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CFA and its value to admission process

This topic has 2 expert replies and 3 member replies

CFA and its value to admission process

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I'm wondering how adcoms look at the CFA designation.
I have the full charter, and am wondering whether adcoms would take it seriously as a supplement to my GPA.

My GPA's not bad, mind you, but I could use some extra points on the quant side. Given the time and dedication it takes to get the CFA, I'm hoping adcoms give some proper consideration to it (pass rates are horrendous, you basically need to spend 350+ studying for each exam, and I know plenty of top-10 school MBA alumni who couldn't make it through the CFA program).

Any insights on this?

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Hi scielle,

The CFA can definitely add value. The adcoms do know how difficult it is and how low the pass rates are. It might be seen by some as almost duplicative to a few of the MBA courses but that's not necessarily an issue in terms of your application. The CFA is one component of many that the schools will look at; they definitely do examine your profile holistically. We have plenty of clients with their CFA who breeze straight into a top program, and plenty (in finance) without who do the same (and unfortunately we had one client many years ago with a CFA who never found a spot in a good program - his essays/pitch just weren't up to snuff!).

Hope this helps!
EssaySnark

ETA: For anyone else interested in this subject, wanted to clarify that we've had a few pre-MBA candidates tell us that their PE firms didn't value the CFA, and so these candidates had never pursued it - the CFA certainly isn't any sort of pre-req for a finance career, either for the MBA or for a future job. Just another two cents on the matter.

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Hi Scielle,


Although its good you have a cfa done but that is definitely not a ticket to top schools. If you feel your gpa could create some trouble then you might need to prove to the admission committee that your GPA won’t be an issue. If you can tell in your application about any extra classes or courses you undertook in the subjects that you did not do well. This would highlight your zeal to learn and in turn improve your low GPA situation.
Goodluck Smile

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Thanks!
Kavita Singh
FutureWorks Consulting

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Well, you see, that's just the issue.
I chose to do the CFA rather than, say, some additional stats class because it's just a far more rigorous program and far more professionally useful than a random stats or accounting class. I can say with full conviction that no 4th year finance class (some joint BCom/ MBA classes, in fact) required nearly as much work as the CFA exams. And I think committing to the program over 4 (or more) years shows one’s "zeal to learn”, as you put it, far more poignantly than a token quant class (especially if obviously taken purely as a means of increasing overall GPA). After all, an MBA is a professional program not an exam-writing contest, and if you can show real, long-term commitment to mastering a profession, rather than using band-aid solutions to optically improve your academic profile, I think that should count for something.
Just my two cents.

Anyway, thanks all for your replies!
S.

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Hmm. CFA is like a cherry (maybe the icing too) but you first gotta have the cake to put it on.

It can certainly be a balance tipper on the good side, but would be less significant for example than a higher GMAT or more leadership. But yes, if it's relevant to your goals, showing dedication and a high technical capacity can be a nice addition.

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Hi scielle,

Although admissions teams understand how difficult a CFA can be to attain, it is important to understand that business schools are aiming to cultivate future leaders. For this reason, a CFA certification will be weighed with less emphasis than your work experience, etc. A CFA will be of help if you are addressing a low quant score, however you should not expect the impact to be significant.

Hope this was of help.


Cheers,

Conrad and the Stacy Blackman Team

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