Core Curriculum

The MSF program begins in June with an intense, core summer curriculum. Over summer term, students master fundamental techniques in financial statement analysis, financial modeling, stock and firm valuation, statistical analysis, regression analysis, and time series analysis.

The two summer core classes are Corporate Finance and Valuation and Quantitative Methods for Finance. Moving beyond the traditional lecture format, students practice technique applications through the use of software tools during regular class meetings and in weekly review sessions.


Key content features of the summer curriculum are:

  • Corporate Finance and Valuation - introduces students to fundamental tools in corporate finance such as:
    • Financial statement analysis
    • Estimating a firm’s cost of capital
    • Project analysis and the use of investment decision rules
    • Stock and firm valuation techniques
    • Monte Carlo simulations analysis
  • Quantitative Methods for Finance - introduces financial applications of quantitative techniques covered in areas such as:
    • Analysis of time series data on stock returns and bond yields
    • Analysis of cross-section firm or bank data
    • Applications of the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM), and the Fama-French model in investments and corporate finance
  • In-class teaching of financial modeling techniques with Excel
    • Forecasting financial statements
    • Project analysis and the use of NPV and IRR decision rules
    • Valuation techniques (Discounted cash flow valuation, multiples valuation, adjusted present value)
  • In-class teaching of Monte Carlo techniques with Crystal Ball software
    • Applications of Monte Carlo techniques in project analysis, stock, and firm valuation.


Key pedagogical features include:

  • All students use their notebooks for practice during class and in sessions with teaching assistants and receive copies of software packages
  • Lectures are enriched through case discussions that enable students to practice financial analysis techniques in real-life scenarios
  • SAS, a statistical software widely-used in the financial industry, is used for practice of quantitative techniques with real data
  • Students use real data for in-class examples and group assignments from Bloomberg, CRSP, Compustat, Mergent, and OneSource
  • Full-time teaching assistants for both summer courses hold weekly practice sessions and are available to help students

The core curriculum is completed in the fall semester with two additional courses in investments and financial economics. These courses have been structured to provide a strong foundation for advanced study in corporate finance, investment, risk management, commercial or investment banking, insurance and real estate.

  • Investments - provides an introduction to modern investment theory and its application to investment management. Topics include:
    • Historical analysis of equity market returns
    • Portfolio analysis and asset pricing models
    • Equity portfolio management, stock analysis, portfolio performance evaluation
    • Efficient market hypothesis
    • Active portfolio management and predicting portfolio returns
  • Financial Economics - emphasizes microeconomic concepts related to:
    • Consumers, producers and how markets work
    • Capital markets, risk and choice under uncertainty
    • Strategy and decision tree analysis
    • Financial markets and the role of information
    • Financial system and the macroeconomy

Degree Requirements

Students must complete 40 hours of credit to earn the MSF degree. The core courses consist of 16 hours of credit. Students in the program must select 12 additional hours of graduate level finance courses and 12 hours of other elective graduate coursework. The elective coursework can consist of finance classes, which given the wide range of finance course offerings is the common choice of MSF students, or classes in accounting, economics, business administration or other areas as space allows.

While students are required to complete the core courses during the summer and fall term, they have flexibility in the course loads they choose to take in fall and spring terms. For example a student planning to take the CFA in June, may choose to take an additional course in the fall to lighten their course load in the spring when they will be preparing for the CFA exam. Additionally, a student can take more than 40 hours of credit at no additional cost. Students requesting more than 20 hours in a semester must get approval from their academic advisor.


© Copyright 2007 Department of Finance, University of Illinois