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Princeton MFin 2011 Princeton Master in Finance results

matlee

New Member
Results indeed out

I can confirm that they conducted 100 interviews (both phone and in-person) out of approximately 800-900 applications. Not sure how many they accepted this year but during my interview, I was told they were targeting approximately 35.

Have a good problem on my hands right now - Princeton vs. MIT MFin. Any opinions?
 

Andy Nguyen

Member
There is no question the brand name power that MIT has going for it but the jury is still out about their MFin program. MIT has only graduated its first class of 26 students in Jun 2010. You can find its placement here: 19/26 found jobs with 75K mean salary.

The second class is substantially bigger with 58 students so it's unclear how the placement number will look like. We may have to way until Dec 2011 to see the report.

MIT is one year program, Princeton is 2 years program.
Tuition at Princeton is $38,620/year
Applying to Princeton -The Graduate School - Princeton University

You can then look at the students profile, placement records to see where you like to end up working. The average age of MIT MFin students is 21.3 which suggests mostly fresh graduates with only a bachelor degree.

I would give a new program 5 years to establish a track record for itself. We will see in the next few years if MIT is fully committed in making their MFin a world class program. If they are, many programs will be worried.
 

Yike Lu

Finder of biased coins.
I interviewed with Wendell Collins. She wanted to know about my leadership experience and mentioned that "We train leaders, not quants," and that while they certainly have a place for quants, that's not their focus.
 

banbuzz

Member
Hi matlee,,

Congrats on getting the offer.
Would be thankful if you can share your profile just to get an idea about the kind of people Princeton is looking for
 

matlee

New Member
Hi Andy, banbuzz,

I interviewed with Ms Collins as well. She's the Director of Corporate Relations. As you can imagine from her position, they seemed more concerned with fit than technical proficiency, presumably because they had already tried to filter for that (math background etc.) before the interview round. The interview was pretty much similar to the fit questions that one gets in a professional interview, running through your resume, and a focus on professional experience and personal interests.

As for my personal background, I am currently finishing up my third and final year at Wharton, majoring in Finance and Statistics. GPA 3.8/4.0. Interned at a BB, as well as in the public sector. On a government scholarship and will be returning to my home country to serve in a policy making role in the immediate future.

If anyone has further questions feel free to shoot me a private message.



Can people who got interviewed with Princeton share their experience?
What kind of questions were you asked?
Who did you interview with? Wendell Collins? students? faculty?

This is the same query coming up year after year so it's a good idea to put it out there.
 

PennyLess

Active Member
Matt, I think Princeton's definitely better than MIT in terms of placement and curriculum. I wish I have the same choices as you do, but unfortunately I wasn't even able to get an interview with Princeton. MIT's curriculum is actually not as good for people who want quant focus. They have too many "required" courses and give you only 3 free electives. Yes, you can also benefit from their offerings in computer science, math, and economics, but limited to only 2-3 courses. The rest of your curriculum would have to be filled with general finance courses that appear less interesting, especially if you have already taken similar ones at Wharton. The curriculum for MIT would be much better if they let you freely choose from electives in PDE, advanced algorithms and financial economic theory.

Andy mentioned that Princeton is twice as expensive because it's two years. I thought Princeton's tuition is 60k for two years while MIT's is 72k for one year?
 

MichaelKraus

New Member
Hi All,

I have received an admission to Princeton which I am very excited about, and also met with Wendell for my interview. I wanted to share a few insights.

The interview focused mostly on fit, enthusiasm, creativity, and interest... so it essentially focused on the soft skills. I got the feeling that the first round focuses primarily on hard skills (i.e. can this person do the math, deal with rigorous classes, and does he have a background that could contribute something) while the interview process serves to marry the hard skills on paper with the soft skills. We discussed some of the projects I had done at work (risk management platform) and how I approached the design of the project along with how it was spread through my firm. I would agree with prior comments that the interview sought out leadership skills. However, I think one thing they really look for are people who are enthusiastic about quantitative finance generally. They're not looking for people to say "I've wanted Princeton since I was a small child;" they are looking for people who are thirsty and say "I want more than anything else to do quantitative finance." I thought the whole approach, application, interview, and all was great. It made me feel like the school really cares about putting together the best class they can, rather than making me feel like a # to pay an expensive tuition.

Overall, I've found the process to be wonderful. I am very excited about the program.

Cheers,
Michael.
 

Andy Nguyen

Member
According to the notes in one of the trackers, they interviewed 100 out of 800 applicants this year. I do not know how accurate this is

Last year, they admitted 31 out of 605 applicants, and 25 of those enrolled.
For more detailed numbers, take a look at Collection of Admission Numbers from MFE Programs - Quant Network
Our staff writer who covers the Princeton program has confirmed that the 800 number is not correct. They in fact have 730 applications this year, their record high.
The previous high was 664 in 2008.
 

ICQuant

Active Member
Our staff writer who covers the Princeton program has confirmed that the 800 number is not correct. They in fact have 730 applications this year, their record high.
The previous high was 664 in 2008.
Andy when someone applies to Master of Finance at Princeton does he have to mention which track he wanna take!?
 

bigbadwolf

Well-Known Member
I interviewed with Wendell Collins. She wanted to know about my leadership experience and mentioned that "We train leaders, not quants," and that while they certainly have a place for quants, that's not their focus.

I don't think they can produce quants: their syllabus shows only one C++ course and none of the hard-core PDE and numerical analysis courses. By "leaders" they mean people who will fit into general financial administration positions (which could be more lucrative than quant positions). The program doesn't seem to be technically demanding so they will probably focus on soft issues like personality, style, comportment and the ability to speak and write.
 

mcgruber

Active Member
I don't think they can produce quants: their syllabus shows only one C++ course and none of the hard-core PDE and numerical analysis courses. By "leaders" they mean people who will fit into general financial administration positions (which could be more lucrative than quant positions). The program doesn't seem to be technically demanding so they will probably focus on soft issues like personality, style, comportment and the ability to speak and write.

I think you have incorrect information. Please do some research before posting your opinions.

Princeton MFin has 6 core courses and 10 elective courses.

The core courses do include some traditional "non-quant" courses such as

ECO 362 – Financial Investments
FIN 502 – Corporate Finance and Financial Accounting
ORF 504 – Financial Economics

But also have more Mathematics based courses such as

FIN 501 – Asset Pricing I: Pricing Models and Derivatives –
This course provides an introduction to the modern theory of asset pricing. Topics include: no arbitrage, Arrow-Debreu prices and equivalent martingale measures, security structure and market completeness, mean-variance analysis, Beta-pricing, CAPM, and introduction to derivative pricing.

ORF515/FIN 503 – Asset Pricing II, Stochastic Calculus and Advanced Derivatives –

This course begins with an overview of basic probability theory and covers the elements of stochastic calculus and stochastic differential equations that are widely used in derivatives modeling, pricing and hedging. Topics include Brownian motion, martingales, and diffusions and their uses in stochastic volatility; volatility smiles; risk management; interest-rate models; and derivatives, swaps, credit risk, and real options.

ORF 505 – Modern Regression and Time Series
This course examines linear and mixed effect models, nonlinear regression, nonparametric regression and classification, time series analysis: stationarity and classical linear models (AR, MA, ARMA), nonlinear and nonstationary time-series models, state space systems, and hidden Markov models and filtering

http://www.princeton.edu/bcf/graduate/core/core-course-description/index.xml

Comparing Columbia MSFE, Berkeley MFE and Princeton MFin, we see that all three programs have a good combination of non-quant and quant based core courses. (Stanford is a little heavier on the Math side)

The real game starts with the electives. Princeton MFin has an eclectic mix of elective courses. It gives the students very good choices and ability to customize their program direction.

For C++
ORF 531/FIN 531: Computational Finance in C++

Barring CMU MSCF, none of the other trier-1 programs offer more than one C++ class. I think one C++ class with option to use C++ (along with MATLAB etc.) in other classes give Masters students very good background in C++, atleast to use it in the quant arena.

For PDE/Numerical Analysis

APC 350: Introduction to Partial Differential Equations
APC 503: Analytical Techniques in Differential Equations
APC 518/ORF 518: Applied Stochastic Analysis and Methods
CEE 513: Introduction to Finite-element Methods
CEE 532: Advanced Finite-element Methods
CHE 508: Numerical Methods for Engineers
CHE 530: Systems Engineering [numerical methods]
MAE 503: Basic Numerical Methods for Ordinary and Partial Differential Equations
MAT 301/MAE 305: Mathematics in Engineering I (ODE, PDE)
MAT 302/MAE 306: Mathematics in Engineering II (PDE, complex variables)

The complete list is here

http://www.princeton.edu/bcf/graduate/elective/

I think this collection is more than sufficient to give a good background in PDE/Numerical Methods to a Masters quant program student if they wish.

Princeton MFin does have a tilt towards general Finance (and maybe they prefer it that way) but that in no way means that the program is incapable of imparting strong quant skills to its students.
 

bigbadwolf

Well-Known Member
For C++
ORF 531/FIN 531: Computational Finance in C++

Barring CMU MSCF, none of the other trier-1 programs offer more than one C++ class. I think one C++ class with option to use C++ (along with MATLAB etc.) in other classes give Masters students very good background in C++, atleast to use it in the quant arena.

If memory serves, Baruch has five courses involving C++. You've got to be kidding that one C++ course is enough.

For PDE/Numerical Analysis

APC 350: Introduction to Partial Differential Equations
APC 503: Analytical Techniques in Differential Equations
APC 518/ORF 518: Applied Stochastic Analysis and Methods
CEE 513: Introduction to Finite-element Methods
CEE 532: Advanced Finite-element Methods
CHE 508: Numerical Methods for Engineers
CHE 530: Systems Engineering [numerical methods]
MAE 503: Basic Numerical Methods for Ordinary and Partial Differential Equations
MAT 301/MAE 305: Mathematics in Engineering I (ODE, PDE)
MAT 302/MAE 306: Mathematics in Engineering II (PDE, complex variables)

They're being offered by other departments and are not an integrated part of the finance program. Ideally, students want to see PDEs and numerical analysis in the context of finance. Admit it: the Princeton program is designed to produce generalists. Nothing wrong with that. For quant school, something like Baruch or CMU would probably be a better fit.
 

mcgruber

Active Member
If memory serves, Baruch has five courses involving C++. You've got to be kidding that one C++ course is enough.
They're being offered by other departments and are not an integrated part of the finance program. Ideally, students want to see PDEs and numerical analysis in the context of finance. Admit it: the Princeton program is designed to produce generalists. Nothing wrong with that. For quant school, something like Baruch or CMU would probably be a better fit.

You can use as many illogical arguments as you want but that doesn't change the truth. I guess you may not have any real qualifications and background in Quant Finance, that's why you are making such statements.

ORF515/FIN 503 – Asset Pricing II, Stochastic Calculus and Advanced Derivatives with emphasis on "stochastic calculus and stochastic differential equations that are widely used in derivatives modeling, pricing and hedging

alone would require a solid background in ODE/PDE and methods to solve SDEs. Topics like Brownian motion, martingales, and diffusions and their uses in stochastic volatility would also require basic Measure theory.

Even if the PDE/Numerical methods electives are offered by other departments, Numerical Methods is an independent topic. And a rigorous background provided by the mentioned electives can be easily applied to finance related PDEs (especially by those who don't need spoon-feeding and those who make the cut for Princeton MFin). But most of us would agree that these classes have "heavy" mathematics orientation, not suitable for finance generalists.

And by your criteria, Berkeley MFE would not even come into the picture of quant finance. But as well know, the job market disagrees with you.

CMU/Baruch are very good programs. But each program has its own vision, focus and strengths and weaknesses. But your original statement about Princeton MFin "I don't think they can produce quants" just shows your ignorance.
 
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