Is my program choice flawed? and ideas about Columbia's M in Statistics

Hi, do you guys have any idea about Columbia's Master of Statistics program?
How is it regarded in US? (most Chinese believe this program has quite low threshhold and the working opportunity are not secured).

this year I've been admitted only by some second tier FE/FM programs (John Hopkins, Rutgers, Fordham, I place them in the order of preference, you can comment on it if you are willing to), and I'm now considering if Columbia's name and location could give me better chances of getting jobs, I'm now also researching about the possibility of taking mathfinanth courses as statistisc major (do you guys have any idea about that?)

I totally understand that getting job is quite a personal issue and the help from outside are very limited, but I believe two things would be critical from outside, THE NAME of your university, and THE NETWORK (relevant to location, connection with industry....). This is basically the reason why I tend to choose JHU for MFM, and Columbia for statistics, Is my reasoning somewtat flawed? Any Comments from you guys are Welcome!
I sense a growing trend of students going to Columbia solely for its name with no genuine interest in the study subject. Columbia is a premier name and you will pay a premium for it.
You will always have a name on your resume but then what?
Name can only go so far and as good as it can open door to you. Stories from MFE/MSOR students at Columbia who can not secure a job should give you second thought.

When one chooses a program to invest their future in, the question should be asked is: "will this program look at their students as revenue stream or cash cows?". If the answer is yes, then take your money elsewhere.

Get in a real program where you get a proper learning with a proper career service.
Just my .02c

I don't think that your flawed per se, but if your wanting to do FE for your career (I assume since your on this site), then you should go to an FE program or get a Phd in math/physics/etc.

As Andy says, name and network do open doors and it is an important first step to getting an interview, but at the end of the day, if you have nothing to show for at your interview, your $50,000 or so tuition would be worthless. If you think that you can learn all the material that MFE students learn as well as do well in your own degree, then I guess the name and network will help you.

Also regarding network, I'm not sure if doing stats is going to help in this regard. Yes it is in NY, but your peers and professors will be your strongest networks and if none of them have any ties/interest in the financial industry, then you won't be building the right network to get a foot in the door or getting relevant information.

And sorry to hijack your thread but what's all the negativity towards Columbia's MFE program? Is Columbia's MFE not "a real program" anymore?
One thing to consider which was mentioned in another thread is that a MFE prepares you for a very specific field while a masters in statistics can apply across many fields. I see this as an advantage if you are worried about getting a job, and open to non-finance positions.

Looking at Columbia's MA in Statistics site, you are required to take at least 3 electives (but encouraged to take more) and it sounds like it can be from any department so doing some mathfin electives sounds possible.

USNews Graduate rankings for 2010 puts Columbia's statistics program at 22.
Also a bit of an aside,

Am I reading their bit on residence units correctly? It sounds like they are really screwing part-time students with that setup.
And sorry to hijack your thread but what's all the negativity towards Columbia's MFE program? Is Columbia's MFE not "a real program" anymore?

I think the negativity is directed towards the "other" programs in Columbia... MFE on the other hand is great in content and recruitment. I think the negativity stems from the fact that some programs are kinda misleading in terms of career prospects and education content (not specifically targeting CU, but all other MFE, MFN, MSOR programs as well). A Masters Program like MFE, MAFN, MSOR that is specifically tailored to enhance a person's career should at the least post up career stats for its grads.

Having said that, I still think the "other" programs at CU is great for people who know the risk theyre taking. I for one will be applying for the MSOR, MAFN, STAT program this winter. But at the same time, I dont think that the jobs will line up for me when I graduate, but instead I will have to work my *** off to land a good job.
Overall I think people keep asking question which program is better than the other in this forum. I think is useless to compare which is better than the other. You have to ask yourself if you can pick up the knowledge and perform at work.

Even you get NYU or Columbia but you don't learn it properly, I don't think you will get the job you really want.
i honestly feel that the MSOR program is sort of a cash cow, whereas the MSFE at columbia isn't

a lot of people that are rejected from MSFE end up being recommended to MSOR - columbia's selective about who they let into their MSFE program... MSOR not so much

also, they published career stats for the MSFE program, which to me looked pretty solid. nothing of this sort exists for the MSOR program
When it comes to the CU MSOR, I think its important to acknowledge that it can be an incredible waste of time/money or an incredible opportunity. Its really up to you.
It may be a cash cow, but it doesnt mean that the program cannot lead you to success in the financial world.
There seems to be a negative stigma about the MSOR program... when in fact the program is just fine. You can learn most of the same material as the MFE guys. Which means during interviews you can be just as smart as they are. Thats what you really need when its all said and done IMHO


Lowly Undergrad
Stories from MFE/MSOR students at Columbia who can not secure a job should give you second thought..

Students with a quantitative graduate degree from Columbia cannot land a single job? Something is wrong here. The name should guarantee the chance to interview, but are these guys only applying to GS quant position or something?

@ wsdyx -- Yes, size matters. Don't go stat if you don't want stat, though. With this degree I would guarantee you will have a whole host of opportunities, as quant analyst, though -- maybe not.

You will probably be looking at jobs such as "data analyst."
>>The name should guarantee the chance to interview
There are only two things that are guaranteed in life: death and tax. You obviously overestimate the value of a name. I'll let the public stats of Columbia MFE speaks for itself. (Curiously, they decided to put the 2008 stats at first glance whereas you have to click to find the newer 2009 stat. If people don't pay attention to detail, they will just come away with the 100% impression.)

The full-time placement statistics for students who started in July 2008 (completed the Program in 2009) are listed below.

Total number of graduating students: 55
(2 students did not respond to the survey)

Students with employment*: 49

Percentage of students placed*: 92%

Range of Annual Base Salary: $65,000 - $125,000

Sign-on Bonus: $5,000 - $40,000

First Year-End Bonus: 10% - 150% of Base Salary **
*of respondents
Stories from MFE/MSOR students at Columbia who can not secure a job should give you second thought.

The MFE career stat seems like its stellar by any standard. Also considering that CU MFE has a large class size in comparison to many programs, the 92% actually says alot more than a comparable percentage from a program with less people.
Im just not sure why the MFE program is considered weak in the career placement arena given the statistics shown?


Lowly Undergrad
I agree with Young, that sounds about right...

The 8% who are unemployed, were they looking? Are they still in school? Are they international students? Factors such as these make 8% very reasonable, I believe.

I do estimate the value of a name to be very high, not the be-all-and-end-all, but yes, extremely valuable. I would not say "overestimate," though.
If you are going to be in this field, you need to be more critical and quantitative than that. If the Goldman Sachs fraud suit teaches us anything, it's there are more behind the scene than the numbers they present to you.

If you do the HW and can look beyond the numbers, I'd like to hear.

Do you know when the survey was done? If it's done only recently, how would you take into account graduates who got job after almost a year looking. Most stats are done 3 months after graduation. If you do it a year after graduation, the rate only goes up.
Do you know what kind of job profile, where? Do you take into account those who can't find job in US and have to go back home?

I can go on but hopefully you get my point. There are more questions than answer. Most people are gullible and will conclude that 92% (or 100%, or whatever) is pretty good.

If you want to have a career on Wall Street, keep this one thing in mind: "If it's too good to be true, it surely is".

And to keep this in perspective, the data is for Columbia MFE program, allegedly their flagship program under the IEOR dept. And what data do we have about MSOR, MS Stats program?
True... I suppose to remedy that problem, the MFE program would have to break the stats into 2 groups: Fall 2009 grads, and Winter 2009 grads, and report the career stats separately in a timely manner.

Given that the stats were posted about a month or so ago(March 2010), the longest that any one of them were looking for jobs post graduation is 7 months(August 2009 - March2010).

And ofcourse the earliest job offers prolly came even prior to graduation.
All in all I think the average time till employment should come out to about 1-2 months post graduation. Which is just fine IMO.

As for the quality of the jobs obtained, the MFE website lays out the companies and positions taken.

I realize that there may be more than meets the eye, but I think the CU MFE is getting a very undeserved negative feedback.
I would rather people coming into any program with lowered expectation and be happy than going in with unrealistically high expectation and become bitter at the end.

And just for the record, we are not discussing the CU MFE program specifically. We are using their stats as a baseline to discuss "other programs" at Columbia. You may think it's a good program, someone else may think otherwise. I'm indifferent as to what other people think about any program. I'm more interested in providing data whenever available and let people make their choice.

Joy Pathak

They have MAFM program also out of their Math department. It goes,, MFE > MAFM > MSOR < the rest @ Columbia from what has been seen. MSOR and MFE are in the same department whereas MAFM is separate department.
They have MAFM program also out of their Math department. It goes,, MFE > MAFM > MSOR < the rest @ Columbia from what has been seen. MSOR and MFE are in the same department whereas MAFM is separate department.

Do you mean >? I think MSOR is better than MS Stats.

Joy Pathak

Do you mean >? I think MSOR is better than MS Stats.

MFE > MAFM > (The Rest ) Seems like in the MS Stats you can take Financial engineering courses too? Then it would be similar to MSOR in which you can take MFE courses too. If you can structure the curriculum to be similar then they all fall in the similar category.

MSOR seems to be the common one for those who dont get into MFE or MAFM, but that is because they get recommended to that program so there are many students who go on to do finance jobs. I think if the Math/Stats department started referring people to the MS Stats then the case would be similar.