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Columbia MSFE vs MIT MFin vs Yale AM

Columbia MSFE vs MIT MFin vs Yale AM+MBA

  • Columbia Financial Economics

  • MIT MFin

  • Yale AM+MBA joint-degree


Results are only viewable after voting.
With 2-3 years of experience in S&T and coming from a not too quant-savvy background - looking to switch to buy side (AM/HF), relocate to the US, and eventually become a PM through further studies.
Main interest and experience for now lies in equity derivatives (vol) but open to other areas, long term interests in broader investment space including impact investing.

A few thoughts in my head as below - appreciate any comments about the above-mentioned programs!

- Columbia MS in Financial Economics (2yrs; no scholarship)
Pros: small class size; highly selective nature; curriculum including both PhD and MBA courses; based in NYC​
Cons: too theoretical/ research-oriented? harder to manage between heavy academic workload and recruiting? career service not as good? might not be distinguishable with other (less selective) programs offered by Columbia?​

- MIT Master of Finance (1.5yrs; no scholarship)
Pros: mature establishment; flexibility in course & track selection; based in Boston (where AMs are); hands-on projects with firms; decent career service​
Cons: bigger class size - not as selective as Columbia; more tailored to fresh grads (including career service & peer network)​

- Yale AM/MBA joint-degree (2yrs; 1/4 tuition scholarship)
Pros: a cost-efficient way to get an MBA + master's (2 degrees in only 2 years); more suitable for my background with work experience; diverse network; AM program is new but highly connected to the industry; cheaper to live in New Haven; intangible benefits of 1-year MBA (business perspective, network, mindset, etc); able to do MBA internship; I like the community of Yale (super friendly and helpful)​
Cons: AM program is less established and perhaps without a convincing track record; location is less convenient; not sure how helpful MBA will be in the long term for HF/AM; peer group is less concentrated​
 
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With 2-3 years of experience in S&T and coming from a not too quant-savvy background - looking to switch to buy side (AM/HF), relocate to the US, and eventually become a PM through further studies.
Main interest and experience for now lies in equity derivatives (vol) but open to other areas, long term interests in broader investment space including impact investing.

A few thoughts in my head as below - appreciate any comments about the above-mentioned programs!

- Columbia MS in Financial Economics (2yrs; no scholarship)
Pros: small class size; highly selective nature; curriculum including both PhD and MBA courses; based in NYC​
Cons: too theoretical/ research-oriented? harder to manage between heavy academic workload and recruiting? career service not as good? might not be distinguishable with other (less selective) programs offered by Columbia?​

- MIT Master of Finance (1.5yrs; no scholarship)
Pros: mature establishment; flexibility in course & track selection; based in Boston (where AMs are); hands-on projects with firms; decent career service​
Cons: bigger class size - not as selective as Columbia; more tailored to fresh grads (including career service & peer network)​

- Yale AM/MBA joint-degree (2yrs; 1/4 tuition scholarship)
Pros: a cost-efficient way to get an MBA + master's (2 degrees in only 2 years); more suitable for my background with work experience; diverse network; AM program is new but highly connected to the industry; cheaper to live in New Haven; intangible benefits of 1-year MBA (business perspective, network, mindset, etc); able to do MBA internship; I like the community of Yale (super friendly and helpful)​
Cons: AM program is less established and perhaps without a convincing track record; location is less convenient; not sure how helpful MBA will be in the long term for HF/AM; peer group is less concentrated​
These are amazing options, so congratulations! Columbia’s program is, as you know, the most difficult by far, but you will learn the most. If you don’t have math beyond calculus, i.e. analysis, the coursework will be hard, but you may find it very rewarding. It will probably seem super theoretical and maybe useless at times, but I think it will pay off if you keep an open mind. You mention that people might not be able to distinguish it from less competitive programs. I understand the concern but I wouldn’t be worried. For the jobs you’ll be looking at, employers have to do their due diligence. They will give you a close look and if they don’t know already, they’ll find out about the MSFE program. That said, I’ve heard bad things about career services so I’d be ready to do your own networking too.

The MIT program is a nice balance because it will be much easier but still useful and prestigious. But, at least to me, it’s the least interesting option here.

I think the Yale AM program looks amazing for someone who wants to be a PM in the long run. Obviously, it’s brand new but it’s Yale, and I think Yale is prioritizing this program. I’ve heard they start trying to get you a job from the day you commit, at least if you’re doing the one-year, no MBA version. You will not get the hardcore education you’d get at Columbia but you may be able to make up for some of it with PhD-level electives if you’d like. My biggest concern is that you’d be doing the joint MBA program. I think the MBA is a waste, unless you feel very strongly about getting soft skills. You won’t learn much of anything else, and it really won’t be any help in recruiting (that’s true at any business school; buy side firms have 0 interest). It sounds like it might be a little late to drop it though.
 
These are amazing options, so congratulations! Columbia’s program is, as you know, the most difficult by far, but you will learn the most. If you don’t have math beyond calculus, i.e. analysis, the coursework will be hard, but you may find it very rewarding. It will probably seem super theoretical and maybe useless at times, but I think it will pay off if you keep an open mind. You mention that people might not be able to distinguish it from less competitive programs. I understand the concern but I wouldn’t be worried. For the jobs you’ll be looking at, employers have to do their due diligence. They will give you a close look and if they don’t know already, they’ll find out about the MSFE program. That said, I’ve heard bad things about career services so I’d be ready to do your own networking too.

The MIT program is a nice balance because it will be much easier but still useful and prestigious. But, at least to me, it’s the least interesting option here.

I think the Yale AM program looks amazing for someone who wants to be a PM in the long run. Obviously, it’s brand new but it’s Yale, and I think Yale is prioritizing this program. I’ve heard they start trying to get you a job from the day you commit, at least if you’re doing the one-year, no MBA version. You will not get the hardcore education you’d get at Columbia but you may be able to make up for some of it with PhD-level electives if you’d like. My biggest concern is that you’d be doing the joint MBA program. I think the MBA is a waste, unless you feel very strongly about getting soft skills. You won’t learn much of anything else, and it really won’t be any help in recruiting (that’s true at any business school; buy side firms have 0 interest). It sounds like it might be a little late to drop it though.
Thank you so much for the elaborated answer!

I completely agree with your points about MSFE. As for MIT, I do like its nice balance, connectivity and everything, but I feel it might be more impressive for someone to join right from undergrad's. For me since I'm going back to school after working for a few years, MSFE might be more worth it in comparison.

As for Yale, my initial motivation for adding an MBA is to make the program into 2 years (1st year MBA core courses; 2nd year AM) so that I could do a summer internship in between. I feel the standalone AM is a bit too short and I might not be in my best position to land a full time job in buy side right after starting the AM program (given all my previous experiences were in sell side). Another reason why I'm still keeping this MBA in consideration is that it'll probably be the most cost-efficient way for me to ever get a good MBA (in just 1 year and with an extra $40k only given my scholarships). The degree itself, together with the network it offers, might prove to be useful in the long term if I were to advance into management and say, to raise my own fund, etc. I do value the new perspectives that MBA courses can offer and the diversity of the peer group to broaden my horizons and help me grow as a person (all the intangible benefits). I know that the mainstream in US tends to value MBA more than master's (not the case for hedge funds though). Since I plan to stay in the US after graduation, I do want to keep my options open in the long term in the broader area of investment such as impact investing.

That being said, I'm concerned about how the buy side (especially hedge funds) would think of an MBA degree and that's why I didn't apply for other MBA programs at all. I understand that they would prefer someone with an engineering degree rather than a business degree. My plan is to take some AM/quant-related courses along with the MBA core courses during my first year so essentially I'll be doing a 2-year AM program along with the MBA - and I will brand myself as such when recruiting.

Really appreciate more of your thoughts and suggestions here! Thank you.
 
Thank you so much for the elaborated answer!

I completely agree with your points about MSFE. As for MIT, I do like its nice balance, connectivity and everything, but I feel it might be more impressive for someone to join right from undergrad's. For me since I'm going back to school after working for a few years, MSFE might be more worth it in comparison.

As for Yale, my initial motivation for adding an MBA is to make the program into 2 years (1st year MBA core courses; 2nd year AM) so that I could do a summer internship in between. I feel the standalone AM is a bit too short and I might not be in my best position to land a full time job in buy side right after starting the AM program (given all my previous experiences were in sell side). Another reason why I'm still keeping this MBA in consideration is that it'll probably be the most cost-efficient way for me to ever get a good MBA (in just 1 year and with an extra $40k only given my scholarships). The degree itself, together with the network it offers, might prove to be useful in the long term if I were to advance into management and say, to raise my own fund, etc. I do value the new perspectives that MBA courses can offer and the diversity of the peer group to broaden my horizons and help me grow as a person (all the intangible benefits). I know that the mainstream in US tends to value MBA more than master's (not the case for hedge funds though). Since I plan to stay in the US after graduation, I do want to keep my options open in the long term in the broader area of investment such as impact investing.

That being said, I'm concerned about how the buy side (especially hedge funds) would think of an MBA degree and that's why I didn't apply for other MBA programs at all. I understand that they would prefer someone with an engineering degree rather than a business degree. My plan is to take some AM/quant-related courses along with the MBA core courses during my first year so essentially I'll be doing a 2-year AM program along with the MBA - and I will brand myself as such when recruiting.

Really appreciate more of your thoughts and suggestions here! Thank you.
I don't think the MBA can hurt you, though I do think you might be disappointed if you've never taken an MBA course (speaking from my experience as an undergrad and non-MBA grad student taking classes at a business school that always ranks in the top 5). I also think the AM program is designed for someone in precisely your situation, so I wouldn't be worried about the short timeline. But if you prefer a two year program, then you should probably do one. And I'd probably pick Yale either way, but that's just me. Also, you get a lifetime membership to the Yale club in New York. People rarely consider that but the value is actually incredible. Similar clubs will set you back half a million dollars to join plus tens of thousands in yearly fees.
 
I don't think the MBA can hurt you, though I do think you might be disappointed if you've never taken an MBA course (speaking from my experience as an undergrad and non-MBA grad student taking classes at a business school that always ranks in the top 5). I also think the AM program is designed for someone in precisely your situation, so I wouldn't be worried about the short timeline. But if you prefer a two year program, then you should probably do one. And I'd probably pick Yale either way, but that's just me. Also, you get a lifetime membership to the Yale club in New York. People rarely consider that but the value is actually incredible. Similar clubs will set you back half a million dollars to join plus tens of thousands in yearly fees.
Thanks for these amazing insights! Full access to Yale's alumni network is valuable indeed.

May I ask why you'd pick Yale? Would love to know your thoughts even though it's a personal preference.
 
Thanks for these amazing insights! Full access to Yale's alumni network is valuable indeed.

May I ask why you'd pick Yale? Would love to know your thoughts even though it's a personal preference.
Sure. The AM program, as far as I’m aware, is still unique. I don’t think any other school is offering something comparable. I like that the program seems to balance theory/academia and a practice focus. MIT probably strikes a similar balance whereas Columbia, as I understand, is basically the first two years of a PhD. The classes are also mostly brand new and made for the AM program. And, at least as advertised, the program connects you to the biggest and best asset management firms in the world. Also, David Swenson was the best at what he did and Moskowitz is also top notch. Moskowitz and I think several others at Yale SOM were poached from the University of Chicago, which I think is the best finance school in the world. Lastly, I’m a sucker for a beautiful campus and Yale’s campus qualifies. Evans Hall, in particular, is a pretty captivating building. Columbia’s new business school campus would also be a big draw for me though.
 
Sure. The AM program, as far as I’m aware, is still unique. I don’t think any other school is offering something comparable. I like that the program seems to balance theory/academia and a practice focus. MIT probably strikes a similar balance whereas Columbia, as I understand, is basically the first two years of a PhD. The classes are also mostly brand new and made for the AM program. And, at least as advertised, the program connects you to the biggest and best asset management firms in the world. Also, David Swenson was the best at what he did and Moskowitz is also top notch. Moskowitz and I think several others at Yale SOM were poached from the University of Chicago, which I think is the best finance school in the world. Lastly, I’m a sucker for a beautiful campus and Yale’s campus qualifies. Evans Hall, in particular, is a pretty captivating building. Columbia’s new business school campus would also be a big draw for me though.
Looks like you really know the programs in and out. Thanks a lot! I think I'm more inclined to Yale as well for reasons including the ones you mentioned, but will do a bit more research before finalizing my decision.

Thanks for sharing! Very helpful :)
 
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