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COMPARE Columbia MAFN vs NYU Courant MathFin

Which program is better

  • Columbia MAFN

  • NYU MathFin


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Hi, I've been admitted to both programs and can't seem to reach a decision between them.

Most reviews on MAFN are outdated so would appreciate any advice from recent students. I like the math focus however I see there are no elective courses on Microstructure or programming focused courses in general.
As for Courant, I find the program to be more up to date however employment statistics are a bit worrying and does anyone have any idea why they teach courses in Java instead of C++? Was this a hurdle in your career later?
I believe my top choice would be Columbia MFE but haven't received a reply yet.
Also, any EU students can share a light on brand name if going back to Europe after completing the graduate course? I would expect Columbia to have a bigger brand name outside US however I might be wrong.

Thanks!
 
I'll make a quick comment about the choice of programming language. This is a question we keep revisiting. The three main choices these days are are C++, Java, and Python. In some of our courses, especially the data ones, students have to use Python and its packages. That is the language students will most likely use in their first jobs. At the other extreme is C++, which used to be the favored language, due to the powerful combination of its language features and speed. Today, this is often not the case. With greater computing power, Java and Python suffice for most quantitative modeling and only the most computational intensive models require the level of optimization provided by C++. For example, many Python packages are in fact coded in C and C++ and therefore will run just as fast as C++ code.

So, in order to serve most of our students best, we now require our students to graduate with experience in writing code in Java and Python. Since there is a lot of overlap between Java and C++, those of you with strong programming skills will have little difficulty making the initial transition from Java to C++. After that, you would learn how to code effectively in modern C++, which is a specialized skill that only a few of you will ever need.
 
European student here. Even though Columbia may have more « general brand name » whatever that means, I think Courant is well known to be one of the very best math department. With the exposition given nowadays to data science, and the professors in that field at Courant, I think this is not something that may change soon.
As for the programs, as you mentioned NYU mathfin is roughly equivalent to Columbia MFE (preferable if you ask me though), though I think it is superior to Columbia MAFN, which I feel is not as known as the MFE is the industry. If you don’t have a positive answer from Columbia MFE, NYU is a no brainer to me.
 
Hi, I've been admitted to both programs and can't seem to reach a decision between them.

Most reviews on MAFN are outdated so would appreciate any advice from recent students. I like the math focus however I see there are no elective courses on Microstructure or programming focused courses in general...
Columbia MAFN alum here. First off, congratulations on being accepted into 2 fantastic programs! I put a review up on QuantNet for the Columbia MAFN program last year and based on conversations I've had with those currently still in the program the points I made in that review still appear to apply.

To your point on programming courses, the Columbia MAFN program usually offers an elective course called Math GR5260 Programming for Quantitative & Computational Finance in both the fall and spring semesters, where C++ is used in the fall and Python is used in the spring. It's a very popular course and the classmates I've spoken to who took it enjoyed it. Furthermore, the mandatory core course MATH GR 5030 Numerical Methods in Finance involves working with Excel/VBA, most statistics courses use R, and most other courses typically let you/your project group use whichever programming language you want for your assignments (With the majority of students using Python). Beyond this, I don't recall an all-encompassing course specifically about microstructure, but concepts from it are within elective courses like Math GR 5300 Hedge Funds Strategies and Risk and Math GR5380 Multi-Asset Portfolio Management to name a couple.

Personally, I would suggest learning to code in at least one language prior to enrolling if you choose to join the Columbia MAFN program, as many courses will assume you know how to code already. I took the C++ course from QuantNet along with the Python course from ScriptUni prior to enrolling and found both to be a solid foundation for my work in the Columbia MAFN program.

Hope that helps! Ultimately, no matter which you choose, you'll come out with a great education and opportunities for a career in finance. I've actually worked with a few alumni from the NYU MathFin program and we've talked a lot about the similarities in our experiences.

mafn is not very well structured
This looks like useful feedback to me. Any chance you'd be willing to elaborate?
I believe this is a reference to the Columbia MAFN and not NYU MathFin.

From my experience, the Columbia MAFN's 6 core mandatory courses are structured such that in your 1st semester you learn about the foundational mathematics and statistics underlying quantitative finance along with a broad overview of financial asset classes and markets, while in the 2nd semester you learn the applications of the foundational mathematics and statistics within finance through option pricing primarily. Beyond that you are left to learn about the industry/industries and further mathematical/statistical methods of interest to you through offered electives. I appreciated this flexibility personally, since it allowed me to explore my career interests as well as opportunities beyond quantitative finance. However, I also acknowledge that it probably isn't the best for everyone and does require you to have a good idea of what you want to do upon graduation from the start in order to select your elective courses to meet those goals.
 
Columbia MAFN alum here. First off, congratulations on being accepted into 2 fantastic programs! I put a review up on QuantNet for the Columbia MAFN program last year and based on conversations I've had with those currently still in the program the points I made in that review still appear to apply.

To your point on programming courses, the Columbia MAFN program usually offers an elective course called Math GR5260 Programming for Quantitative & Computational Finance in both the fall and spring semesters, where C++ is used in the fall and Python is used in the spring. It's a very popular course and the classmates I've spoken to who took it enjoyed it. Furthermore, the mandatory core course MATH GR 5030 Numerical Methods in Finance involves working with Excel/VBA, most statistics courses use R, and most other courses typically let you/your project group use whichever programming language you want for your assignments (With the majority of students using Python). Beyond this, I don't recall an all-encompassing course specifically about microstructure, but concepts from it are within elective courses like Math GR 5300 Hedge Funds Strategies and Risk and Math GR5380 Multi-Asset Portfolio Management to name a couple.

Personally, I would suggest learning to code in at least one language prior to enrolling if you choose to join the Columbia MAFN program, as many courses will assume you know how to code already. I took the C++ course from QuantNet along with the Python course from ScriptUni prior to enrolling and found both to be a solid foundation for my work in the Columbia MAFN program.

Hope that helps! Ultimately, no matter which you choose, you'll come out with a great education and opportunities for a career in finance. I've actually worked with a few alumni from the NYU MathFin program and we've talked a lot about the similarities in our experiences.



I believe this is a reference to the Columbia MAFN and not NYU MathFin.

From my experience, the Columbia MAFN's 6 core mandatory courses are structured such that in your 1st semester you learn about the foundational mathematics and statistics underlying quantitative finance along with a broad overview of financial asset classes and markets, while in the 2nd semester you learn the applications of the foundational mathematics and statistics within finance through option pricing primarily. Beyond that you are left to learn about the industry/industries and further mathematical/statistical methods of interest to you through offered electives. I appreciated this flexibility personally, since it allowed me to explore my career interests as well as opportunities beyond quantitative finance. However, I also acknowledge that it probably isn't the best for everyone and does require you to have a good idea of what you want to do upon graduation from the start in order to select your elective courses to meet those goals.
Do most students take 2 semester to finish or do many do 3?
 
Do most students take 2 semester to finish or do many do 3?
Most people in my class took 3 semesters, since that allows you to have a summer internship prior to graduation and lets you take more elective courses. However, if you want to finish in 2 semesters, all you need to do is take 4 electives alongside your mandatory core courses in those first 2 semesters.
 
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Most people in my class took 3 semesters, since that allows for you to have a summer internship prior to graduation and lets you take more elective courses. However, if you want to finish in 2 semesters, all you need to do is take 4 electives alongside your mandatory core courses in those first 2 semesters.
Thank you! I just had a few more questions:
1. Is it possible to take more theoretical, mathematical courses? e.g. measure theory. Is that allowed?
2. Are the teachers mostly from industry or do you get to interact with faculty at all? (I am looking for faculty interaction to some degree).
 
Thank you! I just had a few more questions:
1. Is it possible to take more theoretical, mathematical courses? e.g. measure theory. Is that allowed?
2. Are the teachers mostly from industry or do you get to interact with faculty at all? (I am looking for faculty interaction to some degree).
No problem, happy to help!
  1. Since the Columbia MAFN program is housed within the Columbia mathematics department, I'm pretty sure that you can take the majority of courses offered by the mathematics department. However, I mainly focused my electives towards the industries I wanted to learn more about and applying the mathematics we learned from the core to said industries, so I can't provide a 100% definitive answer on this.

    If you're interested in measure theory and are joining the MAFN program though, I'd recommend signing up for the section of STAT GR 5264 Stochastic Processes – Applications I taught by the program director, Lars Tyge Nielsen. He focuses heavily on the theoretical background of the mathematics of finance in that course and spends a good deal of time on measure theory there from what I remember.

  2. For the mandatory core courses, it's a bit of a mix, as I know Lars has worked in industry and the professor for MATH GR 5030 Numerical Methods in Finance works in industry, but I believe the other professors mostly come from academia. On the other hand, pretty much all of the elective courses offered specifically by the Columbia MAFN program are taught by teachers from industry. That said, you can take courses beyond those offered by the Columbia MAFN program itself if you see a professor you'd like to learn from that's from academia or just has a course focused on something you're interested in.

    As far as faculty interaction goes, I never had an issue getting in touch with a professor to discuss questions I had on lectures or projects/homework. Each course also looks for TAs each year, so I'm sure if you develop a relationship with a professor you can TA for them as well.
 
No problem, happy to help!
  1. Since the Columbia MAFN program is housed within the Columbia mathematics department, I'm pretty sure that you can take the majority of courses offered by the mathematics department. However, I mainly focused my electives towards the industries I wanted to learn more about and applying the mathematics we learned from the core to said industries, so I can't provide a 100% definitive answer on this.

    If you're interested in measure theory and are joining the MAFN program though, I'd recommend signing up for the section of STAT GR 5264 Stochastic Processes – Applications I taught by the program director, Lars Tyge Nielsen. He focuses heavily on the theoretical background of the mathematics of finance in that course and spends a good deal of time on measure theory there from what I remember.

  2. For the mandatory core courses, it's a bit of a mix, as I know Lars has worked in industry and the professor for MATH GR 5030 Numerical Methods in Finance works in industry, but I believe the other professors mostly come from academia. On the other hand, pretty much all of the elective courses offered specifically by the Columbia MAFN program are taught by teachers from industry. That said, you can take courses beyond those offered by the Columbia MAFN program itself if you see a professor you'd like to learn from that's from academia or just has a course focused on something you're interested in.

    As far as faculty interaction goes, I never had an issue getting in touch with a professor to discuss questions I had on lectures or projects/homework. Each course also looks for TAs each year, so I'm sure if you develop a relationship with a professor you can TA for them as well.
Again, thank you so much, I really appreciate the detail and clarity, this is really helpful
 
Most people in my class took 3 semesters, since that allows you to have a summer internship prior to graduation and lets you take more elective courses. However, if you want to finish in 2 semesters, all you need to do is take 4 electives alongside your mandatory core courses in those first 2 semesters.
No problem, happy to help!
  1. Since the Columbia MAFN program is housed within the Columbia mathematics department, I'm pretty sure that you can take the majority of courses offered by the mathematics department. However, I mainly focused my electives towards the industries I wanted to learn more about and applying the mathematics we learned from the core to said industries, so I can't provide a 100% definitive answer on this.

    If you're interested in measure theory and are joining the MAFN program though, I'd recommend signing up for the section of STAT GR 5264 Stochastic Processes – Applications I taught by the program director, Lars Tyge Nielsen. He focuses heavily on the theoretical background of the mathematics of finance in that course and spends a good deal of time on measure theory there from what I remember.

  2. For the mandatory core courses, it's a bit of a mix, as I know Lars has worked in industry and the professor for MATH GR 5030 Numerical Methods in Finance works in industry, but I believe the other professors mostly come from academia. On the other hand, pretty much all of the elective courses offered specifically by the Columbia MAFN program are taught by teachers from industry. That said, you can take courses beyond those offered by the Columbia MAFN program itself if you see a professor you'd like to learn from that's from academia or just has a course focused on something you're interested in.

    As far as faculty interaction goes, I never had an issue getting in touch with a professor to discuss questions I had on lectures or projects/homework. Each course also looks for TAs each year, so I'm sure if you develop a relationship with a professor you can TA for them as wel

Columbia MAFN alum here. First off, congratulations on being accepted into 2 fantastic programs! I put a review up on QuantNet for the Columbia MAFN program last year and based on conversations I've had with those currently still in the program the points I made in that review still appear to apply.

To your point on programming courses, the Columbia MAFN program usually offers an elective course called Math GR5260 Programming for Quantitative & Computational Finance in both the fall and spring semesters, where C++ is used in the fall and Python is used in the spring. It's a very popular course and the classmates I've spoken to who took it enjoyed it. Furthermore, the mandatory core course MATH GR 5030 Numerical Methods in Finance involves working with Excel/VBA, most statistics courses use R, and most other courses typically let you/your project group use whichever programming language you want for your assignments (With the majority of students using Python). Beyond this, I don't recall an all-encompassing course specifically about microstructure, but concepts from it are within elective courses like Math GR 5300 Hedge Funds Strategies and Risk and Math GR5380 Multi-Asset Portfolio Management to name a couple.

Personally, I would suggest learning to code in at least one language prior to enrolling if you choose to join the Columbia MAFN program, as many courses will assume you know how to code already. I took the C++ course from QuantNet along with the Python course from ScriptUni prior to enrolling and found both to be a solid foundation for my work in the Columbia MAFN program.

Hope that helps! Ultimately, no matter which you choose, you'll come out with a great education and opportunities for a career in finance. I've actually worked with a few alumni from the NYU MathFin program and we've talked a lot about the similarities in our experiences.



I believe this is a reference to the Columbia MAFN and not NYU MathFin.

From my experience, the Columbia MAFN's 6 core mandatory courses are structured such that in your 1st semester you learn about the foundational mathematics and statistics underlying quantitative finance along with a broad overview of financial asset classes and markets, while in the 2nd semester you learn the applications of the foundational mathematics and statistics within finance through option pricing primarily. Beyond that you are left to learn about the industry/industries and further mathematical/statistical methods of interest to you through offered electives. I appreciated this flexibility personally, since it allowed me to explore my career interests as well as opportunities beyond quantitative finance. However, I also acknowledge that it probably isn't the best for everyone and does require you to have a good idea of what you want to do upon graduation from the start in order to select your elective courses to meet those goals.
I've just been accepted to Columbia MAFN and am currently deciding between it and Yale Asset Management.... Do you have any advice? Not sure if I want to be a quant researcher or asset manager (although I'd lean towards AM right now if forced to choose). I am looking to start a career in finance and would like to choose the program that will keep the most options open and be as competitive as possible in the general finance job market.

Greatly appreciate any advice you have! (and would be very interested in hearing more about your experience with the program and your job outcomes as well if you DM me)
 
I've just been accepted to Columbia MAFN and am currently deciding between it and Yale Asset Management.... Do you have any advice? Not sure if I want to be a quant researcher or asset manager (although I'd lean towards AM right now if forced to choose). I am looking to start a career in finance and would like to choose the program that will keep the most options open and be as competitive as possible in the general finance job market.

Greatly appreciate any advice you have! (and would be very interested in hearing more about your experience with the program and your job outcomes as well if you DM me)
First again, congratulations on getting into 2 fantastic programs as well! As far as deciding between the Columbia MAFN versus the Yale Asset Management programs, I can't help much since I don't know enough about the Yale Asset Management program to have a definitive opinion of it. I'll just describe what I know about the MAFN program that would apply to what your stated interests are.

I think the MAFN program's flexible course structure would allow you to learn about asset management through electives. The MAFN offered electives that come to mind for me when thinking about this are Math GR5380 Multi-Asset Portfolio Management, Math GR 5340 Fixed Income Portfolio Management, Math GR 5300 Hedge Funds Strategies and Risk, and Math GR 5220 Quantitative Methods in Investment Management. There are probably courses at the business school which apply to asset management that you could apply to take as well.

If you want to discuss specific questions about the program and job outcomes through DM, I'd be happy to do so. However, I myself didn't apply to asset management roles so I'm not sure if my experience would be very helpful to you. Someone who might be able to give you more information on the job prospects in asset management is Izabela Rutkowski, Assistant Director of Career Development for Columbia's MAFN program. Her email is i.rutkowski@columbia.edu.
 
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