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Members of the inaugural class of the Kellogg-NU certificate program gather for a group photo at a luncheon June 4.

Kellogg-NU certificate program celebrates inaugural class

First students to complete rigorous undergraduate curriculum benefit from analytical curriculum

By Elizabeth Station

6/9/2008 - The Kellogg School’s Certificate Program for Undergraduates honored its first graduating class at an informal luncheon on June 4. Ten seniors have earned certificates in financial economics through the program, which exposes students with outstanding quantitative skills to business decision-making and analysis.

Open to juniors and seniors in any major, the certificate program launched last fall as a collaborative effort of the Kellogg School, the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and the McCormick School of Engineering. Participants take four courses with Kellogg faculty, choosing either a financial economics or managerial analytics track.

This year’s graduates include students earning degrees in economics, mathematics and other fields. Ravi Shah ’08, an industrial engineering major, said the certificate was appealing because “I wanted to get exposure to the finance area and I wanted to do something productive with my senior year. The fact that the courses are taught by top Kellogg faculty also convinced me to take advantage of the opportunity. I felt like the program was calling me.”

Potential employers called, too. As he geared up for his job search last fall, Shah listed the certificate program on his résumé. In nine out of nine interviews, companies wanted to know more about the curriculum. “Because I was an engineer and not someone coming from a typical undergrad business program, I think it gave me an advantage,” Shah said. “Employers saw that I had another specialty, and that I was complementing it with a program like this one.”

Next month, Shah will join Merrill Lynch as an analyst in the investment banking division. His classmate Yu Kakitsubo ’08, who earned the certificate as well as a degree in Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences, has accepted an analyst position at Citigroup. Kakitsubo believes the four courses required for the certificate — Principles of Finance, Investments, Derivatives and Topics in Financial Economics — gave him a solid foundation for the work he will be doing.

“This Kellogg program helps you apply everything you’ve learned in the classroom to what you see in the real world,” said Kakitsubo, who interned at Citigroup last summer. “The courses help you prepare both in terms of the material covered and the way they’re set up. Working on case studies with small groups of students was really helpful. And I would put the professors I had at the top of my list as some of the best at Northwestern.”

Finance Professor Janice Eberly, who directs the Financial Economics Certificate Program, is pleased with its first year. “These students thrive on challenge, and they rose to this opportunity enthusiastically,” Eberly said. “They are very talented and academically courageous, jumping into this program. The analytic sophistication of the students is an ideal complement to the Kellogg School’s breadth in finance. I am proud of what this class has accomplished already — and their achievements are just beginning.”

While admission is competitive, enrollment in the certificate program is growing. Forty-four students are pursuing the financial economics certificate; 36 are enrolled in the Managerial Analytics track, which welcomes its first class this September. A career adviser helps students find summer internships as well as jobs after graduation. Many participants plan to attend graduate and professional schools.