Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Quantitative Finance and Risk Analytics program

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Quantitative Finance and Risk Analytics program

Though the location is not financially- central, you will still definitely be surrounded by cutting edge lectures and experienced professors as well as excellent classmates in the same camp. I can not appreciate more for this elite college. In this one-year program, you can choose your own life--elegant or fulfilled. To believe or not, you will get much more than what you leaned in your 4-year undergraduate study, even in the first-class university.
As a graduate of this program, I believe the most valuable component is the staff. Many professors worked in the industry and teach methods that are relevant in banking. There is also a well connected career services component offering great advice on how to enter into the right career. I left this program feeling well prepared and still feel that way after having started a position as a quantitative analyst for a bank in July 2015.
I am very proud to say that I am a graduate of this program, and it was a great foray into a career in financial services. I knew I was interested in finance since an undergrad, and wanted to gain a more theoretical understanding of the concepts, as well as a grasp on the analytical techniques to solving problems in finance - this program did that and much more.

The firms that I interviewed with were impressed with my knowledge of the markets, and my ability to solve the problems that they threw at me. The knowledge that I gained in school gave me a great start at my job, and prepared me for my licensing examinations.

However; I would strongly recommend that you come into the background with more experience in math / programming than the minimal requirements. I was only at a calculus level in math, and I felt far behind in terms of my ability to solve problems compared to the other students - this took a lot of catching up on my own time. If you are completely new to programming, you will have some difficulty with some of the classes.

Most of the professors are very knowledgeable and will take the time to help you if you ask or schedule office hours. The only real issue is that school seems to be placing the reins of the program in the wrong hands. My suggestion to the administration would be that they sit in on a few classes and see how they are really run.

Overall, the program was a great experience and only one - one and a half years long. The career services staff was EXCELLENT in helping me in my career search.
The key advantage of Lally's QFRA program is the real world experience it provides students. I currently work in financial software consulting and my background with this degree from RPI has put me leaps ahead of others when communicating with PMs, Traders and Analysts alike. The QFRA courses not only harvest a technical analysis skillset, but also expose students to top headlines and case studies in the markets before they jump into careers throughout the industry. The staff will always provide more challenging work when desired and are readily available for extra learning outside of the classroom. Clubs like the Student Managed Fund at RPI and experienced guest speakers only enhance the QFRA experience.
The QFRA program at RPI is one of the best MFE programs offered. Students gain insight in corporate finance and investments like most other programs, but also gain technical skills applied to finance problems that many of degrees lack. RPI truly does an excellent job differentiating this program from other MFEs with the technical and computational courses that accompany the QFRA degree.

Students looking for jobs in investment banking, portfolio management, insurance, and consulting will be very prepared and confident going into the workforce.

Lastly, good finance professionals are found all over the world. What really separates RPI's QFRA program and their students is the ability to make quick and sound decisions during crunch time backed with numbers that tell a complete story.
I am working for an investment firm in Albany as an analyst after graduated from Lally. I like the QFRA program for several reasons. This program is designed for students with different backgrounds, students can choose their track of study based on their own interests: for example, some people may focus on quantitative finance field while others concentrate on risk management study. Professors are very knowledgeable and helpful, the courses combine study with practice, and the school offers us a good environment to study.
Lally also provides students some advanced facilities to use, such as Bloomberg Terminal, which can be very beneficial for students to get well prepared for their dream jobs - take myself as a example, I have to use Bloomberg Terminal all the time at work.
For sure good career service is important for students. Lally's career service center tries to help students in many ways. They organize networking events and career fairs, offer professional advice on resumes and cover letters, provide mock interviews etc..
All in all, I really enjoyed my study in Lally. QFRA is still a young program and there are things to be improved, but I can tell how big the progress it is making. There is no doubt that this program will be one of the best quantitative finance programs in the country.
As a credit risk consultant at KPMG New York, I graduated from QFRA program at Dec.2014, it has been a great experience in Lally school.

I'm impressed by faculty's professionalism and nice characteristics, during my one and half years in Lally, the professors and staffs are always helpful and happy to answer all our questions, also they gave us lots of advice on job seeking and career paths, which helps me a lot.

The courses are designed for students with different background, it has fundamental track, quantitative track and one of the most popular track in job market, quantitative risk management.

Last but not least, the career office in Lally school is professional and dedicated to students' career development, it organizes several events like IAFE annual conference, NYU career fair, etc.

All in all, QFRA will be your wise choice and prepare you for future career.
We are a research based institutional quantitative investment manager seeking to forecast the direction of global interest rates. Our analysts require very strong quantitative and analytic skills combined with the qualitative or practical understanding of the output. One of the true tests of a school's education capabilities is seen in success of their students.

In our first effort to recruit a summer intern, we visited several universities in the Northeast that offered a Masters program in Quantitative Finance. Our search resulted in the hiring of an RPI student who had cross-trained at the Engineering and Lally Schools for the summer intern position. We were so impressed, we actively pursued him for a full time position upon graduation, which was ultimately successful.

We could not have been more pleased with the level of quantitative and qualitative skills, computer capabilities and overall investment knowledge he brought to our small firm. As a result, we saw substantive results evolve from his efforts on the team, launching our flagship global strategy partially as a result of his efforts. Additionally, his creativity and ability to think outside the box, his willingness to learn and his talent outside of the quantitative realm has made him an even more valuable employee.

The graduates of the Lally School appear to welcome hard work and challenges, as they become used to high output and hard work as they go through the curriculum at the Lally School.
I believe Lally's faculty is one of the key strengths of the QFRA program. I have studied under some of them and being in the market I can relate to a lot of stuff that I was taught at Lally.
Second, the courses are highly rigorous and equip the student with the necessary skills needed in today's market.
Third, the program has a strong alumni network that through the means of a very active advisory board works with the school to ensure that the program stays competitive and offers employment opportunities to the graduates.
I have had close contact with the QFRA program (formerly FERA) for several years. I have met and discussed the program with current students, graduates, faculty and staff. In my estimation, the strengths of the program are:

(1) It's tied to a college (RPI) with very strong math and coding tradition. Students benefit directly from this association while the Lally (Business) School provides the critical components of education for capital markets and banking.

(2) The Dean of the Lally School is personally invested in the success of QFRA. He spends much time with faculty and a special Advisory Board he created to add rigor and "real world" content to the curriculum.

(3) The Lally School hired dedicated and enthusiastic staff to give direct coaching to QFRA students for job search, social media, and professional development (all outside the classroom support). This aspect is especially helpful for international students.

(4) A key aspect of the curriculum requires "team projects" and competitions among students to strengthen problem solving and written and verbal presentation skills.

(5) There is an Advisory Board with specific mission to aid the QFRA program. The 10-12 members are financial professionals with decades of experience. This Board visits campus 2-3 times per year to meet with the Dean and faculty to give critical review to metrics (such as job placement) and to review curriculum and faculty hiring plans.

(6) QFRA attracts extremely bright students. Yet the program works them hard! They have full schedules outside the classroom including required projects (mentioned above), and optional activities such as investment clubs, Bloomberg training, and review for the FRM, CPA, and actuarial exams.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I entered the program straight out of RPI undergrad in math
GRE: V650, Q800.


Tell us about the application process at this program
Application process was smooth; everyone I had to contact was very nice. Because I was already an undergrad at RPI, applying for the graduate program was very easy.

Does this program offer refresher courses for incoming students? How useful was it?
Refresher courses are offered but I did not take them because I had already taken the relevant courses in my undergrad years.

Tell us about the courses selection in this program.
The program is split up into three concentrations, the General Track, Quantitative Finance, and Financial Risk Analysis Track. The program requires each student to take four foundation courses. These four courses give the students an introduction into financial instruments/derivatives and some of the mathematics/programming behind them. After the four foundation courses students get to select which concentration they want to take. Each concentration has a list of courses and out of this list the student has to take six courses to total 10 courses in one year (4 foundation courses and 6 concentration courses).
The courses for this program are split between the math department and the business school with the business school courses teaching the actual finance side of things and the math department teaching mainly the mathematical theory, programming, and econometrics. The courses offered by the business school couple very nicely with a lot of the courses in the math department. On one side you get a very theory based approach by the math department and then you get a practical/industry approach by the business school. For example you can learn all about stochastic calculus and Ito’s Lemma in the Financial Mathematics and Simulations course. Then in the Financial Simulation course you actually learn how to apply all that stochastic calculus to Monte Carlo processes used for derivative pricing.
The courses offered in the math department will provide you with a solid understanding of the graduate level mathematics in finance such as stochastic processes, time-series analysis, and probability/statistics. If you are not a heavy math person then I would advise against taking the Quantitative Finance concentration because most of the courses are in the math department and they will be proof heavy.

Tell us about the quality of teaching
Teaching is done by both practitioners and academics. All professors were available to help students, regardless of whether they work in the industry or not. Because the program has courses in two different departments the teaching style can be very different, but overall the professors really know their stuff and are more than willing to adjust the level of difficulty depending on the students in the class.

Programming component of the program
Pretty much every student at RPI regardless of major is taught Matlab, therefore the courses in the FERA program are mainly Matlab. A lot of time the professors will let you code in what you are familiar with so many students do use C++ for much of the coding.

What do you like about the program?
What I really liked about the program is how you can take courses in two different departments without there being any sort of red tape. Being able to learn financial mathematics in a purely maths course really helps to set up a very strong quant foundation which makes it much easier to fully understand the actual applications of the finance taught in the business school courses.
I also liked that each course was taught by a specific professor who specialized in that field.

What DON'T you like about the program?
Because each course was taught by a specific professor sometimes the course might not be available because that certain professor is not teaching it that semester or is on sabbatical.

What are your current job status?
Quant Consultant for one of the Big 4
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