University of Washington Computational Finance & Risk Management

University of Washington Computational Finance & Risk Management

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.
W-CFRM program is an excellent program which provides students with abundant knowledge and career resources. I joined the program in 2012 and I really enjoyed the courses they taught, which are based on real-world financial problems and are highly applicable in the industry. Almost all the students got opportunities to intern during summer quarters, and many winded up as full-time job offers. If a career in the financial industry is your goal, I would highly recommend this program.
W-CFRM program is an excellent program which provides students with abundant knowledge and career resources. I joined the program in 2012 and I really enjoyed the courses they taught, which are based on real-world financial problems and are highly applicable in the industry. Almost all the students got opportunities to intern during summer quarters, and many winded up as full-time job offers. If a career in the financial industry is your goal, I would highly recommend this program.
UW-CFRM program is an excellent program which provides students with abundant knowledge and career resources. I joined the program in 2012 and I really enjoyed the courses they taught, which are based on real-world financial problems and are highly applicable in the industry. Almost all the students got opportunities to intern during summer quarters, and many winded up as full-time job offers. If a career in the financial industry is your goal, I would highly recommend this program.
Please provide information about your background.
3.54/5 overall, 4.1/5 professional. Major in Financial Engineering.
Did you get admitted to other programs?
Yes, Fordham, Rutgers, SMU, Alabama, Uconn
Why did you choose this program?
The program has strong applied Math background and Statistic oriented. Also faculties are very awesome.
Tell us about the quality of teaching.
Very good. Workload is a little overwhelming, However, I got a lot coding experiences, which is very useful in job hunting.
What is unique about this program?
1. Focus on R programming, which is increasingly popular and very cool.
2. Practical oriented curriculum set. We do some practical oriented project, such as designing a portfolio strategy, doing becktesting and competing final return with classmates, also pricing options by numeric.
What are any weaknesses in this program?
Workload is heavy and study pace is really fast. I didn’t have enough time to deeply dig some point you interested in. Also, if you didn’t have a good schedule and strong motivation to push you executing your plan, you may feel bad.
What was your experience like with career services?
I thinks the career services is good enough. It truly provide me and my classmates a lot of opportunities, even though the companies are not all big names and the positions are not all what you like. I have to admit the career services of our program do their best with the limited recourses.
What is the student body like?
Math, Engineering and stats is primary. One or two are finance
Do you have any suggestions to make the program better?
Let the students close to live markets and pay an attention to the markest. Maybe set up a trading floor and let all the students form a mock assets management company, each acting as a role in that company and running a mock fund continuously from every beginning to their graduate.
Before joining the CFRM program, I had a Bachelor of Science major in Statistics, minor in Mathematics. I felt the basic statistics skills were not enough for me, I wanted to apply my statistics and mathematics knowledge in my favorite field - finance. Since I studied my undergraduate degree in the University of Washington, I got chance to sit in the CFRM classes, the live discussion and materials taught there were really appealing to me. My friend who was a PhD at UW was taking the CFRM classes and gave me very positive feedback too. CFRM program became my top choice.

Quality of teaching is great, the instructors are very helpful. Instructors use class time very efficiently and assign meaningful assignments. Outside classroom instructors and TAs give a lot of extra help. All the lectures are recorded and available online, which becomes very handy for review.

CFRM program offers us seminars, career coaching events, networking events, student clubs. Those activities outside classroom provide different perspectives of learning knowledge, connecting us with what is happening in the world. Students like me who like to participate in organizing such events also get a chance to gain leadership skills.

My classmates were friendly and with different backgrounds, which allow us always have something to learn from each other. Faculties and staffs were very helpful, especially when students look for internships and jobs. I got my first internship in a financial company during my second quarter in CFRM program, after 3 months of internship I was offered a full time job. Because the flexibility of CFRM curriculum, I could work full time in the day and go to classes at night, the materials were also available online. Without the things I learn from the program and the help from professors, I could not be offered a job while I was still studying the degree especially during years when economy was not that good. I was really thankful to everybody in the program.

After obtaining my Master's degree from CFRM, I got an even better job offer from Microsoft. I am current a forecasting model specialist, leveraging many things I learned in CFRM program such as financial modeling, I think the 2 years I spent with CFRM were definitely worthy and significant to my future.
The well-balanced blend of theoretical and practical finance which comprises the University of Washington's M.S. program in Computational Finance and Risk Management resoundingly met my objective of pursuing a quantitatively based career in finance. The curriculum is highly analytical and rigorous without being overly abstract. Theory is combined with application to ensure that concepts are not only deeply understood, but also can be used in the field. I found that the mix of academics and industry professionals in the faculty was extremely helpful in preparing for a wide range of positions in the finance industry while remaining on the cutting edge of financial theory and statistical applications. The program focus on portfolio analysis and risk management (using R) is one of several aspects that sets the CFRM program apart from many other quantitative finance programs. The CFRM faculty and staff are committed to providing students with a comprehensive experience: offering seminars from leading academics and practitioners, bringing in outside consultants to prepare students for the process of finding and getting a job, and sponsoring finance-based events in the community. My participation in this program has undoubtedly enhanced my financial research and analysis skills. I highly recommend the M.S. program to someone looking to develop or improve their knowledge and abilities in quantitative finance and financial programming.
I was working as a Managing Director of Research at Parametric and decided to try the CFRM program. My background is in Physics and even with 15 years experience and a CFA I found the program at the UW to be extremely useful at work. The MS in Computational Finance and Risk Management at the UW has the Applied Mathematics department as its home, and consequently provides a very strong foundation in the statistical and analytical concepts of quantitative finance. However, the ability to solve a partial differential equation or derive the Black-Scholes model alone won't land you a job or help you keep it. What this program does to help prepare students for a successful career in quantitative finance is create a solid link between theory and practice. It accomplishes this through a focus on R programming, a specific course on electronic trading, and through the faculty which are a healthy mix of academics with industry experience and leading industry professionals contributing their knowledge and experience as Affiliate Instructors. Highly recommended to people who are new to investing and to those who have significant experience.
I had an undergraduate degree in Math/Econ before joining the CFRM program. I was admitted to other programs, but I choose CFRM for the Impressive curriculum, the experienced faculties, and since I’ve set my vocational goal in China, I’m thankful that I could explore the local market and at the same time have the opportunity to be able to achieve the same MS degree as on-campus UW students.

The Computational Finance Certificate program has been very intense, and I was overwhelmed at first. Because I live in China it was a little hard at first for me to be as in-sync as other on-campus MS-CFRM degree students, especially with the group projects. But later on with the help of my group members and other peers, and with all the discussions we had in the online General Discussion Forum and emails, I was able to catch up and understand.

The TA recorded office hours were particularly helpful. This is because the time difference between China and Seattle made it almost impossible for me to attend the live online hours. I could always watch the recordings of the TA sessions and email the TA’s or professors whenever I was confused. The instructors and the TAs were very quick to respond and as a consequence I always able to get my problems solved in time.

The course projects experience was very helpful in my intern and job hunting, including the last project in AMATH 543 which helped me impress the recruiter. I really love the fact that we get to practice on real-market problems. It is good to see that one of my suggestions for improvement by adding more courses with a more balanced workload has been incorporated into the curriculum.

The CFRM definitely deserves a 5-star rating, I have just completed this degree and these past 1.5 years in the program have prepared me well for the industry.
• Please provide information about your background.
Before joining the CFRM program, I had a Bachelor of Technology in Electrical Engineering degree and I had been working in that field for 3 years.

• Did you get admitted to other programs?

• Why did you choose this program?
Tuition fee was among the least as compared to other programs. One of my friends was already doing a PhD at UW when I applied, so I thought it would be easy for me live in Seattle.

• Tell us about the quality of teaching.
Quality of Teaching is great. Instructors are really helpful. Large emphasis is given to the homework assignments which are meaningful and add a lot to the learning. The program offers almost a perfect balance of breadth and depth in the field of quantitative finance.

• What is unique about this program?
All the lectures are recorded and available online. This becomes really handy later on, as you can continue to do internship/work and attend the school at the same time.

• What are any weaknesses in this program?
When I was attending this program, it was still evolving and the syllabus of some courses wasn't very comprehensive. Now, with feedback from students, it's more thorough and offers several elective courses.

• What was your experience like with career services?
Being a new program, there is a slight disadvantage when you apply for jobs and the career fair at UW doesn't get many finance firms. But the faculty and program adviser work hard to get you interviews and get placed. Overall, my experience with the career services was good.

• What is the student body like?
I was shy and didn't interact much with my class in person, but the online discussion forums were great. Several online students were working professionals and their perspective added a lot to the knowledge.

• Do you have any suggestions to make the program better?
Most of the courses in first year have smaller assignments and no big projects. So when you apply for internships, you don't have much to write on your resume. It's difficult to implement, but I feel if there was a way of doing some meaningful projects in the first year itself then it would add a lot of value to the resume and give you a great point to talk about in an interview.

• What is your current job status?
Currently, I'm working as an intern at Research Affiliates LLC, Newport Beach, CA.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I had an undergraduate degree in EE, a MS degree in Transportation Planning and worked as a consultant in transportation infrastructure planning for 2 years before joining the CFRM program.

Did you get admitted to other programs?
I applied for CFRM program only.

Why did you choose this program (over others, if applicable)?
Initially, I chose this program because my family was in Seattle, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Tell us about the application process at this program.
Just submitted application material according to the instructions listed on the program website and the result came by email.

Does this program offer refresher courses for incoming students? How useful was it?
The program offers a variety of refresher courses, including probability & statistics, R programming and introduction to capital markets so that students coming from different backgrounds can be better prepared for the program.

Tell us about the quality of teaching.
The more theoretical courses are taught by professors from the academia while the practically-oriented courses are mostly taught by experienced professionals from the industry. The instructors are very familiar with the topics they are teaching and often offer insights of their own besides covering the standard textbook material.

What is unique about this program?
The program is extremely flexible in that aside from a few core courses, the student is free to choose their combination of elective courses to achieve their own goals under the assistance of the program advisor, such as a computing pathway or a risk management pathway. As the name of the program suggests, the program has an abundance of courses concerning risk management, which has become a central topic in the industry after the financial crisis.

What are any weaknesses in this program?
This is a relatively new program so the alumni network may not be as developed as some of the older programs. However, the program has been working very hard at building networks with the industry.

What was your experience like with career services?
Besides the standard career services, such as job postings and resume revising, the program also have a 3-day interview coaching session given by professional interview coaches. The program is especially active in marketing the students to local firms for internship and full-time employment opportunities.

Do you have any suggestions to make the program better?
Regarding the course material, I would like to see an addition of operational risk management course in the curriculum.

What is your current job status?
I am currently a PhD student in Applied Mathematics at University of Washington focusing on the understanding and quantitative modeling of systemic risk in the financial system. The inspiration, knowledge and skill sets I acquired from the CFRM program definitely prepared me well to study this exciting area with both theoretical and practical implications.
To be direct, the Computational Finance & Risk Management program at the University of Washington was worth every penny. The program helped me learn the tools required to succeed as a financial modeler while helping me find an internship and a full time job in an interesting industry.

I was first enrolled during June of 2011 and I graduated in June of 2013 for a total of two years in the program. I started as a full time in class student, transitioned to a full time online student and then transitioned again to a part time online student after I started working full time. Overall, the University of Washington was very accommodating as my personal situation evolved.

The difference between the online path and the in class path is minimal, with the only real differences being in communication (online vs in person) and test taking. The drawback in test taking is the inability to ask real time questions during the exams as the questions need to be routed through a proctor and a response is usually not immediate. Lectures are recorded and available to both online and in class students. Discussion sessions and office hours are also recorded and posted online. Real time chat is available during all sessions for online students and the instructors are very responsive to the chat. Homework is typically submitted online and there is very active and helpful homework discussion in the online discussion forum. As a student who spent time in person and online, I am very happy with my online experience and I do not feel like I missed anything due to that situation.

The program did a great job in teaching the most relevant skills for use right out of school. Courses cover both practical and theoretical concepts so I could apply the tools I was taught while understanding their theoretical limitations and nuances. Instruction started by talking about what the typical methodologies are, then it covered the shortfalls in those methodologies and then solutions were presented that overcome the shortfalls and result in theoretically sound models that are decently accurate in practice. Since so much of quantitative finance deals with uncertainty, quite a bit of statistical theory is covered. Proofs of theorems and equations are required but only to the extent that they help with the understanding of the topic. I never felt like I was being forced to do busy work that wasn’t helping me learn.

In additional to finance and statistics, a fair amount of programming concepts are introduced. In this program I learned how to program in C++ (which covered most relevant object oriented programming concepts) and in R. In fact, this program allowed me to gain such proficiency in R that I am now considered to be the resident R expert in our team of about 25 people.

The faculty is world class. They are genuinely interested in the coursework and they are committed to helping students succeed. Plus they’re just really, really smart people.

This program provided me with sound education in the topics of finance, statistics and programming that allowed me to secure a job that offers interesting work at a pay rate far above what I could have obtained with a standard undergraduate degree. I am very happy with my outcome from this program.