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Do you really need a master’s for quantitative finance?

I struggled a bit with the more advanced math classes (eg: PDEs, Advanced Linear Algebra, Probability theory, etc) and I’ve heard the MS in mathematical finance at my schools is absolutely brutal and very math heavy. I’m not sure if I’m cut out for that.

I’m wondering if I pick up a CS major along with my math major, would that be a sufficient enough replacement for a masters? I’ve heard that MQF/MFE programs are less math heavy. Maybe I should pursue that instead (although I’ve also heard they’re mostly a cash-grab scheme).

Then there’s the option of doing an MS in financial statistics or Data Science, which seems to be becoming more and more important.
Thoughts?
 

Ken Abbott

Managing Director
There is no substitute for additional technical education in my opinion. I know a few who have succeeded without it (former head FI strat at MS had a Berkeley BS), but they are the exceptions who prove the rule. The main problems are that when you graduate with a BA or BS, a) you don't know what you don't know and b) there is so much to know but you are not in a position to determine exactly where to focus (e.g. PDEs? Econometrics?).

At some point, probably 5-10 years in, you will probably see where the gaps are and want more schooling.
 
I struggled a bit with the more advanced math classes (eg: PDEs, Advanced Linear Algebra, Probability theory, etc) and I’ve heard the MS in mathematical finance at my schools is absolutely brutal and very math heavy. I’m not sure if I’m cut out for that.

I’m wondering if I pick up a CS major along with my math major, would that be a sufficient enough replacement for a masters? I’ve heard that MQF/MFE programs are less math heavy. Maybe I should pursue that instead (although I’ve also heard they’re mostly a cash-grab scheme).

Then there’s the option of doing an MS in financial statistics or Data Science, which seems to be becoming more and more important.
Thoughts?
Quantitative finance is a mathematically rigorous path, so if you are struggling with the undergraduate level math courses, I would consider a different field. If you are concerned about being capable of completing a MS in finmath, I would also be concerned about being competitive in the QF field. Most of your competitors will not only have these degrees, but will have proficient backgrounds in math, stats, computation.

MQF programs are less math heavy (depending on the program) and as a result, they can cater towards different positions in quant finance (portfolio management, etc.). If you are dead set on finance and cannot overcome your mathematical setbacks, maybe try the MBA route.
 
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