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University of Michigan Quantitative Finance and Risk Management

University of Michigan Quantitative Finance and Risk Management

There are something I can understand and some else I can’t agree in the previous reviews. But basically, I would like to share my personal experience with the program as a 2018 cohort student going for a math finance PhD.

Courses are indeed very rigorous, but not in a bad way
The program comes with a very rigorous line of math courses in math finance, getting you well prepared for an application to a PhD in this field, but I think even for getting a job. I didn’t go through the entire job seeking process, but I did do several online assesments from those quant big names. I can say most (if not all) of the math questions in OA’s and interviews are well covered in course materials. So most of what you learned from class is actually necessary for a quant interview. (You might not use them later in work, but they definitely appear in tests.) Sometimes advanced topics are introduced, but not included in the exams, so don’t seem add your workload too much.

Course selection is flexible
Don’t know why the other post says not, maybe vary from personal experience. Quant program students have almost highest priority in course enrollment within math and stats department (and relatively high priority as Rackham grad students in other departments). And our director of the program is actually quite flexible on the curriculum, as long as you can provide him with a clear plan of yourself. Also, beginning from my cohort many students graduated with a certificate in data science, recently even a secondary master in applied statistics or data science is available.

Instructors are caring
I think it’s very very unfair to say that they don’t care about the students. Umich math department has a strong group of math finance, our courses are all taught by active researchers in the field. Some of them might be unfamiliar with the job market as they mainly live academic lives, but this does not necessarily suggest they are not nice. I once had an instructor who held his helpful office hours as long as lecture times.

Building good foundation for PhD preparation
This point has been repeated even by those who don’t quite like this program. Other than rigorous math courses and wonderful faculty members in the field of math finance, I also would like to mention the rich academic resource at Umich. As a public university strong in almost all subjects, Umich holds a variety of seminars in related areas like math, stats, economy and business. Especially for math finance, not all university can hold a biweekly seminar specifically focussing on math finance.
For those (probably vast majority of) students who don't desire to pursue a phd degree in financial mathematics or find a job in quant research, the QFRM Program at UM may not be a good choice for you. There are several reasons:

1. Curriculum.
The required curriculum consists of 6 math courses and 2 statistics courses, which is solid, tough, but WAY TOO theoretical, lacking real application, especially for core math courses. I have to admit that solid mathematical background is important for quantitative finance field, but how the theoretical knowledge can be connected to real finance world is also crucial. However, seldom do core math courses provide students with application or practice such as hand-on financial engineering related projects to see how the theoretical knowledge learned in class can be applied to the real industry; the only thing that this program teaches students is math, math, and math. Besides, the curriculum is inflexible in that students should take courses in a fixed order (4 required in the first semester, 3 in the second, and 1 in the third), which prevents students from learning as much as what they want in the first year. During the 3rd semester, students can choose enough electives towards their interests such as CS, DS, Stats, Econ, Finance, but as mentioned above how applicable knowledge and skills learned in these electives can be applied to the theretical knowledge learning in math class is what a quant finance program should really teach students.

2. Connection with real industry.
This program lacks opporunities for students to connect or network with professionals in the real industry. There is no chance to work with local corporates for finishing projects in the real industry like some of the other programs have. The program do have some academic seminars, but all of them are about theretical math, instead of real talk with real quants who can share working experiences as a quant, or introducing different topics in the real finance world. Of course, beginning from winter 2020, the program opens a new course called "Machine Learning for Finance" only for students in this program, and the instructor is a real quant. However, the structure of this course is a little bit messy, and the instructor can hardly explain materials clearly, and he never pay attention to how students learn, forgetting about the advantage of having a real quant as an instructor. But anyway the program is making progress that is a positive signal.

3. The care about the students.
Neither the program director nor your academic advisor care about how students learn, or students' job placement, or what difficulties students encounter. The only person who really cares about students is the program cordinator, who is a super enthusiastic lady, negotiating students with any kind of issues, updating job posting information, scheduling mock interview, helping current students network with alumni of this program. But unfortunately effort from one person in the program is not enough.

Overall this program is not recommended for you unless you want to apply for phd in mathematical finance, work as a quant researcher, or you really really love math.
The instructors in math and stats departments of U of M are generally bad. Program does not teach students at all and just want to grab money. Tuition is ridiculous compared to value offered by other programs. Also campus is in the middle of nowhere and very difficult for students to network. You'll also have to deal with a lot of ignorant in-state people who have not been to other places in their whole life. Save your money to a private university.
I got enrolled in the program in 2017 and graduated in December 2018 (one can choose to graduate in 1 year and a half or in 2 years). I highly and sincerely recommend this program and in my opinion, the pros and cons for this program are as follows.

Several reasons for recommending this program:

1. Great mandatory curriculum, staff and professors. The professors are all really nice, professional and funny, and the staff members are all helpful and care about students. Our program coordinator is an excellent lady who always helps us with resume and cover letter writing, interview preparation and alumni networking by coordinating quant seminars with Michigan alumni and forwarding possible working opportunities from alumni's companies. To be honest, the curriculum is challenging since some of them are PhD classes, but this is exactly why we all have a solid theoretical understanding of financial mathematics, and exactly how the program is designed -- our director for the program believes that sold math knowledge is the reason that lots of Math PhDs could end up having a quantitative job. So here we go.

2. Flexible elective curriculum and tons of studying opportunities with Department of Mathematics and with other departments. You can almost always choose whatever interests you as an elective course, such as a course in Ross School of Business, or in College of Engineering, or in School of Information, and even get enrolled in another master's program. I know some friends in this program choose to pursue a Master's in Statistics at the same time, or a Master's in Engineering to learning more about programming. I myself got enrolled in Multidisciplinary Development Program (MDP) to have more practical experience. In a summary, as long as you want to learn something, getting enrolled in this program can and always will serve you as a first step.

3. Wonderful campus culture and lots of chances to get involved and make a contribution to the community. This program is with University of Michigan, and U-Michigan always goes with great alumni network, academic excellence, and especially rich tradition in football! When you walk on campus, you will always feel as if you were part of something bigger than yourself and had the ability to make a difference. With International Student Lunch Conversation, Women In Mathematics, Women's Ultimate Frisbee etc. (just a few examples; these are the ones I was quite often enrolled in), you'll feel welcomed and you'll always have the chance to learn more and contribute more.

4. Job hunting assistance. I suppose most students who want to get enrolled in these Financial Engineering programs are looking for an excellent job afterwards, and definitely you're in for a treat! Not only does this program have an experienced program coordinator for resume and cover letter revision, but we as U-M students also have U-Michigan Career Center for FREE mock interview, FREE professional clothes closet, and everything you can think of related to internship or job hunting for FREE! Just remember to ask for help, and you'll get it for sure.

The biggest con for this program, which I must admit, is that it doesn't have the geographical advantage, as it's not in New York or Boston or any other big city. Ann Arbor is quite possibly the quaintest, funkiest, most cosmopolitan college town in the US, but it doesn't have that many employers. However, we have Career Fairs where tons of employers all over the country will show up and want us -- because we are in University of Michigan and we are in Quantitative Finance!

This is a really young program, and it needs each one of us to take care of and make it become better. Hope you can be one of the Wolverines!!

Whoever is reading this, thanks for your time and patience! Wish you the best luck in the future, and forever Go Blue!!!
Worst program ever existed. Program's director is a super tough guy, caring about nothing regarding students' placement. He does not even respect students. Courses are badly designed. They simply used previous PhD courses to open this master program.Core courses are not practical at all.
We're from 2017 class, which is the best group of people they ever admitted. However, our placement record is worse than some programs that we reject offers from back in 2017.
Plus, tuition is ridiculously high, they just use students as cash cows. Don't donate your money to them!
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