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Master of Science in Computational Finance (MSCF) at Carnegie Mellon University

Master of Science in Computational Finance (MSCF) at Carnegie Mellon University

After working for a few years in the financial industry, I was looking for a master’s program that could teach me the quantitative tools required to advance in this field. I recently graduated from the MSCF program in December 2019, and I am not disappointed to have chosen this degree. The program helped me develop the skill sets and industry connections required to succeed in the ever-changing and increasingly complex financial industry. I found all the support I needed to succeed, both in terms of academics and career development. The program has a great team of dedicated professors, career and academic counselors, classmates and student clubs. As the previous reviews mention, the program is worth the time and money invested in it.
I graduated from MSCF in December 2019, and I highly recommend anyone who's considering an MFE program to apply for MSCF.

My favorite thing about MSCF is the curriculum. During my summer internship, I truly was using everything I learned in class. The curriculum is always up to date and practical to ensure the students' success in their careers. In addition, the career service is exceptional. The staff will do everything to help you secure a job.

MSCF is also highly selective so you'll take classes with some of the smartest and brightest students from all over the world. It takes a lot of effort to succeed in the program, but by the time you graduate, you'll be 100% prepared for your career and build friendships that will last life time!
After gaining a few years of working experience in accounting and business valuation, I decided to switch my career to quantitative. Joining MSCF is one of the best choices that I ever made.
This is a totally new field for me. Before the program, I thought I learned enough for finance, which turned out to be not true. There is a lot more to learn in the program. MSCF provides a wide range of subjects to every student and prepares students well in academics for their careers. MSCF also adjusts the curriculum to meet the needs of the industries, such as multiple machine learning courses are in the curriculum.
MSCF career services are also extraordinary, comparing to some other schools' programs from what I observed.
Even the tuition is a bit higher, MSCF is totally worthy, considering the value I got from this program.
I just graduated from the MSCF Pittsburgh campus in December 2019. I went straight from my undergraduate study to this program. Having an engineering undergraduate background, I am very grateful to have joined the program. I did not have any experience in finance, financial mathematics and economic study at all. This program well-exposed me to these areas and well-prepared me to find a quant job on the investment banking side. The program's focus on presentation and communication classes help me stand out in my internship program.
Having worked for a few years after my undergraduate degree, going back for my Masters felt like a huge investment. I was giving up my career, current salary, and on top of that would be paying rent and tuition. I knew that if I was going to switch careers and give up everything I was making now that I would not settle for the best program and school. I was looking to maximize my return.

I quickly realized that CMU's MSCF program offered the best focus on career services while integrating industry relevant education in the coursework. It was evident from the breadth of information and transparency about their employment statistics that I could ensure this switch would work out net positive for me. I'm incredibly happy that I ended up at MSCF and feel that the investment has already paid off two-fold.
I graduated from MSCF in December 2019. The best part about MSCF at CMU is that they value student feedback and make changes to the curriculum every year. MSCF steering committee and the faculty are always in touch with industry practitioners.
Recent grad grateful to have chosen CMU. This program is fantastic on account of the caliber of student across both Pittsburgh and New York campuses. As someone with a more entrepreneurial and less quant/finance background coming in, I understood how effective teams depend on a diverse set of skills often coming from different people. As part of this program, I had the opportunity to work with an incredible number of highly intelligent and motivated young professionals. Not only did that make group projects very enjoyable, but it also opened up the possibility for collaboration on projects outside of class as well. For example, two colleagues and I applied some of the material learned in our Machine Learning course to a crypto trading project, which has produced interesting results! To add to it, this program has a fantastic Machine Learning curricula. 1) Because along with Stanford, Berkeley and MIT you are at a center of AI and Machine Learning itself 2) Professor G'Sell is amazing and helps transition students from very limited knowledge of ML to interesting applications with more serious treatment of the material and programs.
I graduated MSCF in December 2018. I had a tremendous experience at Carnegie Mellon and thank classmates, teachers, counselors, and administrators for making my schooling memorable.

Before going into the top ranked program, I was expecting excellent teachers and career services. My expectations were exceeded, and I can confidently say this program is worth every penny. Beyond my expectations, I further found that the academic advisors and administrators provided a feeling of home by offering in depth and personalized guidance, passion for each individual's journey, and an environment to breed success.

I have attained my dream job through the program and strongly suggest undergraduates and early career professionals to consider the opportunities MSCF can provide.
I graduated from the MSCF program in December 2018 and I was on the NYC campus. My experience with the MSCF program was very positive. I joined the program hoping to gain more quantitative knowledge and technical skills to peruse a career in a pure quant filed, and I’m now working as a Data Scientist in Silicon Valley.


Background: I graduated from the UC system with BS degrees in Business and Statistics, and directly joined the program without full-time experience. I had a variety of internship experience in financial services, such as commercial banking, brokerage and risk consulting.

Curriculum: The program curriculum can be split into four branches: financial mathematics, Statistics and Machine Learning, Computer Science, and Finance and Business. This curriculum is very updated to reflect the change in the financial industry and it aims to equip MSCF students with not only quantitative skills but also soft skills such as communication and presentation.

Career Service: Each campus has their assigned career counselors who are available for 1-on-1 appointment for resume editing, mock interviews, and general career guidance. In addition, the MSCF program offers many career opportunities through on-campus interviews, which are exclusive to MSCF students. The program also helps students to connect with alumni, which adds more career opportunities.

Personal Experience:
1. The Staff on campus really cares for every student. Going through this program is very stressful: hard classes, heavy workload, pressure for finding jobs, etc. It is very helpful that there are people there to help you with any issue you have, either on an academic level or personal level.
2. Due to lack to strong math foundation, I was having a very hard time during both stochastic calculus classes. My professors and academic advisor noticed the problem and offered me weekly tutoring sessions with a department Ph.D. candidate free of charge. Moreover, almost every difficult class has tutoring sessions offered by the TA. This program is really trying to help us succeed.
3. The program takes students and alumni opinion very seriously. There are multiple Town Hall meetings where you can go to make your voice heard about any issues you have with the program, and MSCF also updates its curriculum based on alumni feedback after every year.
4. The broad curriculum of the MSCF really makes it possible for its graduates to peruse a career outside of quant finance. For me, what’s covered in Data Science and Machine Learning classes, together with the strong CS classes, was good enough for me to land a job in tech.

All in all, the MSCF program really is a program that cares and tries its best to help students to be successful. I highly recommend it.
As an experienced student who just graduated, I love this program and enjoyed every minute of it very much. I got enrolled as a part-time student with years of experience as a quant in the financial industry. However, I still found the program very informative and it broadened my knowledge horizon with up-to-date materials and topics taught in the classes. The course design is always trying to catch if not lead the trend of this industry. I felt it very worthy to go back to school for this program after so many years of profession.

I have also learned and harvested a lot from the people of this program. Professors and other faculties do care about each of the students. They know each of our names, backgrounds, and to some extent, personalities. Professors and academic faculties spare no efforts on teaching, trying to prepare us as much as possible, while the career service faculties do whatever they can to help students locate their ideal positions. I am very grateful to them for their endless commitment. Also, I really feel amazed at the resources this program provided. I got my internship from a start-up by one of our alumni, and a full-time job offer from another one too!

Peer classmates are even more lovely. Each of the ~100 students has his/her own strengths worthy of appreciation. This brought pretty much fun when we worked on group projects/homework. What could be more touching to you when your team members provided to back you up and encouraged you when they knew you had a job interview tomorrow? I think that is the partial reason why in this highly competitive industry, MSCF network could stay strong and last for long.
I graduated from MSCF in December 2019.

Background: Stats undergrad from a non top tier US school and worked for a year at a large bank in a back office role.

Goals: I wanted to make the switch to a front office position without having to wait several years for my career to develop. Also, networking was never one of my strengths to leverage. Finally, I always wanted to get more quant training and CMU’s program had been my top choice.

My experience in the MSCF was excellent. I was challenged both academically and physically – I couldn’t avoid putting on a few pounds. Ultimately, I achieved all the goals I had set up for myself.

I chose MSCF for a few reasons, which were all validated after I attended the program. First, the location in New York provides real value not only in terms of networking but also because most firms are also located in NY. Second, the reputation of the program is nonpareil. Everyone I spoke to from the industry had a positive opinion of MSCF which speaks to the quality of the graduates. Most importantly, however, the curriculum is a constant work in progress. As Jordan mentioned previously, the school actively solicits the student’s opinion to make classes as relevant as possible to current industry trends without neglecting core skills that are necessary for every quant.

I had a great time in the MSCF. Looking back, I can safely say I came out with an invaluable experience that I will always cherish. I’ve made a lot of friends and as a bonus, I did end up learning a bit of Mandarin from my classmates – mostly bad words, but certainly due to no fault of mine!
The MSCF program is an outstanding learning experience which I cannot recommend enough. I studied at the NY campus and thoroughly enjoyed the challenging academic environment and gained an invaluable beginning to my career in the financial services industry. I had previously worked for a year as a software engineer and the program was the perfect launching point for me to move into finance.

The staff and faculty have created a truly world class program. The classes are created and run just for the MSCF program, creating a tailored experience with highly relevant projects and homework. The faculty and staff are highly receptive to feedback and genuinely want to improve the classes and program. I was particularly happy with the guest lecturers and speakers who brought real world experience to the classroom.

The career opportunities from being part of the MSCF program are outstanding. There is nowhere with a better reputation in the financial services industry. The career services office works hard to give students the tools, information, and opportunities needed to find their ideal role. I am 100% happy with the job I found due to the tools given to me by the MSCF program.

With the dedicated classes, everyone takes the same classes. Studying with the same set of students creates a small and tight-knit network of classmates, which forms the foundation of a highly engaging learning environment. Perhaps one of the best aspects of the program are the ridiculously smart students that join. I constantly felt pushed to study harder while being able to learn from peers who knew more than me. Many peers become friends forged through the experience of struggling through the challenging coursework together.
Carnegie Mellon’s MSCF is a phenomenal program that I would recommend to anyone that is pursuing a career in quantitative finance. The curriculum, faculty, and professors cohesively work together to create a program that equips students with the education and tools that are needed to excel in the financial industry. The students in the program are a group of carefully selected, diverse, and brilliant minds that make the program all the more rewarding.

Prior to joining MSCF, I worked in New York at a financial services company in a programming role. In an effort to sharpen my mathematical and statistical knowledge, I joined the MSCF program with a very specific dream job in mind. A year and a half later, I can happily say that I obtained the exact position that I set out to acquire, in addition to developing new connections and learning new skill sets that will benefit me far into the future. I graduated from the program in December 2017.

The fact that CMU offers the program in New York is an impressive benefit of the program. Situated in the heart of the Financial District in downtown Manhattan, the campus’s proximity to industry is of great value. The campus itself hosts convenient technologies that affords students added convenience and flexibility in their learning styles, such as immediate lecture recording and uploading, conferences rooms equipped with large televisions and teleconferencing equipment, and classrooms with video cameras and microphones for real-time communication with the Pittsburgh campus during lectures (all of the same are also at the Pittsburgh campus).

Professors in the program are selected from the mathematics, statistics, and computer science departments, as well as from CMU’s business school. The professors write customized courses for the MSCF program, and all work together to create a cohesive program that advances in a systematic way across the four disciplines. Additionally, guest speakers from the industry are frequently invited to give presentations that complement the education in a practical way that is hard to find elsewhere in a rigorous academic curriculum. The net result is a seamless communication of ideas across disciplines, making complex ideas much easier to understand and creating a knowledge base that will serve your career for years to come.
Graduated from MSCF Dec 2017

Background: Finance and CS undergrad from a non top tier US school. I worked for 2 years at a small Asset Management Firm (1.5 Billion AUM) as a developer/FI trader/Research. Since it was a small firm, I had a diverse set of responsibilities.

Goals: I decided to go to the program(and leave my well-paid job in a front office position) to broaden the scope of my knowledge of the quant side of the industry and to increase my statistics & probability knowledge.

Overall, I am very pleased with my experience with the MSCF program. The knowledge I gained from my the program has given me a strong, reputable foundation from which to begin my career. It also helped me get an internship and eventually a full-time offer to a top tier bulge bracket bank on a trading desk coding/researching all day. In the end, I decided I wanted to be back on the buy side and accepted a research position.

Curriculum: The most important feature is the fact that the program is always evolving to fit the needs of the industry. Even though Quant Finance is a niche field it covers a broad array of topics, the MSCF program does an amazing job of developing and tying together every body of knowledge(CS, Finance, Statistics, Math) especially Statistics.

The professors are world class and make complex topics easy to digest. Professor Max G'Sell, Chad Schafer, Javier Pena, and Bill Hrusa were particularly outstanding.

The administration was helpful from the first day to the last and is focused on helping the students achieve their goals.

The friendships that were made during the long hours spent studying will be lifelong.
I graduated from MSCF Dec 2017. I came from an economics background and wanted to switch to quant finance. I came, studied, graduated, and got hired in New York. Best decision ever!

Career: The MSCF brand and network goes a long way. It is very feasible to get interviews with the top firms. The career services are extremely helpful and really help with guidance. However, once you have your foot in the door, it is all up to you. You have to work very hard to pass all interview rounds. The program gives you all the opportunities to succeed but you have to hustle, network, be prepared, and have some luck.

Curriculum: I came to this program because of the curriculum. They are always adapting to the employers' needs and very receptive to feedback from students. Machine learning and data science courses have been added to meet the demand. The faculty is amazing! Having access to the different CMU departments gives MSCF the best professors. Courses are intense and short. You get a good overview of the field, know what is important and practical. If you need to apply something or solve a problem later at work you will know where to dig deeper.

As it has been mentioned, the quality of students is amazing. If you want to be around the best this is the place. A couple of students will find the program not too bad, easy and will get As everywhere. However, even at this level there is a distribution, I can tell you that the majority of us found this to be a very intense and difficult program. What makes it insane is the simultaneous recruiting you have to be doing at the same time as the coursework.
MSCF is a top quant fin program perfect for students from non-target schools to start a career in high finance. A factory or rather a refinery of brain machines, the program admits and graduates an intelligent, selective, and diverse pool of students each year. The student body has become more diverse and better year over year, which is great. The program places a huge emphasis on the trading side of the business and data analytics. If you fancy jobs in banking side of the business, forget about it. 16 months of intense studying could be tedious and it is inevitable that you will gain a few pounds. However, the degree could lead to some highly coveted jobs in the industry around the world. The average compensation of jobs that graduates get is commensurate with the cost of the program with extras.
I graduated from CMU MSCF NYC Capus Dec 2016 and am currently working as a strats in a Bulge Bracket base in NYC. My background: undergraduate major in financial engineering in Wuhan University, China. Personally, CMU MSCF is undoubtedly the best MFE program. I'd like to eleborate from three different perspectives:

1. career service and faculty: Without reservation, MSCF provides world-class career service especially in NYC campus. With tens of years experience in Bulge Bracket like Goldman Sachs, our career advisor Sondi tries to leverage her expertise to help us match suitable jobs. She CARES every student and knows almost all the recent year graduates' placements in her mind. Besides, both she and Rick have a VERY broad practical relationship with almost all the BB on the street. In addition to their personal "powerfulness", MSCF organize helpful On-Campus Recruiting on a regular yearly basis, which will direct most of MSCF students to their desired companies. Last but not least, we have very supportive academic and administrative advisor like Diffy, who has dedicated herself for MSCF for over TEN years. Together with many responsive and responsible professors like Shreve. I can even wrote a paper to depict how best our professors are.

2. classmates quality: In MSCF, it is almost guaranteed that you will work with the top-tier student around the world and especially for Chinese students. It's pretty common to see your classmates who used to be the gold medal holder of National Mathematic/Computer Science Competition. It's also pretty common to see your classmates with a lot of fancy internships or fancy experiences. I'd say many of them had already been capable to be a Quant/Trader before they came to the program. Still, they came here to become better and stronger. Usually, ideas might spark even on your way home with classmates.

3. curriculum: Our courses are not the most difficult but are the most practical and useful for your future career. We invite the practitioner from time to time to bring the up-to-date info on the Street. Besides, our BOARD Committee will study our curriculum every year to see whether we need to adjust. For example, starting from our year, we had a new Machine Learning II course compared with previous graduates, which covers a lot of hot interview topics.

In the end, I'd say, if you're seeking a career in general finance industry like IBD or Equity research, MSCF might not be a good fit for your, but if you dream to be a Quant/Trader/Risk Manager, MSCF is definitely the Best and you'll not regret coming here.
I graduated from MSCF in December 2016. Prior to this program, I did my undergrad in Canada, majoring in Math Finance and Stats, and worked in Toronto for one year. I chose this program out of other MFE programs because of its curriculum focus on Stochastic Calculus and Programming and its reputation in the quantitative finance industry.

The faculty and professors care about every student, listen to students’ voice, and are always willing to help. Professors will ask students about their job applications, offer advice on interviews, and even adjust the workload for students if there are too many stressful interviews going on. The program is also very flexible and adapts itself to the evolving quant finance industry. For example, after recognizing the trend of machine learning in the industry, the program implemented two machine learning courses in the curriculum.

The program is indeed intense, fast-paced and requires good time management skills to handle course work, job applications, and interviews at the same time, but after going through all the pressure and hard work, you will realize how much you have learned and grown during the 16 months.
I graduated from MSCF in December 2016. I entered this program directly after my college where I majored in mathematics and economics.

The program is really well designed and has great career service. This is absolutely a good news for international students like me. The curriculum is comprehensive and adjusted based on the hot topics in the industry. The program committee responses quickly to our feedback (they even opened a totally new course Machine Learning 2 just because we recommended it).

Other than the curriculum, the career advisor (thank you Sondi!) is extremely helpful. Here you will learn how to behave professionally, which is valuable for fresh grads.

With the great CS reputation of CMU and MSCF's reputation on the street, your career choices would be broader than you think (Investment banks, hedge fund, algo-trading firms and even technology firms in Silicon Valley).
Like the below posters JohnPaul and Claudia, I also graduated MSCF in December 2015. My background was straight out of NYU undergrad, majoring in Mathematics. I chose the program because I thought it would provide the best complement to my theoretical math major so that I could obtain a reputable job in the quantitative finance industry.

All the previous posters have already pointed out the amazing things going on in this program, so I'm trying to keep this post as least redundant as possible. To judge how effective the program was for me, I simply need to ask myself: "Would I be able to get to where I am now if I committed my tuition and 1.5 years of time elsewhere?" And I'm very confident the answer to that is no. MSCF was certainly a big life-changer for me and, without doubt in my mind, a great investment.
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