The Master's project is an important component of the MSF program and is required of each MSF student in the 12-month length program.
Students work in pairs with a Finance Department advisor to deepen their understanding of some aspect of Finance. Residency in Tucson is required, along with weekly submission of assignments leading to the final paper and presentation.
Students must complete the master's project during the summer only and following the completion of the majority of the required 30 hours of coursework for the MSF degree. If not completed in the first summer attempted, the project must be completed the following summer and within one calendar year of the completion of the required coursework. If the project is not completed within that time, the student may receive an E grade for the project and be ineligible (per UA Graduate College requirements) to receive a master's degree.
The requirements for the project are flexible enough to encourage a wide range of topics and approaches, including updating research in a published academic paper with current data, studying a new as yet unpublished research topic, or working with a corporation on a finance project (beyond the scope of the company's day-to-day finance work). Projects will be completed working as a team with one other student.
Since the project is a substantial undertaking, it requires careful analysis and planning. The scope of the project needs to be designed to be of sufficient rigor for a master's level project. Students should plan on spending 20 to 25 hours per week over the course of two summer semesters on the project.
International students should be aware that they will begin working with their Ph.D. advisor and teammate toward the end of spring semester to outline the project and set a schedule of activities and weekly deliverables for the summer. The project is six credits and therefore needs to be equivalent work of two master’s classes. Teams will be meeting weekly during the summer with the Ph.D. advisor, meeting interim deadlines and receive grades for both Summer I and Summer II sessions, working toward the presentation in August. Also, most of the data needed for the projects must be accessed from our department.
Therefore, if a student really needs to return home, it might work to take one or two weeks in late May, following the end of spring semester. Three weeks would be the longest a student could plan to go home, but one to two weeks is preferred. If a student leaves for a short time, he or she should have plans agreed upon with the teammate and Ph.D. advisor as to tasks to complete during the trip and a schedule of when the team and advisor will communicate by email.
As soon as you have identified your general topic and teammate, complete the Master's Plan of Study in UAccess Student Center: GradPath and submit it online. The Plan of Study must total 36 units, which will include 10 master's level courses, 3 units each of FIN909, Master's Project in Summer I and Summer II (and any fall semester courses, if applicable). The form will be submit automatically for approval to Kay Ross, Director, Graduate Programs.
Before completing your program in the 12-month program, you must register for two semesters of FIN909 Master's Project in Summer I and Summer II sessions following or during completion of your coursework. After you have identified your topic and teammate, you need to complete the Master's Plan of Study as described above and also register for FIN909. When you submit the completed and signed copy of the Master's Plan of Study to Kay Ross, you will complete two Change of Schedule Forms to add for FIN909 for the appropriate semesters.
Once you have identified a general topic and teammate, submit a written proposal on the process and product of your master's project using the MSF-FIN909-Agreement Form. Below are some guidelines to help you.
It is important to choose a topic that interests you. During the program coursework, you will be exposed to a broad set of core topics in investments, corporate finance and real estate. During your courses, read current journal articles and magazines on topics that are not fully covered in the coursework as a source of possible master's project topics.
Our doctoral student project advisors will schedule regular meetings with you to answer questions and provide feedback on your progress with the project.
Scope and Content
Your project should be much broader in scope than a one-semester class project. Keep in mind that the project is a very important component of the MSF program. You should be proud of your MSF project report and be able to show it to prospective employers.
Timing and Schedule
The project is roughly equivalent to two 3-hour classes. As a guide, every hour spent in a graduate class should mean 3 hours of work outside of class. This means that you should be working on your project 20 to 25 hours per week for two summer semesters. Using the MSF-FIN909-Agreement Form, develop a schedule and timeline of activities to be completed for the project and keep to the schedule.
With direction from the project advisor, you will have weekly goals to meet toward completion of the project. Students will receive a grade of S(uperior), P(ass) or K(incomplete) for Summer I session as a measure of the progress you have made. A grade of K should be considered a warning that you are not on schedule to meet the final deadline. It is important to meet the schedule you set to ensure the project and presentation are ready by the end of Summer II semester during the first week of August. A Grade of S(uperior), P(ass) or F(ail) will be given based on the final project report and presentation.
While the project is intended to be completed in two semesters, there may be unusual circumstances that require a longer time to complete your master's project. However, the project must be completed within one calendar year of the completion of the required 30 hours of coursework for the MSF degree. If the project is not completed within that time, you may receive an E grade for the project and be ineligible (per UA Graduate College requirements) to receive a master's degree.
You must present the results of your project to the Finance faculty and doctoral advisors before the last day of class in Summer II semester during early August. Master's project presentations are normally formal PowerPoint presentations. Be sure to provide a copy to Kay Ross at the time of your final presentation.
You will also submit a written report for your project at the time of your presentation. The exact format of the written report should be determined with the help of your project advisor.
Please include your team members' names, your advisor's name and the semester of submission on the cover sheet. It is recommended that you include a one paragraph abstract at the beginning of your report. In addition to providing a copy of your presentation to Kay Ross, please provide of your final report as well.
A few weeks before you will be ready for final presentation of your master's project (generally, mid-July), set a date and time with your advisor for the presentation, and reserve Room 315S (the Finance Department seminar room) for the presentation with Kay Ross, Director, Graduate Programs. Also ensure that any equipment you need available for the presentation is reserved through her.
You will need to provide Kay Ross with the title and brief description of your presentation. She will invite Finance Faculty to attend. Please note that at least three Finance Faculty members must be present at the presentation to comply with UA Graduate College requirements and ensure completion of your degree.
To ensure that your degree is processed quickly, complete a Graduate College Completion of Degree Requirements form in UAccessStudent, GradPath. A Change of Grade form for your project will be prepared by the department and processed at the end of your project presentation. The Change of Grade form indicating your grade (Superior/Pass/Fail) for the master's project as determined by your advisor must be submitted to the Graduate College.
The End-of-Program Evaluation and a Teaching Course Evaluation must also be submitted at the time of your final project presentation. The evaluation and TCE will be distributed by your Ph.D. project advisor and must be completed and submitted to Kay Ross with your project paper.
When you have reached this point, you have completed the degree requirements. CONGRATULATIONS!