I am an alumnus from the most recently graduated class here. The program has been a big disappointment and a rather poor investment. Right from the textbook-ish and outdated course content in all the core courses to the bureaucratic nature of the professors, the program leadership and the administrative staff. Many students who came in with experience in the industry have pretty much gone back to doing what they were doing before they entered the program. So, unless you are looking for your first job, there is really no tangible career progression laterally or vertically that has occurred, in a lot of cases.
Lets pick this out one by one.
1. Core course content and the professors who teach them.
Core mathematics components have faculty who are adept at making the students lose themselves in a flurry of symbols, equations and models. If you are mathematically inclined, you will enjoy these courses, irrespective of the fact that the content is purely textbook-ish and will be of very less practical relevance when you interview for jobs. I will give an example. There are several financial instruments which can be priced using different stochastic or numerical methods. But the only ones covered in these courses are vanilla calls or puts. While I agree that the fundamental principles of pricing will probably remain the same for many instruments, it is preposterous that the courses do not even touch on interest rate models or implied volatility models; which are the bread and butter right now. Hence my complaint of the course being outdated. In another example, the introductory econometrics course was so poorly conducted that the instructor did not even cover or touch upon logistic regression, which is a basic question in pretty much all credit risk interviews. Hence the mathematics component leaves a lot to be desired in terms of job interview preparation or relevance to the industry.
Core programming component. I should say this part was pretty much non-existent or taught like an undergraduate introduction course rather than engage students with relevant graduate level examples in quantitative finance. If you compare the syllabus of the OOP C++ and Python courses here with those at the top programs, you will notice that the other programs make an effort to cover pricing models implementation. Here, the focus is on looping, data types and other such introductory stuff. To be honest, the students have been complaining and requesting for a better instructor since the past two cohorts which graduated, but the program administration has made no effort to address this. MATLAB, R were covered in a single day workshop, together. To spend tuition on 6 credits for a 2 semester introductory sequence makes me feel I am throwing money down a drain. Instead, check out online websites which teach this content for free.
Core finance components. This was the better part of the program. Though the Options course left a lot to be desired. The instructors are much better than those from the Mathematics or Programming components.
The electives are the saving grace of the program. However, there are very few elective courses as part of the required 45 credits to graduate. ETFs, Data Mining and Advanced Financial Analysis are some courses really relevant to the questions you face in job interviews depending on which career track you choose. Though this program doesn't really send out students to hedge funds in the US, the course on Hedge Funds and the one on Portfolio Management were also very practical. But there are a few bad apples here too. For eg, the risk management elective spent only half out of 12 classes on option greeks, when in reality, almost all of market risk management is dependent on the greeks. Having come to the course with a background in risk management, I was surprised that barely any contemporary topics like CVA / XVA were covered, when in reality 75% of the market risk positions in the industry require some sort of CVA/XVA knowledge/experience. For my cohort, the Time Series professor had changed. He was replaced with someone part time from NJIT who handled the course so badly that in one class, one of the students had to go to the board, correct his mathematical proof, derive it for him and explain it to him in Mandarin and all this after the "professor" was actually looking at the textbook in his hand while scribbling the proof on the blackboard.
3. Career Outcomes.
Now, don't kid yourself. Everyone is here in this program hoping to come out of it with a good job. Some expect a certain title, some expect a certain industry, some expect a certain salary. You have to come to this program with a realistic expectation that not all of your dreams will come true. You will end up compromising on the role or the pay or the title or the brand. This is the job market's reality which many students gloss over. Your first job out of a grad program in business school, generally, is like a plank that will propel you to your dream job next. However, Rutgers MQF finds it difficult to even give you this plank, let alone your dream job. As I have said multiple times earlier, curriculum wise, you are already lagging behind in training, w.r.t the industry expectations. Next, you don't have an Ivy League brand. You aren't located in NYC. The career director spends an inordinate amount of time on fussing over vocabulary, punctuation and alignment in your resume (essentially lecturing you on how important soft skills are) rather than working to engage recruiters to come meet students or engage hiring managers to actually find out what is the skill set expected of fresh graduates (which is feedback that should ideally be passed on the program director and core faculty). Honestly, the resume stuff is not why she was hired and she should ideally delegate it. You should get your actual figures on salary and placement from the school but personally, the experience left a lot to be desired. The one saving grace here is the career director's initiative of experiential learning. Owing to her vast industry network, she engages a few of her ex-colleagues to provide unpaid work to students who don't find summer internships, working on some relevant industry projects. Atleast, this gives you some relevant stuff to put on your resume while searching for full time jobs. I will not get into the tough situation for international students in the job market as its not a problem that only Rutgers students face. But, remember that it adds on to everything intrinsically wrong with the program.
4. Program Leadership and Administration.
Visionary, efficient and engaging are the wrong words to describe them. Bureaucracy, sloth-like response times and indifferent to student issues are the perfect adjectives. The program director has an archaic mindset towards both the curriculum and the job market and this hurts all the students in the program. I cannot think of a single instance in which he reached out to the students/alumni and tried to solicit feedback on what can be improved in the curriculum.
The admin staff and the International Students Office are worse than the US Congress. One example here is generation of CPT i-20s for international students. My friends from a university on Boston had theirs generated in a matter of 5 mins. Rutgers OISS takes 3-5 business days. Their standard answer for everything. Another friend from a university in North Carolina told me that his OPT form will all filled out and kept ready for him by his advisor and all he had to do was sign. At Rutgers, you have to fill out your form and a host of other paperwork yourself and just to get the university's endorsement (OPT i-20), you have to wait another 3-5 business days.
Overall, my experience with the program has left me disillusioned, in deep student debt and set me back 3 years in my career.