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Course Descriptions

The newly designed curriculum in the MS in Finance has seven required Core Courses, a choice of three concentrations (Corporate Finance, Investment Management, and Accounting) with one required course and three electives and a Capstone (Final Project).
 

CORE COURSES
(Seven courses required)

MFIN 5500 – Corporate Finance
Corporate finance focuses on the financial decision making process that is designed to maximize shareholder wealth. It provides a framework for making a wide variety of decisions, such as choosing the optimal combination of debt and equity to finance a corporation's operations, identifying the most profitable projects to pursue, determining the most appropriate distribution of dividends to stockholders. The course introduces the concept of the time value of money, and examines techniques applicable to the pricing of fixed-income assets and capital budgeting, assessing the respective advantages and disadvantages of each approach. The statistical properties of risk and return for financial assets, modern portfolio theory, the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM), and several equity pricing models, such as the dividend discount model and the Gordon growth model are analyzed. Financial statements analysis, techniques for determining the optimal capital structure of a corporation including an analysis of the Miller-Modigliani Theorem, and an overview of dividend policies are also covered.

MFIN 5501 – International Finance

This course is an overview of international financial markets and institutions. Topics include an introduction to the foreign exchange markets, in which nearly $4 trillion worth of currencies and foreign exchange derivatives are traded each day. Several types of products trade in these markets, including spot transactions, forward transactions, swaps and options. Much of this activity is due to commercial banks and securities dealers, along with corporations seeking to hedge their exposure to foreign exchange risk. In addition, central banks may periodically intervene in foreign exchange markets in order to pursue domestic policy goals. The factors that determine the value of exchange rates and the relationship between nominal and real exchange rates is also covered in detail, along with several international parity conditions such as purchasing power parity, the International Fisher Effect, and interest rate parity. The course also explores different strategies for hedging foreign exchange risk. Pricing models for each type of derivative are also examined. A variant of the Black-Scholes model, the Garman-Kohlhagen model, is used to price foreign exchange options as well as derive several measures of risk that are collectively known as the Greeks. The course closes with a closer look at the role of central banks in foreign exchange markets, alternative exchange rate systems, international investment and diversification, and the management of portfolios of domestic and foreign bonds.

MGPS 5010 - Communicating Effectively
Communication is crucial to the success of all leaders, but as you climb within an organization the ability to write and speak effectively is magnified. One needs to be able to talk, write and present effectively to a diverse group of stakeholders, such as customers, supervisors, subordinates, peers, buyers, etc. And while business leaders have marketing strategies, expansion strategies, finance strategies, even exit strategies, successful leaders also have communication strategies. This course explores how individuals can develop and execute effective communication strategies for a variety of business settings. The course emphasizes the essentials of developing personal communication skills, inclusive of persuasive verbal and written communication, influence mapping, and communicating for buy-in. Students study audience analysis, communicator credibility, message construction and delivery, and are given the opportunity to learn best practices in presentation skills, particularly important for those wishing to pursue entrepreneurial interests. Globalization confronts almost every aspect of business from recruiting and managing a diverse staff to providing products and services, which cross language, time, and cultural barriers. This course delves into the two areas impacting a leader's success in the global arena: technology and culture. Through a blend of class discussions, seminars, observations, practice, feedback and reflection, students will study frameworks for effective communication in a global environment and then apply these lessons in team and individual projects. Upon successful completion of the course, students will have learned how to; understand the purpose of effective communication and how it can facilitate or hinder individual and organizational performance, appreciate the importance and the management of challenges in communicating to internal and external stakeholders, deliver effective oral and written business presentations, incorporate technology to facilitate more effective communications.

MFIN 5502 – Financial Institutions, Money and Markets
This course focuses on the structure of the banking system and other financial institutions, along with the numerous issues facing them, such as analyzing investments, evaluating consumer credit, capital management, risk management and changes in the regulatory environment. The course analyzes the main types of financial intermediaries operating in the U.S. financial system, such as commercial banks, investment banks, pension funds and mutual funds. The activities of commercial banks are analyzed in detail, including a discussion of capital requirements and deposit insurance. Consideration is given to credit risk and concentration risk in a commercial bank's loan portfolio. Additional areas covered are the role of investment banks in securities underwriting, trading, market making, pension and mutual funds, the Federal Reserve System and monetary policy, derivatives, and recent regulations, such as Dodd-Frank.

MFIN 5503 – Financial Statement Analysis
In recent years, a series of financial scandals has erupted in which financial statements were manipulated in order to mislead investors; these include WorldCom, Tyco, Enron and most notably, the Bernard Madoff debacle. In response to these scandals, legislation has been passed that attempts to improve the transparency of financial statements to the public, including Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX). These scandals have highlighted the vital importance to investors of understanding and interpreting financial statements while remaining alert to potential manipulations of these statements. The course provides an intensive analysis of the statements that are essential for understanding the financial condition of a corporation: the balance sheet, the income statement and the statement of cash flows. The course takes a detailed look at financial ratios, such as earnings per share, book value per share, the dividend payout ratio, etc. and how these can be used to analyze the profitability and creditworthiness of a corporation. The course also introduces techniques for forecasting financial statements. Several key techniques for analyzing equity prices are introduced, including the dividend discount model, the price-earnings ratio and the DuPont formula. The course concludes with a look at techniques for rooting out different types of fraud that may be concealed by financial statements.

MGPS 5020 - Managing Risk
Worldwide theories, research, principles, and practices pertaining to the discipline of managing risk have evolved significantly over the past ten years, especially in countries such as Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Continued catastrophes have emphasized the need for more robust systems for managing risk accompanied by a highly sophisticated approach that supports the development of an appropriate risk mentality. This course is designed so that students can obtain a robust understanding in the discipline of risk management better-termed "managing risk". Students will review case studies of companies that have both been successful in their efforts to manage risk and those that have been unsuccessful. In both situations, an in depth analysis will be applied to determine the root causes for the successes and failures. Upon completion of this course students will have learned how to: gain an appreciation for evolution of this managing risk discipline over the past 20 years to what is now considered best in class thinking; extract the essential ingredients for managing risk throughout the organization and assemble them; take a holistic approach to risk using the objectives, principles, process and framework from ISO 31000; think in an integrated fashion and participate in effective risk management implementation efforts; conduct an initial assessment of the adequacy of a company's risk management system; and appreciate the role of rating agencies, regulatory agencies, various standard setters, other professional organizations, and the Board of Directors.

MFIN 5504 – Investment Theory and Practice
In recent years the increasing complexity of capital markets, combined with an ongoing economic slump, have greatly complicated the job of investment analysts and portfolio managers. Successful investing requires a firm understanding of the wide variety of securities trading in the debt, equity and derivatives markets, along with several alternative approaches to portfolio management. This course is designed to provide a solid background in fundamental valuation techniques, along with sound principles of portfolio management. Key models of asset returns are analyzed in detail; techniques for measuring and managing investment risk are introduced, along with several measures of performance measurement.

CAPSTONE
(One required course)

MFIN 6000 – Final Project
This course is the culmination of the M.S. in Finance degree program. The student will research an organizational issue of importance to the financial performance of an organization, consider alternative solutions to the issue, arrive at a preferred solution, summarize the results of the research in a case study format, and present the case study to an evaluating committee comprised of the program director and selected faculty members or industry leaders.

CORPORATE FINANCE CONCENTRATION 
(One required course and three electives)

This concentration has been designed for the student in search of a skill set that emphasizes the requirements and competencies needed by corporate financial managers to be successful in today's marketplace. The corporate finance concentration focuses on the decision-making process used by organizations with the overriding goal of maximizing shareholder wealth. Corporate finance is a broad field that covers several key areas, including budgeting for investment projects, raising capital through the issuance of debt and equity, dividend policy and risk management. Efficient financial management requires a thorough understanding of each aspect of corporate finance. This concentration provides a thorough grounding in these areas, including managerial accounting, financial statements analysis, investment analysis, financial markets and risk management. As a result, students are able to analyze the financial condition of a corporation, understand alternative investment strategies, properly manage the risk of a corporation, understand the economic environment in which a corporation operates and effectively plan the corporation's operations.

REQUIRED COURSE

MFIN 5600 – Managerial Accounting
Managerial Accounting is a specialization within the field of accounting that is concerned with providing the information that is needed for effective planning, controlling, directing and decision-making by an organization. Managerial accounting can be used for several essential applications, such as determining optimal pricing policies, analyzing employee performance, controlling expenses and implementing cost/benefit analysis for potential expenditures. The course provides an overview of cost accounting fundamentals; such as direct and indirect costs, fixed and variable costs, etc. These concepts are used as the foundation for effective decision making, based on techniques such as cost-volume-profit (CVP) analysis, job costing, activity-based costing, etc. CVP is an essential tool for decision making and can be used to plan variable and fixed costs and implement cost-benefit analysis. Job costing and activity-based costing are used to allocate costs to different aspects of the production of goods and services. Capital budgeting, which enables a corporation to choose from among several competing investment projects as well as techniques for efficient planning, including the production of budgets, and proper planning of inventories and capacity utilization are also covered.

ELECTIVE COURSES
(Choose three courses)

MFIN 5610 – Mergers, Acquisitions, Private Equity and Leveraged Buyouts
Mergers and acquisitions refer to the buying or selling of divisions or entire companies in order to increase efficiency and thereby enhance shareholder value. This course analyzes the process by which potential takeover targets are identified, how these targets are valued and how a takeover is financed. The course is heavily based on the case study approach; several historical examples of mergers and acquisitions will be analyzed in great detail. The course begins with a thorough examination of techniques for valuing a corporation including discounted cash flow valuation and comparable valuation. Alternative techniques for financing a merger or acquisition are also explored.

MFIN 5630 - Treasury Operations
This course covers several aspects of the operations of the Treasury department within a for-profit organization. These include cash management, debt management, financial risk management and clearing and settlement systems. The objective of Treasury operations is to maximize the organization's liquidity while reducing its operational risk. Major topics covered are cash management, debt management, hedging strategies, financial derivatives, and clearing and settlement systems.

MFIN 5730 - Fixed Income Analysis
In recent years, there has been an explosion of activity in the fixed income markets as corporations and governments continue to issue record amounts of debt. The size of the global fixed income market has reached nearly $100 trillion, far exceeding the $55 trillion capitalization of the global equity market. In addition, the market for fixed income derivatives has exploded over the past thirty years in response to a series of crises that have increased uncertainty over the behavior of interest rates. The fixed income markets consist of an extremely wide array of products, ranging from simple coupon-bearing bonds to structured products such as asset-backed securities. These products provide investors with the advantage of flexibility due to the large number of choices that are available. One of the major disadvantages of these products is that they expose investors to the risk of fluctuations in interest rates and other variables. Due to the complex behavior of interest rates, valuation and management of fixed income products can be extremely challenging. In addition, many fixed income products contain embedded optionality, which further complicates the pricing and management of these securities. In recent years, spectacular losses have occurred at several financial institutions due to the misuse of fixed income products and their derivatives. The complexity of fixed-income products and fixed-income derivatives requires market participants to acquire a deep understanding of how their cash flows are structured, how their values are affected by interest rates and an understanding of the properties of interest rates. Market participants also need to understand how interest rate risk is measured, and what types of strategies may be used to hedge interest rate risk. Portfolio managers need insight into the different types of strategies that may be employed with fixed-income portfolios.

MFIN 5611 - Financial Risk Management
In recent years, the financial markets have been thrown into turmoil by an ongoing series of financial crises, most recently the credit crisis of 2007-2009. The complexity and widespread use of financial derivatives have been blamed for increasing the severity of these crises, leading to calls for further regulation of the derivatives markets. These crises have demonstrated the necessity of proper risk management procedures, as evidenced by the spectacular collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers. Since derivatives are extremely risky but powerful hedging tools, it is imperative that market participants gain a fundamental understanding of their properties in order to efficiently manage risk and prevent future financial meltdowns. This course provides a thorough analysis of the key features of derivative securities along with strategies for managing risk with these instruments. The measurement of market risk is covered in great detail, with a focus on the Value at Risk (VaR) methodology. VaR is used to determine the potential losses that could occur in a portfolio with a specified level of confidence. Unlike earlier risk measures, VaR has the advantage that it can be applied to any financial asset, so that the risk of a portfolio may be determined regardless of its composition. One drawback to VaR is that it is derived from several questionable assumptions and may seriously understate the potential losses to a portfolio during severe market downturns. Alternatives to VaR, such as Expected Shortfall, are examined.

MFIN 5650 – Special Topics in Corporate Finance
This container course offered periodically, examines special topics and emerging issues in corporate finance using a seminar approach. The course will enable the students to explore the most current challenges affecting the finance industry, focusing on evolving approaches to and best practices for the analysis and management of corporate finance in a strategic context.

INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT CONCENTRATION 
(One required course and three electives)

This concentration has been designed to equip the students with the skills and techniques necessary for an active role in the managerial and strategic areas of investment management. The investment management concentration focuses on the analysis of a wide range of investment assets along with hedging and trading strategies. Successful investing requires a thorough understanding of the properties of these assets along with knowledge of the economic and regulatory environment in which they trade. This concentration provides an in-depth background in financial markets and various classes of assets, including equities and fixed income products, as well as derivative securities, such as futures and options. In addition, alternative investments, such as private equity and hedge funds, are analyzed in detail. Strategies for international investing are covered in depth, as well as risk management techniques. As a result, students will be able to develop appropriate investment strategies for financial institutions as well as manage the risks of these strategies.

REQUIRED COURSE

MFIN 5700 – Investing and Security Analysis
This course begins with a detailed overview of the features of equities and bonds. The measurement of risk and return for individual assets and portfolios is covered in depth. Modern Portfolio Theory is introduced, showing how risk can be dramatically reduced through diversification. This leads to a discussion of asset pricing models, such as the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) and Arbitrage Pricing Theory (APT). Several equity-pricing models are covered in detail, such as the discounted dividend model and the Gordon growth model. Passive and active equity portfolio strategies are introduced; these include buy-and-hold, sector rotation and market timing. Fixed-income markets are explored in detail, beginning with an in-depth look at the features of bonds and other interest rate products that are actively traded. Several measures of interest rates are defined; measures of interest rate risk, including modified duration and convexity, are used to determine the sensitivity of fixed income assets to changes in interest rates. Several types of fixed income portfolio strategies, such as buy-and-hold, indexing and yield spread analysis, measures of investment performance, such as the Sharpe Ratio and Jensen's alpha, are defined and used to compare the relative returns of different assets, and the role of derivatives in implementing hedging strategies are also covered.

ELECTIVE COURSES

(Choose three courses)

MFIN 5630 - Treasury Operations
This course covers several aspects of the operations of the Treasury department within a for-profit organization. These include cash management, debt management, financial risk management and clearing and settlement systems. The objective of Treasury operations is to maximize the organization's liquidity while reducing its operational risk. Major topics covered are cash management, debt management, hedging strategies, financial derivatives, and clearing and settlement systems.

MFIN 5730 - Fixed Income Analysis
In recent years, there has been an explosion of activity in the fixed income markets as corporations and governments continue to issue record amounts of debt. The size of the global fixed income market has reached nearly $100 trillion, far exceeding the $55 trillion capitalization of the global equity market. In addition, the market for fixed income derivatives has exploded over the past thirty years in response to a series of crises that have increased uncertainty over the behavior of interest rates. The fixed income markets consist of an extremely wide array of products, ranging from simple coupon-bearing bonds to structured products such as asset-backed securities. These products provide investors with the advantage of flexibility due to the large number of choices that are available. One of the major disadvantages of these products is that they expose investors to the risk of fluctuations in interest rates and other variables. Due to the complex behavior of interest rates, valuation and management of fixed income products can be extremely challenging. In addition, many fixed income products contain embedded optionality, which further complicates the pricing and management of these securities. In recent years, spectacular losses have occurred at several financial institutions due to the misuse of fixed income products and their derivatives. The complexity of fixed-income products and fixed-income derivatives requires market participants to acquire a deep understanding of how their cash flows are structured, how their values are affected by interest rates and an understanding of the properties of interest rates. Market participants also need to understand how interest rate risk is measured, and what types of strategies may be used to hedge interest rate risk. Portfolio managers need insight into the different types of strategies that may be employed with fixed-income portfolios.

MFIN 5710 – Global Investments
In recent years international financial markets have become more closely integrated, with cross-border capital flows reaching $4.4 trillion by the end of 2010. In particular, the sovereign debt markets have exploded, with government borrowing rising rapidly during the ongoing credit crisis. International financial markets present unique challenges to investors, offering a wider variety of opportunities along with an additional set of risks relative to domestic markets. Successful global investing requires an in-depth understanding of the types of products that are traded, how international investing can increase diversification benefits, how international investors are exposed to foreign exchange and sovereign risk and other factors unique to the international markets. The course covers each of these topics in detail along with a discussion of hedging strategies, including extensive coverage of foreign exchange derivatives.

MFIN 5711 – Options and the Futures Markets
This course provides a thorough analysis of the key features of derivative securities along with strategies for managing risk with these instruments. These include forward contracts, futures contracts, swaps and options. Forward contracts are agreements between counterparties to buy or sell an asset in the future at a predetermined price; they are used to eliminate the risk of price fluctuations. Futures contracts are similar to forward contracts, but are traded through organized exchanges, thereby eliminating the credit risk associated with forwards. A swap is an agreement to exchange a series of cash flows based on underlying variables such as interest rates, exchange rates, commodity prices, etc. Swaps are useful for hedging a regularly recurring series of exposures. Options are far more complex than forwards, futures and swaps, but also provide the greatest flexibility for hedging purposes. An option provides an investor with the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell an underlying asset in the future at a predetermined price. Unlike forwards, futures and swaps, options provide investors with limited potential losses and unlimited potential gains. Option pricing models, including Black-Scholes and the binomial option pricing model, are covered in detail. Hedging with options is covered in detail, including several types of positions known as spreads and combinations. The measurement of market risk is covered in great detail, with a focus on the Value at Risk (VaR) methodology. VaR is used to determine the potential losses that could occur in a portfolio with a specified level of confidence. Alternatives to VaR, such as Expected Shortfall, are examined. Techniques such as stress testing, scenario analysis and back testing for testing the results of the Value at Risk methodology are introduced.

MFIN 5750 – Special Topics in Investment
This container course offered periodically, examines special topics and emerging issues in investment management using a seminar approach. The course will enable the students to explore the most current challenges affecting investment analysis and selection as well as analysis of options, futures, and convertible securities. The course focuses on evolving approaches to and best practices for the analysis and management of traditional and alternative investments.

Accounting Concentration
(One required course and three electives)

The program continues to evolve with the recent addition of a third area of concentration in Accounting.

The new concentration has been designed to equip students with the skills and techniques necessary to play an active role on a CFO or other financial team. In addition, it will allow students who seek the CPA to acquire enough additional business and accounting courses beyond completed undergraduate accounting program courses to meet the educational requirements for this accreditation. The accounting concentration focuses on financial reporting, managerial accounting, IT auditing, and tax analysis skills necessary to support the financial and operational decision making of a company and monitor the company’s internal controls.


REQUIRED COURSE

MFIN 58XX - Intermediate Financial Accounting

This course provides the student with an understanding of the conceptual framework and standards that underlie the preparation of external financial reporting for the use of investors, creditors, government and other.  The course also provides a survey of the application of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) for the preparation of the four financial statements, as well as a wide range of transactional areas such as  valuation of inventories, acquisition and disposition of property plant and equipment, depreciation and depletion, and accounting for income taxes and pensions.  GAAP treatment is compared with corresponding treatment under International Financial Accounting Standards (IFRS).  Reporting requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are also addressed.

ELECTIVE COURSES

(Choose three courses)

MFIN 58XX - Advanced Financial Accounting

This course explains financial reporting and accounting practices in several specialized areas not addressed in Intermediate Accounting.  These areas are business combinations (mergers and acquisitions), consolidated financial reporting, international accounting for multinational corporations, and accounting for partnerships, non-profits, and government organizations. Student knowledge of concepts learned in intermediate accounting is deepened and extended.   The student is also provided with comprehensive coverage of the latest Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) standards and exposure drafts.  All practices are compared with International Financial Accounting Standards (IFRS) as set by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), with which U.S. GAAP is in the process of converging.

MFIN 5600 - Managerial Accounting

Managerial Accounting is a specialization within the field of accounting that is concerned with providing the information that is needed for effective planning, controlling, directing and decision-making by an organization. Managerial accounting can be used for several essential applications, such as determining optimal pricing policies, analyzing employee performance, controlling expenses and implementing cost/benefit analysis for potential expenditures. The course provides an overview of cost accounting fundamentals; such as direct and indirect costs, fixed and variable costs, etc. These concepts are used as the foundation for effective decision making, based on techniques such as cost-volume-profit (CVP) analysis, job costing, activity-based costing, etc. CVP is an essential tool for decision making and can be used to plan variable and fixed costs and implement cost-benefit analysis. Job costing and activity-based costing are used to allocate costs to different aspects of the production of goods and services. Capital budgeting, which enables a corporation to choose from among several competing investment projects as well as techniques for efficient planning, including the production of budgets, and proper planning of inventories and capacity utilization are also covered.

MFIN 58XX - Computer Auditing

Building on first courses in Financial Auditing and Accounting Information Systems, students will integrate theory and practice within a computer based environment. A practice set and case based learning approach will guide the student through internal controls and risk assessment in the context of computer environments, statistical stratification and sampling plans, design and execution of audit plans and other graduate level topics. Both Excel and generalized audit software is used extensively in the course.

MFIN 58XX - Corporate Taxation
In this course students study a broad range of tax concepts and types of tax payers. Issues relevant to the taxation of corporations by federal and state governments, and the taxation of tax-exempt organizations are comprehensively discussed. The role of taxation in the business decision-making process is studied. The course includes a designated corporate taxation accounting research component. Students acquire the skills to conduct basic tax research, tax planning, and to prepare Form 1120, U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return. An exposure to professional standards and ethics is included. Students are provided with knowledge of the interrelationships and differences between financial accounting and tax accounting.

MFIN 58XX- Forensic Accounting

This course covers some of the core subject areas of Forensic Accounting which is defined by the AICPA organization ‘utilizing accounting, auditing and investigative skills to conduct an examination into a company’s financial statements, thus providing an accounting analysis suitable for court.’ Subjects studied include fraud, litigation support, damages, valuation, and accounting malpractice.


 

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