Hong Kong University of Science and Technology's (HKUST) master of science in global finance has distinguished itself as arguably the premier finance programme in Asia. This is largely due to three of its modules that are taught at Beijing's Tsinghua University and New York University's (NYU) Leonard N. Stern School of Business. It is one of the best finance programmes in the world, according to Professor Kalok Chan, head of the finance department at HKUST's business school. While requirements for admission are a bachelor's degree, good grades and GMAT scores, and five years of work experience (adjustable), Chan believes what differentiates HKUST's programme is its merger of two of the world's strongest programmes. 'When you put HKUST and NYU together, and considering the faculty teaching in the programme are extremely experienced and top-notch scholars, that's something you can't find locally or regionally,' he says. He also touts the programme's structure as a key draw, as it is composed of 10 modules that - with the exception of lengthier segments in Beijing and New York - are taught once-a-month and on weekends. 'It is very much structured towards executives,' Chan says, stressing that industry professionals, who don't have work commitments, will get the most for their time and money at HKUST. He also believes that since half of the programme's students are from overseas, with a good smattering of locals, the net result is a 'very diverse group of professionals' which makes for an enriching learning environment. Although half the programme's students are locally based, that does not mean they are Hong Kong residents. Many are from the mainland, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and Nepal. 'We have also seen more students from Europe and the United States participate in the programme as they seek to take advantage of the opportunities in this part of the world,' Chan says. Although the global economic recovery is still under way, Chan thinks prospective students should prepare for when the markets surge again. 'One of the biggest things they should take from the financial crisis is that problems can arise when people don't have enough knowledge of [financial] markets and products, and the necessary skills to make sense of them,' he says. Chan is optimistic about Asia which has seen a 'vigorous resurgence of its financial markets' and increased hiring by banking and financial institutions. 'It's definitely a good time to enter the programme,' he says. Since the financial crisis, Chan has noticed the candidate pool has grown in size, calibre and maturity. 'Both the numbers and variety of regions and industries [where candidates are from] have grown since the last intake,' he says. Though HKUST has not made any fundamental changes to the curriculum, it regards the crisis as a learning experience not to be overlooked. Recent examples and more guest speakers have been incorporated into the programme. 'Our students get to go to New York [NYU] and Beijing [Tsinghua] and learn about the heart of the crisis,' Chan says. He believes the recently added mainland module is prudent because of its growing financial market and the importance of 'exposing students to China and understanding its economic development'. During five days at Tsinghua, students learn about China's nascent financial markets, banking reforms, corporate risk management, coupled with field trips. In two weeks at NYU, they study financial innovation, risk management at financial institutions and interact with industry insiders. The curriculum covers corporate finance, valuation, asset markets, derivatives, portfolio management and asset allocation, foreign exchange markets, fixed income instruments, and a project presentation at the end, tying together all that students have learned. 'Many jobs require financial knowledge. That's true if you're with a multinational corporation, venture capital firm or even a small family business. Even fundamental investment and financing decisions require knowledge of financial products,' Chan says.