University of Washington Computational Finance & Risk Management

University of Washington Computational Finance & Risk Management

The Master of Computational Finance and Risk Management program is a degree offered in the University of Washington’s Department of Applied Mathematics.

Students are able to attend the CFRM program on-campus full-time, online part-time, through the Computational Finance Certificate, or through single course enrollment.
4.95 star(s) 38 ratings
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Latest reviews

The skill sets I learnt in this program are really helpful. For example, in one interview assignment I did about energy arbitrage, I used linear programming(cfrm 507 optimizaion in finance), trading strategy(cfrm 422 introduction to trading system), time series data decomposition(cfrm 503 financial data science) and monte carlo simulation(cfrm 505). The interviewer is really satisfied with my assignment. Actually, if time permits, I can use the LSTM or GRU model I learnt from machine learning course(cfrm 521 machine learning for finance) to do forecasting. I can also use the logistic regression which is covered in many courses to classify the weather to be related with extreme energy price or not.

When I got applied by CFRM program, I was not so sure what skill sets can better fit the need of the labor market. I just think it's good to learn more hard-core skill sets. So, I'm really grateful that this program makes the choices for us. We can just learn and use them in the future.
I am part of the 2021 CFRM cohort. I had a background in Finance and before starting at UW I had completed only a few math and programming courses.

The CFRM curriculum is arranged really well. During the first few weeks students from different backgrounds come up to speed with the basic quant finance material. Later, the advanced courses help to build an in-depth knowledge of the statistical and analytical concepts. The program also emphasizes financial software development, machine learning, and data science skills which are applicable in many industries. The course material, assignments, and projects have a strong practical focus which prepares well for the industry. The work is completed on R, Python, SQL, C++ all of which are important languages in the industry. The program also offers advanced courses on trading and derivative strategies.

The instructors are subject matter experts with strong industry experience in leading companies which enriches the class discussions. The school has a very strong career office that helps students improve their job applications, cover letters, general and industry-specific interview skills. The academic office provides guidance in all other matters. International students in particular stay up to date with the requirements of their visa by constant reminders and guidance from this office.

All the classes are recorded so for me managing coursework was easier. Even after graduating, the faculty, academic, and career advisors have stayed in touch and are very helpful. I highly recommend the CFRM program!

Syed Aun Haider
Overall: 4.7 out of 5
Classroom contents and teaching quality: 4 out of 5
Prepping you for the next step of your professional and/or academic career: 5 out of 5
Location, industry connections, career opportunities: 5 out of 5

The review below is subjective because I think education and career choices are personal. Instead of providing just the highlights, I will list out courses that I took, along with my thoughts on them, with tips and tricks to help you make the most out of the CFRM experience OR make your decision to attend CFRM program at UW.
I attended UW CFRM program right after my undergraduate studies in economics and mathematics (which I think had its own advantages and disadvantages)
- Advantage: fresh quantitative knowledge from college will definitely help you be more prepared with math focused CFRM courses
- Disadvantage: might be lack of industry knowledge/experience, thus, might not be aware of how knowledge from certain courses can be applied to solve industry problems

Autumn 2017: 501, 504, 506
Winter 2018: 502, 520, 550
Spring 2018: 503, 505, 509, 522
Summer 2018: internship + collaborative project with CFRM professor
Autumn 2018: internship + part-time job with a local fin-tech, finalized collaborative research project
Winter 2019: internship + part-time job with a local fin-tech
Spring 2019: 521 + internship + part-time job with a local fin-tech

I think all courses sticked very well with their descriptions and schedules. Certain courses took longer to sink in, some weren't too bad. Overall, a well-balanced curriculum with a good mix between academic and industry lectures.

In your first year, get yourself a nice suit, make friends, and attend as many local (meetups and UW's clubs) and CFRM events (CFA, CAIA, Tech conferences, etc.) as possible. These could be your employment opportunities. Lots of fin-tech projects in Seattle that you can be part of, if you simply ask. And of course, lots of rejections, too.
In the second year, depending on what career path that you want, Karen or your career service advisor will help you GET it. Even after you graduated, you will continue to receive great career opportunities from her. But your internship will mostly likely turn into your full-time career.

Lectures are recorded and will be available on Canvas. Save your notes and focus on the lecture in class, then re-visit the lecture at 2x the speed (if lectures were slow) or maybe 0.5x the speed. Bloomberg terminal is available at UW Foster Library if you need serious financial and economic data.
I completed this program between Sept 2014 and Dec 2018. Online delivery and capability to complete part-time were key for me because I already work full-time in asset management. I also chose this program because the focus is more on asset management than on engineering, which should make sense given my profession.

The online delivery was good when I started and has improved over time.

I enjoyed the programming courses the most, and was glad to be able to take R, C++, and SQL/VBA courses. The program also allows elective credit from the applied math department's high performance computing course, which I took, and thought was excellent.

The 2017/18 curriculum was reshuffled for the incoming cohort, accompanied by a lot of staff turnover. I cannot speak to the differences this may have made because the course I took this autumn is one that has been offered for a number of years, taught by an industry pro. I think steering the program toward some data-science-compatible skills will be helpful in aligning student capabilities with industry trends.

I really enjoyed the program, worked hard, and learned an awful lot that I can now use on a regular basis, and have been able to redefine my employment role as a result.
I will be graduating from the CFRM program in spring of 2018. I chose UW as it allowed me to attend classes part-time and remotely for the entire program and UW is a very reputable school. I am currently working in corporate taxation and I am attempting to make a career change. Being part-time and attending remotely has allowed me to pursue the degree without my employer becoming aware that I am in the program, which is difficult but doable.

The lectures for every course I took were recorded which I was able to download and watch on my own schedule (some courses use different formats that others). They have a lot of electives that I believe are useful (trading system design, C++, SQL/VBA, etc.). UW's CFRM program has made revisions to the coursework which I believe has been an improvement. They have improved the proctoring process quite a bit (I have used the same proctor for the whole program). The program advisor (Laurie) was extremely responsive to emails assisting me with scheduling, etc. There were one or two courses the instructors/professors were verbally strict on dates for taking exams for online/part-time students (i.e. had to be taken same day), but most of them were flexible when I communicated with them directly, allowing them to be taken same week and even on the weekend.

The UW CFRM program is housed within the Applied Math department which provides a more mathematical based on structure to the program, however there is an extensive programing aspect as well. The VBA course I feel is very practical and even helpful even in my current career (I use excel all of the time). They use R throughout every course in the program. This has made me quite proficient at being able to crank out quick R scripts to finish assignments. I have a BS in Mathematics (from a top-5 public school) and an MS in Statistics (from a state school). I took the C++ course, however I wish that they had another C++ course or integrated it into the regular courses. Given my background some of the material was familiar to me and I didn't find the time required to be too much for me given that I regularly work 50+ hours a week.
I just graduated and overall my experience has been excellent.
The professors are very organized and are a great mix of industry professionals and academics. The instructors and staff are constantly working to connect the students with individuals in the industry. If anyone is interested in working in the finance industry regardless of experience( I came almost straight out of a physics bachelors with very little experience) this program is a great choice. It is also very affordable and located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
I am a current full time student. I think it is a great program. The program is trying their best to cater students need and take them very seriously.

The professors are great. Organized and very responsible. Not like other programs, a lot of international students found jobs eventually and get to stay in the states.
I’m a full-time, on-campus student graduating this fall (2015) from the CFRM program. I would classify my experience at the program as excellent. I think a prospective grad student would be hard-pressed to find another school that offered a better quant-finance education per dollar spent. The following are strengths and weaknesses of the programs:


-Rigorous mathematically. For the most part, subjects are taught fairly rigorously. This is especially true of the classes which involve derivatives pricing. In a few courses, there just isn’t enough time to spend a lot on the theory (because of the sheer volume of topics covered), but this allows you to get a taste of more subjects and study them more thoroughly if you need to use them on the job (I’ve done this, for example, with a lot of time series concepts on the job).

-Good experience using R, VBA, and SQL. In almost every class, there are a mixture of analytical exercises and computing exercises to be completed in R. This gives students a strong background in R computing and prepares them for tackling more involved projects in industry. There is also a course in VBA and SQL that has been very important for me in practice. In all cases, students get to work with real-world data.

-Instructors are knowledgeable. Of course, there will always be a professor or two who aren’t superstars, but for the most part the faculty are highly skilled and have no problem teaching state-of-the art techniques.

-Strong career help. Under the direction of Bill Anderson, the team members working to help students obtain internships and to network with industry professionals are one of the biggest strengths of the program. Each year, almost 100% of students who are actively looking for internships are able to get them. I am now working in a full time position at the company that I interned at because of the CFRM program.
-Good online presence. All courses are offered both in-person and online. This is good for working professionals who are going back to school. The format allows for flexibility and the TA’s and professors are available online for office hours every week.


-Not enough time to learn everything. Despite the program being 42 credits, I felt that there wasn’t enough time in the 18 month program to deeply learn all subjects. I would imagine this is the same elsewhere, however. Still, I sometimes feel like I’m not 100% prepared for what my career might throw at me.

-I don’t feel prepared for a career in derivatives. Our iteration of the options and derivatives course was not great. This was the only class in the program that I would consider to be anything but high quality. This year and the year before I took the course, it was taught by different professors and seemed better. I feel our class was stunted by this and it made it harder to deal with derivative pricing and stochastic calculus material later on.

- This is a new program and some of the curriculum is experimental. A few of the classes my cohort took were either being taught for the first time or were significantly altered from the previous year. As a result, the teachings were maybe not as cohesive or organized as they could have been. These things will change as the program becomes more developed, however.

Overall, I absolutely think I made the right decision choosing this program. I was able to make it through the program with strong academic performance and now have a full-time job because of my decision to attend.
I am a full-time CFRM student. I think it's a great program, especially for international students:

1) Great training in career development, communication skills, which might be one of the most important things for international students who are not familiar with US culture. Not every program can have career coaches that help every student revise his/her resume, cover letter again and again (usually at least 3 iterations) and even help find the right positions for you to apply. The program has extremely strong connection to financial industry in Seattle, as well as fast growing connection nationally including New York, Chicago.

2) Flexibility of graduation date. You can either choose to graduate in one year with general track, or choose to stay longrt by taking more courses (1.5 year, 2 year and even longer are all possible). Don't look down upon this if you are an international student!!!!

As a student coming from anther country and plan to find a job in US, usually you want to stay longer here in order to get adapted to the culture and give yourself more time for career training/internship experience. The flexibility in choosing your graduation date, plus a much more reasonable tuition make all these possible. What's more, if you find a job/internship after one year's study, you can start to work either part-timely or full-timely and transfer to online student. That means you don't need to be in Seattle. That's extremely helpful because a lot of the times if you can't start to work right away, the company will not give you an offer. As far as I know, CFRM is the only MFE program that provide the online track choice.

3) Seattle is so beautiful!!!!!!!!!You'll love it, I promise.
I joined the CFRM certificate program first in 2011 and enjoyed the courses that the faculty offered and subsequently decided to continue progressing towards the M.S degree in computational finance and risk management. From my experience, the coursework is relevant to the real quant world, the faculty is caring in my career development, which in my experience really set them apart from many other similar programs in the country, and I benefited a great deal from the strong industry connection this program has in the area which not only helped me in landing my internship but also bridged me to my current job.