Columbia MS Financial Economics - Overview

AnonCol

New Member
Hello guys

I am a Columbia University's MS Financial Economics former student and have noticed that there is not much information about this program here. I've seen tons of posts about Columbia MAFN, Fin Engineering and operations research, but not Financial Economics.

So I've taken the time to post this thread with some information (from somebody that actually studied in the program) to help future applicants in their decision process.

Alright! So first of all, what is the difference between MSOR, MSFE (engineering) and MSFE (business school) ?

First of all,
- MSOR and MSFE (Eng) are programs held in the Engineering Department.
- MAFN
is a program held in the Mathematics (and Stats) Department
- MSFE (Econ)
is a program held at Columbia Business School

The fact that each program is held in a different department suggests lots of things. To start with, you have access to different faculty. Also, the focus of the programs are different; Finally, the classes you take have different objectives.

The MSFE (Econ) has a curriculum filled with 80%+ of PhD Classes. Actually, there is no difference at all between this program and the PhD program in terms of classes. The only difference is that PhDs do not pay tuition and have to establish a strong relationship to faculty because they'll be doing research together for the next 5 (at least) years. Therefore, PhDs may have a different routine. But the training is the same. In addition, there are several outstanding professors at GSB, including hedge fund managers, Nobel prize laureates, former Chief Investment Officers at major banks (e.g Goldman Sachs) etc.

Nevertheless, another advantage of the MS Financial Economics program is the fact that it is a two-year program. This enables you to point the program to whatever direction you want. The first year is composed of core (and pretty important) classes. The second year is where you can actually tailor the program to your needs: e.g. if you want to work in quantitative research/trading, you can take PhD-level stochastic modeling, stats, machine learning etc; if you want to work in more generalist roles (IB, PE etc), you can get more MBA classes rather than PhD; If you want to continue your studies in a PhD program in a Top School, you may do research etc.

However, the downside of FinEcon is that the career advisory is not good. Students usually secure very good placement, but on their own. The program does not have a machinery around it (like the Financial Engineering program does) to get students in jobs: it is all about the PhD training. The rest is on you.

Other programs do not have a PhD-Level training. They have a masters-level training - which is fine, exactly because they are more focused on the job market rather than the actual theoretical foundation. To illustrate that, I can highlight that in the first semester of financial engineering, students are taught techniques that are commonly asked in interviews, which help them to excel in these interviews. FinEcon doesn't do that: instead, you learn concepts which are at first very distant from what people ask in interviews. But once you connect the dots (which happens in your 2nd semester), you get an awesome understanding of how everything correlates in finance.

With relation to other universities, the main difference between MS financial economics and other uni's programs (such as MIT MFin, LBS MFA/MiF, Imperial etc) is that these universities usually hold undergraduate-level classes for masters students (sometimes, you even take classes with undergrads!). So if you want to work in investment banking, PE, classic trading etc they may be a better option. If you want to work as quant, data science or any other highly technical/quantitative role, a program with PhD training is definitely a better option.

TL;DR
My final advice is: if you want to use a masters program as a bridge just to move to and work in New York/US, shorter programs with a good career mgmt machinery might be a better option (FinEng, MAFN, MSOR). If you want to become a specialist in a quantitative field with a good networking opportunity and excellent faculty, finecon might be a better choice.

Hope it helps!
 

unclear

New Member
Do you mind if I ask a few questions?

Do you mind sharing what texts you use for:
-Micro
-Macro
-Econometrics
-Financial econometrics, and
-Time series econometrics?

I do not see it on the website, but did you guys cover DSGE and CGE in the program?

Thank you
 

american_first

New Member
If you are an international student trying to get a job, the answer is simple: DO NOT TAKE THIS PROGRAM

I can be quiet about all the other bullshit this program has to offer, however it would be unsympathetic if I say nothing about its 'career service'

In short, career service has nothing professional to offer to MS students. Much worse than Financial Engineering/Mathematics at Columbia. Period.
 

pingu

Well-Known Member
If you are an international student trying to get a job, the answer is simple: DO NOT TAKE THIS PROGRAM

I can be quiet about all the other bullshit this program has to offer, however it would be unsympathetic if I say nothing about its 'career service'

In short, career service has nothing professional to offer to MS students. Much worse than Financial Engineering/Mathematics at Columbia. Period.
the OP has a different opinion about the program, aka the "BS it has to offer". Could you elaborate on this?
 

american_first

New Member
the OP has a different opinion about the program, aka the "BS it has to offer". Could you elaborate on this?
Conditional on the fact that its career service is actually an obstacle to landing a job (they even block you from Columbia U careers website), I really do not think it is worthwhile to discuss anything else.

The 'PhD training' the OP emphasized, is just finance PhD training -- it's not rocket science, not even close in terms of intelligence. Who in the industry gives a flying ****?
 

AnonCol

New Member
Do you mind if I ask a few questions?

Do you mind sharing what texts you use for:
-Micro
-Macro
-Econometrics
-Financial econometrics, and
-Time series econometrics?

I do not see it on the website, but did you guys cover DSGE and CGE in the program?

Thank you
Standard books used in phd classes. Hamilton, hayashi, wooldridge, and of course lots of papers. Faculty is very strong in econometrics. Micro is taught with professors own notes. Macro is not required


If you are an international student trying to get a job, the answer is simple: DO NOT TAKE THIS PROGRAM

I can be quiet about all the other bullshit this program has to offer, however it would be unsympathetic if I say nothing about its 'career service'

In short, career service has nothing professional to offer to MS students. Much worse than Financial Engineering/Mathematics at Columbia. Period.
If your goal is to go to US just to find a job, I'd agree with you. Read the "TL;DR" section

Conditional on the fact that its career service is actually an obstacle to landing a job (they even block you from Columbia U careers website), I really do not think it is worthwhile to discuss anything else.

The 'PhD training' the OP emphasized, is just finance PhD training -- it's not rocket science, not even close in terms of intelligence. Who in the industry gives a flying ****?
Clearly you have no idea what a PhD training is. It is so easy to spot who knows and who doesn't know what they're talking about

"Who in the industry gives a flying ****?"

Basically every single job which its description states "minimum requirement: Masters/PhD". So, IB/PE/S&T ? No one gives a f*. Quants? Everyone
 

nicolalove

New Member
Having looked at the curriculum. The PhD courses certainly seem interesting. And given that I'm from a finance background, this may actually give me a better shot. Did you also apply for MFinEng along with MSFinEcon?
 

crazypiano

New Member
Hi Guys, I am reaching out this community for some help. I recently attended the MS in Financial Economics Info Session at Columbia and after reviewing my profile I was ask to go through a pre-program preparatory course on the following areas. Can I please ask you guys what would be the best resource for this. I know Berkeley Haas has 3 online pre-program preparatory courses that cover a lot of it but I am wondering if there are other online resources which Columbia would prefer to see? Thank you all!!

Areas for improvement:
multivariate calculus, linear algebra/matrix theory, calculus based statistics/probability
 
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