COMPARE Columbia OR vs Baruch MFE

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Received admission from both. Fresh graduate with some relevant internship experience.

Based on what I learned from internet, Baruch will probably better prepare me for a quant/trading career, the only concern is brand name.

While in OR, you really have to work hard to stand out (Columbia has too many programs) and curriculum is not that tailored for quant career, even if you customize it. But Columbia obviously has better brand name, which might make a difference if I decide to go back to asia.

I intend to work in NYC after I finish the program, but probably will go back to asia in the long run, maybe 5 years, but it's kind of too early to call.

So basically I have 2 questions. First, after several years of working experience, does anyone actually care about where you attended MFE program? Secondly, will MSOR program significantly reduce my chance of locate a desk quant/trading job (I understand it various with respect to different people, just suppose that I am an ordinary student and works really hard).

Your help is very much appreciated!
 

diegosanaz

BU MSMF
I am not an expert. But from Baruch employment reports I wouldn't worry too much about brand name.
 
Received admission from both. Fresh graduate with some relevant internship experience.

Based on what I learned from internet, Baruch will probably better prepare me for a quant/trading career, the only concern is brand name.

While in OR, you really have to work hard to stand out (Columbia has too many programs) and curriculum is not that tailored for quant career, even if you customize it. But Columbia obviously has better brand name, which might make a difference if I decide to go back to asia.

I intend to work in NYC after I finish the program, but probably will go back to asia in the long run, maybe 5 years, but it's kind of too early to call.

So basically I have 2 questions. First, after several years of working experience, does anyone actually care about where you attended MFE program? Secondly, will MSOR program significantly reduce my chance of locate a desk quant/trading job (I understand it various with respect to different people, just suppose that I am an ordinary student and works really hard).

Your help is very much appreciated!
If you want to become a quant then baruch will get you there, look at their placement rate.
 
As you plan to work in NYC for at least 5yrs, Baruch could be a better choice.

In 5yrs you could have some big bank names in your resume that could compensate for the low popularity of Baruch MFE in Asia.
 
Agree with AshokKumarMut... Take Baruch, your 5 years experience should compensate the brand name (maybe it would be a little different if you go back right after graduation). But to find a job in NYC, there's no question about that (that's from the viewpoint of a Columbia OR graduate).
 
mist
I agree with your point of view. But is it that the brand name(meaning Ivy-leagues and other big names) is too important a factor to ignore in long run. You may have good chances of getting placed from Baruch, but later on in case one wants to go for PhD ( because I think it is still a requirement if you really want to stand out in this industry), can you hope to get into those big names especially if you are an international student.
 
I do not fully understand the logicality of your post Chetan. You seem to be a bit all over the place with your planning and a touch paranoid.

Firstly, if you were to actually end up going back to India in 5 years, a PhD in Financial Math is an absolute overkill. Most quants in India have a degree in CS/IT with relevant experience. The icing on the cake is that recruiters probably look for is an IIT degree that you already have. Ashok can confirm or deny this just to be sure but I have other friends in Mumbai who'd agree with this.

Secondly, 5 years down the line recruiters are largely going to base their decisions on whether to interview you or not based upon the prestige and exclusivity of the firm(s) you've worked for in the last 5 years and/or how compatible has your experience been over the last 5 years to the job profile they're looking to fill. The reputation of your degree is almost never going to matter. I'm almost certain this is the way in the quant/trading space. Ofcourse, it's entirely different if you were intending to pursue a career in PE/VC/Management Consulting where it is the exact opposite. Your alma mater essentially decides in the latter case as to whether you get an interview or not since they like impressing their clients by all the candor and bravado they can while telling them your a Harvard/Wharton/Stanford MBA !

In the quant space and/or trading, your innovation, sheer mental aptitude (measured via your Math ability), ability to program efficiently (know Data Structures and Algos in and out) and ability to gauge the markets matters only. Nobody cares whether your from MIT or from Pimpri College (although convincing them with a Pimpri College degree would be nothing short of climbing Mt. Everest allegorically)!

If you do decide to do a PhD to become a Quant, I suggest that you do it directly and not via Columbia/Baruch since these degrees would add little to your profile for PhD admissions. PhD admission Committees look for candidates that have demonstrated coursework that is theoretically rigorous in fields that relate to the research of their faculty and a clear indication of whether you've been sincere (yes, it's more important to be sincere rather than a genius who puts in little effort) with your studies over a long period of time. Both the Columbia MSOR and the Baruch MFE are professional degrees in the sense that they lay more emphasis on application of known models rather than the theoretical underpinnings and abstract properties of the model itself. Hence, they'd do little to augment your chances for PhD admission. However, if you must insist on getting a Masters before applying for a PhD, you're better of with Columbia any day since PhD admission Committees love to see degrees from known schools with stellar grades (I don't blame them since it's really hard for the Admissions Committee to admit, say, a Harvey Mudd graduate over a Columbia graduate even though the Harvey Mudd guy may have done better than the Columbia guy if admitted since the Columbia grad is "statistically expected" to be a more competent candidate. Impression (and not what you're actually capable of) is all that matters!)

Trading : If you do end up deciding to pursue a career in Trading, your Career performance is almost completely dependent on your Trading performance rather than the repute of your MFE awarding university or whether or not you have a PhD. Nobody really cares what your educational qualification is if you can't make a ton of money for them!

Quants : Yes, there are a quite a few Quant positions that are almost exclusively contested for by PhDs. Most of these positions can be found at hedge funds. I, however, know that this trend is changing and MFE as a degree is slowly getting accepted as a viable replacement since it prepares the candidate almost as well as a PhD does with regards to the requirements of the job and costs much less to hire. However, there are a few Quant positions that require you to have done research in, say, Artificial Intelligence, Bayesian Stats etc. specifically since the role requires you to be setting up models based on these concepts. Pure Math quants (i.e. quants who setup the math of new models and leave it to programmers to implement it) are also exclusively PhDs but these positions are literally in single digits and vacancies open up sporadically. If you aspire to be anyone of these guys, directly go for a PhD!

Otherwise an MFE/MSOR is sufficient. Also, choosing between them is a tricky call personally. If your basis of judgement is only pay, Baruch probably edges Columbia regardless of the degree personally. However, if you aspire to join a top 3-4 BB in a "prestigious hard to get" Quant role (and other prestigious hard to get roles) and are willing to go the extra mile and take on risk, Columbia is significantly better than Baruch. Also, since your an IIT alumnus, you can afford to take this risk since being one already has augmented your chances of getting into a top 3-4 BB so going the extra mile makes sense. I'm not ignoring the fact that Baruch MFE alumni have ended up at top 3-4 BB but they're less in number (even if a couple of BBs have started coming on Baruch's campus to recruit and in that sense have made it a "target" school; yet they recruit 1, maybe 2 candidates each out of the entire graduating cohort from what I can make out) than Columbia for sure which definitely makes a difference.

Hope this helps!

Good Luck.
 
Advait

Yes, I admit that I am all over the place with my planning. I have just not made the right decisions till now and there are lot others personal factors that are making me go paranoid and restless..not even remotely related to MFE or anything. So please excuse me for that.

Thanks for your detailed explanation :) I was confused after talking to a Baruch alumni, who told me to get expectations correct as I might end up somewhere in a role where I would be doing just coding and updating models...basically there are less possibilities of getting a "quantitative" role as one would have imagined before doing MFE. Doing an MFE, even from Baruch is a financial risk for me as I have potentially more safe options (but not MFE) in my country. I am struggling to choose right now and probably that's contributing to me asking illogical questions!
 
I completely agree with the Baruch alum you spoke with! Even though they boast of great salaries, most of the roles they get are predominantly coding related and less finance related and a bit one dimensional compared to say NYU/UCB/CMU. You should have considered this probably before applying. Honestly, if you do end up in one of these roles, you can work for a few years, network and move so its not that bad! You ought to accept and live with the fact that you may not get the exact role you wished for but in time you will if you persevere. You ought to be adaptable and adjustable especially given the current economic climate.

Given your preferences and the yearning desire to return home in a few years, I'd accept IIMB over both if I were you.
 
Hey algophi,

I mistook your post to be Chetan's! My sincere apologies ! Most of what I wrote still applies except for the India specific stuff. Yes, Baruch would probably prepare you better for a quant/trading career but, ironically, you'd get far more opportunities to interview for quant/trading positions from Columbia in my opinion if you Network well.

You can expect yourself to get better pay from Baruch but the catch is that you'd most likely get the pay via a job profile similar to the one the Baruch alum was alluding to Chetan and not in pure Quant/trading positions in my opinion.
 
The icing on the cake is that recruiters probably look for is an IIT degree that you already have. Ashok can confirm or deny this just to be sure but I have other friends in Mumbai who'd agree with this.
almost 70% of my colleagues are from IIT (80% among them are from kgp). So I have to agree with you Advait.

There are very few firms in India that trade in Global Fixed Income and Commodities market. Most of them look for freshers, who can be molded in anyway the firm believes is best for them. So if you return to India after 5yrs, joining these firms may not be viable option(according to them you cannot be molded now) even though you may be from Wharton/Harvard/ you name it. One exception is if you were a trader in US and you have a good track record.

But as Advait said, if you want to enter into a Client Facing position in India after 5yrs, they would love to have you - a person who did his MSOR(most prefer to pronounce this as Quant degree - few can understand the difference btw MFE and MSOR) in Columbia then worked in US for 5yrs in one among the top 5 IBs in NY.

And having said that, i still feel Baruch would be a great option as you plan to work for at least 5yrs in US.
 

dstefan

Baruch MFE Director
You can expect yourself to get better pay from Baruch but the catch is that you'd most likely get the pay via a job profile similar to the one the Baruch alum was alluding to Chetan and not in pure Quant/trading positions in my opinion.

The positions and employers of Baruch MFE graduates can be found at http://mfe.baruch.cuny.edu/employment-stats

Looking at the roles of the graduates of other programs that published detailed employment reports (CMU http://www.tepper.cmu.edu/master-in...ners/recruiting-partners-2012-2013/index.aspx, UCB http://mfe.berkeley.edu/careers/placement2012.html), it is apparent that traditional research/pure quant roles are very scarce now.

Our expanded focus on providing students programming skills for trading positions (through courses in Market Microstructure, Machine Learning, Time Series, Algo Trading, and most recently Big Data in Finance) should prepare Baruch MFE graduates for what we expect to be the quant roles of the coming future.
 

Joy Pathak

Swaptionz
Is this a joke? The only comparisons for Baruch MFE that should ever be done is against NYU, Carnegie or Princeton. I work with two Columbia MFE's (their best program), and they both wish they had gone to Baruch instead. They found no jobs upon graduation and found their current jobs where I work from their own personal contacts.

Two other baruch mfe's where I work are traders in rates. Another good friend of mine who graduated with me is a trader in a top hedge fund. Another is about to start a trading job in government bonds in few days at a bank. A Third in my year is a quant for another huge hedge fund in nyc. There are some who are doing quant work in risk also.

Trust me if you have what it takes you can get a trading/quant job through Baruch MFE. You just have to be good enough. Good enough doesn't always mean being book smart though. Also if given rates is such a huge business out there, telling people you have been trained by Andrew Lesniewski when someone is talking to you about SABR models is a pretty cool thing.

Also congrats on getting admitted by Baruch. It is a rarity.
 
Two other baruch mfe's where I work are traders in rates. Another good friend of mine who graduated with me is a trader in a top hedge fund. Another is about to start a trading job in government bonds in few days at a bank. A Third in my year is a quant for another huge hedge fund in nyc. There are some who are doing quant work in risk also. Trust me if you have what it takes you can get a trading/quant job through Baruch MFE.
I was confused after talking to a Baruch alumni, who told me to get expectations correct as I might end up somewhere in a role where I would be doing just coding and updating models...basically there are less possibilities of getting a "quantitative" role as one would have imagined before doing MFE.

I'm fairly certain that you were not the Baruch alum Chetan spoke with!! Lol! I'll respond to your post when the time's right.

But on a serious note, the fact that two alumni of the same program have such contrasting opinions about the program itself is perplexing to say the least.

Nevertheless, I'd like to state that I hold the Baruch MFE program in high regard.
 
Well first thing, don't drag me into this..i just told my understanding of what the person said, which is actually partially true for the whole industry as there are not many traditional research/pure quant roles as Prof Dan pointed out.

One thing that I can tell (based on my experience/interactions ) with confidence is I have not yet heard any negative reviews about Baruch till now, except that it is not one of the big brands like NYU/CMU/Columbia, the importance of which in the current scenario is something which i cannot comment on.

Joy, thanks for your views :) . I partly agree with what you pointed out. Columbia has big brand name but not that great career services, basically this is what the general perception is. So I am not surprised that those couple of guys got jobs through personal connections. But in my view, the comparison with Baruch is not fair as the class sizes are disproportionate!

Also, why can't two alumni of the same program have contrasting opinion? Each individual is different, has different skill sets and varying ambitions and different satisfaction levels. That is precisely the reason, people talk to lot of people to understand pros and cons from different point of views!
 
Also, why can't two alumni of the same program have contrasting opinion? Each individual is different, has different skill sets and varying ambitions and different satisfaction levels. That is precisely the reason, people talk to lot of people to understand pros and cons from different point of views!

If this were true, the whole logic of having you speak with an alum of the program to ensure that you have realistic expectations from the program becomes fallacious since if two alumni can have contrasting views about the same program, it does not matter what (s)he tells you since all possible opinions would realize with finite probabilities and in such a chaotic random system, the opinion that does realize (depending upon the alum you speak with) is as true or false as the rest of the other opinions and therefore insignificant.
 

Lyosha

Psychic in Training
Full disclosure I went to Baruch.

1. Why do you want to go into trading? Why front office?

If you're looking to move to asia in 5 years, historically speaking, odds are for your time in the USA you should be looking for a less risky job (i.e. in risk)

2. You will (historically speaking) likely need employment guidance and support much more than your already-locally-adjusted peers. Problem with that is MSOR is notorious for offering literally zero employment support for its graduates.

Back when I was looking for my first job, I encountered throngs of MSOR peeps in places I went to largely for reconnaissance and recreation (i.e. job fairs) desperate for any shoe in anywhere - they all complained about how they get no support and their university doesn't care about them.

3. If you are worried about brand name not meaning enough to doctorate programs, a professional masters program is not the correct place for you. Professional masters programs are supposed to be career destinations - you learn a bunch of useful stuff and aim to enter the workforce in a career that will (hopefully) span the rest of your lifetime. Apply directly to doctorate programs if you are serious about pursuing a doctorate in the future and don't waste your and a program's time with a professional master's degree.

4. I'm not going to pretend Baruch MFE is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Like anything it is what you make of it, and as with everything in life - luck always plays a huge if not the biggest role. And the fact that like noone you interview with will have heard of it unless they went there can be at times annoying to say the least and is something that every graduate of the program has to overcome (although the burden does lessen every year). But the academics are in many ways (but not every way) second to none, there is a pretty healthy relationship with alumni, and Dan really does sincerely care about every single one of his students. A little too much at times even. And this translates to solid employment statistics.

Ultimately I would have to agree with Joy - all things considered Baruch's MFE is a top-tier MFE program, comparable in quality to Columbia's MFE, CMU, NYU, Berkeley (which top tier program is best is really best settled over pints IMHO... there's no clear winner) etc.

MSOR is IMHO not... go there if having the word "Columbia" on your resume is worth that much to you. I have met very successful graduates. But IMHO the expected value is significantly lower and downside tail risk significantly higher. You're going to have a tougher time finding the job you seek out of there, there will be virtually no alumni network and the academic quality will be substantially worse.
 
pruse I'd like to hear your opinion as well. Do you have anything I should know about columbia msor? Or something I said wrong about Baruch?

Well, I can't speak for Columbia since I didn't go there. But I went to Baruch. Two things should be noted. 1) Most jobs people get from Baruch are in risk management. 2) The employment stats are a bit dressed up. Stats are presented per graduating class, not cohort. What this means is that people who are still floating around at Baruch without a job, taking longer to graduate in order to use the director's resources as well as the help and connections of the professors, aren't factored in. So the whole story isn't there. I mean, you know the old saying about statistics...

But, that said, it is what you make of it, wherever you.
 

dstefan

Baruch MFE Director
Most jobs people get from Baruch are in risk management.
The year (December 2011-May 2012) when pruse graduated 8 of 22 graduates started off in risk management. For the December 2012 graduating cohort, 2 out of 16 students went to risk positions. Numbers vary and depend on job market; also, careers in risk are a lot more quantitative in nature than few years ago.
 
Is this a joke? The only comparisons for Baruch MFE that should ever be done is against NYU, Carnegie or Princeton.

I don't know about my sense of humor but you sure seem to possess a hell of an amazing one! Lets put up Baruch MFE vs Princeton MFin up for vote and see it we get a close to 50-50 split on the votes. Are you game for it ? I mean you have an edge considering that most of the members here have a positive bias towards the Baruch MFE program.

PS : I don't mean this post to be implied as me being negatively biased towards Baruch. I'm neutral but it's unfair to blatantly attempt at trying to augment the prestige of a program using baseless hyperboles.
 
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