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CMU MSCF VS MIT MFin VS Columbia MFE (Eng)

Which one among the following:

  • Total voters

I wanted some help and guidance from the peers and students already pursuing their masters in one of the above universities or have recently graduated.

Please do read my views about the programme and then vote and/or comment about your opinion about them. Based on the rankings, most opt for CMU over MIT but given my background, my goals, they both seem at par.

A little bit about me:
I graduated from India from IIT Delhi pursuing engineering and have a dept rank of 2 (GPA 9.68/10) and since then, I have been working in Singapore in a major hedge fund in the Data Science space. I have taken and aced all the typical MFE pre-requisites and more (Macroeconomics, Game Theory etc) during my undergrad. Moreover, I am proficient in programming in a professional space (python, c++, kdb+/q) and have decent understanding about the basics of Financial Mathematics.

I wish ti pursue my masters degree from a top university in US (I already have offers from many top programmes in UK/Europe) since there are more opportunities in the job profile I am interested in. I wish to work as a quantitative researcher making use of my skills in Data Science and Machine Learning in Finance. I wish to work in US for 3-4 years at a major hedge fund after graduating from a top university and then move to Asia (most likely back to Singapore).

Some things I found about the above universities based on the little research I did (feel free to point out if anything looks incorrect/missing). This is based on my personal research and discussion with the alumni and can very well be biased.

1. Considered one of the top (if not THE top) programmes to break into quant research. It has been here since 1994 and has refined its curriculum over the years to make sure it takes car of the requirements of the industry. Everything I will learn will be likely be used in the field right out of the college.
2. 4 college joint programme so apt exposure from all the fields of interest to me (Finance, Statistics, Mathematics and Information Systems)
3. Great balance between both theoretical and computational aspects of the field
4. I have a decent scholarship (not that big of a deal since over the years, it wouldnt matter much)
5. Considered to have the best career services among the programmes.
1. Since its a very packed and structured programme, there is little flexibility compared to other programmes when it comes to choosing the electives
2. CMU does not have the same brand name as MIT in Asia where I plan to move in a longer term, so I will missing that elite (don't get me wrong here, CMU is plenty elite.. just not the same name as MIT in Asia) brand name
3. I have opted for the NYC campus, so I will miss out on the real campus experience.

MIT (18 months):
1. Excellent brand name known worldwide, Would be especially helpful when I move to Asia. I agree it may not matter that much and my recent work would be more relevant. But MIT does open a lot more doors for interview in Asia. After that, its anyway unto the person to ace those interviews.
2. Great curriculum for all round development. It covers basics of Corporate finance and eco which is very useful in years to come.
3. Great flexibility in choosing the courses form a wide pool of available electives. There is also an option to take courses form other depts like CS, Mathematics or HBS (not sure how open and available they will be to MFin students).
4. Great focus on practical aspects of the field and offer many activities for good overall industry preparation.
5. Its MFin reputation in quant finance industry has been on the rise (based on my conversations with people in my firm doing NY hiring).
6. Great campus experience
1. Though it should not matter too much in a long run but given that I have a scholarship from CMU and other programmes also cost similar, the total cost of the programme is pretty high compared to any other 1.5 years programme.
2. May not have the same reputation in quant finance world as CMU since it is a generic MFIn degree so, we have a mixed cohort
3. Based on the reviews of the programme on quant net and other sources, its career services are shared with its MBA candidates and they have a tendency to focus more on them than the MFin candidates. (please correct me if I am wrong here)
4. Big cohort. So professors may not be able to give ample attention to everyone and it may be difficult to indulge in research projects with professors outside of classroom.

Personally, I know CMU is great and has excellent support system to help you build a successful career in quant finance. However, checking the recent placement statistics for hedge funds and I see that MIT also attracts top hedge funds. Also, though it appears that the average compensation is lower for students at MIT, it may be a misleading thing. I believe MIT attracts a lot more Asian candidates and many of them move to Asia right after the graduation (as the placement statistics indicate) hence, they would be expected to get a lower compensation based on the country they decide to work in. Also, since many got for non-quant roles from MIT, they may also skew the average numbers.

Other than these, I have admits from NYU Courant MathFin, UC Berkeley MFE, Cornell MFE and am hoping to get in Columbia MFE (Eng) as well. Among these, Columbia MFE is another programme I am considering given that it will give me decent flexibility in the curriculum and has a Ive league brand name as well in Asia.

I personally have a little bias towards MIT mostly because of its brand name in Asia and the programmes will all their pros and cons seem to reap similar results in the recent years.

Please share your opinions and help me decide which one would be a better fit for me.
And if anything above looks incorrect or if I missed something which may be important, please do point out. It may help remake a better choice.
Wow, your profile seems like a rockstar! May I ask why UC Berkeley's FE program isn't on your shortlist? While I didn't apply to the program, but I did read a bit bout it. Linda Kreitzman seems like a legend who will get you a job by any means necessary. UC Berkeley's brand is definitely up there in Asia too.
Hey, thanks for your response. I am a little less inclined towards US Berkeley because of the following reasons:
1. It starts in March 22 which is a little too late for me
2. Its a 1 year programme. Since I have worked for a few years now in the field, I wold like to go back to academia and make full use of the opportunity I get there to explore all the clubs and activities. 1.5 years seems like an ideal fit for me since I don't want to be away from the field for too long and 1 year seems like a little rushed to me.
3. Over in the last few years, they have been increasing their class size and it doesn't seem to have the same name in the field as it used to be 5-6 years back though the placement stats are impressive

Don't get me wrong, its am amazing programme and has world class faculty and career services. Its just a personal opinion of mine that I prefer CMu and MIT over UCB.
@lsap, I think you did an excellent job with the pros and the cons. Your assumptions seem well founded.

Normally, CMU would be a lay up. Given your industry experience, especially exposure to kdb/q, the choice becomes less obvious. As an engineer, you might benefit from the corp finance component of MIT, as well as the electives. On the other hand, MIT is targeted as an early career program. CMU had a lot of students straight out of college as well, but there were a large portion of the class who had a few years experience.

Perhaps a good next step might be to speak w/ admissions and ask for 1-2 recent alums with whom you might speak. Or find some folks on linked in and do the same.

Good luck!!
In US, all 3 programs are ranked similar, so you can choose the one that has the highest brand value in Asia.
From what I know MIT offers a wider array of courses in Finance and given your background, you can learn more here.