I do not think MFE degrees are as valuable anymore.

on a quant forum people don’t understand correlation not causation. PhD and top undergrads get the bulk of the roles is because they are the people most likely to be smart and have the work ethic to do whatever it takes to get through the interviews. to be fair there will be personal biases on part of the interviewers (which can just be personal insecurities and have nothing to do with you) when it comes down to making the offer so can’t say it’s 100% unbiased.

also seems like no one has anything to aspire to or be interested in besides working in a hedge fund or prop firm? not judging I was like that once too. but really step back for a second. you won’t starve as a quant on the sell side. or a developer at FAANG (probably boring as shit though).
 
What was the point of this thread? To provide your opinion? To look for objective feedback? As @noether-skolem pointed out, you posted a thread almost identical to this some time ago. It is unclear what your goals were for creating this thread. Also, I think you are overgeneralizing with your statements. This topic requires you to think more like a fox, less like a hedgehog my friend.
What aspects do you think I'm overgeneralizing? I've seen surveys where most aspiring quants poll that they want to work at hedge funds and on the buy side than sell side. I dont think you can disagree here
 
I think you have a skewed view of what prospective mfe students have. Even landing internships at top banks and asset management firms is tough. Many people in, CMU, for example have got into hedge funds/trading firms, but they seem to be the ones who study hard for interviews or just exceptionally smart. Many students interned and are full time at Citadel, cubist, drw, imc, SIG ... but many students are also at top banks which pay good money. I know people who had successful careers in trading but come back to learn not only security pricing but machine learning and data science as well. In terms of international I believe in other countries students are better trained in math and science and just happen to dominate the field. I personally believe a mfe is worth it at a top school, but not at a lower level unless you have a significant scholarship.
I agree. I am a senior year under grad. In the summer, I interned at a high quality bank in quant research team. There were six desks, six interns, half of them are master students. At the end, masters students end up getting the full time offers. With right math, stats and coding background, you still need quite a bit of finance focused academics to really stand a chance for these coveted positions. In that quant research team there are probably about 5% under grads, rest of them have Masters. I felt that, out of college as undergrad, I will always be competing with those who have 2 to 3 semesters of very focused quant background at masters level.

I spoke with someone who leads Goldman's Quant Research team, MIT Math PhD. He said, he rarely takes undergrads, he looks for Masters or PhD. He gave a couple of examples of undergrads in his team.
 
Last edited:
We know that many aspiring quants want to work at top quant firms but the job placement of all MFE programs shows otherwise. Users in other forums and quants at these top quant firms also express the same sentiment as me. I don't think there is much to argue here. I feel like some users arguing against me are biased and trying to rationalize the value of their degree.
I'm just gonna say that I think most MFE students know this. Probably only a couple of my classmates would end up at Jane Street, Citadel and such, making 400k+ a year, they will be the exceptions, not the norm. An average MFE student will probably make 1/4-1/3 of that a year out of the program. I can't speak for everyone but I can certainly say I don't *expect* to get paid what Jane Street or Citadel pays their hires. I expect that the increase in my future earnings after I complete the degree and get a couple of years of experience working in the US would be worth the initial 100k+ cost.

I've replied to your other thread, but the bottom line is, not everyone got a medal in IMO, not everyone went to Harvard/MIT/Stanford for undergrad, not everyone knew they even wanted to go into quant finance until more than a decade after they picked their first undergrad study, and of course as you mentioned, international students are the primary target of these degrees. You can't undo these things unless you can go back in time and change the decisions you made in high school. If you tick all the boxes and could get hired by Citadel out of undergrad, more power to you. I, and many others, don't.

What I don't understand is your point of repeating these posts. In your other thread people didn't even tell you that you're wrong, we just provided some alternative points of view where it could make sense to spend money on these degrees. Are you an ex-MFE student who aren't satisfied with what you got out of the program? Then tell us more so we can learn from it. Are you a prospective MFE student who's questioning the value of the degree? Then tell us more about your background so you can get advice or suggestions.
 
not everyone got a medal in IMO, not everyone went to Harvard/MIT/Stanford for undergrad, not everyone knew they even wanted to go into quant finance until more than a decade after they picked their first undergrad study, and of course as you mentioned, international students are the primary target of these degrees. You can't undo these things unless you can go back in time and change the decisions you made in high school. If you tick all the boxes and could get hired by Citadel out of undergrad, more power to you. I, and many others, don't.
@noether-skolem - I really appreciate you for writing this.

it’s not clear to me why MFE value needs to be binary - either not worth it, or worth it. I used to think it was worth it for everyone. Then my intern landed a solid job at a top Buyside firm out of undergrad. She would have not benefited from an MFE, since she had taken many of the same classes as an undergrad. I’m very glad she didn’t listen to my advice.

my situation is more along the lines of your description - and I can say it has been totally worth it for me. Not everyone had chosen their path in high school. Hell, I didn’t even find out there were math olympiads until I started grad school.

All else equal, more knowledge is better than less knowledge. If someone is determined and focused enough to learn a ton without an MFE, they only have my admiration.

the problem with the binary generalizations is that they conflate general descriptions “international students” “MFE candidates” with individuals. I don’t think you can make these determinations about individuals. The area under a curve at a point is undefined, since a point has no length. These generalizations also break down where the limit reaches the individual level.
 
All the top masters or undergrad programs require critical thinking. The only reason to graduate from these top undergrad or grad programs is because they help put your face in recruiters. Mfe has more dedication to placing you in the quant space. Everyone is biased what major is best. A physicist will say some sort of applied math degree is the best and that math and comp sci are too theoretical, comp sci will say math and cs require the most critical thinking, Mfe may say doesn’t really matter.

The top Mfe programs have the best odds of getting into buyside IMO still. Baruch has like a 40% buyside employment, if you have solid evidence and stats of better placing programs then lmk. PhDs and undergrads from all majors and schools have difficulty getting into the buyside and you will probably never get clear cut answer what major or school will be best
 
Not trying to sound presumptuous, but I honestly think there is no merit in dwelling over whether MFE is a waste degree or not.

I am an MFE aspirant currently working as a Data Scientist at a top bank. Honestly speaking, I don't need an MFE to become a buy-side quant. The real challenge is dealing with uncertainty - which route provides me with more certainty (read presents more opportunities).

Top math/engineering grads who don't join an MFE program probably never wanted to become a quant. It just doesn't interests them. There are plenty of research and challenging opportunities in other fields as well. Someone holding a PhD in Mathematics might be more interested in cognitive computing than algo trading. That doesn't, in any way, makes an MFE useless or redundant. In a similar fashion, you don't necessarily need to have a CS degree to become a developer at FAANG. You can always learn things on your own (as long as you're aware of what to learn), but if a program helps you streamline your learning there's no harm in taking that.

As folks have pointed out in their posts that there are always multiple ways to get a quant job, more power to people breaking into quant fin without an MFE. Ten years down the line no one will ever ask you which college you went to (unless you have impress a stupid clientele who believes everyone from MIT is an IMO rank holder). I believe unless you feel challenged at what you do eventually you'll get bored out of it. In the long run, it is always "self actualization" that drives an individual, not money, not esteem.

Peace.
 
I like a few personally. CMU, Princeton, Columbia msfe, Baruch(personally don’t like but can’t deny their results), UC Berkeley. Then borderline would be Cornell and UChicago for me. I would say those first 5 are the gold standard and then Cornell and UChicago are also good programs. Again this is just my opinion based on my experiences.
How would you rate the program at Boston University?
 
data monkey could be adding more value than quant who knows. that guy works at citadel, pretty sure getting a data monkey role there as an undergrad to in service of your mostly phd colleagues is as good a way to start as any
 
Last edited:
data monkey could be adding more value than quant who knows. that guy works at citadel, pretty sure getting a data monkey role there as an undergrad to in service of your mostly phd colleagues is as good a way to start as any
That's true. I don't disagree with that. Quant skills != more revenue.

It is just the fact that for certain aspect of things, when you have enough data, uncertainty becomes certainty, and you simply don't need a model.

But this does not imply they are better "Quants". There is (almost) nothing quantitative about data work. They are just better bussiness analysts, which is more valuable than quants for certain things.
 
Sure. Nowaday even data monkeys also call themselves quant. Indeed a MFE or even PhD candidate might not perform well at monkey job :)
a real quant is someone who blows up a hedge fund in greenwich connecticut in 1996 or revolutionizes the field by creating a “gaussian copula”
 
a real quant is someone who blows up a hedge fund in greenwich connecticut in 1996 or revolutionizes the field by creating a “gaussian copula”

Your arguments seems adverse selection.
Also FYI that Gaussian Copula is not real quant. It is fake. Anyway I don’t want to go hardcore on this.

If you happen to work in the industry long enough, you will know that different asset classes need different expertise. Some area needs quant, some don’t. But for marketing purpose they are all advertised as “Quant”.
 

Ken Abbott

Managing Director
data monkey could be adding more value than quant who knows. that guy works at citadel, pretty sure getting a data monkey role there as an undergrad to in service of your mostly phd colleagues is as good a way to start as any
I was a "data monkey" with only a BA for six years at Bankers Trust doing exactly what you mention - carrying the bags for PhD researchers. It was an amazing job. I ran thousands and thousands of regressions and learned core quant techniques that I used later on. The job made clear where the gaps in my knowledge were and allowed me to focus when I went to NYU for a MS/Statistics degree (which went away when the Courant degree program started and where I eventually became an adjunct faculty member).
 
When I look at the job placements for top mfe degrees from Princeton and NYU Courant I mainly see quants being placed in investment banks and asset management firms, but most aspiring quants want to enter hedge funds and proprietary trading firms because compensation is generally much higher. People on the internet talking about the 400k total compensation for fresh graduates are thinking of top firms like Citadel, Jane Street, Two Sigma, HRT and DE Shaw, but this is not where MFE graduates are usually employed.

I've talked to an employee at one these firms about the value of an MFE degree and they say they would much rather hire someone with a MS in math at Courant than Courant's MFE program and this doesn't just apply to NYU but all mfe programs. The problem with MFE degrees is that they are too vocational and teach specific skills like derivatives pricing but what top quant firms look for are graduates who have good critical thinking and problem solving skills which you can't tangibly learn from an MFE program. This is why winning first place in some math competition is impressive for these firms on your resume because it's a sign that you have those skills.

Even if someone does aspire to work in the sell side at a bank, I think there are better careers. Your compensation at an investment bank won't be as high as quants at top quant firm unless you are in a managerial role but I don't think there are as many roles in investment banks that make you earn as much as quants in top quant firms. There may be more job security working in an investment bank than a hedge fund, but if you wanted similar pay and good job security, why not work in a top tech company.

I keep wondering why MFE programs in the U.S mainly consist of international students and I think that's because MFE programs dont have much to offer for domestic students. International students can secure a visa through MFE programs and for "quant trader" roles, you don't need to have a Masters Degree or PHD.

I am in an MFE program because I decided to pursue quant too late in undergrad. My undergrad degree is in Mechanical Engineering, which is quantitative, but lacks some of the coding and math/stats background. I started to think about master's programs to further my skills. Around this time I realized that I wanted to pursue quant jobs. I could have done a masters in math/cs/stats, but decided that MFE programs are the most applicable to my desired field. I decided to go to SBU AMS QF program because it seemed the best of both worlds: studied quant topics but was a little more mainstream to applied math in general.

I would not say MFE programs are outdated/useless. That being said, education is not a one size fits all. There are several paths into quants - some do not take the MFE route. But in general, I do/have not seen a single internship/job listing for a true quant role that did not require graduate degrees. Maybe some break into quant from undergrad, but that is pretty rare.

As far as job placement, I think that relies more on the individual than the university. I landed an ongoing quant internship at a hedge fund. My current education was required to land this role.

As far as the density of international students, this is not specific to MFE programs. ALL graduate degree programs have a larger percentage of international students. This is amplified in quant finance because most quants want to practice in American markets. American education looks better to American institutions (probably).
 
I have had 0 interviews with a garbage mfe degree. After pursuing a CS, im literally getting 50 interview calls. Tsh, such a useless degree
Can you tell me what is a garbage mfe program?😂 Is it on the quant net ranking list? I am applying to mfe program this year and don't want to waste my time and money~
 
Top