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Discussion in 'Quant Programs' started by zzwang, 3/22/18.

  1. zzwang

    zzwang New Member

    CMU vs Columbia til the end of time.

    Hi guys,

    I am sure many people are or will be facing this decision in the coming week.

    I'm a undergrad student in the States and I'm struggling between these two programs. I am already offered admission at CMU and Columbia. Columbia only gives me 6 days to respond, so I have to make a decision before March 27th. I will try to ask for an extension but I find it unlikely that they will grant me one.

    I am leaning towards CMU at the moment. I was admitted to MSCF two weeks ago, so I spent some time talking to current students, and they were all very enthusiastic and spoke highly of the program, in terms of placement and reputation. I had personal relationship with them when they were in undergrad, so I really believes in what they said.

    With Columbia there is just too much information missing. I really have not seen many people giving comments on this program. If you are able to provide a review on the MFE program, please comment below as many applicants this year, myself included, would really love to hear how you would compare these two programs! Frankly I don't even have time to get to know the program at Columbia, because I only have 6 days!!

    FYI, MSCF NY. Any comments will be much appreciated. Thanks!
    #1 zzwang, 3/22/18
    Last edited: 3/22/18
  2. somya harjai

    somya harjai Member

    I would prefer CMU mscf because of rock solid career services and the curriculum as well. It should be a no brainer.
    HowDerivativeKL and zzwang like this.
  3. DiamondLemon

    DiamondLemon Member

    Vote for CMU because of their career service.
    zzwang and HowDerivativeKL like this.
  4. Ranveer

    Ranveer New Member

    Could Some one also guide me !
    I currently have admits from Gerogia tech, UCLA, Cornell and MIT and is wating to hear from Columbia also.

    I am more inclined towards MIT because of excellent faculty and broad curriculum. But I am apprehensive about the short duration of the program and no internship option.

    I am a fresher with no work experience. Though have quite a few internship experiences.
    I don't want my program to be heavy in computation like CMU ...and will prefer more finance along with some computation !

    What what you guys suggest?
  5. CavQuant

    CavQuant New Member

    Zz, why not call Columbia and the MSCF? I know that the MSCF will gladly help and since you're already in at Columbia you have nothing to lose by calling.

    I haven't been admitted to Columbia, but so far I've been blown away by CMU. Everything about their program is transparent. In addition, I've noticed a strong sense of solidarity amongst current students and alums. They really want students to succeed.

    The MSCF is doing a webinar today for admitted students on their career service if you have questions for Sondi.
    HowDerivativeKL likes this.
  6. Susan Chen

    Susan Chen Member
      C++ Level 2

    Personally speaking, I think the only thing that Columbia MFE wins over CMU MSCF is its brand name. However, that only thing does play a big role for a lot of people (including me). Really a hard decision lol.
  7. zzwang

    zzwang New Member

    Sorry I forgot to add that I was already admitted by CMU. I've just edited by post. I am definitely on the same page as you are: every aspect about MSCF sounds awesome, but again like I mentioned no one from Columbia is giving a detailed review of the program.

    Lol thanks Susan. Really sad that I only have 5 days left to decide
  8. Airtree

    Airtree New Member

    My friend was trapped in the same situation as yours. But he chose Columbia considering the brand name which he thought important and the location.

    The CMU NY is much like an online course and lacks campus life plus the high tuition cost. Why should I spend so much money taking online courses? Curriculum in Columbia is more flexible and Columbia has strong alumni ties in various industries.

    Since both of the two have the same quantnet rankings and are top programs,you are always right choosing either one of them. Career service is helpful when hunting jobs. But what's more important is personal ability. Don't rely too much on career service.

    It's really a tough decision. Hope you find his thought helpful.
  9. zzwang

    zzwang New Member

    Thanks for your reply. I am not to bothered by the video lecture as I've learnt a awful lot from videos on YouTube. I completely understand what you said.

    I guess we both care about Columbia and CMU's reputation in China (based on the Chinese comma you wrote on the first line of 3rd paragraph). I've been told that there are so many people going to Columbia for masters that the school name is not that impressive anymore. There are many programs that are just too easy to get in (try searching Columbia statistics on Baidu). On the other hand, CMU is renounced in the CS category, which makes it actually quite famous in China. I know that Columbia is still a bigger name, but it might not be as big of a difference as you might think.

    As for brand name in the States, I think it hardly matters. No one will care about where you did your masters degree after spending 3 years in GS MS etc.
    #9 zzwang, 3/22/18
    Last edited: 3/22/18
  10. Airtree

    Airtree New Member

    Haha, brand name is not the only thing to consider but indeed plays a big role. As I've mentioned, both of them are tie 1 programs, you have nothing to worry about choosing either one of them.

    Why not call the two programs and speak out your concern? They will help you work it out and throw light on your decision. Then you just need to take the one most suitable for you.
  11. Aszx

    Aszx New Member


    I have recently talked to many friends who now work in HongKong or mainland China. Here are some things that I heard that might help you with your decision process:

    1. They both have a strong alumni network and an excellent reputation in HongKong.

    2. I understand that how much a Chinese student stresses the brand name of a school. But keep in mind that even if you plan to go back to mainland, people will not kiss your ass just because you are a master student from Columbia. They are rational and many HRs of mainland financial firms or big firms in other industries realize that there is a huge difference between the reputation of a program and the reputation of the undergraduate education of a school. In addition, the help that this "brand name" offers is quite limited. If you want to do quant finance, then you will be interacting with people who know that CMU is the real brand name. Meanwhile, you need a program with alumni connections that can directly help you break into this industry. In that sense, CMU and Columbia both have an extensive alumni network but no doubt that the CMU community is more closely bonded.

    3. I think it is important to focus on the quality of the program rather than the "brand name". Think about questions like: is the curriculum of the program practical? how is the culture of the program?(to me, this is a very important point since the friends you make in a program will be your valuable life-long assets).

    4. CMU has an advantage in trading while Columbia is strong in pricing.

    5. You can enjoy an actual campus if you choose Columbia

    Good luck and I hope this will help.
  12. zzwang

    zzwang New Member

    Thanks! This is great advice. I actually agree with every point you said. For me one advantage of going to Columbia is potentially not needing to do an MBA after 10 years working in quant... I am not sure this will make perfect sense but it is still something to think about. From other perspectives, CMU seems to be the winner.

    Also I think even if I go to Columbia I really would not have time to enjoy the campus consider the intensity of all MFE programs.

    Thanks again!!!
  13. Michelle Kwok

    Michelle Kwok New Member

    I talked with a senior of mine in Columbia. He graduated recently and he told me that Columbia's career service is not at all good and they just leave you in the ocean. You need to go and get your job . He used his personal contact to get his job it seems. And he told that few of his frnds who had admits from cmu and Columbia, and chose Columbia over cmu were actually regretting the decision.
    And regarding the brand value, I dont think cmu is any less and recruiter doesnt care much abt the brand value it seems.
    So it would be better to look for better career service, better curriculum and the net worth you would be getting from program.
  14. zzwang

    zzwang New Member

    So I just called a friend who is a current student at Columbia.

    Pros: MFE does have a career counselor just for this program, and students from MSOR and MSFM are not really a competition to MFE students. Many companies comes to Columbia to recruit only MFE students. People there are all really smart.

    Cons: I was told that MSCF is recognized as a better program, and the placement statistics online really doesn't reflect what is actually happening in the program. He is not so much of a social butterfly but he said it should be just more than half of the students already find internship. Some people are even looking for summer research.
    In addition, people in the program doesn't even know each other too well and they work as an individual.

    P.S. I'm simply writing what I was told and the above does not reflect on what I think about the program.
    #14 zzwang, 3/24/18
    Last edited: 4/4/18
  15. Fernando Uribe

    Fernando Uribe New Member
      C++ Level 1

    Would you mind sharing which one you chose in the end? And why?
  16. Susan Chen

    Susan Chen Member
      C++ Level 2

    Haven't got back from Columbia but accepted the offer from MSCF yesterday.
    Pruthvi kancherla and zzwang like this.
  17. zzwang

    zzwang New Member

    I am choosing CMU too because of it's edge in recruiting, and I don't mean the career services. I am sure the career services at CMU is excellent, but I haven't have any interactions with them yet. I've been through recruiting for IBD before, and two things mattered the most: oncampus recruiting and having a group of friends to work with. CMU are great at both, but for Columbia I am not too sure.
    liuyanji likes this.
  18. Fernando Uribe

    Fernando Uribe New Member
      C++ Level 1

    Thanks for your responses! I haven’t got a response from Columbia yet either. I was still waiting for that to see if my heart would lead me to right direction lol. Still, both programs are top-notch and I don’t think one can go wrong with either one. The thing with Columbia, as you discussed before, is its international prestige, and coming from a very small university in South America, I was very attracted to it.

    May I know which campus did you choose? I chose Pittsburgh campus, but haven’t accepted the offer yet. I believe I will have a decision by the end of this week.
  19. zzwang

    zzwang New Member

    Undergrad reputation and graduate reputation are very different. I won’t want to work for any company that can’t tell the difference. Among Chinese people... it’s well known that Columbia has many master programs that are just not selective. Cmu is just so famous in any area related to CS. So for grad school reputation I don’t think it would be any different from CMU. Unless you want to return to South American immediately after you graduate, I think CMU is the winner here.

    Ps I am admitted to NY campus. I haven’t paid the deposit tho.
    Fernando Uribe likes this.
  20. Susan Chen

    Susan Chen Member
      C++ Level 2

    You can change your campus preference even after your accept the offer, so it's not a big deal.
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