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Columbia University - Masters in Financial Engineering

Columbia University - Masters in Financial Engineering

Headline
Does its job.
Class of
2023
1. Admission Process
Quickest decision I received. Nothing out of ordinary.

2. Course/Instruction Quality
I come from Math background and did not know much about quant finance industry before coming into the program, so keep that in mind.
Many of the courses did not meet my expectations. Some were unclear in their exposition, some did not provide much insight, and some were ridden with errors and typos. There are many courses where you're in pretty good hands and clearly what you'll get out of the courses will depend a lot on your experience and technical maturity, but overall, I feel several courses suffer from mediocre materials and nonchalant (busy? incompetent?) professors and TAs.

That said, this is Columbia after all and there are several excellent courses and professors if you look hard enough in IEOR/CS/MATH departments that will keep you busy through 3 semesters.

3. Career Service Support
I don't think I've used or benefited much from it. Did get some emails from great firms through the resume book. Many deplore the career service of this program, and sure, I would have benefited from some materials and guidelines to prepare for job hunting before the start of the program, (I had no idea BBs recruit so early and I started my application around October) but I'm not sure if it's fair to ask much more than that. I feel securing a job comes down to your preparedness, nothing more and nothing less. (Granted, I don't have enough info about how quant recruiting works other than regular application and about what other programs career support offers, so maybe it is as bad as others say it is.)

4. Overall
Luckily, I got what I wanted out of the program, and believe have developed a good foundation to build upon throughout my career. Do I think it's the best quant program out there? Probably not. Do I think other 'top' programs outside NYC are a much better option to break into the industry? I doubt it. The program will do its part of the job well enough if you do yours.
Recommendation
Yes, I would recommend this program to a friend
Students Quality
4.00 star(s)
Courses/Instructors
4.00 star(s)
Career Services
3.00 star(s)
Headline
If you think your life is too smooth right now, try Columbia MFE!
Class of
2024
1. Career service with advanced AI techniques (tutors will use chatgpt to edit your resume)
2. Fast-selling career events, tickets are often sold out very quickly and no spot is reserved for FE (real target) students
3. Some professors' lectures (core module) are like bringing me back to my childhood. (Poor lectures, terrible recordings, poor notes, vague definitions and hard questions)
4. More opportunities to be with your family after graduation. Lower employment rate compared to other Top quant programs means you have to go back to your mother country.
Recommendation
No, I would not recommend this program to a friend
Students Quality
4.00 star(s)
Courses/Instructors
2.00 star(s)
Career Services
1.00 star(s)
Reviewed by Verified Member
Headline
Great Peers and Professors, Career Guidance can be better
Class of
2017
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Electrical Engineering from the best engineering institute in India. Two years of experience as a Quant in one of the big sell side firms.

Did you get admitted to other programs?
Yes. I applied to Columbia MFE & CMU MSCF programs. I got admitted to both of them.

Tell us about the application process at this program
Standard application form, followed by an informal interview with one of the professors in the department.

Does this program offer refresher courses for incoming students? How useful was it?
There was a 2 week refresher course to bring us up to speed with Statistics and basic Math. There was also a Professional Development course to cover resume writing and LinkedIn, which is useful for candidates who don't have a lot of experience with the US job hunting experience.

Tell us about the courses selection in this program. Any special courses you like?
The mandatory courses covered the basics - Machine Learning, Big Data, Stochastic Calculus, Data Analysis, Monte Carlo Simulation etc.,
The electives gave us the exposure to the industry - FX Markets, Algo Trading, Advanced Programming, Asset Allocation etc,

Tell us about the quality of teaching
Most of the professors here are some of the smartest you will come across.

Materials used in the program
A combination of presentations, recorded videos, class notes and reference books.

Programming component of the program
Matlab/Python/C++ - Mostly you can choose any programming language to do your assignments and projects. There were also a couple of courses where we could improve our programming skills

Projects
Some of the courses had some course projects associated with them, though all of them were pretty minor.

Career service
Got a few calls from the resume book, but this largely depends on your prior experience. There are networking events, some organised by the program. The career coaches are very busy and have very little time for one-on-one interactions and giving customised feedback. Much of the internship/full time job finding process would be applying for companies on your own and converting them in the interviews.

What do you like about the program?
Great professors and excellent and competitive peers. Location being in NYC is a huge plus and the brand value of the program definitely carries some weightage. Most of the courses are catered for us to be industry and interview ready. So, if a candidate is on top of his/her courses and resume, it would be a huge plus for the interviews.

What DON’T you like about the program?
Not enough help from the career placement team. There will be lots of competition across different programs and universities and I wish we were given some additional edge in the internship hunting process.

Suggestions for the program to make it better
More help from the career placement team.

What are your current job status? What are you looking for?
I worked for 5 years as a quant at one of the big sell side banks. Currently working as a buy side quant for 2 years.
Recommendation
Yes, I would recommend this program to a friend
Students Quality
5.00 star(s)
Courses/Instructors
5.00 star(s)
Career Services
2.00 star(s)
Headline
Don't Apply
Class of
2023
I'm finishing the program in December and it was not good at all, especially when looking for a job/internship. Overcrowded networking events, non-existent prep for interviews, wasted time on "practitionerseries" that add no value and waste time. Basically, if you come here, you will have to find a job on your own with no support from the school; hope you knew some people in the industry before you joined. Otherwise, your best bet is ending up at a bank in the back office on risk.

The actual education is also a pretty subpar product. I can read lecture notes for free online that are more clear concise than what is provided by professors. Almost every class, you spend your time listening to a professor reading off the notes themselves and running through the information as fast as they can in a classroom before having you teach yourself on the homework/recitations. Some professors (plural) actually left teaching to their TAs by the end of the semesters. Bad product all around.

I am writing this in Nov 2023.
Recommendation
No, I would not recommend this program to a friend
Students Quality
4.00 star(s)
Courses/Instructors
2.00 star(s)
Career Services
1.00 star(s)
Class of
2018
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Electronics engineer from a premier institute in India. Plenty of experience as a trader in financial markets.
Current student at Columbia MSFE program(03/13/2017)

Did you get admitted to other programs?
Yes. Columbia was the top on my list though. Had offers from GaTech and a few others.

Tell us about the application process at this program
Smooth interview process. Focuses more on the GRE Quant score compared to other programs.

Does this program offer refresher courses for incoming students? How useful was it?
There was a 15 day refresher course, but it was quite basic really. Not sure what would have helped though, because in my case I was coming back to academics after a large break. Professional Development course to cover basic resume writing/Linkedin profile etc. which every other program has as well.

Tell us about the courses selection in this program. Any special courses you like?
ML, Optimization, Stochastic Calculus, Data Analysis - standard courses. There are a few good buy side courses as well, where you get a little hands on experience with some good projects - Asset Allocation and Algo Trading.

Tell us about the quality of teaching
Some professors here are quite brilliant I think. Some are alright when it comes to teaching. As said before - all do good work.

Materials used in the program
Presentations, recorded videos, class notes, some reference books.

Programming component of the program
Matlab/Python/C++ - Mostly you can choose any programming language to do your assignments and projects. Programming I thought was the easiest skill to pick up here.

Projects
I have taken some good projects in Asset Allocation and algorithmic trading classes so far. Plan to do a few more in machine learning.

Career service
Got a few calls from the resume book - even without applying for the positions, but I think it depends on the past experience you have as well. There are plenty of networking events, plus you will be in New York. You will definitely get interviews from top firms if you are here, but to convert them will be up to you.

Can you comment on the social interaction between students of different ethnics, nationalities in the program?
I think this could be better.

What do you like about the program?
Standard courses which cover all the basics needed in Quantitative finance. Enough flexibility to choose from whatever add on skill you want to acquire.

What DON’T you like about the program?
Not enough focus on the buy side. Also, I wish I knew how important statistics were before coming here. Some earlier interviews would have gone much more smoothly.

Suggestions for the program to make it better
Better refresher course. Add a few really good programming courses as well.

What are your current job status? What are you looking for?
Will be doing my internship at a buy side firm in the summer. Looking for full time opportunities later on.
Class of
2015
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Finance background, no work experience before the program.

Did you get admitted to other programs?
Cornell MFE, Chicago MSFM.

Why did you choose this program (over others, if applicable)?
Not a difficult choice.

Tell us about the application process at this program
There was no problem, a timely process.

Programs like Baruch MFE, UCB MFE have refresher courses for incoming students. Does this program offer such courses? How useful was it?
They used to have pre term. But it was cancelled.

Tell us about the courses selection in this program. Any special courses you like?
Python/SQL. Data Analysis, Optimization for FE, Continuous-time Models, Quantitative Risk Management.

Tell us about the quality of teaching
The quality of teaching was very good. Teaching assistants were very responsible. They were changing to teach more practical stuff on statistics and programming rather than just pricing.

Materials used in the program
Primarily professor lecture notes.

Programming component of the program
Python, C++, R, Matlab. They were shifting to practical programming tools like Python/R, which was pretty helpful for job interview.

Projects
In the Fall Semester mostly individual homework. Group and individual projects on various topics are done in the Spring esp on selective courses. Those courses are not as difficult as core courses.

Career service
Mainly the Center for Career Education at Columbia, also MSFE Resume Book, some positions through the department.

Can you comment on the social interaction between students of different ethnics, nationalities in the program?
Good social interaction between different ethnical groups and nationalities. Of course, people having the same mother language would prefer communicating more in it to people from their countries rather than in English.

What do you like about the program?
Good brand, very good faculty, courses are practical.

What DON’T you like about the program?
Career service is not that strong compared to CMU/Baruch etc.

Suggestions for the program to make it better
Establish better relationships with the financial industry in order to improve career placement.

What are your current job status? What are you looking for?
Entry level at Morgan Stanley.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Mathematics and Economics background with no work experience prior to the program - only 1 internship.
I studied full-time in the program from 7/2009-5/2010

Did you get admitted to other programs?
Cornell MFE, CMU MSCF, LSE Applicable Math.

Why did you choose this program (over others, if applicable)?
Best brand name among offers.

Tell us about the application process at this program
There was no problem, a timely email response.

Programs like Baruch MFE, UCB MFE have refresher courses for incoming students. Does this program offer such courses? How useful was it?
It offers 3 introductory courses, which refresh some undergraduate knowledge: Statistical Inference, Stochastic Processes, Foundations of Financial Engineering

Tell us about the courses selection in this program. Any special courses you like?
Security Pricing, Data Analysis, Continuous-time Models, Quantitative Risk Management.

Tell us about the quality of teaching
The quality of teaching was good, as professors have practical experience in finance. Teaching assistants are helpful for homework assignments.

Materials used in the program
Primarily professor lecture notes. Textbooks used mainly as reference, or recommended reading, rarely required.

Programming component of the program
Matlab, Excel VBA, C++, S-Plus, Java. A good amount of programming is done- about 1/2 of assigned problems.

Projects
In the Fall Semester only individual homeworks. Group and individual projects on various topics are done in the Spring.

Career service
Mainly the Center for Career Education at Columbia, also MSFE Resume Book, some positions through the department.

Can you comment on the social interaction between students of different ethnics, nationalities in the program?
Good social interaction between different ethnical groups and nationalities. Of course, people having the same mother language would prefer communicating more in it to people from their countries rather than in English.

What do you like about the program?
Prestigious academic institution, very good faculty.

What DON’T you like about the program?
Not stellar career service.

Suggestions for the program to make it better
Establish better relationships with the financial industry in order to improve career placement. Even more core courses.

What are your current job status? What are you looking for?
Still looking for a position in Structuring/Risk management and others.
  • Anonymous
  • 4.00 star(s)
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Majored in Applied Math in Columbia and had two summer internships at Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs.
I studied full-time in the program from 07/2009-05/2010

Did you get admitted to other programs?
Yes, NYU Math Finance and NYU-Poly MFE.

Why did you choose this program (over others, if applicable)?
Its reputation and my love for the Columbia community that I developed as an undergrad.
Tell us about the application process at this program
Very timely process

Does this program offer refresher courses for incoming students? How useful was it?
They had a stat course, a stochastic processes course, and an intro to financial engineering course, all of which were very useful.

Tell us about the courses selection in this program. Any special courses you like?
Optimization, monte carlo, data analysis, continuous time models... all very useful.

Tell us about the quality of teaching
Some were great and some were not so great. All were brilliant though.

Materials used in the program
Mainly class notes. Few textbooks were used.

Programming component of the program
Matlab, vba, c++, sql. There was a decent amount.

Projects
There weren't many projects in the courses I took. There were many hw assignments.

Career service
They had a resume book, and a career website. There were also many networking events. Columbia is relatively good at placing people, but does not do so well in a bad economy.

Can you comment on the social interaction between students of different ethnics, nationalities in the program?
There were some language barriers, but everyone seemed to get along just fine.

What do you like about the program?
Smart teachers who have worked in the industry.

What DON’T you like about the program?
Some of the teachers could be better at teaching.

Suggestions for the program to make it better
Perhaps have online notes for each class to allow students the opportunity to teach themselves.

What are your current job status? What are you looking for?
I will be working at Morgan Stanley in July 2010
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