Princeton University Master in Finance: Is It Right for You, and Are You Right for Princeton?

Click here to listen to our recent podcast episode, Masters in Finance: What You Need to Know!

So what’s the ticket to heaven?

Being amazing is just a qualification for the Princeton University Master in Finance program. But if you qualify, get admitted (about 30 out of 600 applicants do), and choose to attend (about 25 out of that 30), I believe you enter heaven.

 • All your classmates are not just extremely bright and passionate about finance; they also represent experience from across the industry – and they are chosen in part because they can communicate their insights from that experience.

• There is 100% recruitment for summer internships at the most desirable institutions, and almost 100% post-graduation employment (2014). These internships/jobs span the globe—Mexico City, Singapore, Hong Kong, London, and various cities in the US as well as NYC.

• A curriculum that is intensive and deep; following the core you can either develop your own study program or pursue 1of 3 course tracks: Financial Engineering and Risk Management, Quantitative Asset Management and Macroeconomic Forecasting, and Financial Technologies.

• Career “boot camps” where alumni, industry experts, and academics help you formulate a career path that is meaningful to you and productively employs your skills, talents, interests.

• World-renowned faculty (think Alan Blinder, Paul Krugman) from multiple disciplines who don’t just teach sophisticated skills but who engage passionately in ideas, thereby helping you become a thought leader in the field.

So what’s the ticket to heaven?

Academics – A high GPA and a transcript that reflects a strong quantitative component – many applicants have degrees in subjects such as mathematics, economics, and engineering, but it is not required and they have admitted people from a range of disciplines (though there are certain math requirements). A grad degree is “a plus but not required.”

Standardized tests – Both GMAT and GRE are accepted; the median quant GRE score is 167 and the average quant GMAT score is 49.5. That said, a high quant score doesn’t make up for weak quant coursework. If your undergrad school was not taught in English (or if it was taught in English in a non-English speaking country), either the TOEFL or IELTS is also required.

Interviews are by invitation only, and selected applicants will be notified. Others are discouraged from seeking interviews.

Experience – Professional experience is not required; however the adcom wants to see some practical industry exposure via internships at least – they note that potential employers look for this experience. So the program is open to new graduates who have had an internship or two – but make sure you have something substantive to say based on your experience; your competition will.

Qualitative factors – You may be surprised that in the adcom’s eyes it is the qualitative factors that “set applicants apart”! The adcom specifically looks for strong communication ability, expecting its students to contribute within a highly intelligent cohort and to become leaders in the industry. More than anything, it seeks passion for finance. Even if you’re a quant geek, don’t think there’s a formula for this passion – it must be expressed through application contents holistically. The adcom members will know it when they see it.

Finally, be sure this is the right degree for you. As the website states, it’s not the right program for people pursuing corporate finance or investment bank M&A; but the MiF “is becoming the preferred degree in the trading and asset management areas of the I-bank.”

 Click here for the lowdown on one of the most up and coming specialized masters programs in the business world.

Cindy Tokumitsu By , author and co-author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports, including Why MBA and Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her fifteen years with

Related Resources:

• The Facts About Financial Services
• Where Does Wall St. Hire: U.S. B-Schools Sending Grads into Financial Services
What is Passion in Admissions?

Chicago Booth 2015 Executive MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Check out more school-specific EMBA application essay tips!

Chicago Booth

The Chicago Booth EMBA questions are challenging because they separate your need for the MBA and your interest in the program – the first question asks, among other things, “Why are you seeking an MBA from Chicago Booth” and the second question asks “what you hope to gain from the MBA.” One could reasonably see these two questions as being basically the same. While the first question is wide ranging and includes what you’ll contribute to the program, the second question focuses on your goals – it’s the why-MBA part that overlaps. I suggest writing essay 2 first, because the goals discussion will provide context for what you hope to gain specifically from Chicago Booth. Taken together, these two questions allow you to create a well-rounded picture, with sharp focus on career in essay 2, and an opportunity to present selected highlights of your career (and non-work activities as well) in essay 1.


1. Why are you seeking an MBA from Chicago Booth and what unique knowledge and experiences do you hope to contribute to the program? (maximum 2 pages, 12 pt. Times New Roman)

Let’s break this question into two parts. Part 1: why you’re seeking the MBA from Chicago Booth. This section should address the specific education you seek as dictated by your goals, which you will discuss in #2. It can also address other desired benefits, such as the chance to interact with accomplished peers from diverse industries. In answering this part, be specific about Booth’s offerings and add insight or reflection based on your perspective and situation. If you can cite conversations with students or alumni, that’s fantastic; give examples of insights you’ve gained from them.

Part 2: what you hope to contribute. Note the word “unique” – it does not mean that you should dredge up some exotic experience that no other applicant could possibly have done; it does mean particularizing your knowledge and experience to yourself, your perspective, your individual lens. This is a chance to showcase aspects of your career and your personal experience that distinguish and differentiate you. You can discuss work points exclusively or work and non-work. Select a few events or activities that complement each other and provide some depth and detail about each. Also, think strategically about what Chicago Booth values and what the rest of your application doesn’t reveal.

 2. Chicago Booth Career Services delivers innovative educational programming, offers one-on-one coaching, provides numerous networking opportunities, and provides access to job search tools in order to support your own career management. We would like to learn more about your career strategy and objectives. Please outline your career objectives, how you hope to achieve them, and what you hope to gain from the MBA to help you achieve them.  (maximum 2 pages, 12 pt. Times New Roman)

By listing its career resources, the Chicago adcom is showing that the program is invested in your career success. You should demonstrate your worthiness by delivering a thoughtful and detailed portrayal of your career objectives. Discuss not just general aspirations but specifics: industry, likely positions, which companies, possibly where, what you expect to actually do, possibly challenges you anticipate – and, as the question says, how. To transcend mere competence and make the essay compelling, also show how your goals are rooted in your experience, what motivates your goals, and your vision for your goals. Finally, discuss the educational needs these goals create that necessitate an MBA. You may also be interested in The Art of a Gripping MBA Goals Essay, an on-demand webinar.

Optional essay: If there is anything else you would like the admissions committee to know about you, please share that information here.  (maximum 2 pages, 12 pt. Times New Roman)

This question invites you to present new material that will enhance your application, as well as to explain anything that needs explaining (e.g., gap in employment, choice of recommender if not using a direct supervisor, etc.). As far as enhancement points, keep in mind that since you are making the adcom read more, there should be a clear value to the information you’re sharing. Also, such points should avoid material that more appropriately belongs in essay 1 (unique knowledge and experiences).

If you would like professional guidance with your Chicago Booth EMBA application, please consider Accepted’s EMBA essay editing and EMBA admissions consulting or our EMBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Chicago Booth EMBA application


Round Application Deadline
Early Action October 3, 2014
Round 1 December 1, 2014
Round 2 February 2, 2015
Round 3 April 1, 2015

Download your free copy of Ace the EMBA!

Cindy Tokumitsu By , co-author of The EMBA Edge, and author of the free special report, Ace the EMBA. Cindy has helped MBA applicants get accepted to top EMBA programs around the world. She is delighted to help you too!

Final Miscellany – Plan B, Research, Professional Support

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Good preliminary research can prevent big mistakes.

“Final Miscellany – Plan B, Research, Professional Support” is excerpted from the special report, Why MBA? To download the entire free special report, click here.

I will wrap up this series with a few miscellaneous points.

Plan B

Think you’re done with MBA goals? Think again… In the current global economic volatility, having a Plan B for your immediate post-MBA goal can be not only good planning for you, but also enhance your goal essay’s credibility.  It’s particularly important if you’re targeting a difficult-to-enter industry (remember that VC-dreamer in the first post?) or changing careers.  In fact, adcoms have specifically said that they welcome this recognition of reality; it gives them more confidence that you can get employed.

The challenge, however, is to discuss a Plan B without using a lot of precious space and without sounding undirected.  In the goals essay, focus mostly on your main short-term goal. Then add one to three sentences about a reasonable alternative that you’d also consider, explaining how it also would be a good step toward your further goals.  Example: an applicant is targeting an IT manager role post-MBA with the long-term goal of CIO; a Plan B could be a tech strategy consulting post-MBA job.

Preliminary research

I’m always surprised at how few people do roll-up-the-shirtsleeves research on their goals before writing essays.  Digging around on the web for a couple of hours or talking to people in careers related to your goals can yield rich detail for your essays.  Moreover, mentioning this research in your essays enhances the sense of commitment to your chosen path.  I suggest reading up on the industry and its current and future challenges, and conducting informational interviews regarding the industry or business function.

Taking this step will enable you to write sharply and engagingly about your goals.  It enhances the interest factor of the essay.  Also it will prevent big mistakes like those of that Wharton reapplicant in the first post in this series.  By presenting selected tidbits of your research in your essay you’ll show you’re resourceful and committed, and equally important you’ll show you have something to say, i.e., contribute.

Professional assistance

I’ve said a lot of “do this” and “do that” in this series.  If you feel that having knowledgeable, experienced, committed assistance as you walk through this process would be helpful, please consider using’s MBA admissions consulting & essay editing services to help you perfect your application.

Get clear, practical guidelines for answering the MBA goals essay question. Click here to download our free report.

Cindy Tokumitsu By , author and co-author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports, including Why MBA and Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her fifteen years with

The Goals Essay: Writing Nitty-Gritty

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They key is to “read” not just the words but the tone of the question.

“Goals Essay – Writing Nitty-Gritty” is excerpted from the special report, Why MBA? To download the entire free special report, click here.

Short- and long-term goals

Before you start drafting your goals essays, work out three levels of goals: short-term, intermediate, and long-term.  It helps to have this whole picture in your mind regardless of where you’ll “zoom in” for a particular essay.  Short-term is immediately post MBA to about two years later; intermediate is about two to five years post MBA; and long-term is the rest.  Usually essays ask for short- and long-term goals, but you’ll need intermediate as the bridge between them.

Short-term goals are the most specific, for obvious reasons – they’re closer in time and they’re also the direct link to the MBA program.  As you describe successive steps, use less and less detail in each, because the further out you project, the less certain things are.  Don’t go beyond what’s practical, e.g., describing in detail what you’ll be doing in twenty years.  Adapt each phase to reality too.  If your targeted industry (say, healthcare) is in great flux, that point should be reflected in your goals.

Responding to specific goals questions

Different sets of essay questions will emphasize different aspects of the goals; they’ll require different lengths and have different tones.   Some are open; other are focused and directed.  They key is to “read” not just the words but the tone of the question.  Anecdotally, I’ve noticed a trend toward short, focused goals essay questions; there are fewer 1,000 word goals essays, fewer essays asking for your “vision.”  Most want the facts, straight.

Read the question carefully, and emphasize in your essay what the question emphasizes (e.g., short-term or long-term equal or do they just mention post-MBA goal?).  In other words, be guided by the question.  That doesn’t mean you can’t bring in other elements, but they should support your main points.

Often the question asks why you want an MBA or want to attend the particular program.  Link these points directly to your goals.  If you can weave in your school visit and/or interactions with students and alumni, great!

Get clear, practical guidelines for answering the MBA goals essay question. Click here to download our free report.

Cindy Tokumitsu By , author and co-author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports, including Why MBA and Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her fifteen years with

Goals on Steroids

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Make your reader your cheerleader!

“Goals on Steroids” is excerpted from the special report, Why MBA? To download the entire free special report, click here.

First, I must thank Linda Abraham for this wonderful phrase.  I had previously used the blander designation, “goals plus.”

By following the advice in the previous post you can create goals that are clear, credible, and convincing, but they won’t necessarily be exciting.  They won’t make the adcom reader think as she reads, “Wow, it would be great if he could do that!”  And this latter reaction is really what the goals essay should aim for. As all my clients have probably heard me say, you want to make your reader your cheerleader.

To generate such a response, deliver goals plus – show how goals developed from experience, and describe motivation and vision for goals.

  • Experience means when, where, and how your goals developed.
  • Motivation is the pivot point when something gained traction with you; when you became engaged and captivated in some way so that you want to pursue a given path.
  • Vision is the broader impact of achieving the goal, beyond your own immediate efforts.

These three elements are separate words but in actuality will likely be intertwined.  Here is a brief example, slightly modified from an HBS goals essay I wrote for a hypothetical applicant in Consultants’ Guide:

Last year, when I was in Taiwan advising a global financial services company on consolidating its Asia strategy, I found myself thinking what a shame it was that my relationship with the client proved responsive rather than proactive.  With my knowledge of the region’s changing demographic and logistical realities, I could have recommended strategic opportunities a year ago to prevent the client from getting bogged down in redundant acquisitions and incompatible markets.  Following that experience, I envisioned a new consulting paradigm resembling primary care medicine, based on a long-term, prevention focused relationship between the consultant and client.

Adding experience, motivation and vision turns the goals from static to dynamic.  There are three other advantages of “goals plus”:

  1. The experiential basis enhances credibility.
  2. They create a story, which is more engaging and memorable than pure exposition.
  3. Your goals inherently differentiate you, because it’s your story, it’s naturally unique.

Get clear, practical guidelines for answering the MBA goals essay question. Click here to download our free report.

Cindy Tokumitsu By , author and co-author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports, including Why MBA and Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her fifteen years with