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North Carolina State University Financial Mathematics program

North Carolina State University Financial Mathematics program

I am a first year student at NC State in Financial Mathematics Program, enrolled in the last FALL 2018. I think, I am well placed now to review the program.

MFM (Masters in Financial Mathematics) is a rigorous program for the students interested in specializing in Quant Finance. Seniors and Alumni of the program are doing pretty well in the industry, primarily in three broad roles namely, Risk Management, Quantitative trading and Business Intelligence.

My fellow classmates are from different backgrounds with varying background of Maths, Statistics, Compute Science and Finance. Most of them either have FRM and CFA or pursuing the same, thereby making the class very competitive.

Program is growing very well under the leadership of Dr. Pang and because of small class size individuals' aspiration are well accounted in the selecting the subjects. Program offers flexibility in selecting subjects from Statistics, Finance, Operations Research or B-School. In order to provide accelerated learning, on a regular basis workshops are being organized to name few on Python, R and SAS.

Moreover, in terms of flexibility - I was one among the few who got a chance to attend "Derivative Pricing" class with Skema Business School in the last semester as part of the exchange program. in addition, program has been providing various opportunities like participation in CFA Challenge and IAQF case competitions.

From infrastructure perspective, program has got dedicated Bloomberg Terminals, Graduate Lounge and Career coaches from NY,etc. added wit state of art of infrastructure of NC State.

Every Friday, we have seminar whereby we get a chance to meet Industry leaders, including potential recruiters. Program as a whole is industry bellwether in the area of Credit Risk (CECL - new accounting requirements) and is deeply invested in the same.

Overall program is power packed with Statistics, Finance and Programming and doesn't allow much room to party but we do have regular get togethers like, Chinese New Year, Christmas and Halloween Celebrations.

Overall the experience had been so far very good.
Can you tell us a bit about your background? How did you know about this program and why you chose it?
Applied to graduate school as an undergrad; double major theoretical mathematics and European history. I studied in the NCSU Financial Mathematics program from 08/2005 - 12/2007.

University of Colorado at Boulder
Math GPA: 3.3
History GPA: 3.7
Cumulative: 3.2

GRE: to be honest I don't remember the exact scores but they were very average (I do remember that because I was pretty upset!) - it was the first standardized test I had taken on a computer and I didn't finish any of the sections on time)

It was a pretty quick decision for me to apply for this particular type of graduate degree (I had always anticipated going to law school); I started talking to professors in December of 2004 about what to do after graduating, took the GRE in January '05 and had 5 applications (Columbia, NYC, Stanford, Kent State, NCSU) out by early Feb. I got into Kent and NCSU (I knew I wasn't getting into the other 3 based on my grades and test scores lol).

I'm a firm believer in that an experience is what you make of it and honestly didn't care what school I went to. NCSU does have a pretty dismal website/information available however.

Cost was main reason for choosing this program. I was able to declare in state residency after the first year as well as take as many MBA classes as I wanted, I did 5 semesters (including 5 MBA classes, they also have an affiliate program with Duke and Chapel Hill, if there is a class you want to take at either of those University's and it is not offered at NCSU they will let you take it as part of your normal tuition) to the tune of 16K TOTAL tuition, and probably 500/semester for books. So an MSFE for less than 20K total. NCSU also offers lots of software gratis to their graduate students like MatLab, SAS, etc. i.e. they will give you a personal license to install on your own machine.

Courses selection, teaching quality, programming component, etc
There are 6 core curriculum classes, 5 of which were the same when I was in the program. They've allowed swapping out a pure measure theory probability class for the first semester of a 2 part stats series (highly support this decision!)... I think the current curriculum is pretty standard as well as makes a lot of sense for what the program should be. See course website for more details.

They are very flexible RE: elective choices, there are many and as I've mentioned before, I loaded up on MBA classes which for what I ultimately want to do career wise made a lot of sense for me.

All Professor's teaching and very few TA's. Classes tend to be pretty small (I'd guess 20 on average) and the Professor's are very willing to help. One thing I did notice is that as NCSU tends to be more research based (as opposed to Industry) they do seem to have more time to spend with their students; I have friends who have completed programs in NYC and my accessibility to Professors was significantly higher than theirs. It's also common to go out for a beer after class with your Professor and spend time in a non-academic setting.

Matlab is what most people are programming in, but you can use other languages. ECG 790 (Computational Methods in Economics and Finance) is basically a programming course in implementing various acadmic models.

Not a lot of projects (either coding or research) assigned in the core classes.

Please comment on career service
None. You're on your own.

What do you like about the program?
Cost effective.

What DON’T you like about the program?
More "industry" related projects and focus; you will be at a disadvantage compared to most other programs because there just isn't any directly applicable industry in Raleigh, plus to be frank - NCSU doesn't carry a great reputation like NYU, Columbia, etc

What are your current job status? What are you looking for?
Upon graduating from the program I knew I wanted to go to NYC and my best shot was the NYU Quant Career Fair; I pre-screened companies before the fair and focused my efforts on two. I interviewed with both and accepted an offer as an entry level Quant at a software vendor. I resigned from my job after 2 years and moved to Las Vegas to play poker full time; ultimately I decided to return to the East Coast in early 2011 and currently work as a structured credit desk quant for a hedge fund. However, I think it's worth mentioning poker was a very carefully thought out venture, it was in no way shape or form a haphazard decision; I waited a full year before leaving to make sure it was what I really wanted to do, as well as had a financial plan and exit strategy.

I also think it's worth mentioning that I chose this degree and career path because I genuinely enjoy it. Obviously finance pays better than most industries but I think if you choose to go this route because you're looking for a payday, not only is it a mistake but it's pretty obvious to others (like potential employers).

In all fairness I am also a native born US citizen and I do believe my communication skills have been critical to my job success.

Other comments
Take an undergrad C programming class before (for any of these programs, not just NCSU). Also take a Numerical Analysis class.

Everybody has a different utility function, right? This school makes a lot of sense from a cost perspective. The courses are very good as well as the Faculty but you will be on your own to find a job (and fighting an uphill battle if you're looking to go to NYC/Boston/Chicago) so just be aware of that.

I don't think I can emphasize enough that an experience is what you want to make of it - there is no magic formula or substitute for passion, work ethic, and the drive to go above and beyond. Show a demonstrated interest; The Economist offers a discounted student subscription; read the WSJ, etc. If you really want something - go after it. I was once turned down in the interview process for not having enough SQL experience... after calmly explaining that I am more than capable of thinking in multiple dimensions and can make jokes in reverse Polish notation, not only did I make it to a final interview, but it was brought up by multiple people from the company. I'm not saying berate with reckless abandon, but in my humble opinion, very few things in life worth having are easy to ascertain.
The Financial Math program in NSCU focus more on mathematics and statistics compared with other programs. And this is my favorite part. You can find a lots of courses which can help you build solid foundation for math and statistics. Another advantage of this program is that the cost is relatively low.
This program in NCSU based on its solid foundation of math and statistics, which both have a good reputation. The scale of the program is about 25 person each grade, which is rather small comparing to Columbia, Michigan or Rutgers. The location, technical triangle area actually provides a lot of job opportunities, low living cost as well
As a first-year student in this program. So far I find that there is a lot of resources and space for every student to research which track of quantitative finance they really want to follow.
NCSU is strong at mathematics, there are many excellent courses that can help students develop solid mathematical background and apply mathematical skills in finance.
Besides, advisors are really care about students. They follow up every student's progress and try to provide resources to help students move forward in both study and career development.
This program is in the Math Department which make it more rigorous. Because of good reputation in Math and Statistics, this program benefit a lot. We have taken many statistic courses so far,which are very useful for us to master further study.
Furthermore, it is because the number of students is not big, advisers have time to care about every student. They help every student figure out career planning and provide many opportunities to find an intern or a job.
  • Anonymous
  • 4.00 star(s)
As a current student, at the Financial Mathematics program at NC State, what I like most is the interest that the faculty take in student development.

Core courses of the program focus on Mathematics and Statistics thus building a solid foundation of fundamental principles of Risk and Investments. Elective courses of the program are oriented towards the computational aspect with emphasis on MATLAB programming, SAS programming (Base SAS) and SAS Enterprise Miner, making it relevant to the industry especially jobs requiring data mining, data manipulation and analysis and business analytics.

A recent addition to the program is the course ‘C++ for financial mathematics’ conducted by the director of the program. This course is a major milestone in making students competent at programming and thus more job-ready.

Keeping in mind the importance of summer internships and full-time placements, the program has added to its team a new ‘Director of Career Services’ to attract employers to campus. The Director of Career Services brings with her prior experience of serving as a liaison between the industry and the students.

The students in this program also benefit from various alumni interactions that are arranged from time to time. The students not only get an insight into working of the industry but it also helps them identify their field of interest and choose their career path accordingly.
As a recent graduate from NCSU, I have to say this program has a horrible attitude towards its student.

It is a professional master degree, but the professors and the program directors spent very little time to help you find a job. Instead, they low your GPA, delay your graduation time and basically try their best to stop you from getting a good offer. For example, MA547 is a core class in this program and everyone has to take it and B is the minimum passing grade. Last year, Dr. Pang failed 1/3 of the student in the class so they have to take a 4th semester to finish the program while you normally only need 3 semesters to graduate. This year, 12 out of 29 people in this class get their GPA hammered and are forced to take a fourth semester to graduate. If you want the students to get a job, stop give the majority of the class B and delay their graduation.

The program director, Dr. Jeff Scroggs either doesn’t understand anything about the current job market or couldn’t care less about the future of the students. There is no company conducting campus recruitment for this program and no real alumni network. You are on your own to get jobs. So family connections are the most common way people land an internship/job. This year, only three people received summer internship in United States. With such a program director, it is not surprising that this program has horrible job placement. It used to be among the top 20 programs in Financial Engineering but now it’s in the middle of nowhere.

Overall, I don’t recommend this program to anyone who wishes to find a good job in US. The faculties don’t put student’s benefit as their priority and ignore much of the students’ need. Instead of treating students as their current customers and the future donors, they still believe that they are the professors so they can do whatever they want. Unless they change the program director, I don’t see how this program will get better in the future.
Pretty good.
The NC State Financial Math program is getting better and better from what i see,students have over 30 classes to take from five different departments though i do hope more finance classes w i l l be offered. Everyone is working hard here. Now the program has strong connection with the industry which provides many opportunities for students to meet and talk with professionals. Three December graduates all find their jobs and I believe this program is really worth it.
As a current student, I found this program focus on statistic and math more than finance. May be because it is based on math department. These rigorous courses could help you launch a job in data mining, risk management etc
With the help of career service , many international student found their internships/full-time jobs. Of course, good location with low living cost is a big plus.
This program gives you the most flexibility for your future career. Based on mathematics, you can involve with Finance, economics, statistics, computer science and even business. As long as you have a clear goal and what kind of person you would be, this program can carve it will professionals.
As a Financial Math student I can say that I feel very confident about this program and I feel I made the right decision to join.
The program not only offers a good variety of core classes, but depending on the career track one can choose variety of electives. All the staff is available to answer any questions that the students might have.
The most distinct feature of the structure of this program is that the program wants the students to the "job-ready". I have not come across any other program that works on the soft skills of students while building on their technical knowledge. We have seminars which focus on developing the soft skills that a company looks for when it hires a candidate. The program makes sure that once you apply for jobs, you are not only well equipped with all the technical knowledge but you also have the soft skills such as presentation skills, communication skills etc.
It is a known fact that if a company hires a candidate they want someone is an all rounder in the sense that not only can that person apply his/her technical knowledge at work place, but can also communicate well with other colleagues and can present what work they have done.
The program staff also makes sure to give opportunities to students who want to get hands on experience in the work field. What better way to do than when you are actually studying.
I have had a wonderful experience with Financial Math program and I would recommend it to everyone who is looking for a great learning experience.
  • Anonymous
  • 5.00 star(s)
I am a graduate of this Program and I must say that It was one extremely rigorous program of the State. Overall program is tailored in such a way that the entire emphasis is on developing Mathematical/quantitative skills of the students instead of general business school approach (broader general knowledge) and this is the best part of the program since it is not an MBA. So if you want fun --> go for MBA or Master of Management etc. (Yes this is not a right program for you). On contrary, those who want to learn real Financial Engineering skills, this program would give you full liberty to tailor your career and build your strength.

As highlighted above, the best part of this program is that it is established in Mathematics Department, so professors and faculty mostly talk about quant/maths stuff instead of sticking around CAPM model for entire 2 long years ;) .

Second, you would find world's best professors in Maths Department of NC State. I found them super awesome in delivering concepts and knowledge.

Third, you almost have liberty to choose any course from different schools (Maths, Stats, Computer Sciences, Economics, Business School, even in Kenan Flagler, Fuqua Duke etc). You can go in any direction as per your career path such as Computational Finance stream by taking courses at Comp Sc school, Math intensive stream, Business Stream by taking all electives in business school, Economics/Econometric stream, Operation Research etc.

Fourth, gradually this program is getting popular in industry due to it's competitive alumni in very good jobs especially in RTP area. Exclusive career service director is working good in making connections in the industry and recent graduates got good jobs while many enrolled students got very good internships (eventually leading to the jobs)

Fifth, the school has small class intake, which is great too because students can get closer attention of the professors in core classes.

Regarding core courses, the courses are very good and faculty is amazing. Program director is a good person and very helpful.

Best suggestion is to prepare yourself before start of the program and build your statistical and mathematical knowledge beforehand.

Program should consider restructuring few courses and should introduce some unique/latest courses.

Overall my experience to the program is very satisfactory, i got maximum out of the program, enjoyed my stay at school, attended good seminars, met international students from all over the world in different elective classes and many more.

Note: This program is Work hard, No play at all :(

Great Professors to work/study with: Dr. Tao Pang, Dr. Paul Fackler, Dr. Antje Berndt, Dr. Min Kang and Dr. Scroggs (Director).

The Financial Mathematics program here at NC State offers the best courses available. Overall, you have to take 7 core courses and 3 electives and the electives can be chosen based on the different career tracks provided by the department. This way the students will have a clear picture to get to know their area of interest. Another best part is students are trained to get the BASE SAS certification in the first semester itself and are assigned projects. The course work will help you to get the knowledge of SAS, R , Matlab, C++ and MS-tools, which will be very helpful during the job search.
The program has a career development program, which helps the students to improve soft skills. The Friday seminars is one of the biggest strength to the program. It helps the students to improve their communication skills through mock interviews, presentations and many more. Also, the Friday seminars stand to be a very good platform for networking with industry professionals. Overall, I would say that, the program not only helped to enhance my finance knowledge but also it helped a lot in improving my people skills, which is very important to land in a good job
I entered the financial mathematics program at NCSU on 2012. Since then I took a load of mathematics and statistics courses till the completion of my program. Several courses that I personally highlight as part of the main course of the program are
1) C++ for financial mathematics (taught by Professor Scroggs): one of the most important courses that will help you understand data structures, OOP for developing your skills in C++.
2) Asset pricing (taught by Professor Antje Berndt): this course is the best course in terms of options and futures pricing. You should pay attention to this course since it will be useful for future interviews in the hedge fund/Investment banking industry.
3) Financial mathematics (taught by Professor Tao Pang): this course will depthen your ability to use stochastic calculus for pricing derivative assets. I highly suggest you to brush up linear algebra, calculus, and probability theory before taking this course.
4) Optional: Computations for Statistical Research (taught by Doctor Eric Laber) and Advance Computing (taught by Doctor Chi): both of these courses are marvelous since it teaches computing in an applied mathematical way. It will show you how to compute algorithms in Python (which is extensively used in the industry) and also in R/Julia (which is a new thing in statistics). Doctor Chi has been a wonderful mentor through this learning process, and if anyone is interested to be in machine learning, he is the best lecturer in NC State.

Over all the experience that I had in this program was very good. Recently there has been high interest from recruiters like Credit Suisse and Bank of America that would recruit from this program.
O yeh, Rigorous and PITB program. It's upto you how much you learn and groom. Program getting very popular. After graduation, I got interview calls from top industry fin.cos. Smaller class size, Quantitatively rigorous.

Don't waste your time in copying others' homeworks. Work hard cz companies ask so many tricky questions. Best course was Computational Methods in Eco & Fin (P. Fackler) but sadly no project now. This course helped me in performing well in many interviews.

Good professors, many options for courses, small class size, RTP/Charlotte (a new fin hub) edge, good reputation, successful alum, low tuition and living cost, awesome weather and beaches around.
Some demanding topics not covered in any course, few exclusive fin math professors, weak connection with business school, career service improving but not best, bigger percentage of Asian students' intake (balance is the key to derive benefit from global diversity)

Forsee bright future of the program if persistent efforts from director and career director.

Advice: Don't copy paste homeworks, assign....don't try to memorize and rely on past exams. you will be butchered in job market.
I am currently in my second semester of the NCSU MFM, and am serving in the newly-created position of FM Ambassador. I can confirm that the program is indeed rigorous, and requires a great deal of time and effort to stay on top of classes. Not only that, but a large amount of your time will also go towards career development / job or internship hunt. However, hard work in these areas will be rewarded well.

The directorship of the program has recently shifted to Dr. Tao Pang, who is extremely knowledgeable and capable. As a consequence, the program's curriculum and structure are undergoing an update process, with input from students, alumni, and industry professionals.

However it changes, be prepared to code. A lot. In today's industries, there's really no avoiding it. The SAS Base was required for the first-semester seminar, and several of us have gone on to take the Advanced and/or Business Analyst. We had projects during the first semester in SAS, VBA / Excel, and R. Monte Carlo (FIM 548) and ECG 766 both require some MATLAB.

As it currently stands, you must take at least three electives. My advice is that you choose your three as early as possible, and spread them out over the three semesters so that you don't get overwhelmed. MBA and computer science classes can be tricky to get into; don't be afraid to ask instructors directly if you can enroll.

Overall, I'm rating this program with 5 stars. Every day, I feel more and more prepared and confident to jump into a career. My skills and knowledge from my first-semester CCAR project and Options & Derivatives Pricing class (and communication skills) landed me a SAS internship. If you're driven, love math or finance, and have a good work ethic, this program is perfect for you.
I joined the MFM program in Fall 2017 and am currently in my second semester. The journey so far has been exciting and challenging at the same time. The program is math driven and requires a strong understanding of mathematical concepts from second semester onwards.

It has a well structured curriculum; each subject requires students to be on top of the topics taught as there are assignments, projects as well as exams spread out over the entire semester. The professors are helpful, reachable and the courses taught provide students a strong base to enter the world of quantitative finance.

The program also arranges for career panel discussions and opportunities to network with program alumni.

I have also taken up the Data Science Foundations Certificate along with the MFM program. This gives me an exposure to data science subjects that can help in broadening job prospects.

I recommend this program to anyone whose interest lies in quantitative finance.
Currently, I am a candidate for MFM at NCSU. I joined the program last fall, and I expect to graduate by the end of this year.

One of the reasons why I selected this master is because it is an 18 months program, which in my opinion allows the students to get more solid basis of quantitative finance. I pursed a 12 month master program before, and the intensity of the program does not allow the students to enhance their full potential since they have to process, digest and retain a lot of information.

I confirm my decision as a right one, since I am part of a diverse cohort which has become a family for me. As a group we help each other to understand and discover beautiful and challenging applications of mathematics. I found this program to have allowed me to fulfil my academic goals, which for now have been a good liftoff for my career in the finance world.

Regarding the courses taught, the syllabus is well structured. In the first semester, it gradually introduces the students into finance and mathematics. It allows students to choose electives from departments like statistics, college of management, operations research and mathematics. I feel obligated to share the amazing opportunity that I had when taking Probability Theory and Stochastic Processes with Professor Min Kang - a course which she teaches with strong passion, and which give the basis for a career in quantitative finance.