I graduated from the UChicago Fin-Math program in 2022 Dec and I am starting my full-time quant trading role at a market-making firm in Chicago in 2023 Feb.
Undergrad -- Finance & Data Science major with a math minor
Full-time experience -- one year at a wealth management firm
What I liked about the program:
- I finished my 4-year undergrad program in NYC and figured that NYC was not for me. I wanted a better blend of a big city but also having some nature / peace and quiet. Since I wanted to become a quant trader, Chicago seemed like the ideal choice being the trading / market-making industry hub, but also having the peace and quiet that I wanted. Its proximity to job opportunities also allows easy networking / coffee chatting.
- The city's architecture is also very nice. There are also a lot of museums that are definitely worth going to.
- The city's rent is much lower than other major cities. (Almost half of NYC's.)
2. UChicago's positive academic reputation
- The school overall is known for its academic rigor, reputable professors, and beautiful campus. With the Fin-Math program, you get access to not just the top-tier Fin-Math courses and professors, but also resources from other programs such as the Booth Business school, the stats program, UChicago Law School, etc..
- Some Fin-Math professors (namely Roger Lee, Mark Hendricks, Seb, and Greg Lawler) are amazing lecturers and have classes that have an amazing blend of theory + practicality.
- There are also out-of-Fin-Math professors (namely Mei Wang in the Stats department) who also teach very good classes.
- There are tons of research opportunities
- There are some times free / discounted social activities (show tickets, Michelin restaurant meals, skiing, etc.) that are posted by the school that's kinda neat.
3. The Fin-Math program's resources
I categorize this program's resources by its (1) courses, (2) career development, (3) other general / life resouces.
- All of the classes taught by the professors listed above are highly recommended, plus the other recommended classes in other reviews.
- You also get access to non-Fin-Math classes like those in Booth, the stats department, and even the law school for Fin-Math credits.
***But since class schedules / professors may change every quarter, it's better to ask Meredith & alumni what classes to take (or avoid..) when the time comes.
(2) career development:
- Emily Backe in Fin-Math's career development office (CDO) is extremely resourceful, kind, and responsible. She can not only give you the perfect interview prep but also lead you to just the right people you need to speak to for your job search, interview prep, etc..
- Other professors (Roger, Mark, and Seb) will also help you with technical interviews. Their interview prep sessions are extremely useful.
- There are also industry professionals (called IPO) helping you with further interview prep.
- The program is designed in a way such that you get to meet students from a class above you during your first quarter at the program. This makes sure you have students to talk to who can tell you about their school + work experiences, and
(3) other general / life resources
- Meredith is the go-to for all your questions. She is fun, resourceful, and knows EVERYTHING about the program and its people. She will give you her most honest opinion (and all the intel she gathered from all the profs & students) on what classes to take or avoid. She will also lead you to any help you may need since she knows everyone... quite literally.
- The class size is fairly large (~100 people per class), which mean there's a larger variety of students from different background, etc. Students are all very nice here -- you can definitly make life-time friends from the program. Also, many students are very knowledgeable and have many years of work experience -- you can always learn a lot from your classmates.
What I didn't like about the program:
1. City's infrastructure & weather
- Many parts of the city, including but not limited to public transportation, road design, how people don't know how to drive, bad DMV systems, etc. are designed poorly and are extremely inefficient (and sometimes have bad service)
- Too cold.. brrr
- High crime rate (esp around school, aka the Hyde Park area)... However, you do have to be careful everywhere (plus most American major cities do have issues with high crime rates, although not necessarily as bad as Chicago's hyde park area..) Just be vigilant and try not to walk around alone in dangerous neighborhoods, especially when it's dark.
2. Career development office's flaw(?)
- For a while during my time in the program, Emily Backe was gone and the program's CDO was near non-existent with very insufficient support. It's awesome that Emily came back but the program's CDO is very Emily-dependent. Hope CDO hires more reliable staff soon so Emily doesn't need to be overworked...
3. Some classes were poorly taught and were a waste of money & time
- These classes are
4. Minor things that don't necessarily concern others
- Fin-Math's graduation for my year was meh ... The merchandise we got included a bag that has very low quality (had 2 holes already after using it once)
- The winter can be depressing with the school almost empty (most students take online classes in the winter). But it get's better in the spring & fall.
- I wanted to give 3.5/5 but QuantNet doesn't let me. Since Emily's back, I'll round it up to a 4/5.
- I didn't give it a 5/5 mainly because of (1) the bad courses that the program offers and (2) the inconveniences caused by the city's bad design / insfrastructure. However, I still gave it a score higher than 3/5 because you still can get what you want from the program.