Education

Some students at the University of Kentucky will have a chance to manage a portion of the school’s endowment.

The program is part of the university’s new Master’s in Science in Finance. Nineteen students are enrolled in the program and the degree is the only one of its kind in the state. Undergraduate degrees in finance exist in Kentucky but not at the graduate level.

Brad Jordan, chairman of the Department of Finance and Quantitative Methods at UK, says a key feature of the program is students managing $5 million of the school’s money.

“If they make good decisions, we prosper and if we make bad decisions we don’t,” he says.

Jordan says there were definitely concerns about hiring students to manage a portion of the school’s finances. But he says the university has a smaller, similar program that’s been in place for 20 years.

“And in fact, that helped when we approached the trustees of the University of Kentucky with a proposal for 23-year-old students to manage $5 million,” he says. “That raised some eyebrows.”

UK’s endowment is more than $1 billion — the largest of all colleges and universities in the state.

Kentucky is not a hub for finance jobs – many students in the program will most likely leave the state after graduation. But Jordan says the benefit of attending the program for Kentuckians is the cheaper tuition compared to schools in financial hubs such as New York or Boston. The tuition and fees for a Kentucky resident to attend the 10-month program is approximately $26,000.

The program was designed for students who majored in a different field — the sciences or humanities, for example, and realize they want a career in money management.

More than half of the students enrolled in the program are from other countries, mainly China. And most of UK’s international students are from China as well.

“They’re students who are mostly already here at the University of Kentucky and are thinking about finance careers in their home countries,” says Jordan.

Classes begin Wednesday, August 23.

Roxanne Scott covers the economy for WFPL News.