and graduate student life, as well as refresher and introduction courses on various topics relating to the Master of Finance program, such as Matlab, Accounting, Statistics and Excel. Attendance is mandatory and exact dates will be posted approximately 1-2 quarters before Fall admission.

Detailed Course Descriptions

MGTF 401. Financial Accounting (4)

Overview of financial accounting reporting, with a primary focus on the analysis of economic events and their effect on the major financial statements (balance sheet, income statement, and statement of cash flows). Learn the nature and purpose of accounting methods. Letter grades only. Students may not receive credit for both MGTF 401 and MGT 404. Prerequisites:restricted to master of finance program or by consent of instructor.

MGTF 402. Investment Analysis (4)

Introduces quantitative methods for analyzing the pricing and return behavior of assets such as stocks, bonds, and derivatives; and develops methods for implementing modern portfolio theory in practice. The most influential financial models are derived; their practical applications are discussed. Letter grades only. Prerequisites: restricted to master of finance program or by consent of instructor.

MGTF 403. Advanced Financial Risk Management (4)

Introduces ways to identify, measure, estimate, and control risks in the context of risk management as applied in fixed income, foreign exchange, and equity markets. Reviews the pricing and hedging applications of derivatives, such as futures, options, and CDSs. Letter grades only. Prerequisites: restricted to master of finance program, MBA program, or by consent of instructor.

MGTF 404. Financial Econometrics and Empirical Methods (4)

Bridging the gap between theoretical financial models and the real world. Covering the major accomplishments of empirical finance. Empirical exercises and analysis of real financial data will help students to truly appreciate the content of the course. Letter grades only. Prerequisites:restricted to master of finance program or by consent of instructor.

MGTF 405. Business Forecasting (4)

Introduction to state-of-the-art forecasting methods in finance. Students will learn to estimate forecasting models based on past values of the predicted variable(s), surveys, market information, and other economic data. Participants will become critical consumers of forecasts reported in the media. Letter grades only. Prerequisites: restricted to master of finance program, MBA program, or by consent of instructor.

MGTF 406. Behavioral Finance (4)

Develop theories of behavior motivated by psychology to describe various features of financial markets. Examine how the insights from behavioral finance complement the traditional paradigm and shed light on investors’ trading patterns, the behavior of asset prices, and corporate finance. Letter grades only. Prerequisites: MGTF 402; restricted to master of finance program, MBA program, or by consent of instructor.

MGTF 407. Valuation in Corporate Finance (4)

Covering the fundamentals of corporate finance and their application to valuation (including the WACC approach, APV approach, multiples, and real option valuation). We focus on important areas of corporate finance, including capital structure, real options, and financial distress and bankruptcy. Letter grades only. Prerequisites: MGTF 402; restricted to master of finance program, MBA program, or by consent of instructor.

MGTF 408. Real Estate Finance (4)

Examination of real estate capital markets, both debt and equity. Covered topics include real estate valuation, real options applied to real estate, real estate equity markets, and the place of real estate within a diversified investor’s portfolio. Letter grades only. Prerequisites: MGTF 402; restricted to master of finance program, MBA program, or by consent of instructor.

MGTF 410. New Venture Finance (4)

Focuses on the financing of new ventures and technological innovation. Includes perspectives of both the entrepreneur and the investor, investigating the venture capital process, and methods of financial valuation useful in the venture capital industry and for other technology investments. Letter grades only. Students may not receive credit for both MGTF 410 and MGT 280. They are course equivalents. Prerequisites: restricted to master of finance program, MBA program, or by consent of instructor.

MGTF 411. Stochastic Calculus and Continuous Time Finance (4)

Many closed-form analytic results in finance are obtained in the continuous-time setting. This course covers portfolio choice, derivative pricing, and term structure modeling in continuous time setting. The objective is to understand important topics and master techniques of continuous-time models. Letter grades only. Students may not receive credit for both MGTF411 and MGT286. These are course duplicates. Prerequisites: restricted to master of finance program or by consent of instructor.

MGTF 412. Financial Statement Analysis (4)

Develop a deeper familiarity with financial accounting and assumptions underlying measurements reported in financial statements. Understanding of economic and regulatory forces underlying corporate disclosure of financial statements. Knowledge of data sources and analytical tools to extract and evaluate this data. Letter grades only. Prerequisites: restricted to master of finance program, MBA program, or by consent of instructor.

MGTF 413. Computational Finance Methods (4)

This course introduces students to a variety of mathematical methods as applied in finance, including Monte Carlo simulation, optimization methods, and numerical solution to PDEs. Letter grades only. Prerequisites: restricted to master of finance program or by consent of instructor.

MGTF 415. Collecting and Analyzing Financial Data (4)

Teaches students how to obtain and process data in order to answer empirical questions in finance. The data can be numerical or textual, and structured or unstructured. Specific data sources may include CRSP, Compustat, Thomson Reuters, and Bloomberg. Some programming. Letter grades only. Prerequisites: restricted to master of finance program or by consent of instructor.

MGTF 416. Professional Seminars in Finance (1)

Discussion series involving industry experts, alumni, and executives on current issues in financial services. Educates students on industry trends. Prepares students to be effective users of the financial press and to be effective in discussion and interaction with financial professionals. S/U grades only. May be taken for credit two times. Students may not earn credit for both this course and MGT 401, which is a comparable course offered in the MBA program. Prerequisites: restricted to master of finance program or by department stamp.

MGTF 417. Professional Communications in Finance (1)

Focuses on communications skills and abilities required for effective professionals in the financial services sector. Addresses oral and written communications, including presentations, informational and job interviewing, resume writing, cross-cultural communication, and report writing. S/U grades only. May be taken for credit two times. Students may not earn credit for both this course and MGT 402, which is a comparable course offered in the MBA program.Prerequisites: restricted to master of finance program or by department stamp.

MGTF 432. Portfolio Theory in Practice (4)

Provides students with a deeper and broader understanding of risk-return analysis (especially, but not exclusively, mean-variance analysis) than is common among users. Surveys how risk-return analysis is used in practice and examines the modern portfolio theory industry and its entrepreneurs. Letter grades only. Students may not receive credit for MGT 432, MGT 232, and MGT 282 Topics in Finance course with same course subtitle: Portfolio Theory in Practice. They are course equivalents. Prerequisites: MGT 281 or MGT 491; restricted to master of finance program, MBA program, or by consent of instructor.

MGTF 490. Capstone: Applied Finance Project (4)

The Capstone project is one of the primary measures of student learning. Evaluation is based on students’ ability to apply course material to the Capstone project. Satisfactory completion of the project is required for award of the degree. Letter grades only. Prerequisites: MGTF 401, MGTF 402, MGTF 403, MGTF 404, and restricted to master of finance program or by consent of instructor.

MFTF 495: Data Science for Finance using Python (4)

This course will introduce you to a collection of powerful, open-source tools needed to manage and analyze finance data, and to conduct data science in finance applications. This class will overview the basic process of data science and dive in to the data management and machine learning techniques useful for financial data analysis.

The ability of learning patterns from data and making accurate predictions on new instances makes Machine Learning a powerful tool for Business Intelligence and Financial Forecasting since it helps us transform the raw data to inform better decision-making. Popular Python based tools will be used in analytical components of the class. Prerequisites: restricted to master of finance program or by consent of instructor.