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

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

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.
I graduated from MSCF in December 2015. I entered the program with a BS in Physics and an MA in Mathematics. Even with a quantitative background, the program was a good challenge. Over that year and a half the program helped me to grow professionally, and gave me the opportunities I was looking to obtain.

I think the strongest point of this program is how invested the school is in each of its students' success. The program constantly evolves in order to meet the skills demanded by the dynamic quant finance industry. As an example, in recent years more and more firms have been leveraging machine learning in their investment process. The programs response to this demand was to implement two courses in that field.

The career services prepare you for interviews and put you in position to get the jobs you want. I wanted to get a position in research at a hedge fund or prop shop and this program helped me get there.
I completed the MSCF program in December 2015. I had a BA in Economics and worked at a brokerage for a couple years before I decided that I wanted something more challenging, hence my decision to apply for CMU. I attended the Pittsburgh campus and we had great student activities over there.

You will hear this over and over again. This program is intense, very fast-paced and at many instances very stressful. You have to make sure you have superb time management skills to juggle between lectures, assignments and recruiting. Most people in the program are very friendly and be sure to ask for help if you need it.

The program and career opportunities center are always very helpful and they all want you to succeed. One thing that people need to leverage more is the Alumni network. Networking is an important aspect in your career and the Tepper Alumni Network is a great start for that.

My goal for this program was to get into S&T, which this program did help me achieve. As you start your career, you will be pleasantly surprised at how much the MSCF name stands out.
I graduated from the MSCF program in Dec 2013 from the Pittsburgh program. I had an undergrad degree in Electrical Engg from IIT Madras and did work at Morgan Stanley, India for 3 years. I had a very tough decision to make between the top MBA schools in India and the MSCF program. In hindsight I feel, it was the best decision of my life.

The 16 months I spent in Pittsburgh were amazing with a number of memorable moments to relish for the rest of my life. I made great friends, endured a lot of stress, had a a lot of fun and most importantly learnt a lot. In all, the program exceeded all expectations I had when I walked in on the first day.

I totally agree with all the reviews here about how friendly everyone around is. CMU has undoubtedly the best career services who are willing to go the extra mile, to listen to you and to understand your specific career objectives. I did receive a lot of help with my career search from them, second years and the broad Alumni network that CMU has built over the past decade.

The education here is top class. Faculty here are very friendly and are willing to help you if you are struggling in a particular area/subject. The help you get from the student services is amazing too. They listen to every complaint you can possibly make and take prompt action. Also, not to mention the amount of work that goes behind the scenes to organise social events and to make every moment of the MSCF journey fun and memorable.

The homework is very tedious and do expect to be spending 6-10 hrs (depending on your background) everyday on the homework. It does get a little out of hand sometimes with all the recruiting and networking one has to do to get a great job in Finance. Personally, I felt I was learning twice as much doing the homework. In most of the cases it was a great value add to the amazing lectures we have.

To add to all this, the program is housed inside the Tepper School of Business. There are a lot of opportunities to interact with the more experienced MBA class, take up leadership positions in clubs and develop your soft skills. One can develop an all round personality which is very crucial for a successful career.

The only drawback:
There is a lot to be learnt and experienced in the MSCF program. But there is very little time at hand. The program being only 16 months adds to additional pressure finding a job in your last semester and also doing the advanced course work. This has in the past brought a lot of criticism and negative reviews to this program. But, at the end of the day, you would feel a sense of achievement having been through this tough patch. Year on year many students have done it in the toughest of times and I don't see a reason why it can't be done. On the bright side, you will be prepped up for the tough careers you will be getting into.

Things happen at a very fast pace in the MSCF program. It is so easy to get lost, not knowing what to do and just struggle to catch up with the homework. You have to be on your toes every single day for 3 semesters. If you think spending $100K on a program and then expect a pay of $100K at the end of 16 months without effort, think again. Such arbitrages don't exist in this world especially in Finance.

Over a period of time, CMU MSCF program has evolved into a great ecosystem where you get rewarded for all the efforts you put in as a student. The best way to make full use of the program, is to do your background work: understand the job market, identify your key skills, set realistic career goals and make full use of all the resources at CMU to achieve your dream.

I did just that and now I am very proud of being an MSCF alum.

-Nanda
I was a student in the Computational Finance program at CMU attending the New York Campus and graduating in December 2013. I earned my undergrad in Mechanical Engineering in the US and worked as an engineer for a little over a year before joining this program.

When I first starting looking at graduate quantitative finance programs I was hoping to switch careers into a front office role at a bank, however my experience at CMU has given me much much more, and every aspect of this program exceeded my expectations:

On the professional side, I did get the job that I wanted and CMU prepared me very well for that. The career service office is very dedicated and they spent so much time helping us with mock interviews and resume reviews. When I interned during the summer, I felt I was much more prepared than a lot of other students, this helped me a lot in getting a full time return offer.

On the academic side, I believe CMU has the most rigorous program out there. We boast top notch professors, who are in touch with the current developments in finance through their relationships with practitioners. We have had several interactions with practitioners ourselves, who were often invited as guest lecturers or to speak during our speaker series. The program does a good job in teaching students both the theory and the real world application of it. If you are a prospective student however, know that the curriculum is tough and time consuming, but also know that it is the best preparation you can get in a year and a half for a quant finance role.

The program’s administration is very dynamic and always asks the students’ opinion. I always felt I was part of a family when dealing with the program’s administration and staff, as they were always willing to listen. We have 2 town-hall meetings ever year and students fill multiple satisfaction and feedback surveys throughout the course of the program. Furthermore anything in the course evaluation is taken seriously, and the curriculum is dynamic making use of students’ feedback as well as feedback from the advisory board. This is not just talk, I was really impressed when I saw our suggestions being implemented in the coursework of the class after us.

The alumni network is big! There are over a thousand MSCF alums right now – the largest alumni base for any quant finance program. The Tepper Alumni network (MBA and MSCF) as well as the CMU Alumni network are both large enough to be effective and diverse while still feeling tight knit. My choice of attending the New York campus was largely so I can tap into these alumni networks, and indeed that turned up being a great asset for my career development.

In short, my experience in this program was incredibly positive, and I believe the 16 months I have spent as a CMU student taught me things that I will use for a lifetime!
I am a proud alum of the CMU MSCF program having graduated in December of 2013. I was a full-time student and I joined the program with two requirements in mind - to create a ladder for myself to advance in my career and to learn the mathematics behind finance, the knowledge of which is becoming increasingly important if one aspires to work in the finance industry. Given how the financial industry has shaped up after the recent crisis of 2008, technical know-how across multiple assets and facets is becoming increasingly central, making programs like the MSCF more relevant than ever. I was pleasantly surprised as the MSCF program exceeded all my expectations in preparing me to succeed in this ever-changing industry.

First and foremost positive of the CMU MSCF program is by far the quality of professors. Quality of teaching is excellent! There are some extremely respected names teaching us and they are very well integrated with the industry which reflects in the design of the curriculum that's updated regularly keeping in mind various industry developments. The assignments are extremely practical in nature and prepare you very well for your internships. We were taught courses from eminent industry people as well (who serve as part-time faculty) like Peter Cai of Morgan Stanley, Leif Anderson of Bank of America Merill Lynch and many other eminent people from very respected financial institutions and hedge funds.

Secondly, the administration of the program is extremely smooth. Students' feedback is implemented as soon as possible and they do get the best out of the program. The administration not only handles academic matters but works really hard to squeeze in social events around the extremely hectic CMU MSCF life.

Thirdly, CMU can boast of one of the best career services on offer amongst the financial engineering programs. I had access to a wide array of resources to help with my job and internship search. The Career Services staff and resources helped me a lot to prepare on the soft skills aspect of the interviews. CMU career office boasts of very well qualified people, some of whom have experience working in the industry.

A very important differentiator that's a cut above all of these criteria is that being the top-ranked program, CMU MSCF attracts the best quality students from around the world. If I have learned so much in the past sixteen months, I attribute it as much to my fellow students as I do to my professors.

To conclude, I couldn't have asked for anything better out of a quantitative finance program. I couldn't have gotten any better learning from any other program (technical or otherwise). I will be eternally grateful to CMU for having pioneered this program and I am extremely proud to be associated with it.
As an alum, I don't think I could have asked for more out of a quant finance program. The mathematics, statistics, and simulation courses truly stand out as some of the best I have ever attended.
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