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.
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.
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 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
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.
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
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?
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.
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.