Berkeley MFE vs CMU MITS

Ran You

Member
C++
Hope someone could give me some suggestions on how to choose between the two programs.

I have physics & data science background and some quant trading internship experience. I originally planned to apply for MFE programs but found myself very attracted to computer science. So I applied to some CS programs which I would be likely to get in. I finally got offers from Berkeley MFE Spring 2021 and CMU MITS (Master of Information Technology Strategy) Fall 2020.

I am willing to go to either program. My main expectation for graduate study is to find a job in the US after graduation. I hope I would become a quant trader or researcher. I know it's extremely hard. And I am open to data scientist (works for both programs) or software engineer (only if I choose CMU). I guess CMU MITS is in general a weird choice for people in this forum. Personally (probably because I have no background in finance/econ/biz), I mostly like technological parts of quant work, like programming, CS, DS, probability, etc. and I have no passion in finance as a subject in a theoretical sense. And I believe the quant industry needs people with hard core technical skills, like stats/coding/analytics/systems. And a CS program might be good for building up some tech skill sets in the long run. But I'm concerned that I might be too naive on this issue.

Here are some pros and cons for both programs:

CMU MITS (Master of Information Technology Strategy)
Pros:
- A program under the School of Computer Science (#1 CS school)
- High priority and large freedom in course selection, can take basically all popular ML/Software/Systems courses at SCS
- Very high quality courses and competitive environment
- Small class size, like 20 per cohort
- Good placement, lots of Amazon AWS, heard 100% since the program started
Cons:
- No internship, must take a summer semester in order to complete 4 semesters in 1.5 years
- Bad location, Pittsburgh, not like NYC or bay area
- Significant internal competition, so many talented programmers, 1000+ CS masters applying for similar jobs every year
- Not a popular program, the program is originally designed for cybersecurity, not a traditional CS/DS program, though it turns out to be flexible
- Generally new and small, no public stats on placements and salaries etc.
- Not so well known as Berkeley in non IT-related fields
- Lack of help in job search, basically just LeetCoding, resume, coding tests, interviews, etc.

Berkeley MFE
Pros:
- A traditional MFE program with stable historical placement data
- Good placement numbers, at least up till now
- Responsible program director and great career services
- High bar in admission, admitted students seem to have very outstanding background
- Good program reputation, and good school title
- Good location, near bay area
- A 12-week internship covered (most likely)
- Target on obtaining a quant job
- Network resources, alumni, fellow students, professors, lecturers etc.
Cons:
- An MFE program in a business school, courses are mostly finance-related, technical courses (required to complete online) are not taught on campus
- Probably unlikely to learn very technical things, like ML/CS/Systems/Software, as in CMU SCS
- Knowledge taught in traditional MFE programs are becoming more and more esoteric and useless
- Most likely to be placed in banks, still needs strong individual Math/CS abilities to land a job in buy-side

I'd really appreciate it if someone could give me some suggestions on career path and the current situation in the quant industry. Thank you!!!
 

YangXu

Active Member
C++
Current Berkeley MFE student.
Comments on the 'con' part:
1. Berkeley program is recognized as one of the most difficult MFE for its technical part and fast pace. In business school does not mean it's not technical.
2. Generally MFE will not cover system / software stuffs, it's only (can be) required if you want to become a developer. It's important but not the key knowledge for quant work.
3. Programs are all updating courses, especially Berkeley. We have many DS stuff, ML stuff, or 'buy-side' skills.
4. Berkeley ranks higher than most of the program if considering placements in buy-side. Going to tier 1 buy-side firm is extremely difficult. If you're good enough, i think Berkeley program will help you achieve this.

On the other hand, CMU MITS is good but not competitive as MSCS or MSDS I believe, so the competition inside campus will be fierce.
 

Ran You

Member
C++
Current Berkeley MFE student.
Comments on the 'con' part:
1. Berkeley program is recognized as one of the most difficult MFE for its technical part and fast pace. In business school does not mean it's not technical.
2. Generally MFE will not cover system / software stuffs, it's only (can be) required if you want to become a developer. It's important but not the key knowledge for quant work.
3. Programs are all updating courses, especially Berkeley. We have many DS stuff, ML stuff, or 'buy-side' skills.
4. Berkeley ranks higher than most of the program if considering placements in buy-side. Going to tier 1 buy-side firm is extremely difficult. If you're good enough, i think Berkeley program will help you achieve this.

On the other hand, CMU MITS is good but not competitive as MSCS or MSDS I believe, so the competition inside campus will be fierce.

Hi YangXu, thank you so much for your reply.

I obviously judged it only from its curriculum. As far as I heard, Berkeley MFE is definitely a very very rigorous program. Sincerely apologize for my misunderstanding and bias. I guess I should talk to some current students or alum about how it is exactly like studying in the program.

Indeed, CMU MITS is not even a star program at CMU. There's probably no need for comparison as to career preparation in finance.

Again, thank you very much!!! This is really helpful.
 
If your career goal is becoming a developer, CMU MITS is more helpful. If you want to be a trader or quant researcher, UCB MFE for sure. Its connections and career services in finance industry are very strong. I don't think CMU MITS is designed for a quant role.
 

Ran You

Member
C++
If your career goal is becoming a developer, CMU MITS is more helpful. If you want to be a trader or quant researcher, UCB MFE for sure. Its connections and career services in finance industry are very strong. I don't think CMU MITS is designed for a quant role.
I totally agree that they differ mainly in career goal. Thank you very much!
 
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