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Consult with you about Schools and Programs

Demz

Member
Hey guys. Before I begin, this is a post I have just posted a while ago to helping me understand the differences between several finance programs.
I would like to consult with you with about programs in finance and schools to apply to. I have posted this post on different websites and consulted with some good guys (Anthony among them - a great fella!) - I am gathering as much information and opinions as possible.

A little background on me: I am an international student, majoring in economics and finance with a minor in accounting - 4.0 GPA and I supposed to finish my bachelor's degree in a total of 2.5 years (Yes, pretty quickly - I am taking many courses).

I want to get my master's degree in finance on the east coast only (NY, MA, PA, NJ, MY, ...) - it's just my personal preference. The thing is that, from reading here and on many websites and by looking at different schools' websites, I have realized that there are a few master's degrees in finance: MSF, MSQF, MSFE, MQFE, MSMF, and maybe some more. It seems like MSF is the most fundamental/basic program. The rest, quantitative finance, financial engineering, quantitative financial economics, mathematical finance seem extremely rigorous yet more valuable.

The thing is this: never in my life have I been good at math or programming. On the other hand, I believe that sometimes we just need to put in the work if we want to succeed in life. Yet, again, I want to enjoy the program and what I do in general and not to suffer - so I am like in between.

Another thing is that most prestigious schools require these prerequisites: Calculus 1, 2 (and sometimes 3), Linear Algebra, Programming (C ++, Python), and more. I am going to take Cal 1 and 2 and might take Python. Here is where I am facing a little issue: technically, my degree is Business Adm. with a concentration in economic and finance - meaning that I have not taken some of these classes because it's not part of my degree plan. To be honest, my school is not the very best school in the U.S, to put it mildly. As a small comment, I don't think I would have maintained a 4.0 GPA elsewhere (but I am a very dedicated student; I do believe I belong in between 3.5-4.0).

Regarding my future career, I honestly still don't know what financial sector I'd like to work in. I know that I don't want to just end up at a bank, I want more than it. I also know that some programs look for students with some experience, which I currently do not have and may not have (depends if I could do OPT). I think it's worth mentioning that while I may not be the craziest-smartest guy when it comes to math and problem-solving, I have good personal communication skills - I make a lot of connections with people. *I am saying it because yes, I can see myself as a manager.

I have provided a list of the schools I have been looking at recently (I'll probably apply 10 schools at most). Obviously, going to a top school such as Princeton or MIT is a priority. But at the same time, I don't know if it is a MUST. I hear people say that if you graduate from on one those schools, no matter what your grade is - everyone will want to hire you right after you graduate.

So, what do you say guys, any comments, recommendations? To make it easier for you guys (cuz I damn asked a lot), could you number your references?
1 - for the program
2 - the prerequisites
3 - career
4 - schools (plus, should I take the GMAT or GRE?)
 

princeofbelair

Active Member
You almost surely will need to take GRE. getting into a top program, without job experience, you should definitely take the minimum courses. MIT and princeton finance are equivalent to MFE basically. How can you tell for the rest of the schools? look at their cirrculum. If it has accounting or corporate finance as required courses, i wouldn't count it as a good MFE program. Take some time what about quant fin interests you and where exactly in quant fin you would like to work. Try to do personal projects to get experience here. I would take another .5-1 year to taking maht courses.
 

Demz

Member
Thank you for responding!

May I ask why GRE and not GMAT?

And I don't know if I would like MFE or Quant.Finance to be honest; I am mostly aiming for an MSF, but am open to hear about quant.
 

noether-skolem

Well-Known Member
C++
May I ask why GRE and not GMAT?

I believe this should be referenced to the requirement of each program you're applying to. Some programs accept only GRE, others accept only GMAT, and others would accept either, with or without preference to one.

I might be wrong but generally quant finance, math finance, comp finance, financial engineering are quite similar (though some universities offer multiple of these like Columbia offering FE and math finance) and you'll have to dig deeper into the courses they offer to differentiate them. For example some of the top "MFE" programs ranked by Quantnet are Princeton finance, Baruch financial engineering, Columbia financial engineering, NYU math finance, and CMU comp finance. Princeton and MIT's MFin are closer to this category compared to most other MFin programs, and these two do ask for some math/programming background.
 

Demz

Member
Can I succeed in the financial world with an MSF as opposed to an MSQF? It seems that overall, finance has moved from a traditional practice (i.e. MSF) to a more sophisticated and demanding practice - which fits MSQF.

I feel like MSQF is a REAL finance whereas MSF is kinda like a SOFT, SEMI-finance. (kinda like becoming a doctor or a nurse).

Am I wrong?
 

AlphaExpl

Member
Can I succeed in the financial world with an MSF as opposed to an MSQF? It seems that overall, finance has moved from a traditional practice (i.e. MSF) to a more sophisticated and demanding practice - which fits MSQF.

I feel like MSQF is a REAL finance whereas MSF is kinda like a SOFT, SEMI-finance. (kinda like becoming a doctor or a nurse).

Am I wrong?

I would say that MSF is more general, it teaches about many aspects of finance and often offers broad spectrum of electives, but the knowledge is not as deep, it is good for a wide variety of roles in finance, while MSQF has narrow specialisation it prepares you directly for quant career. I personally hold a general degree in finance from decent european business school, I studied derivatives, financial engineering, econometrics and chose to major in financial markets, but the coverage of those topics was not as deep as it would be in MSQF.
My comparison of MSF and MSQF is like a general practitioner doctor vs a surgeon.
 
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noether-skolem

Well-Known Member
C++
Can I succeed in the financial world with an MSF as opposed to an MSQF? It seems that overall, finance has moved from a traditional practice (i.e. MSF) to a more sophisticated and demanding practice - which fits MSQF.

I feel like MSQF is a REAL finance whereas MSF is kinda like a SOFT, SEMI-finance. (kinda like becoming a doctor or a nurse).

Am I wrong?

Wouldn't it depend on what/which part of finance you want to work in? If you want to do quant research for a hedge fund or prop trading firm, then MFE would be a better match. If you want to do things like corporate finance, M&A, or private equity, doing MFE probably won't be the best path to get there.
 

Demz

Member
I would say that MSF is more general, it teaches about many aspects of finance and often offers broad spectrum of electives, but the knowledge is not as deep, it is good for a wide variety of roles in finance, while MSQF has narrow specialisation it prepares you directly for quant career. I personally hold a general degree in finance from decent european business school, I studied derivatives, financial engineering, econometrics and chose to major in financial markets, but the coverage of those topics was not as deep as it would be in MSQF.
My comparison of MSF and MSQF is like a general practitioner doctor vs a surgeon.

What do MSQF people usually do career-wise?
 

Demz

Member
Wouldn't it depend on what/which part of finance you want to work in? If you want to do quant research for a hedge fund or prop trading firm, then MFE would be a better match. If you want to do things like corporate finance, M&A, or private equity, doing MFE probably won't be the best path to get there.

I still really don't know; I guess I'd like to work in investments and maybe become a broker on Wall Street. But that's about it as of now.

There's still uncertainty with regard to what I'd like to do; is there any list of all of the financial sectors and positions out there so that I can better know what I'd like to do?
 

noether-skolem

Well-Known Member
C++
I still really don't know; I guess I'd like to work in investments and maybe become a broker on Wall Street. But that's about it as of now.

There's still uncertainty with regard to what I'd like to do; is there any list of all of the financial sectors and positions out there so that I can better know what I'd like to do?
I'm not very knowledgeable on the matter itself, maybe you can drop by the wallstreetoasis forum? They're mostly geared to investment banking and other stuffs but that might give you an idea.
 

Demz

Member
I think a good source of this information will be future career section on MSQF programs website.

You mean on the schools' websites? Well yea... I guess I have read some, but I'd rather hear from people out here if you know what I mean.
 

Handong Sun

Member
C++
Thank you for responding!

May I ask why GRE and not GMAT?

And I don't know if I would like MFE or Quant.Finance to be honest; I am mostly aiming for an MSF, but am open to hear about quant.
If you can't decide between MSF and MSQF, I recommend you to take GRE. Firstly, MSF programs usually accept both GRE & GMAT but many MSQF/MFE programs require GRE only (like Cornell, NYU Tandon, etc). Besides, top MFE schools which accept both GRE & GMAT shows different average score percentile between GRE and GMAT.
For example, UIUC MFE enrolled students who submitted GRE scores have an average of 321, but those who submitted GMAT should have an average of 710. Like CMU, the statistics show GRE average of 328 and GMAT 750. I took both GMAT and GRE, I think getting 750+/710+in GMAT is way much harder than getting 328+/321+ in GRE...
 

Handong Sun

Member
C++
Can I succeed in the financial world with an MSF as opposed to an MSQF? It seems that overall, finance has moved from a traditional practice (i.e. MSF) to a more sophisticated and demanding practice - which fits MSQF.

I feel like MSQF is a REAL finance whereas MSF is kinda like a SOFT, SEMI-finance. (kinda like becoming a doctor or a nurse).

Am I wrong?
From my perspective, MSF is more theory-based, but theories in books are always abstract and unpractical. If you want to step into top financial services companies, an MSF degree might not be enough, you may need to get a CFA Certificate, and equip yourself with many great soft skills (communication, leadership, etc); MSQF is just like a computational tool which is much more tech-oriented, and it can prepare you directly to the quant career.
 

Demz

Member
Thank you Sir! Cornell doesn't have a master's in finance, by the way*

What is a quant career? I have understood they usually do back-office tasks.
Who are the guys who work on Wall Street, brokers, etc? Quants or regular MSFs?

By the way, do you get a CFA certificate if you go for MSQF?
 
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