University of Minnesota Financial Mathematics program

University of Minnesota Financial Mathematics program

Application deadline
Feb 1 - First round review; applications received after the deadline will not be included in the first round of review;
The Master of Financial Mathematics ( MFM) program at the University of Minnesota (UMN) is part of MCFAM (Minnesota Center for Financial and Actuarial Mathematics) within the School of Mathematics.

February 1 - Applications due;
March 15 - First round offers made;
May 1 - Second & final round of offers made

Minimum Requirements for Admission:
A Bachelor's degree from an accredited U.S. university or foreign equivalent.

GPA: We follow the Graduate School's requirements for the minimum GPA, currently set at 3.0.

Mathematical background: All applicants should have completed college level courses in single variable and multivariable calculus and linear algebra. Background in Probability and familiarity with programming languages are highly recommended.

GRE: Either a GRE General or a GRE Math Subject test score is required. We do not set a minimal score for the GRE test but we definitely use it as well as other factors when making an admissions decision.

GRE Exam Codes: University of Minnesota School of Mathematics
  1. Institutional Code: 6874
  2. Department Code: 0703
English Proficiency-TOEFL: We follow the Graduate School's requirements for English language proficiency standards for international students. See the Graduate School's TOEFL page for exact details and latest updates.

TOEFL Exam Codes: University of Minnesota School of Mathematics
  1. Institutional Code: 6874
  2. Department Code: 0703
Application fee:
Domestic - $75; International - $95

Application and Acceptance Rate since the start of program.
About 20% of applicants obtain acceptance to the program per year.

Academics in the program and at the University of Minnesota’s School of Mathematics are rigorous. Multiple MFM professors received their PhDs in Mathematics at top-rated universitites including UMN's highly ranked Mathematics Department. In 2018 UMN's School of Mathematics was ranked 9th in the US for Applied Mathematics. In 2017 the University of Minnesota's Mathematics program was ranked 13th in the world for in US News Best Global Universities Listing.

The Master of Financial Mathematics (MFM) program consists of four course sequences:
Fall FM 5091, Spring FM 5092
Fall FM 5011, Spring FM 5012
Fall FM 5021, Spring FM 5022
Fall FM 5032, Spring FM 5032
  • These sequences may be taken either in parallel or sequentially, following their numerical order. The only exception is FM 5091/5092 - Computation, Algorithms and Coding in Finance. Full time students complete the program in 2 years. See: MFM Curriculum.
  • The MFM is structured with a balance between theory and real world industry applications. It features rigorous coursework in mathematics and statistics alongside a yearlong practicum course that is comprised of a variety of modules taught by industry professionals. For additional real world experience, students participate in an intensive 10-day modeling winter workshop in which they work in teams on a project mentored by quant finance and data science industry mentors.
  • Students admitted into the MFM program often have a variety of backgrounds. Some need to “brush up” on their mathematical foundation in order to be better prepared for the high level of mathematics throughout the MFM courses. If you need a graduate level refresher course we will require you to take FM 5001/5002 (Preparation for Financial Mathematics I and II) before enrolling in the other more advanced financial mathematics courses.
  • All MFM courses are offered in the evening. This accommodates part time working students and allows full time students to pursue additional coursework or a minor during the day. The mix of working and full time students benefits all students. Some full time students have been hired by their part time, working classmates. See more detail on the course schedule
  • We offer the Post Baccalaureate Certificate program, "Fundamentals of Quantitative Finance" (FQF). This program gives you the opportunity to strengthen your mathematical background for the MFM program and take the full year course FM5091-92 (Computation, Algorithms and Coding in Finance). Som MFM students take the same course sequence in the first year of the MFM. For FQF students who apply and are accepted into the MFM their FQF credits for FM 5091/92 credits transfer into the MFM. They also finish the MFM with the classmates with whom they started the program.
Course Instructors include academic faculty from excellent Universities world-wide as well as quants, heads of research, risk management and traders from major local and regional banking and insurance firms, hedge funds, asset managers, clearinghouses and commodities/agribusiness firms. See details at MFM Instructors.

Career Services
MFM students receive a full set of career services. The program includes a yearlong career workshop for first year students with many helpful career development and internship/job search strategies. The weekly workshop introduces students to a variety of companies, alumni and practitioners who hire MFM graduates. Students learn about the variety of jobs in the field of quant finance from alumni, colleagues and hiring managers currently working in those roles. We offer customized, one-on-one career coaching for all MFM students. The MFM sponsors a variety of career activitites including: panel discussions with industry leaders, local, quant finance and analytics competitons and receptions and career fairs where students can build their network of contacts and peers in the quantitative financial industry.


Graduating Class (May 2019)

Graduates in Market: 33
Placement: 21 (63.64%)
Not in contact with 4 alumni but included in "graduates in market"

Graduating Class (May 2018)
Graduates in market: 31
Placement: 29 (93.55%)
Not in contact with 2 alumni but included in "graduates in market"

Industry Sector Placement Breakout
Alumni go into a wide range of fields including: banking, risk management, investment banking, commodities trading, market making, quantitative analysis, enterprise risk management, portfolio management, investment hedging, and data analytics. Both US and international alumni have been placed in Minneapolis-St. Paul, the Greater NYC area, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Charlotte, Chicago, Phoenix, Atlanta, Toronto, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Beijing, Hongzhou, Hong Kong and Seoul. A list of the companies hiring our alumni can be seen here.

There is an abundance of on and nearby off campus housing. See:
Welcome | Housing & Residential Life

Tuition and Funding Options
Minnesota State Resident Tuition 2018-19 academic year - MFM credits to graduate: 32: $32,128 ($1,004/credit). Some students will have to take the Financial Mathematics (FM) preparatory sequence with a total of 38 credits to graduate.

Non-Resident Tuition for 2017-18 academic year - MFM credits to graduate-32: $40,224 ($1257/credit). Some students will have to take the Financial Mathematics (FM) preparatory sequence with a total of 38 credits to graduate.
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I graduated from U of Minnesota's Master of Financial Mathematics (MFM) in class of 2018. I enjoyed every bit of it -taught by top-notch industry practitioners and faculty, I gained a lot of in-depth knowledge in areas such as: Derivative pricing , Quantitative risk management, Fixed income,MBS, Stochastic Calculus,Non-linear Optimization, Data Modelling, Markov Chains and programming (Python, MATLAB ,C#) etc.

The program also offers fantastic career development services through student workshops, 1-on-1 career advising and a vibrant alumni network.

MFM prepared me adequately to take on my first job as a front-end Quant pricing electricity derivatives. I get to build quantitative models in VBA and python. Knowledge about derivative pricing, counter-party credit risk and montecarlo simulation have also been pivotal in excelling in my job.
I graduated from the MFM program back in 2015 and thought it was a great program to help launch my career in the financial industry.

Before joining the program, I didn't have any experience in finance, but had the technical skills necessary for modeling and programming.

The MFM program bridged that gap, and helped me learn about various financial concepts and subjects (option pricing, portfolio management, risk management, etc.. Also, the program provide a way to practice my programming and analytical skills in a controlled setting, but with real world examples and projects which I could use to impress interviewers.

I secured a job during my second year of the program at a large regional bank in a Capital Markets risk management team, and have since moved on to a Quant role in the credit risk department.

The programming skills honed during the program helped build a great foundation for the work I'm doing now.
I graduated from the MFM program about tow and half years ago. Here is my unbiased testimony for the MFM program.

1. Academic
In my opinion this program has a very strong academic curriculum with a perfect balance between theory and practice. The program starts with solid math preparation on topics including stochastic calculus and extensive programming in C# in the first year. These classes will help you build a solid foundation on the math theories and programming skills which will benefit you in a variety of positions in the financial industry. I am still benefiting from a lot of the concepts I learned from the math and programming class today as a quant. In the second year of the program it will teach you how to apply the math theories into practice. You will be taught about almost all the financial derivatives you can name, bond, future, forward, swap, swaption, MBS, etc. And believe me you will be asked a lot of questions about these financial products depending on the role that you are interviewing. Most of the teachers (if not all, especially in the second year's class) are either from industry or have extensive experience working in the industry. Some of them are quant modeler, some of them are very experienced traders. By simply talking to them will get yourself a lot of market insights. Another good thing is that the program also have a winter workshop available during the winter break which I personally like it a lot. You will be able to have exposure to some very interesting practical projects like CCAR, hedging strategy, fixed-income modeling, even machine learning, with the guidance of an industry practitioner. This is a perfect time to strengthen your understanding about those theories and apply them to solve real-world problem. One thing I want to remind all the prospective students is that don't be afraid of talking to the teachers. All of them are super nice and helpful. What's more important is that they are all very experienced, often times you will find that most of your concerns about study/career development will be resolved by just talking to them.

2. Career Development
I am sure a lot of prospective students may have concerns about the location of UMN. Sure this is not New York, but the flip side is that you won't be easily distracted by the "fancy" things going on out there. There are also quite a lot big companies headquartered in Minnesota as well - U.S. Bank, UnitedHealth Group, Cargill, Best Buy, Travelers etc. The executive director of the MFM program, Laurie Derechin, provides valuable career advice and works diligently to help student to find a job. She is super nice, always there to help. I constantly "bother" her for career concerns even after graduation. She will patiently communicate with you, help you to figure out your career path and connect you to the alumni from industry. She will hold seminars and mock interview practice sessions regularly to get students comfortable with real interviews. She will send out recruiting information regularly and push students to apply for the jobs. I can't say enough about how much she cares about the MFM students. Personally, I got an internship at a big bank through the recruiting information she sent out (every MFM students will receive the same recruiting information!). As far as I know, a lot of students find their jobs or get job offers through the internal recruiting information and the opportunity is not only limited to Minnesota area. I would suggest the prospective students to pay more attention to the internal job information and be more active because there is a much higher probability to get an offer from there than applying yourself because typically the recruiter has some connections to the MFM program or Laurie herself. I think the MFM program pays a lot of attentions to the placement of their students and as I said above, Laurie is a super helpful resource to talk to if you have any concerns regarding career development.

Last but not least, I want to say - don't limit yourself. There is a lot of things you can do. If you set up a clear goal, establish a step-by-step plan and stick to it, you will eventually get there. You can read market news every day, join a quant club and do some modeling projects every week, meet and talk with a industry practitioner every month, sign up the CFA and FRM program. The point is that the resources that the MFM program at UMN is more than enough to help you achieve your goal, but eventually it's yourself to define who you want to be.
I am the 2nd-year MFM student and I will graduate this May. I think it’s time for me to share some of my points of this program.

1. Academic: The top reason I chose this program 2 years ago is that almost all the teachers or instructors are from the industry. Some of them are option, future traders, others are head of quantitative research and analysis, etc. These make our courses both theoretical and practical.
FM5091/ FM5092, we used Matlab (now is changed to Python), C# (GUI is powerful) to price both European options and exotic options. At the end of FM5092, we had to build an option portfolio management GUI. Also, we discussed financial markets for 30 mins each lecture. It’s really nice to know the insight of an experienced exotic option trader.
FM5011/FM5012, the most mathematical courses in the program. We learned measure theory, stochastic calculus, risk neutral measure and portfolio optimization. Math is the thing you never feel it useful until you need it. Thank for these two courses, although I already learned some of them during the undergraduate, I refreshed and consolidated the knowledge.
FM5021/FM5022, courses related to math in financial derivatives. My understanding of derivatives was superficial until I took these courses. Besides, I learned Greeks of options deeply, which is super helpful in hedging and option trading.
FM5031/FM5032, my favorite course in the whole university. The courses are very practical and let you know what quant can do in insurance company, option clearing house and asset management company. The courses are challenging, but it’s really interesting and I learned a lot from the instructors.
Also, we are flexible to choose any courses related to Math, CS, Stats, Econ, Finance and Management from other departments. And if we meet the requirement of specific department, we could get a minor.

2. Career development: I don’t know other programs’ career service, but our program’s is perfect. Laurie Derechin, who’s executive director of our program, is really really helpful! She wants all of us to get the job after graduation, and she spares no effort to help us with resume, interview and life. Based on her effort, our alumni are united. I got a lot of help from our alumni through coffee meeting, FMA meeting, MCFAM seminars and winter workshop. Networking is the key to find a job, and all the alumni are resources.

3. Location: As lots of alumni said before, we are the only MFM program in Minnesota, so we don’t have that many competitions as east coast or west coast. Minnesota is also the best place to live. Don’t be afraid of the cold. I’m from south east of China, and I don’t think the winter here is colder than my hometown…It’s just longer…

That’s all I want to share for now. I’m still trying to get a job now, but I’m not upset since I know I will have a happy ending with all these solid trainings and help from teachers and alumni.
The MFM program at the University of Minnesota was an excellent experience. The opportunities both in the classroom, as well as networking, seminars and special projects, were far superior to my undergraduate university.

What initially attracted me to this type of program was the ability to differentiate within a highly competitive industry. On the academic side, there is a clear focus on developing programming skills, which is one of the first classes taken. As you make your way through the program, you learn specific things that are applicable to equity, fixed income, and derivatives. This gives you exposure to find out what you may be interested in post-graduation. Many employers put emphasis on new graduates having a particular interest, and not just saying they like "finance".

On the networking side, the career development team provides plenty of opportunities and is willing to connect you with the large, local alumni base. I was able to land a job after my first semester, in which multiple interview questions involved things I directly learned in class. Also, several people I interviewed with were familiar with the program, displaying strong brand recognition

To wrap things up, I feel I made the right choice in choosing the U of M. I would recommend the U of M specifically because of the competition within the twin cities for jobs. The MFM at the U is the only of its type in the area, which theoretically gives its alumni an advantage.
I accomplished my Bachelor’s degree in math in UMN in 2017, and graduated from MFM in May 2019. As an international student, I found my job as a quant analyst in the United States within 3 mo. after graduation.

Could say the program provides us with nicely planned professional training. For example, FM 5011/5012 is a math prep course relating to probabilities, measure theories, matrix and some derivative pricing models. It's not very difficult for me but I believe it's the best math course for non-math majors to refresh their math knowledge. In addition to this,
my favorite course FM5021/5022 will basically build us with advanced financial math background. Although some reviews might say professors are using (definitely not copying!) materials from John Hull's book, I've learnt and got trained a lot relating to financial math models, including real programming, problem-analyzing and self theory-deriving, which is not taught by the textbook.

Have to mention a course, FM 5031/5032, which is a feature of MFM, is taught by 3 financial practitioners each semester, is absolutely a treasure for students! More in details, instructors are excellent - For example, John Dodson, who works in QRM at OCC, teaches comprehensive and excellent quant analysis insights. His lectures are never boring. In addition to this, 5031/5032 Homework is meaningful - I appreciate the instructors’ efforts making all of the real-world homework problems relating to statistical analysis, financial market and quant fin models. In this course, the homework is all programming-based. We are allowed to use any programming language we want but we have to compose very structural/detailed mathematical documentation for weekly homework. Thus, students are trained well in programming, documentation writing and teamwork. As far as I’m concerned, the homework projects will be very SHINY when you put them in your resume because of the variety and the depth. And I promise all of the quant interviewers are interested in our academic projects, and 95% of quant questions are covered by MFM courses.

Most importantly, frankly speaking, the placement of international students in the US is hard, especially in recent 2 years many companies in the US are not hiring non-green card or non-H1B holders. But If you are an international student considering joining MFM, don’t worry too much. We have alumni in Minnesota, Chicago IL, Texas, Atlanta, and some major eastern cities like NYC. They are so nice and willing to help. Our director Laurie is so helpful organizing alumni dinner, activities and Chicago trek. So, please, please go networking rather than stay at home and play video games.

In conclusion, I believe MFM provides everything-you-need for your quant career. But it’s always crucial that you must learn to make good plans and to challenge yourself while learning because your future can’t be guaranteed by a diploma - It still depends on yourself.
I graduated last year in May and got an offer in US within 2 months after graduation. I know some of you might have heard people saying "if you want to find a job in US, then choose the schools located in NY or so", which is not so true from my stand of point, you still have many good chances here, and we have quite a lot successful examples as proof.
I have a bachelor degree of applied mathematics. even so, I have largely expanded my mathematical knowledge. Also, the programming class 5091/5092 as well as other practical coding trainings in 5031/5032, will give you a prepared programming skill of being a quant.
I will be graduating this May and I really appreciate all the help I got through this program.

Academically, MFM has a well set system of courses, ranging from deep math to necessary coding and quant finance knowledge. In addition, you always have your choices to choose a minor or just register for some classes of your interest.

Aside from the coursework, we are a top program in Minnesota and we have an excellent alumni network nationwide and especially locally. Teachers and seniors are always willing to share their experience, which helped me a lot to decide where my interest lies in the quant field and also build my personality. My coffee meetings with alumni have taught me to always be grateful and contribute, which I believe will benefit my whole life.
I have learned a lot from the UMN MFM program during the last few years, and I’d like to recommend it to you if you also get a chance to join this program!

Most courses from the MFM program are taught by the experienced industry practitioners, which greatly benefits the students as they can have different views when they look into the quantitative finance world. The courses cover different interesting topics such as Risk and Asset Allocation, Volatility Models and Mortgage Backed Securities, etc. For each topic, the practitioner will give the students certain projects which help them deeply understand the topic. This would be great helpful when you graduate and want to try different things during the job hunting.

Except the practitioner courses, the MFM program also designs several mathematical courses which help their students to get a solid math background. The courses would introduce the main mathematical tools, such as probability and statistics. In addition, the coding classes were what I loved when I was at the U. The coding classes will let you build a portfolio management system in C# step by step.

Another thing I need to mention is the directors and many alumni associated with the MFM program. They are not only helpful in our academic life, but also helpful in our career development. For example, they would instruct you how to draft a resume, how to build a connection and even how to prepare an interview, etc. We can easily connect to the financial industry through them. Thanks to their help, we can have different interesting seminars given by professors or practitioners in math or finance almost every Friday nights. And they are always helpful to offer us a help or suggestion when we have any question in our career.
I got selected by this program a little more than two years ago. What drew most of my attention when I applied was that this program is under the mathematics department of University of Minnesota. UMN math department is continuously ranked top in the U.S. so that I knew this program would be mathematics-intensive.

Later on I found my choice to be absolutely right! Students of this program can choose to study for a minor master's degree in mathematics. And to my favourite part, I can customize my curriculum based on my interest and strength. I registered Fourier Analysis and audited subsequent Numerical Analysis classes, which helped me get better understanding when it comes to topics inside MFM curriculum such as finite element method in Option Pricing. And did i mention that we happen to have some most important scholars in the field of PDE such as Prof. Douglas Arnold who is also on the board of one of the most important Python PDE packages?

In terms of job placement, the past record shows that it is not enough to just sit in a classroom studying to secure a preferred position in the quant world. This program values local and national quant alumni networks as much as academic strength. As a recent graduate of this program and as a new hire into the industry, I appreciate a lot the help I got from my seniors. That is the reason why I feel the need to share some thought and review here about this program. Hope this helps you get to know more about your options when applying. Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions!