FAQ: Admissions

Where do I mail my admission materials?
Master of Science in Finance Program
Attention: Admissions Committee
3019 Business Instructional Facility
515 East Gregory Drive
Champaign, Illinois 61820

How long will it take before I am notified of the Admissions Committee’s decision?
The MSF Admissions Committee reviews completed applications at each deadline. Applicants reviewed at each deadline are emailed with the committee's decision on the subsequent notification date. See Application Deadlines and Notification dates.

Does my educational background meet the minimum education requirements?
You must at least have the equivalent of a 4-year U.S. Bachelor’s degree before we can consider you for admission to the MSF program. In some countries, a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree are needed to be equivalent to a 4-year U.S. Bachelor’s degree. For example, a student from India who has a BCom must also have completed both years of the MCom to have the Bachelor’s equivalent. If you are uncertain about whether your academic background meets the minimum, please visit here.
Do you require an undergraduate degree in finance or business?
No. In fact, some of our best students come from backgrounds such as engineering, math, statistics, physics, and computer science.
Does a certification from The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) count towards my eligibility if I have a 3 year undergraduate degree?

Yes, if you have passed all 3 levels of the ICAI certification the Illinois Graduate College will consider you eligible for limited status admission with a 3 year Bachelor’s degree for Business Graduate Programs.

Can I complete the program in less than 3 semesters?

Admitted students with considerable experience in Finance may elect to complete their studies in two semesters (fall/spring) with the approval of the Program Director. Criteria for approval includes, but is not limited to, academic qualifications, work experience, GMAT/GRE scores, and communications skills. As the MSF program is designed to be completed in three semesters, the two semester option will be offered only after careful consideration by all parties. Admitted applicants who may qualify for this option will be contacted directly by the program upon notification of admission.

May I submit unofficial or non-certified copies of my transcripts and degree certificate?
You must scan your transcripts and degree certificates into the on-line application in order to be considered for admission. If admitted, you will then be required to submit original or certified transcripts and degree certificates when you arrive on campus. Please note that the documents must be provided in a sealed envelope directly from the issuing institution. Transcripts
I received my admission letter and I am admitted on limited status. What does that mean?
You may be admitted on limited status for a variety of reasons. The admission letter will clearly indicate the admission terms and the steps that need to be completed before full-admission status can be obtained. Some possible reasons for limited-status admission are:

  1. admission has been granted as long as a minimum grade-point average is maintained,
  2. non-native English speakers admitted with TOEFL scores below 103 or below 7.0 on the IElTS are required to complete an English Placement Test prior to their first semester of classes. Based on their performance on this test, they may be required to take English as a Second Language course(s) as part of their degree requirement.

If you are admitted on limited status you will be allowed to enroll for the first semester. You must satisfy whatever restriction is indicated in your admission letter to continue in the program.

What is the Tuition and Fee schedule for the MSF program?
Tuition and fees are billed each semester with payment due the 28th of the month after the start of each semester. MSF tuition and fees for those starting in Fall 2018 are $20,105 per semester.

International applicants are required to provide proof of funding for the first year of study, including tuition and fees and living expenses. You may use the form linked below.
Financial Certification Form for International Applicants

MSF Tution and Fees for Currently Enrolled students

What financial aid is available for students?
Federal student loans are available for US citizens and permanent residents through the Financial Aid office on the UI campus. Office of Student Financial Aid
Are fellowships or assistantships available?
The MSF program is a self-supported program, therefore assistantships and fellowship funding are not available. A small scholarship pool is available. All students are considered for these scholarships which are granted based on merit with an emphasis on maintaining diversity in the program. Other funding opportunities
What is the difference between the MSF and the MBA curriculum?
The MSF is aimed at accomplished professionals choosing to return to business school at the Master’s level, but who wish to follow a more focused program devoted to learning and excelling in Finance. While the MSF program offers a wider spectrum of finance courses in comparison to most other institutions with similar programs, the MSF degree is not appropriate for students seeking to gain general management education. These students are better served by emphasizing Finance courses within the two-year MBA program. For information on the Illinois MBA visit The Illinois MBA
Is work experience required?
Professional work experience is  recommended, not required. However, all students admitted to the MSF program have some type of work experience. High-quality summer internships and part-time work experience might be enough to compensate for less than two years of full-time work experience if other credentials are sufficiently strong. While the MSF Admissions Committee places a strong emphasis on admitting students with at least 2 years of professional work experience following their undergraduate degree, applicants with less work experience and strong academic credentials are also encouraged to apply.
Do you recommend preparatory math classes?
MSF students come from a variety of backgrounds, some with stronger math skills than others. The MSF Admissions Committee evaluates quantitative skills as a factor for admission. Coursework in college algebra and calculus are strongly recommended for success in the program.

A sample of the math skills expected by faculty in the program can be found at Math Skills Assessment. Note that these skills would be sufficient for most master’s level courses taught in the Finance Department, but are not needed in every finance class. The courses in the quantitative finance track require more advanced math skills. A strong grasp of multivariate calculus and an understanding of matrix algebra are strongly recommended.

What is your minimum GMAT/GRE requirement?
The MSF program seeks students with strong quantitative skills, which can more easily be assessed with a GMAT or GRE score. The majority of applicants submit a GMAT score. The average GMAT score for an admitted student is around 670.
Can I waive the GMAT/GRE requirement?
No. The GMAT/GRE test scores are a strong indication of the quantitative and verbal skills of an applicant. While the committee considers the composite application of each applicant, an official GMAT or GRE score must be included.

You can sign up to take the GMAT or the GRE.

Please request the test scores to be sent to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

How can I order my official test score reports?
You can request your official test scores for the TOEFL and the GRE from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Applicants to the MSF program should request their scores be sent to Institution Code #1836; Department Code 00 or 02 – all department codes populate the campus score database. Please note, this is an undergraduate code; however, it does populate all campus test score databases.

GMAT scores are provided by PearsonVue. Scores should be sent to the MSF program using the code VKRTK14.

May I come in for an interview?
Interviews are conducted on an invitation-only basis. Please refrain from calling or emailing the MSF office to request an interview. You will be contacted by the MSF program office if an interview is necessary to make a decision on your application.
Who should write recommendation letters?
Your recommendation letters should come from academic and business sources. These recommendations should emphasize your strengths in the following areas: quantitative and analytical analysis, written and oral communication, spreadsheet analysis, and relevant work experience.
If I am admitted, may I defer enrollment?
Admission to the MSF program is competitive. Each year the Admissions Committee admits the best applicants from the current application pool. If you are given admission to the program you may decline the offer and defer your application to the next year for consideration as part of the next class. You will not be penalized for deferring your admission nor will you be given any special consideration beyond the strength of your application for admission during the next year.
Do you have a waiting list?
Yes. Seats in the MSF program are limited and it is not uncommon to wait-list an applicant. Since not all applicants that are offered admission enroll in the MSF program, the program wait-lists applicants that have strong credentials but for one reason or another were not offered admission. As the admission cycle continues and we find that some of the admitted applicants defer or decline our offer of admission we are able to extend admission offers to some of the wait-listed applicants.
Am I eligible to apply if I have an MBA degree?
Yes, you may apply if you have an MBA. The University of Illinois MSF program offers a wider spectrum of finance courses in comparison to most MBA programs, so it is not uncommon for an MBA who wants more Finance depth to apply to the Illinois MSF.
What is the application fee?
The application fee is $70 for citizens and permanent residents of the United States and $90 for international students. The application fee can be paid by credit card during the online application process. If you prefer not to pay online, you may send a check payable to the University of Illinois directly to the MSF office at:

MSF Office – University of Illinois
3019 Business Instructional Facility, 515 East Gregory Drive, Champaign, Illinois 61820

The MSF program cannot process your application until the application fee is received.

What are the application deadlines?
Applications are handled in batches. Application Deadlines
How do I make a change on my application once it has been sent?
Email msfinance@business.illinois.edu to ask to enable your application to accept additional documentation.
Do I need a laptop for the MSF program?
Yes, a laptop is required. The classrooms are equipped with ports for the laptops and most of the faculty use the Internet to post course information, assignments, etc. Additionally, laptops are needed for group meetings and presentations.
The following minimum specifications are required for a laptop:

  • English version of Microsoft Windows 7/8 or Mac OS X
  • At least 2 GB of memory (at least 4 GB recommended)
  • A license and media for Windows. Windows can be upgraded for free at https://webstore.illinois.edu
  • A license and media for Microsoft Office 2010/2013 or Office 2011 for Mac, both of which are available at https://webstore.illinois.edu
  • It is strongly encouraged that you use a Window based computer. If you decide to use a Mac, we recommend you have an English version of Windows installed through Bootcamp or some other means on your Mac in case a particular program that only runs on a PC is required for your class.
  • No particular browser is specifically required for general use.  Some software may perform better on different web browsers, so it is recommended that you familiarize yourself with at least Chrome, IE and Firefox.
Can I apply to more than one degree program at the University of Illinois?
Yes, you may apply to multiple programs at the University of Illinois. You must provide separate applications and supporting documents to each program. However, you may only be formally admitted to one University of Illinois program at a time. Therefore, if you currently hold an admission from one program on campus, you must decline that offer before you may receive admission from another.
Will most participants be paying for themselves or sponsored by their employers?
Most full-time participants will be self-financing, but approximately 15% are sponsored by their employer, government, or outside sponsor.
I am in the final year of my undergraduate degree. Can I apply to the MSF program?
Yes, you may apply, but note that work experience is considered by the admissions committee when evaluating your application for admission. Be sure to note all work experience, internships, and other certificates and activities in your application. In addition, you must have completed all requirements of your degree by August 1 so that you can arrive on the University of Illinois campus in time to join Orientation, which is held the week prior to the start of classes.
How do I pay my deposit?
Admitted applicants will be provided a link in their offer of admission letter. They will be able to pay their deposit using a credit card. If it is necessary to pay a check, we can accept that as well.
What if I miss my deposit deadline?
The MSF program has a limited number of seats. If you do not accept your offer by the deadline your seat may be allocated to another applicant. An acceptance is official upon receipt of a deposit.
How do I accept the admission offer to the MSF Program?
It is important that you accept or decline your admission offer by the deadline provided in your offer letter. After the deadline, the admission offer is no longer valid.

If you choose to accept the offer you must also pay a non-refundable deposit. This deposit is a prepayment of your tuition and can be paid online with a major credit card.

Can I arrange a campus visit?
We are delighted you are considering attending the MSF program at Illinois. Visiting the MSF program and the College of Business is a great way to confirm the program is right for you. A campus visit offers you an insider’s view and is the best way to gain a realistic impression of life as an MSF student at Illinois.

Although we welcome you to campus at any time during normal business hours, organized campus visits are offered only Monday through Thursday while classes are in session. We do not schedule organized visits during final exam periods, breaks, or holidays.

You may request a campus visit by contacting the MSF program at msfinance@business.illinois.edu. Please schedule your visit at least two weeks in advance so that we can organize your day on campus and send you a personal itinerary. This will also allow you to make your travel plans accordingly.