The beginning of the SMF program was very structured: everyone takes the basic list of courses, which includes Corporate Finance I, Investment Management I, microeconomics (formally, Industry, Risk & Pricing), and several others. Certainly, one has the opportunity to take a few electives during the first two terms, but up to only three.
There are only two required courses in the third the fourth terms collectively, which are macroeconomics (formally, Global Financial Markets) and Team Projects (which are essentially client projects the program acquires for students to work on with the clients), which allows for up to ten electives in Spring semester.
Because I am specializing in corporate finance, I’ve chosen to take Corporate Finance IV with Professor Karen Hopper Wruck. Professor Wruck is a widely published and recognized expert on corporate restructuring. Our first two classes have combined cases that she has written demonstrating how value can be created through different types of restructuring (e.g., borrowing roughly the net worth of a firm, paying the proceeds out as a special dividend, and using the increased leverage to effect prioritizing cash flow).
Another elective I’m taking is Enterprise Risk Management with René Stulz. Dr. Stulz is a world-renowned expert in risk management and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Global Association of Risk Professionals. Our first two classes have focused on the mechanics of many of the derivatives crises, such as Barings, Lehman Brothers, Orange County, and Metagesellschaft, with the primary lesson that many of these crises came about not because derivatives are inherently bad, but because derivatives, like the machinery of almost any profession, need to be handled with care and with full knowledge of the associated risks.
In terms of fascinating classes and distinguished professors, the list goes on, and I continue to both broaden my knowledge of the various areas of finance and dive deeper into corporate finance and how firms create value for creditors and shareholders.