A PhD in.... what?

mountains

New Member
I know the sort of research I want to do, but there are a few fields in which I could do said research. From the perspective of research I could simply choose whatever department gave me the most freedom and have at it, however employment prospects come into consideration. Which discipline(s) would hold the most weight when applying to quant jobs?

Interests [All with respect to financial markets]:
  • Information theory
  • Nonparametric statistics
  • Dynamical systems
  • Network systems
Proposed disciplines:
  • Operations research/industrial engineering (financial engineering)
  • Mathematics/Applied Math
  • Statistics
  • Economics (econometrics)
  • Informatics
  • Electrical engineering
  • Interdisciplinary blah blah blah (I'd rely more on the name brand of the university than the name of my department)
Note that may or may not matter: I started a PhD in finance, but the research I wanted to do was just too much think-outside-the-box and not enough study-human-behavior for them. Honestly it'd be awesome to get a job as a professor, but quantitative modeling/research on WS would be awesome too.
 

Onegin

Active Member
C++ Student
Math, Comp sci, ML/DS, etc are all in high demand. Econometrics /Econ / finance maybe less so. Top school helps a lot.

Not from career perspective, but Santa Fe Institute is doing very cool work, and they accept summer grad school fellows if you want to try more interdisciplinary.
 

mountains

New Member
This post looks like a multiple choice questionnaire.
I considered that, but I wanted to make things more open ended in case I was missing something, and....
What about: DATA SCIENCE at MIT Schwarzman College of Computing
Comp sci, ML/DS, etc are all in high demand.
phd in computational science will always be in demand!
...it seems there's a lot of push toward CS/DS in the comments.

I appreciate the feedback everyone, I'll have to look to see what CS might offer. If math is ALMOST as good, though, I'd lean more in that direction, I'm in an MA program in math right now.

Is "data science" considered more preferable than statistics? I have a hard time seeing what the difference would be at the PhD level.
 

Liam

Active Member
...it seems there's a lot of push toward CS/DS in the comments.
They are the current "hot areas" in all fairness and, while markets can change rapidly and all that, CS in particular probably won't fall in demand.

But those generalisms shouldn't be your concern. You get good at a niche, which is what your math/physics training affords you to do, so that if blah falls in demand you're not screwed. I definitely see that where some of the web and data projects I do for clients use technologies not in demand, but where the specific niche work I do is in demand. And I saw it before in finance where my specific credit skills were sought after during the recession, but where people with more general skills suffered because of general market conditions.

In terms of the "multiple choice", my view is that it's no harm in undergrad to pick wide areas, but that you should narrow down as you go on through MSc/PhD and into work. As soon as you enter a career you will probably have to specialise, although it's not impossible to generalise a bit.

Also don't forget to also develop other skills - having a good contacts network, communication skills and business acumen for a start. Thing about corporate world is it's not enough to have these skills, you have to be perceived to have these skills and make it obvious.

Otherwise you will wind up being pigeonholed as "good with numbers/technical/quant stuff but nothing else" - I worked with someone in finance who's previous career as an engineer plateaued because he was perceived to be just good at technical work, nothing else. Thing is when I worked with him he was practically a guru on client relations, marketing, soft skills etc. I'm not sure if management's naive prejudices about math/physics/engineering graduates came into play, but his mistake as an egineer was defintely that he didn't make it obvious he had these soft skills. People often mistakenly call this "hiding skills under a bushel" - I feel it's more that he didn't have the savvy to realise he had to be so upfront about it. A lot of people in their first career treat it like a "job for life" and switch off and expect opportunities to come to them rather than create them tbh.
 

mountains

New Member
Not from career perspective, but Santa Fe Institute is doing very cool work, and they accept summer grad school fellows if you want to try more interdisciplinary.
I looked at their website and Wikipedia page a bit, it looks really interesting. I'm quite tempted to attend their summer program.
 
Top