For Anna Mar, grad school means more than textbooks and lectures. The 32-year old mother of two wanted a case-based curriculum, experiential learning, and access to new technology. She found that in the Master of Science in Finance (MSF) at Portland State University's School of Business. And now, with a couple of months before graduation, she already landed a job as an auditor with a local CPA firm.

"PSU is exceptionally good at pinpointing the skill sets that industry is looking for, and creating and designing a program that gives students an opportunity to develop those skills," says Anna.

Anna—who was born and raised in Poland—first came to Portland as a student and au pair through an international exchange program, and later returned as a resident. She dreamed of going to college, but couldn't afford it. She took a teller job at KeyBank, worked her way up to operations manager and when her two neurodiverse sons were born, she left the bank to be a full-time parent.

"I want to make sure that my children know that they can take charge of their lives, and that sacrifices can reap big benefits later."

When her boys were one and three, Anna was ready to give school another shot. Every time she had tried to enter school before, "I found myself unable to come up with money to cover the cost of education."

This time was different: with the help of scholarships, a part-time job, and a supportive spouse, Anna started at Mount Hood Community College, then transferred to PSU's School of Business and earned her bachelor's degree in accounting. She was the first person in her family to graduate from college. From there, Anna applied to the year-long MSF program.

The MSF offers a choice of tracks in corporate finance, traditional investing, or impact investing. The STEM-designated program is accredited by The Associate to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), and recognized by The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute as a University Affiliate.

Students have opportunities to consult with business clients and participate in the student-led impact investing fund, Impact Ventures. The School of Business offers free 24/7 access to the Bloomberg Finance Lab for PSU students, faculty and staff. This includes access to Bloomberg Terminal, a global financial services system, and students also benefit from a site license to Barron's.

Anna recently competed in—and won—the PSU round of the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) Cup, a case-based contest where teams of graduate business students respond to a series of challenges faced by a fictional company. She and her teammates will advance to the regional semi-finals, where they'll go up against students from the top programs in Oregon and Washington.

For Anna, it's the cohort that really distinguishes the graduate experience.

Mar_2 copyPlanning for the Association for Corporate Growth Cup, group members include Thanh Nguyen (right), Anh Huynh (left), and Andrew Clarkson (not pictured).

"It's been fantastic to get to work with people who don't share the same experience as me, but who are working toward the same goal. You can't learn that human component from the textbook," she says.

To accommodate many different students and circumstances, including parents like Anna, the MSF program is available as a full-time or part-time program. The diverse student body—which includes international students, military veterans, and working professionals—is supported by PSU's robust scholarship fund. For Anna, scholarships helped pave the way:

"I have always wanted to go to school. It wasn't a question of if, but a question of how and when. I feel very grateful to finally be able to realize my goals… I can't wait to see how it is going to transform my professional career."

In August, after three years at PSU, Anna will graduate and embark on her next chapter. "But," she warns, "I don't think that once you start school, you can just give it up. Who knows? I might someday do a PhD!"

Learn more about why The Master of Science in Finance at PSU is one of the best investments you can make. There are too many barriers preventing high-potential students from pursuing a graduate degree, and The School of Business believes the application fee shouldn't be one of them. Apply for free for 2020 admission.