London City Thames Skyline Night

MSc Finance (part-time) student blog

Studying a world-renowned MSc programme while holding down a job may seem daunting. How do our students rise to the challenge?

Devin, a student on the Executive MSc in Finance (part-time) gives an overview of why he chose LSE and his experience on the first year of the programme

Devin Liu

Devin Liu

MSc Finance (part-time)

I studied economics and management at Boston College before starting my career in New York City. After two years working for PwC and then J.P. Morgan wealth management, I had the opportunity to transfer to London and join the Endowments & Foundations asset management group at J.P. Morgan. We manage or advise the endowments of institutional family offices, charities, and universities in Europe and the Middle East.

A Master’s in Finance is a clear market signal that I am open to new opportunities in the financial sector

From a career standpoint I had learned much from on the job training, but as an aspiring portfolio manager I wanted a proper understanding of financial theory. Much of my prior learning relied on seasoned colleagues sharing knowledge, or trial-and-error. What I learned on the job helped with clients who had portfolio sizes sub-$200m, but I found we were working with more and more prospects north of $500m and even $1bn+, so I was keen to pursue more formal training and gain a deeper understanding of investment theory. 

Many people would pursue a CFA, which is useful in asset management and almost an implied requirement to be a fund manager. However, I also wanted the option of developing a holistic understanding of financial theory and exploring other areas of financial services. Besides banking and asset management, I wanted to better understand other areas of finance: private equity, venture capital, real asset management and corporate finance. A Master’s in Finance is a clear market signal that I am open to new opportunities in the financial sector.

From a personal standpoint I also wanted to develop my network both socially and professionally. An important part of pursuing a Master’s in person for me is the opportunity to join a diverse class with people from all walks of life.

I ultimately chose LSE above the other options due to its reputation and rigour

I wanted to work and study at the same time, rather than pursue a full-time course, and I heavily researched all of the available programmes available to me in London. I ultimately chose LSE above the other options due to its reputation and rigour. LSE’s reputation comes as a research university, and in the fields of economics and finance LSE commands much respect. A Master’s degree from LSE carries great weight in both academic and professional circles and this particular programme presented the best opportunity for me to build on my existing role as an Associate at J.P. Morgan

How I managed work and study

It helped that I could apply what I studied to my job

While I was committing to part-time study, in practice I was able to prioritise my studies at LSE. I spoke to my directors and they gave me their full support, even writing my recommendations. Hence, when the semesters came, they were well aware I needed to sign off at a certain time and I made sure to work around those hard stops by coming in early or working longer hours on the other days.

What also really helped was a hybrid work schedule. On the weeks when I was busy with studies, I would work from home more days than not. It helped that my directors were supportive and that I had previously demonstrated the ability to work remotely. It also helped that I could apply what I studied to my job. If I had a quiet day in the office, I would often research what we had learned and how it applied to a project or problem I was looking at for a client.

Most importantly, I had to allocate free-time for my studies. I often gave up a day or two on weekends to really understand what we were being taught or tackle formative assignments. I spent 7 hours a week in lectures (11 if there are optional revision sessions) and anywhere from 4 to 16 hours reading, completing assignments or revising.

More about the modules

Term 1 Modules

In the first year, you’ll be taking FM422E Corporate Finance and FM423E Asset Markets. Before term starts, there are two weeks of preparatory classes. All the mathematics and statistics you will need are covered here. As all of us haven’t studied mathematics in a while, it’s really helpful to standardise our foundations. The programme offers nearly every resource you can imagine to succeed, so as long as you are dedicated and willing to receive help.

FM423E Asset Markets is entirely focused on pricing assets. You start with the basics of Time Value of Money (TVM) before spending a few weeks on fixed income. I cannot stress enough, take your time to fully understand TMV and bonds as it’ll pay off for the rest of the semester and year. The latter half of the semester is focused on stocks where you cover relevant statistics theory, the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM), and valuation of stocks. This course is entirely focused on elementary mathematics and statistics, which is not difficult, but requires you to truly understand the theories of finance in order to utilise the mathematics required. The difficulty doesn’t lie with the mathematical operations, but understanding why, when and how to use them.

FM422E Corporate Finance is a much more conceptual module. In the first semester, you study the right hand side of the balance sheet (debt and equity) and understand how financing decisions might affect a company. Does using debt or equity affect the value of the firm and how does it affect behaviour? We start with the ideal world as proposed by Modigliani & Miller before relaxing one or more of the assumptions to get an understanding of the real world applications.

While I worked hard at Boston College, where I had taken Basic Finance, Corporate Finance and Investments as part of my management degree, I was amazed at what I had learned in FM422E and FM423E. We cover the same models and theories in the MSc Finance programme, but we were much more in-depth and I learned much more at LSE than I had as an undergrad. I think prior to LSE, I could explain what the models were (CAPM, stock statistics, MM Theorems, APT, Binomial-Trees & Black-Scholes Options Pricing, etc.), but I would not have been able to modify or apply that beyond the standard settings. The professors really took their time to explain the principles, build the theories and then explore what happens when assumptions are changed or unique scenarios arise.

For Asset Markets, I think I now have a much more robust understanding of asset pricing. For Corporate Finance, I have a newfound appreciation for financing decisions and project decision-making.

Term 2 Modules

In Term 2 (Winter Term), we continue our modules of Corporate Finance and Asset Markets, but the professors change.

Corporate Finance focuses now on the left hand side of the balance sheet (assets), where we analyse project decision-making. While I equally enjoyed the first term’s topics, this is where most people get excited as we focus on creating significant value for the company via which projects we choose to invest or divest from. My favourite topic would be on real options and staging. This term is much more Excel heavy as you utilise cash flow models to understand the lessons, whereas the first term was much more conceptual and utilised more general mathematics. Also, in this term, you’re doing a case study every week, which is really exciting but also time-intensive.

Asset Markets is now focused on empirical models of the stocks and derivatives. Here, statistics plays a more significant role than it did in the first term. In the first term, each week tended to build on the prior. In the second term you’re exploring different topics or methods, so each week is more independent.


I’m really grateful and proud to be a part of my cohort!

I am happy to say friendships are a highlight of the programme! While I was excited to undertake a Master’s in Finance at LSE, the highlight has been the friends I’ve made. Studying is even more fun than my undergrad as classmates help each other learn and we endure the struggles together: it really is intense to work a full-time job while pursuing a Master’s. Towards the end of first semester, I became housemates with one classmate who has become a dear friend. Among the class, there have been quite a few trips planned as people want to hang out and share their cultures. I’ve joined friends on trips to Bucharest, Rome, the Amalfi Coast and even sailing in the Aeolian Isles.

Social Events

There’s an annual trip for the finance department to Brighton in the autumn semester and that’s where quite a few of us first bonded and got to know each other outside of the classroom. Also, the department hosts regular events for the class to socialise. It’s been a wonderful way to catch up with classmates, network and relax. I can see that the department is really committed to constantly developing social aspects of the part-time programme, and they are always open to suggestions in this respect.


We’re a diverse group who share a common interest in developing our understanding of finance. While most have some experience in financial services (bankers, traders, consultants, corporate M&A, insurance and accountants), there are many non-finance individuals who come from engineering, sciences and family businesses.

It’s been really helpful to chat with classmates about their careers and industries. I’ve been able to learn about corporate M&A from a director in our cohort, private equity from a 2nd year classmate, emerging markets sales and trading from a Goldman senior associate, Private Banking from a few classmates (AVP at Barclays and associate at Soc Gen), Investment Banking from a new hire at J.P. Morgan and even quantitative hedge fund work from a software engineer who recently switched jobs because of LSE.

Regarding career changes, in my time in the programme I’ve seen people get jobs in investment banking (at J.P. Morgan, UBS and Lazards), private equity, hedge funds, fintech startups, corporate banking and asset management. These have either been through recommendations made by classmates or thanks to being a candidate of the LSE MSc Finance programme.

In summary, without a doubt, I’m really grateful and proud to be a part of my cohort!

- Devin Liu, MSc Finance (part-time) programme