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Columbia Masters in Financial Economics

I am trying to decide whether or not to accept the admit, and career services has been the only big concern raised so far in prior discussions. I believe though the career services part of any program in colleges like Columbia tends to be over-highlighted and placements are more a function of student's own efforts rather than the work of a stellar career services team. It is surely bound to help, but the process is majorly student driven. I might be wrong which is why I am unsure on how much weightage should I give career services for schools in US before making my decision and inputs from the community will be go a long way in helping me get some clarity on this.

P.S. @tips can you please tell us a little more about the discussions you have had with the administration? Your responses have been the most informative so far.
 
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I am trying to decide whether or not to accept the admit, and career services has been the only big concern raised so far in prior discussions. I believe though the career services part of any program in colleges like Columbia tends to be over-highlighted and placements are more a function of student's own efforts rather than the work of a stellar career services team. It is surely bound to help, but the process is majorly student driven. I might be wrong which is why I am unsure on how much weightage should I give career services for schools in US before making my decision and inputs from the community will be go a long way in helping me get some clarity on this.

P.S. @tips can you please tell us a little more about the discussions you have had with the administration? Your responses have been the most informative so far.
What other options do you have? Job haunting always one's own effort. There are no stellar career service team. Just someone can gives you second opinions on your resume (which isn;t that import tbh). To land job, the most significant factor is the market condition (how many people they are hiring) not the candidate. Then it is mainly about one's performance at interview. Most of the top program should get you through the door.
 
I have an admit from Chicago MSFM and I am awaiting results from MIT, Gatech and a few other programs. I am currently leaning towards choosing Columbia due to its extremely interesting curriculum. Do let me know what you think of my other options vis-a-vis Columbia.
 
I have an admit from Chicago MSFM and I am awaiting results from MIT, Gatech and a few other programs. I am currently leaning towards choosing Columbia due to its extremely interesting curriculum. Do let me know what you think of my other options vis-a-vis Columbia.
Oh, if Chicago and MIT are your best alternative I would say Columbia is the no brainer. MIT has a much larger program and their program isn't that quantiative at all. The placement isn't top notch. Chicago MSFM is another very technical program but they are in Math department. They won't have a better career service than the columbia one. I won't even consider these 3 as on par with Columbia MSFE.
 
Oh, if Chicago and MIT are your best alternative I would say Columbia is the no brainer. MIT has a much larger program and their program isn't that quantiative at all. The placement isn't top notch. Chicago MSFM is another very technical program but they are in Math department. They won't have a better career service than the columbia one. I won't even consider these 3 as on par with Columbia MSFE.
I think this is a little harsh on MIT -- I too used to think similarly, however, the MFin actually gives students a lot of customizability as far as coursework goes, similar to the MSFE (Econ) at Columbia. As such, the degree can indeed be made very quantitative. @flas I think it really depends on what kind of role you are shooting for after graduation and also what your existing background is. I would say Chicago is maybe an epsilon or two below MIT MFin and Columbia MSFE (Econ), but notwithstanding this, Chicago may be the most fitting of the three if you are wanting to work in prop trading, for example.

I don't think it is possible to totally order these programs a priori -- it at the very least depends on (i) your career aspirations and (ii) your background.
 
Here's what I got from my questions

1. Expected class sizes are 25-30;
2. They're expecting that the fall will be in person, but have not yet decided so as to maintain flexibility. Likely there will be some sort of social distancing, but the worst case scenario is hybrid with alternating days in class. In the spring when they get the new facilities they expect everyone to be in person
3. Regarding transitioning to ML roles in non-finance fields --> program helps by giving options to take PhD CS/ML courses, but these students got their jobs primarily because of their pre-existing CS backgrounds
4. In semester internships - they prefer it if these take up 1-2 days tops during the week; During covid this was suspended, expect it to be back the upcoming spring/summer. Working with hedge funds / prop shops can sometimes snow ball into a bigger workload (one student worked at millenium, went from 1->3 days and ended up having less time for school work); prefer it if students do not do it during first semester
5. Students with strong experience in some of the coursework can be exempted and substitute different classes (i.e. CS undergraduates / students with strong work experience in computing can skip the first semester computing course potentially)
6. Covid did not have much of an impact on ability to do research for those who were interested in pursuing it, did have an impact on recruiting because fall semester was slower than expected
7. if you want to transition to a PhD at columbia, you'll have to apply with the general pool, though they'll probably give you an informal evaluation earlier so you'll know what your chances are going into the admissions cycle (means you can also apply to other programs). Main advantage you have is that you've taken the coursework, so depending on your performance + research it will be clear if you're well suited
8. 80-90% of the students in the program that pursue PhDs go to Finance PhDs, some students go to other fields. That being said, very few students pursue PhDs as most students discover they prefer industry
9. There's a pre-term bootcamp which can largely be exempted from if you're coming from the workforce
10. 2 half term courses = 1 graduate course for the 16 course requirement
11. Because of program flexibility, you could technically do a majority of the CS masters your first/second year as well and maybe graduate with both degrees in 2-3 years, though you need to apply for the CS masters independently. Mentioned that a joint CS-Finance masters may be coming soon.

I discussed a couple of other things, but figured these are general things that would be helpful for everyone. I am strongly leaning towards going pending some open questions I've got for them, but overall I do think this program is a good fit for someone with some pre-existing work experience looking to grow themselves in a number of different directions. I do think this program is stronger than both UChicago and MIT as suggested by @Zelong Qiu if you're looking to grow as a reseacher from a theoretical perspective (vs practical) and /or have inter-discplinary interests and/or already have a foot in the door in finance. Both UChicago and MIT are intended primarily for students looking to break into the US financial industry (hence why both programs are primarily comprised of international students with < 1.5 years of work experience on average)
 
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Anyone kno if theres a forum on CBS MSAFA? I received some very ambiguous update on my portal today...
 
Ye figured it would be a better fit for me... I work in a L/S equity fund and have no idea how to code so MSFE prolly aint right for me.
 
I believe MIT MFin is quite a comparable one to MSFE.
1. For the curriculum, actually after completing the essentials (Finance Theories, Accounting), students are eligible for ALL electives in MIT, Sloan/EECS would not let you down. MFin could be more quantitative than you imagine. On the other hand, MSFE's curriculum might not be as flexible as you think. Columbia got a crowd of guys in IEOR/CBS sharing for the class quota, which means some courses are not that "available". (just a point from MSFE's students) Personally thinking that MIT is much flexible than CBS.
2. For the career services, I think both programs would have a problem that in B-School the resources are more for MBAs. So jobs could be things that depend on your own.
3. The cohort of MIT MFin is no longer large this year. Besides, some students do PE/IB (it's up to one's career path)

So from the perspective of getting a job, I think:
Both have sufficient electives for your personalized path, fame in Wall Street, but they are not as good as CMU/UCB in terms of career services.

From the Phd path, I think:
1. CBS MSFE's courses are great, but more for Fin PhD or Econ Phd (in the departments of fin or econ in CBS), if ones prefer IEOR/ML/CS/Stat, both programs have shorts.
2. Both have remarkable sources in academia. Each year there are students (although very few) getting admission to their Phd degree.
3. Phd admission is more than having Phd courses and industrial experiences. Connections, GPA, school, Research, (Fin PhD admission is made by committee, hence the connection is not a dominant factor.) In this view, I do not think MSFE or MFin is a guarantee to Phd, there is a bunch of work to do and depends from person to person.
Regarding 3, I think that’s what makes Columbia so much better. The smaller program means it’s easier for most students to do research (about 70% do it, and anyone who wants it, gets it) + the committee are faculty, if you’re taking their classes and get to know them that helps (they tell you months in advance if you’re likely to get in so clearly connection helps)
. Similarly, you’ve already taken the first year PhD coursework, your performance in that is a pretty big indicator of your success in the program esp. if you’re trying to go to Columbia

Also unless the cohort has gone from 120 kids to 30 it’s still substantially larger.
 
How large is it going to be? Also, how do you know it is no longer large? Makes no sense to me they would admit less students all of a sudden
My fault, just a guess. Correct me if I am wrong, interview invites slots cut down by ~4/5 this year.
 
Multiple people could register for each slot for the test (most people had 5 total per slot), and based off the total slots it looks like they interviewed about 500-600 candidates meaning they’re probably accepting about 200-250 so it’s exactly the same as last year.
That being said this is all conjecture so I’ll probably ask them when the official offers come out.
MITs biggest draw for me, as a Asian American male, is its MIT...
 
Multiple people could register for each slot for the test (most people had 5 total per slot), and based off the total slots it looks like they interviewed about 500-600 candidates meaning they’re probably accepting about 200-250 so it’s exactly the same as last year.
That being said this is all conjecture so I’ll probably ask them when the official offers come out.
MITs biggest draw for me, as a Asian American male, is its MIT...
Have you decided if you want to join the program? I'm still debating between Princeton.
 
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