Lara Cathcart MSc Finance 20 years


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This year celebrates the 20th anniversary of the MSc Finance programme. Having being ranked 12th in the world in the Financial Times Masters in Finance Ranking in 2017, the MSc Finance is one of the most competitive Masters programmes to gain entry to at Imperial College London.  

Before applying, it’s important that you understand what we are looking for in a candidate but also that the programme is right for you and aligns with your future career aspirations. Our website has key information about the programme content, entry requirements and student’s career outcomes and whilst of course we require students to have an excellent academic record, there are a number of other characteristics that we look for in an MSc Finance candidate.

Programme Director Lara Cathcart provides an insight into some of the key qualities that we look to see in an applicant: "We look for ambitious and driven candidates with excellent quantitative and interpersonal skills."

So how can you show us this in your application?


Having relevant internship experience prior to applying will help to demonstrate your drive to succeed both on and after the programme. Upon completion of the course, you will be entering a highly competitive recruitment market and many of the top employers will view previous internship experience in the sector as a significant advantage during their selection process. Make sure you include your experience in your CV and in the ‘Industrial/Professional ‘ experience section of the application, making it clear what organisation you worked for, the role you held and the length of the work experience. If you accomplished something during this experience that you are particularly proud of, tell us this.

If you haven’t already, research your target organisation(s) and see exactly what they are looking for in the role you seek to have. Many employers will have this information available on their website so you should try and have a look at their key requirements and expected values.   

Passion for finance

MSc Finance is a very intensive and career-focused programme, so it’s important that your personal statement and video interview – should you reach that stage in the selection process – demonstrate that you have a real passion for finance. Alongside internship experience, make sure you’re reading finance and business news and following the markets. Build your understanding of the finance industry and how banks, funds and regulators operate within it, and familiarise yourself with finance terminology – websites like eFinancial Careers and Investopedia can be helpful with this.   

Quantitative experience

The MSc Finance programme is not a conversion course. When students arrive, we expect them to have excellent quantitative skills so that they can really hit the ground running from day one. Whilst you will undertake online pre-study modules that will provide a basic knowledge of areas that will be covered by the programme, you are expected to already be proficient in probability, calculus, mixed algebra and real analysis prior to starting. An academic transcript that demonstrates consistently excellent scores in the most quantitative modules studied will be more competitive than one that doesn’t.

In addition to your transcript, we will look at your quantitative experience statement, any practical quantitative skills developed through work experience and your GMAT/GRE result if you have one, for evidence of your mathematic abilities . If you haven’t already, take our online maths test as this is a great way to determine whether you have the quantitative skills at the right level to apply for the programme.

Extra-curricular activities

Do you play an instrument, volunteer, play sports? Are you a member of or president of a society at university? If you are, tell us! Hobbies – particularly where you’ve pursued an interest to a high level – are incredibly valuable experiences and can really help to highlight your drive and interpersonal skills as well as showing us where your interests lie outside of your studies. Furthermore, many employers will be looking for candidates with a citizenship and community focus, so your involvement in extra-curricular activities will help to showcase this.  


Strong English language skills are very important to enable you to communicate effectively with both your teachers and classmates throughout the year. All students must meet our minimum English language requirement. If you can show us that you have already done this prior to applying, this is advantageous as it means there will be no doubts or concerns as to whether you will be able to meet this requirement before the programme starts.

In addition to meeting the English language requirement, make sure you tell us if you speak fluently in multiple languages. Many organisations do see this as a real plus, particularly if you are working for one of the regional offices where additional language skills may be a compulsory requirement.

International experience

Both the MSc Finance at Imperial and your future career will be highly international; job opportunities are global and the teams you’ll work in will be incredibly diverse. Therefore, evidence of international experience and/or outlook can really add weight to your application. Alongside languages, international internships, study abroad or exchange opportunities and a passion for travel and exploring new cultures are great ways of demonstrating your global mindset.

If you meet our entry requirements and share the qualities and characteristics outlined in this post, you should think about starting your application.  We operate a staged admissions process so make sure you have a look at the application deadlines to see when you’ll receive a decision from us.

Best of luck!


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