Master of Arts in Investor Relations: The first major in investor relations

I talked earlier that investor relations is a rare subject on college campuses – departments of finance often view it as a communication function, while departments of public relations or corporate communication view it as a financial function. Accounting professors rarely devote any significant attention to investor relations, while management professors give investor relations an occasional mention usually related to issues of ethics or corporate governance.

As a result, standalone courses in investor relations are almost non-existent in regular college programs. Investor relations is usually taught in professional certificate programs, occasionally in master’s level programs.
However, at a recent PRSA conference, I discovered that there is now a complete investor relations program. Yes, yes, not just a course, but investor relations major! It is not an undergraduate program, however. It is a Master of Arts in Investor Relations program, MAIR.

The location of this Master’s program also surprised me – I could expect something like that in the New York area with so many publicly traded companies located there. Maybe even in Washington, DC. But the program is actually offered at the University of San Francisco.

The MAIR program description emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of investor relations: “The graduate program combines a strong foundation of financial, marketing and legal expertise with the sophisticated public relations skills required in client relationships.”

The program, however, is not part of a Business School or a Communication School. It looks like it is housed in the College of Arts and Science. Not sure what to make of it...

The list of classes students will need to take during one year to earn their Master’s in IR is very impressive and seems to cover all the necessary topics:
• Financial Accounting
• Financial Markets
• Investor Relations and the Investment Process
• Macroeconomics for Finance
• The Practice of Investor Relations
• Communications for Investor Relations
• Corporate Finance
• Corporate Governance and Investor Relations
• Writing for Investor Relations
• Equity Valuation
• Fixed Income Valuation
• Marketing Your Company
• Disclosure and the Regulatory Process
• Derivatives
• Alternative Investments
• Investor Relations Capstone
• Investor Relations Internship (optional)


The faculty list of the program is full of adjunct professors. In other words, the program uses professionals to teach most of the courses – this approach has its pluses and minuses, of courses, but in investor relations there is no other choice – there are literally a couple of professors who teach and conduct research in investor relations. There are only three full time professors listed on the program homepage – with their research interests seemingly focused on economics rather than investor relations.

Anyway, congratulations to the University of San Francisco! It is very exciting news and I wish you success with this program. In fact, I will be in San Francisco next week for the National Communication Association conference. If I have time, maybe I will stop by the USF campus to take a few pictures of the birthplace of the first Master’s program in investor relations.

16 comments:

Robert C. said...

This is very interesting and a great post. I've never heard of a investor relations major. The closest thing to it I've heard of is corporate communications. I will be graduating as a media communications major (advertising and public relations) in a couple of months.

I have found investor relations very interesting and have considered it as a potential career path. With my current background I believe that a masters in Finance would be a good choice. What would your advice be?

Alexander said...

Robert C., yes, I would say finance is a great choice. IR is essentially on the intersection of communication and finance - since you have the communication side from your undergraduate degree, it makes sense to get the finance side in your graduate study. However, one recommendation I always give to my students is to never go directly from undergraduate degree to graduate, but rather work a couple of years in the industry in between. This will make your graduate experience more beneficial.

Robert C. said...

Thanks for your advice Alexander! It's a great help.

I was actually planning on working a couple of years before going to graduate school. Other people have told me this as well. An ideal area for me would be public relations for a finance company or something of that sort. I am aware it may be difficult to find something so specific but I will try. Thank you once again for your time and help! I highly appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

Actually a program for investor relations was just started in New York City at Fordham University's Graduate School of Business. I figured I could add this little bit of information to help your blog.

Anthony said...

Actually a program for investor relations was just started in New York City at Fordham University's Graduate School of Business. I figured I could add this little bit of information to help your blog.

Robert C. said...

That's great! Fordham's a great school and it's not too far from me either. I'll definitely take that into consideration. Thanks!

Alexander said...

Anthony, that's great news! Thank you! I do not see it listed as a major at Fordham's web site though... Can you share a link?

Anonymous said...

Alexander - I am an IR professional working in Cairo, Egypt and want to say thank you for putting together this nice page...it is very useful.

Here is the link to the IR program at Fordham:

http://www.bnet.fordham.edu/academics/ms_programs/ms_investor_relations/index.asp


Best,
Sherif

Alexander said...

Sherif, Thank you for the link and the kind words. I hope everything is going well in Egypt. Alexander.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious is about the gensis of this type of program. Anyone know?

I expressed interest in Fordham's program and they seem to be approving folks just off the pre-application.

What I'm really worried about is would this become a usless degree?

Me: Econ BA, work at Investment group in Treasury, and am thinking of doing some masters program along with a JD.

Emily said...

Hi,

I'm also an undergrad (senior economics/journalism-PR major) interested in IR-related grad programs.

What are your thoughts on the MSc in Financial Communication at the University of Lugano in Switzerland?

http://www.mfc.usi.ch/index.htm

Thanks!

Alexander said...

Emily: It looks like a great program. In fact, based on the program of study, it seems like it is very in-depth. If they have industry connections and help you with a job search, it may be perfect. And on the plus side, you will be in beautiful Switzerland... :)

David Collins said...

The program at Fordham is a Master of Science Degree in Investor Relations and seems to be a very well designed and comprehensive curriculum based on what I've learned meeting with administration members at the Graduate School. Certainly the NYC location offers great benefits and the school is very passionate about making this a power, enduring program.


The URL which is above but I’m pasting here for ease of access: http://www.bnet.fordham.edu/academics/ms_programs/ms_investor_relations/index.asp


The contact for the program is Francis Petit, Ed.D., Associate Dean: petit@fordham.edu

Alexander said...

David: Thank you for the update! So, are you a student there?

Vivian said...

I just now found out about this program. Unfortunately it seems to be discontinued :(

Ann said...

Hello,

It looks like the Fordham Program is indeed up and running:

http://www.bnet.fordham.edu/academics/ms_programs/ms_investor_relations/program_details/index.asp