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CMU MSCF CMU MSCF Q&A (ask a current student)

sachindravid

New Member
Hello Ivan,
Thank you for taking out time to answer our questions, very nice of you.
I am interested in CMU-MSCF program as it offers a "bridge" between the computer science field and the financial field.

Will it be possible for you to evaluate my profile and give an opinion. I do understand it is easier said than done but if you could offer me some insight it will be very helpful.

Profile:
GRE: Total: 315; V: 157; Q: 158, AWA: Awaiting, expecting above or equal to 4

Work Ex (Also Including Internships):
1. Technical Consultant with a Dutch Firm (1 year) and Currently working there, Location: Amsterdam, NL
2. Research Engineer with Ericsson Research Labs, Finland (1.5 - 2 years), Location: Helsinki, Finland
(Also, I have a patent filed as a co inventor)
3. Summer Internship as an Android Developer at a startup in Helsinki , Location; Helsinki, Finland
4. Thesis offer from ETH, Zurich. However, later i did it at Ericsson Research
5. 6 months Business Analyst, Aon Hewitt, Location: Delhi, India

Projects:
Project with Mit Sloan to predict changes stocks markets based on twitter data.
Third prize at Mobile World Congress Hackathon in Barcelona

Independent Coursework (Coursera, All courses completed with certificate)
1. Micro Economics from UIUC
2. Calculus from Ohio State
3. Data Analysis from John Hopkins
4. Introduction to Finance from Univ of Michigan

Education: Masters in Computer Science, Helsinki University of Technology, Finland (Aalto University).
(Univ ranked very high in Finland)

GPA: above 4 from 5

Thank you for your time and effort :)
Sachin
 
Independent Coursework (Coursera, All courses completed with certificate)
1. Micro Economics from UIUC
2. Calculus from Ohio State
3. Data Analysis from John Hopkins
4. Introduction to Finance from Univ of Michigan
Hi, for my best knowledge, Calculus from Ohio State Uni doesn't provide any certificate at Coursera at the moment.
When did you take the course?
 

Ivan Nikolenko

Active Member
C++
Hi Sachin @sachindravid

Here are my thoughts:
1) It seems you have a very strong CS background, so try to put it as your strong side (i.e. list the languages you are proficient in, elaborate on the projects you were involved in - given they can be relevant for MSCF, mention any awards and patents).
2) Although your CS proficiency is high, it is important to show you have a solid background in Mathematics and Statistics as well as some understanding of Finance. It might be a good idea to list the most relevant courses you took in your undergrad and grad studies.
3) Definitely elaborate on the MIT Sloan project. Seems very relevant and interesting.
4) I would consider retaking GRE. In my opinion, getting a score above 165 in Q part is not that hard (and the Q part is what matters). However, don't overestimate the importance of GRE.
5) Any leadership positions will be an asset as well.
6) Don't forget about obtaining good references.

So, if you can link your CS experience to MSCF and show that you are comfortable with Maths, Probability and some Statistics, you will be in good shape.

Best,
Ivan.
 

Rajan Seth

Active Member
C++
Hi Ivan,

I would be applying to MSCF program in the first deadlines for 2015. I have working as a business analyst on change and IT side for last 4.5 years.

I am currently confused with my long term goals essay.
I am open for 2 career paths but confused on which one should I choose. I can back both of them up with my academics and work experience.

1. Into Asset management and managing money quantitatively.
Are there enough options available after MSCF? Is it possible to move become a portfolio manager and manage your own PnL
I can back it up by CFA certification and work experience in portfolio management and ledger accounting systems

2. Moving into risk management or trading strategy roles?
Doing my research, I realized that its difficult to move into trading from risk management roles. Then what is the long term career path for risk managers.
I can back this up with my FRM certification and work experience in Settlements and trading applications and working on regulatory projects.

Your insights would be really helpful

Regards
Rajan Seth
 

Hemant Dua

Active Member
Hi Ivan,

I intend to apply to the CMU MSCF program for 2015 fall intake. I noticed that there are four different deadlines for admission:
http://tepper.cmu.edu/prospective-s...dmissions/apply/important-dates-and-deadlines

Given I am an international student (I'm from India, btw), the last deadline for PT study doesn't apply to me. What I wanted to ask you was this-does it matter which Round you apply in/during? Is there any competitive advantage? Why are there multiple deadlines to begin with?

I find some people obsessed with the idea of sending in early applications as they believe it puts them at a competitive advantage. While I can see the logic behind it, is there are truth to it? Is it merely a myth?

I think it's great that you're taking questions from prospective applicants here. Most kind of you. Thanks in advance.

Warm regards,

Hemant.
 

mhy

Well-Known Member
Hi Ivan,

I intend to apply to the CMU MSCF program for 2015 fall intake. I noticed that there are four different deadlines for admission:
http://tepper.cmu.edu/prospective-s...dmissions/apply/important-dates-and-deadlines

Given I am an international student (I'm from India, btw), the last deadline for PT study doesn't apply to me. What I wanted to ask you was this-does it matter which Round you apply in/during? Is there any competitive advantage? Why are there multiple deadlines to begin with?

I find some people obsessed with the idea of sending in early applications as they believe it puts them at a competitive advantage. While I can see the logic behind it, is there are truth to it? Is it merely a myth?

I think it's great that you're taking questions from prospective applicants here. Most kind of you. Thanks in advance.

Warm regards,

Hemant.

I go to the same program, so here's my take: The earlier rounds are more competitive (more people apply) but more people get admitted during the earlier rounds. Fewer people apply to the later rounds but there are fewer admits as well, so it's hard to say which is better; personally I got admitted in the 3rd round. You may want (or need) to figure out which round you should apply for based on other programs you're applying to and their respective deadlines and reply/admission notification dates.

Bottom line is - if you send your application in early, you will get an answer sooner and also be part of a larger (both in terms of applicants and admits) pool. If you send it later, you will get an answer later and also will be part of a smaller pool. Hope this helps.
 

Hemant Dua

Active Member
It does, @mhy . Thanks a lot.

While we're on the subject of deadlines, I'd also like your opinion on programs with just the one deadline, such as MIT MFin and Princeton MFin. What's your take on sending in early applications for those? I believe they only start assessing applications after the deadline has passed. Even so, would you say there's a competitive advantage in there (Y'know, early applications being at the top of the pile and there being more seats up for grabs when they go in for evaluation) ?
 
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ritesh chopra

Active Member
Hi @Ivan Nikolenko @mhy

You guys are doing a great job by taking up queries of the prospective students. I have the following question for you :

Essay B asks us to talk about Calculus-based probability. I am pretty confused about the kind of topics they are looking for here.

Can you please give me a couple of examples of such topics so that I know what kind of topics I need to list down out of my coursework.


If anyone else wants to answer this as well, please feel free.

Any help would be appreciable.

Regards
 

mhy

Well-Known Member
It does, @mhy . Thanks a lot.

Now that we're on the subject of deadlines, I'd also like your opinion on programs with just the one deadline, such as MIT MFin and Princeton MFin. What's your take on sending in early applications for those? I believe they only start assessing applications after the deadline has passed. Even so, would you say there's a competitive advantage in there (Y'know, early applications being at the top of the file and there being more seats up for grabs when they go in for evaluation) ?

I think early is always better for those programs. I do not know how these programs review applications--'first come first serve', random, or some other order but putting your application early certainly will not hurt you.
 

mhy

Well-Known Member
Hi @Ivan Nikolenko @mhy

You guys are doing a great job by taking up queries of the prospective students. I have the following question for you :

Essay B asks us to talk about Calculus-based probability. I am pretty confused about the kind of topics they are looking for here.

Can you please give me a couple of examples of such topics so that I know what kind of topics I need to list down out of my coursework.

If anyone else wants to answer this as well, please feel free.

Any help would be appreciable.

Regards

I believe the question asks specifically about your background in computer science, finance, math, and statistics and asks you to go into detail about your probability coursework.

You need to explain what kind of background in those four areas you have (what classes you took, how you applied them in internships/research/jobs if any). In addition to that, you need to detail your coursework in probability, i.e. list out the actual topics covered by your probability course (discrete / continuous, joint distributions, moment generating functions, central limit theorem, etc). If you've never taken a dedicated probability course, list out all the probability topics you have seen covered in other courses. Again, go into specifics.

The point of Essay B is to convey to the admissions committee that your coursework is adequate and that you are prepared (to the extent possible) for MSCF. There is no need to be fancy - make it straightforward - but it should be a convincing summary of your academic background.
 

ritesh chopra

Active Member
I believe the question asks specifically about your background in computer science, finance, math, and statistics and asks you to go into detail about your probability coursework.

You need to explain what kind of background in those four areas you have (what classes you took, how you applied them in internships/research/jobs if any). In addition to that, you need to detail your coursework in probability, i.e. list out the actual topics covered by your probability course (discrete / continuous, joint distributions, moment generating functions, central limit theorem, etc). If you've never taken a dedicated probability course, list out all the probability topics you have seen covered in other courses. Again, go into specifics.

The point of Essay B is to convey to the admissions committee that your coursework is adequate and that you are prepared (to the extent possible) for MSCF. There is no need to be fancy - make it straightforward - but it should be a convincing summary of your academic background.

Hi @mhy
Thanks a lot for the detailed response. But the thing is, my background in math and statistics spans across too many topics which I have learnt across various courses and no relation to my internship/work ex. So, it is basically a list of topics only.. That is why I am confused if this is the right way to go about it.
 

mhy

Well-Known Member
Hi @mhy
Thanks a lot for the detailed response. But the thing is, my background in math and statistics spans across too many topics which I have learnt across various courses and no relation to my internship/work ex. So, it is basically a list of topics only.. That is why I am confused if this is the right way to go about it.

As I noted previously, the point of Essay B is to convey to the admissions committee that your background is adequate to be admitted to MSCF. Your arguments need to be well-grounded in terms of the coursework you have undertaken and it is expected that you provide a summary of your academic preparation. So even if you think you have too many topics, at least list out the course titles. Make sure it's not some generic name like 'Calculus 3', but a more meaningful one.

However, keep in mind this is still an essay and an opportunity for you to distinguish yourself and convince the people reading your application that you should be chosen above the 1,000 + other applicants who are competing for spots in the program.

So by all means, present a succinct summary of your relevant background but do not go into the nitty-gritty details of every mathematical/statistics/computer science/finance course you have taken (except make sure to elaborate on calculus-based probability). Instead, try to connect your academic background with your areas of interest in finance and how MSCF can further the relevant knowledge. If your work experience is not directly connected, there is no need to mention it (although having technical/quantitative work experience certainly improves your chances). Hope this helps.
 
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Ivan Nikolenko

Active Member
C++
Hi @Rajan Seth ,

Sorry for the late response.

MSCF will give you a chance to become a portfolio manager, no doubt. As an example, I know a couple of students from my year who had very interesting PM internships. However, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration, such as job market conditions, how well you build your network and how well you are prepared for the interviews.

It is indeed difficult to move from risk management into trading. As far as I know, career growth opportunities usually include risk management itself, both on buy side and sell side, and maybe some related research positions. Starting directly in trading with 4.5 years of work experience (not directly related to trading) is very difficult, in my opinion.

My advice would be to mention both paths that you are considering (PM and RM), but also to mention which one is your top choice and why. In my opinion, the program provides enough opportunities to consider more than one career path, but since you have considerable w/e, I think it is important to outline your priorities. You seem to know how to back up your goals with your background, that is very good.

Best regards,
Ivan.
 

Rajan Seth

Active Member
C++
Hi @Ivan Nikolenko

Thanks a lot for the reply.
You are right, I should clearly outline my probability with realistic expectations. RM roles match m0re with my profile (academic and professioanal). For essay B, I can definitly outline my short term goal but what should I highlight as long term goals? Can it be as simple as becoming a head of risk department of big bank and make my way up the corporate ladder?

Regards
Rajan Seth
 

mhy

Well-Known Member
Hi @Ivan Nikolenko
For essay B, I can definitly outline my short term goal but what should I highlight as long term goals? Can it be as simple as becoming a head of risk department of big bank and make my way up the corporate ladder?

Regards
Rajan Seth
You might want to be more specific about career goals. 'becoming the head of risk department and climbing the ladder' sounds too generic and boring. This is an opportunity for you to show the admissions committee that you have done your research and have realistic expectations about the job market. Plenty of people will say things like 'Eventually I want to run a trading desk' without justification about how they plan to get there in the first place. You certainly don't want to be one of them.
 

Rajan Seth

Active Member
C++
@mhy : It does sound borring. I can discuss more in the short term goals to build up on the long term. What should be the long term goal for risk managers? I could not find anything satisfactory here.
 

hellogo

Active Member
C++
Hi everyone! My name is Ivan, I am a current second-year CMU MSCF student. I will be glad to answer any questions you have about the program.

Personally, I think this program fully deserves its 1st rank on QuantNet. About myself: I am an international student, I am studying in Pittsburgh and I have recently completed an S&T summer internship in NYC. I joined MSCF immediately after I completed my undergrad studies.

So, if you have any questions about MSCF, feel free to reach out here or via PM. I will make sure you will get an answer ASAP.

Hi Ivan, it is really nice of you to spare time answering our questions. Thanks very much.

I am preparing to apply for a MFE program next year and have a few questions. Before starting asking, I think it is better to give a brief introduction about myself. Originally from China, I did a MBA program four years ago and now working for a listed SME as an investment manager covering direct projects investment such as real estate and infrastructure in Asia pacific. The job involves a lot of local knowledge and relationship, and I feel the career prospect involves a lot of uncertainties given my foreigner status. So I am planning to switch my career to a sector less bounded by geographic position and involving more technical skills.

My questions are as follows:

1. Career path: do you know any of your classmate of alumina found a job in real estate related quants positions? Say, any real estate related derivatives? Also, since I am already 30 years old, is this age rare in your program?

2. Qualification: I have taken GRE (V159, M 168) and TOELF 111 early this year. Also, I have CFA charter and finished ACCA exams, so I assume I have learned broad theories about finance. My score in MBA program is 4.2/5. However, my bachelor degree is management and I got very low score in calculus and algebra. Since most programs require calculus knowledge and programming skills, currently I am working on GRE math sub test. Also, I plan to take Matlab qualification test early next year. Is this enough to prove my mathematic knowledge? Also, do you have any C++ programming course to recommend.

3. Path to PHD? Do you have any classmates pursuing a PHD program after the master study?

I am looking forward to your advice and thank you in advance.
 

mhy

Well-Known Member
1. I don't know whether anyone ended up in a real estate-related job, but there are several people I know who are in the 28-32 year old range.

2.
The GRE Math would be a good thing to have given your background.

How much math have you taken other than calculus? Do you have the requisite math classes listed here: http://tepper.cmu.edu/prospective-students/masters/masters-in-computational-finance/admissions ? Keep in mind many applicants have degrees in mathematics, statistics, or computer science. You'll have to prove that you have the necessary background and GRE Math will help.

The C++ course offered here is pretty solid. Do you have any programming experience at all? MSCF does have a prep class where people who have limited programming skills can get up to speed--going from zero programming experience to C++ is pretty hard.

3. This is generally viewed as a terminal degree, so typically people do not go on to PhD programs after MSCF.
 

hellogo

Active Member
C++
1. I don't know whether anyone ended up in a real estate-related job, but there are several people I know who are in the 28-32 year old range.

2.
The GRE Math would be a good thing to have given your background.

How much math have you taken other than calculus? Do you have the requisite math classes listed here: http://tepper.cmu.edu/prospective-students/masters/masters-in-computational-finance/admissions ? Keep in mind many applicants have degrees in mathematics, statistics, or computer science. You'll have to prove that you have the necessary background and GRE Math will help.

The C++ course offered here is pretty solid. Do you have any programming experience at all? MSCF does have a prep class where people who have limited programming skills can get up to speed--going from zero programming experience to C++ is pretty hard.

3. This is generally viewed as a terminal degree, so typically people do not go on to PhD programs after MSCF.

Hi Mhy, thanks a lot for your answers, which are indeed helpful.

I have checked the requirement for math, and the contents covered by GRE math sub shall be more than enough, and a high score is necessary to prove my math ability.

I got no programming experience, but will do my best to build up a solid foundation. This type of challenge is exactly what I am looking for.

Thank you again and wish you a great day.
 

Andy Nguyen

Member
I got no programming experience, but will do my best to build up a solid foundation. This type of challenge is exactly what I am looking for.
This is the area you need to address immediately. I know some applicants are given conditional admission until they complete a C++ course or certificate. We have many of those students successfully completed our online C++ certificate and been enrolled in the CMU MSCF program since then.
You can take a local college course as an option.
 
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