Financial Services Management Certificate

The program exists to serve:

  • Houston Financial Community: Local program whose graduates have deep knowledge and practical experience with the financial valuation techniques used widely in the finance profession.
  • Students: Rigorous year-long program integrating theory and practice that leads to a well-defined graduate credential. Complement to the MBA or MS Finance.

Elements of the Program

  • Focus is on Finance and related disciplines as they apply to the theory and practice of financial valuation, as well as written and verbal communications skills tailored for financial professionals.
  • Students work on 4 teams as the professional staff of the Cougar Investment Fund, LLC, a private investment company. Students begin as apprentices, then develop to manage all operating decisions of the Fund.
  • Small, select group of students return as Senior Portfolio Managers who are responsible for leading new teams in apprenticeship and achieving overall objectives.

Target Audience

Individuals employed or who wish to be marketable as

  • Securities/Banking/Insurance Professionals: Applying business valuation and risk-management techniques used in Investment Management, Commercial Banking, Investment Banking, Private Equity, Insurance, and Real Estate.
  • Corporate/Government/Non-Profit Financial Executives: Understanding how value is created, measured, and monitored in organizations.

You must be a current Bauer graduate (MBA or MS Finance) student to enroll in this certificate programs.


A Graduate Certificate in Financial Services Management will be awarded to MBA and MS Finance students who complete the following electives totaling 15 credit hours. All courses are required for the certificate.

  • FINA 7A10** Valuation (1.5 credit hours)
  • FINA 7323* Applied Equity Fund Management (9 credit hours Cougar Investment Fund)
  • FINA 7A37* Corporate Strategy—Equity Fund Management (1.5 credit hours)
  • FINA 7A20** Capital Markets (1.5 credit hours)
  • FINA 7A23** Portfolio Theory and Practice (1.5 credit hours)

* Admission to these courses (and hence the Graduate Certificate program) is not automatic. Students must apply in the spring for the following fall semester, and Valuation (FINA 7A10) must be taken prior to the fall semester. See Application Procedure below.

** These are regular courses in the masters programs.

Students should plan their courses so core Accounting (ACCT 6331 or FINA 6A31), core Finance (FINA 6A35), and Valuation (FINA 7A10) are completed prior to the fall semester. Capital Markets (FINA 7A20) and Portfolio Theory and Practice (FINA 7A23) can be taken before, during, or after the Cougar Fund courses (FINA 7323).

Specialized Course Descriptions

The Cougar Investment Fund is a $12 million private investment fund managed by students enrolled in FINA 7323: Applied Equity Fund Management. This course sequence offers 9 credit hours and requires a 12-month commitment beginning at the start of the fall semester and terminating at the end of the following summer semester. Students who take this course must also register for the 1.5 credit hour course FINA 7A37: Corporate Strategy—Equity Fund Management.

Students in the Applied Equity Fund Management course are the security analysts and portfolio managers for the Cougar Investment Fund. As teams of analysts and portfolio managers, students will build valuation models, make security selections, monitor compliance with fund objectives, and perform the monitoring and reporting duties necessary in the management of a private investment fund. This experience requires that students synthesize and apply all the main skills covered in the other graduate courses in Finance. Class meetings often involve lecture material or speakers. Students should plan for significant outside time to be spent on work for the Fund.

The Corporate Strategy—Equity Fund Management course covers topics relating to the business models, industry structure and the competitive environment for firms within those industries. Specific attention will be paid to the types of strategies firms can adopt in cooperating with partners and competing with rivals. Cases will be utilized to illustrate the consequences of the strategic choices firms can make. Students will come to recognize the strategies companies follow, and the implications of those strategies for corporate value creation.


Pre-requisite for these courses is Managerial Finance (FINA 6A35 1.5cr).

Application Procedure

Applications open on March 1 and materials must be submitted by March 31 of the calendar year in which admission is sought — i.e., applications are taken in March for the academic year that begins the following September. Decisions will be made in early April. Enrollment is limited to 16-18 students. On-campus MBA and MS Finance students who have taken FINA 7A10 by the end of the current spring semester are eligible to apply.

To apply, please send an email to Professor George ( with the subject line: CIF Application. The email must have the following contents. The body of the email must include your (i) full name, (ii) your undergraduate institution and major, (iii) a list of the courses and instructors you are taking in the current spring semester, and (iv) a statement of 50 words or less explaining why you want to participate in the Cougar Investment Fund (e.g., how it fits with your career plans). The email must also have two attachments: your résumé and a download from the registration system of your MBA/MSF grades so far.

Be advised that the ethical standards are high in this program--the same as those of professional investment managers--because we are managing millions of dollars of other people's money. A reputation for honesty and ethical behavior is our primary asset, and our investors' interests come before our own. Therefore, plagiarism and other forms of academic misconduct will not be tolerated, and a finding of academic misconduct will result in academic sanctions and discontinuation from the Graduate Certificate in Financial Services Management program. Refer to the UH Academic Honesty Policy for details on what constitutes academic misconduct.