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Columbia University MS in Financial Economics

This program was just brought to my attention so I thought I would bring it to all of your attention also. It is a two year program, more of a hybrid MBA/PhD than a MSF or MFE. Still might be of interest for anyone weak in programming, but looking for almost a PhD level of finance knowledge.

I am trying to speak with some people at Columbia about it, but if all else fails I will just update my site as info is made available.

Master of Science Programs : Master of Science in Financial Economics
Columbia MS in Financial Economics *New Program*
There is little useful info on the program's website Master of Science Programs : Master of Science in Financial Economics

I'm not sure who would be interested in this degree but the following info is interesting

Graduates of the program will have access to targeted job search resources of the Career Management Center but will not be included in MBA recruiting schedules. The Master of Science in Financial Economics degree is designed for students who wish to pursue a more analytical and focused course of study in finance than that offered by Columbia Business School’s MBA Program, but who also prefer a shorter and more industry-oriented experience than the School’s Doctoral Program.
Yeah, I do not know what to make of the program also. It is MSF-ish enough for me to cover it, but more of a junior PhD program than a graduate level finance degree. I would imagine more will come from the program as it develops.

It makes no sense to exclude these people from the MBA resume books. Both are two year degrees. If you are going to offer a degree that is meant for industry you should allow them a real shot at getting a job. Exclusion from resume books is a bad move, IMO.
The program is offered under the Columbia Business School and I bet the students will pay top not dollar as well while not getting stipends like PhD students.

And look at the offering in Career Services
  • Training in recruiting fundamentals: résumé and cover letter assistance, career coaching, and mock interviews.
  • Job listing resources appropriate for the degree program profile.
  • Access to customized resources in Columbia Business School’s online recruiting system.

Access to online resources?

Anthony, I hope you get some substantial insight from someone in the program. Send an email to the committee of 3 professors listed on the site.
That's golden. You scored.
Save as PDF for future generation

Interesting quotes from the proposal
We also anticipate that the program will be appealing to foreign nationals, who receive funding to study abroad, but often spend an extended period in the U.S. taking classes without enrolling in a degree program.
Our MS program is designed for students who are attracted to the art and challenge of problem solving without wishing to be put in a position of having to define what is “interesting” original research.
While we have not polled students regarding the creation of this program, we intend to begin the program with a very small enrollment in order to gauge demand and build the program over time
While we have not consulted extensively with our competitor schools or industry contacts about the need for this program, our intention is to begin the program with a very small number of students in order to gauge demand and build the program slowly over time
we anticipate expanding the pool of interested Master of Science students rather than cannibalizing Princeton’s applicant pool.
Our strongest competitor schools (Wharton, Harvard, Stanford, Kellogg, and University of Chicago-Booth) do not currently offer competing programs.


  • MS in Financial Economics resolution.pdf
    77.4 KB · Views: 272
There is a need for more analytically trained, industry focused, financial economists with an in-depth understanding of the nature of dynamic asset pricing, portfolio allocation, optimal contracting and other topics central to equilibrium financial economics. Interactions across various securities markets both domestically and internationally mandate a general equilibrium perspective. It is
also the only perspective that formally considers interactions with the macro economy. Indeed, it has been argued that the recent financial crisis was due, in large measure, to large financial firm’s [sic] inability to assess the consequences of their decisions in general equilibrium terms. The Business School thus foresees that graduates with this training will be highly attractive to investment and commercial banks, investment managers (including hedge funds), consulting firms, and, especially, policy-oriented organizations.
This is all suspect and unconvincing. Which no doubt accounts for why they're starting it on a small scale.
This program actually looks really good and challenging. My only concerns were:

1. Why would any student want to take on $170 K debt (similar to MBA debt) to do this program when they could enroll in the PhD program and take the same courses for free and also be paid $2,500 per month as PhD stipend?

2. These MS students will be nowhere even near as intelligent as the PhD students where admission rate is less than 2%. Yet they have to take the same classes. Their GPA will be really low because of the presence of those PhD students in their class.

3. They only have four economics courses (Micro 1, 2, Econometrics 1, 2). The really tough economics courses in Macroeconomics, Game Theory, which the Finance PhD students take are not offered as electives.

4. Now you have Columbia MFE, MSOR, MS-Stats, MS-Finance all competing for the same jobs. Who gets shafted?

I must say that the coursework looks really good, plus the brand name and alumni network of Columbia Business School is awesome. But you still have to take on $170 K debt and then get academically shafted by those super-smart Columbia PhD students who are taking the courses for free.

Joy Pathak

4. Now you have Columbia MFE, MSOR, MS-Stats, MS-Finance all competing for the same jobs. Who gets shafted?

Yeah. This should definitely be interesting. This Masters of Fin Econ, is out of the business school so they might have an edge over the MSOR/MS-Stats in terms of recruitment. The MFE has their own recriutment. Then there is the MS Math Fin, and I guess a MS Finance too?

Columbia is definitely making some bank!
TraderJoe meant to say MS Math Finance. I don't think Columbia has MS in Finance program.
And if you read my #4 post, graduates of this program don't get included in MBA recruiting schedules but they can get their resume worked on, look at the job postings on their website, that's kind of stuff.

It's way to early to judge on the program. We don't even get a good read on the MIT MFin program yet so let give them a 5 year window before we can make a call.

Given the hiring condition out there, it's interesting to see many schools opening new programs whose jobs rely on the financial sector. There is another program opening in the tri-state area that we will be reporting on in a few days.

Joy Pathak

TraderJoe meant to say MS Math Finance. I don't think Columbia has MS in Finance program.
And if you read my #4 post, graduates of this program don't get included in MBA recruiting schedules but they can get their resume worked on, look at the job postings on their website, that's kind of stuff.

Yeah I did. You don't have to be part of MBA recruiting for the Business school to help. Columbia Business School is a top Business program. That itself should aide. Being part of the business school will let them reach out to alumni of business school even if not part of the program.
In theory, those students whom the school admits as Ph.D. candidates (and, who have their tuition waived and receive stipends) are expected to go on to academic/research careers.

There may be candidates who are every bit as "bright" as those very few students accepted into the Ph.D. program, but who do not want to spend 5 years as a full-time graduate student, earning $20k-$30k annually, which (in New York City) certainly does not go very far.

Some prospective MS students may be just completing their undergraduate programs and may wish to continue directly into graduate school while the content of their more quantitative college courses is still "fresh", rather than pursuing several years of menial grunt-work as an "analyst" before returning to school to pursue an MBA. Most MBA programs seldom admit candidates directly from undergraduate studies; rather, they expect students to have several years of work experience before applying.

Some students may not be interested in the "managerial" aspects of the MBA (which, of course, is a Master's in Business Administration) and are not interested in the courses in, say, organizational behavior, which are part of that degree. While such a degree suits the many people whose desired path to success is "climbing the corporate ladder," there are others who aspire to be true "subject matter experts" in an analytical field and have little interest in the career path that would be followed by an MBA.

With respect to the fees, which are likely to be equivalent to those for the MBA, the university does manage to find students willing to enroll in their other programs, despite the formidable tuition. Such students may have personal or family resources which would obviate the need to take out substantial loans.

Clearly, having a number of such students as MS candidates would bring in a substantial amount of revenue to the department and the school, which they can then use to fund those Ph.D. students (most of whom come from overseas and have limited financial resources.)

Additionally, there may be a few students whose goal really is to do a Ph.D. in Finance, but who are not among the handful who are offered admission. If such candidates come in as tuition-paying MS students and perform extremely well, there is a chance that the faculty may offer such a student the opportunity to continue onward in the Ph.D. program midway.

So, there are many reasons for creating such a program. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Peter Lewis

Not so Quant
If they simply stack the class with foreign trained engineering majors, it could inflict further damage to an already saturated market on the Columbia campus as other have noted. However, I will take a contrarian viewpoint and argue that this degree will be well received, contingent on admitting a certain group of individuals.

I suspect they will accept a relatively large number of Ivy League educated, American undergraduates (compared to MFE programs), who by virtue of their college performance / major alone would already be a lock for an IB affiliated analyst role or quantitative consulting gig (e.g. Cornerstone Research, NERA). That is, the same kind of well-rounded, domestic undergraduates MIT and Princeton go after.

In turn, by undertaking such a degree early on they will get bubbled up directly to a senior analyst / junior associate type position while also not having to return to business school down the line. Logical careers would be front office risk management, high level compliance, S&T, etc. This will even have snob appeal with M&A and PE outfits who often loath true quants but love transparent yardsticks of competence (which doctoral level work at Columbia certainly is).

In other words, such a degree is as much about market signaling / branding as it is about imparting real skills (although I do not believe it will be short on those given it is two full years in duration). Alas, the inherent bias of this board towards traditional FE causes many posters to understate the market for roles that are more analytically intensive than what a run-of-the-mill, T10 finance MBA can handle, but also don’t require the rigor of an MFE (e.g. many jobs in fixed income). To the extent they can be found, polished, domestic applicants (who could just as well talk their way into a traditional management consulting gig at Monitor or Bain) are very much favored to fill them so long as they can clear the (reasonable) technical hurdles presented.

We will see what happens though; if they want to pack in a solid class they need to start advertising in the Economist, WSJ, FT, and so forth ASAP.

P.S. This not meant to be an endorsement of the style over substance argument implied in the final paragraph.

I just received an interview invite, did anyone else apply and receive an interview/admit?
from what i heard hardly anyone has got admits so far, they are targeting a small class size.
It seems to me that you can pretty much learn the same stuff with the MSOR or MS&E programs. Yes, you do get the GSB name, but you can't even go to the MBA recruiting events (which is a big part of why you want to be affiliate with the business school in the first place). A 100K is a lot to ask for....
I heard they are only looking for 2-8 students, only 2% of the applicants. (from someone already had one interview.) It seems very competitive! But you already stand out from the others. Please let me know how the interview goes and what questions they ask.
Columbia Financial Economics just released the profile of their first incoming class. I applaud their efforts to put info online quickly.
I find their choice of percentage instead of absolute score (both the GMAT/GRE section) interesting and their calculation of the Total GMAT column incorrect (you can't calculate Total column when there is N/A for the Regular Decision column).
2011 Entering class.jpg
So, they took 10 students out of 543..... what's the point of having a new program like this if they're only gonna take 10 people?

I can't imagine all of the 533 rejected applicants are that far off from the 10 accepted applicants.