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Ivy Masters in Statistics for prop trading

Will I have a shot at landing a junior trading/trading trainee role at one of the top 10-15 proprietary trading firms (jane street, etc.) after a Masters degree in Statistics from either Columbia or Harvard (my two choices). I also have a decent background in C++, Matlab, R, and SAS, and the Columbia program allows me to take a few math finance or FE courses as electives. Any opinions (no BS chat) are greatly appreciated. BTW, My undergrad is in Applied Economics with minors in statistics, math, and computer science from a well known, but not top 25 school.
 
An important consideration is the length of each program.

At Harvard, the AM in Statistics requires that you take 8 courses, 4 each semester. That means that you start the program in late August and you receive your degree in late May. The problem with this is the absence of any internship opportunity, because many firms like to select their permanent job candidates from the pool of prior interns. This gives them a chance to "try out" the candidate before extending a permanent job offer. Think of a summer internship as a paid, 3-month long job interview where you are being assessed daily.

At Columbia, the MA degree requires 10 courses. While it is possible to take 5 courses each semester, finishing the degree in one year, the problem with doing so is as above: no opportunity for an internship. However, at Columbia, you could also extend the program to 3 semesters, simply by taking fewer than 5 courses each term. For example, you could take 4 courses in each of your first 2 semesters, seek a summer internship, and then in your final (autumn) semester you would only need to take 1 more course (if you obtained academic credit for your summer internship) or 2 (if you did not receive academic credit for your summer internship.)

Obtaining academic credit for an internship generally depends on whether you are in the USA on a student visa or if you are a US citizen or permanent resident. If you are a foreigner then you may be required to register (and pay tuition) for a "curricular practical training" course in order to be able to pursue a paid internship under your "F1" visa restrictions, while if you are a US citizen or 'green-card' permanent resident then you do not face any restrictions on your ability to work in the USA and you do not need to pay tuition to your school for the "privilege" of having a summer job.

Note further that most firms operate under the following recruiting calendar:

Candidates for full-time positions starting the following year are generally interviewed in the fall, e.g., in October. Indeed, the annual National Financial Mathematics Career Fair takes place each year (at NYU) at the end of October (this year's event is taking place TODAY.) www.finmathjobfair.org/

So, if you are pursuing a one-year degree, you would need to start interviewing for your full-time job almost as soon as you arrive on campus, which means that you would be at a disadvantage vs. students who have already had a year of studies under their belt -- you would be less likely to succeed when peppered with the same hard interview questions which firms would expect you to be able to answer. Also you wouldn't be able to show any grades from your graduate studies, while other people would be able to show a full year's transcript.

On the other hand, interviewing for summer internships generally takes place at the beginning of the second semester, e.g., in February/March. At this point you would have already had a semester of very intense studies, and would be on equal footing vs. other candidates for summer internships.

The other thing to consider is geography. There are many excellent buy-side firms in Boston, but the population of firms in which you are interested in working is larger in the New York area. It would be a challenge (though not impossible) to be running back and forth between Cambridge and New York on job interviews, though that would interfere with your studies (except during Harvard's extended January break.) You would certainly find it more convenient to hop on the New York City subway to attend a job interview vs. having the added travel headaches of coming down from Boston.

I'm sure that you would obtain an excellent education at either school. However for the logistical reasons outlined above, you might find Columbia better suited to your needs, particularly if you choose to extend the program through 3 semesters rather than 2.

Good luck!
 
Thank you for your input. I actually do prefer the options and location Columbia's program has to offer and would definitely do it over three semesters. One interesting possibility is that if I choose electives courses that are part of the MAFN at Columbia, and then enroll in the MAFN after a semester or two in the statistic program and use my stat courses as electives for the MAFN program I could have both degrees for an extra 2-3 courses! Any thoughts? I would be willing to spend two years unfunded for an education like that.
 
I see...do you think it is possible for a residence unit to applied to both degrees if taking courses that are applicable to both and if I have been admitted to both programs. Example: 1st semester Statistics, 2nd semester Statistics and MAFN, 3rd Semester MAFN. I am only inquiring for the unlikely hypothetical possibility that it might be worth one extra semester.
 
you can be admitted to both, but you can only pick one of those for your degree. since there is so much overlap (85%) you can take all your courses in math finance and still get a degree in stat with 3 other stat courses. I think 6 of the required 8 courses in math fin are stat courses. It just depends what degree you want.
 
My understanding is that Columbia's MAFN program is more selective -- after admitting the top applicants, those who were still strong candidates but did not make the MAFN cut are often asked "Sorry, we can't admit you to MAFN. Would you like to do the MA in Statistics instead?" Thus, their applications are transferred over to the Statistics department (which actually shares joint responsibility for the MAFN program with the Mathematics department.)

It's a weird tuition scheme at Columbia GSAS, where you have to have to pay for 2 "residence units" in order to get your MA degree.
If you wanted to be a part-time student and only wanted to take 2 courses at a time, in each given semester, you would just pay for a "1/4 residence unit", but you would have to do this for 8 semesters in order to pay for 8/4 = 2 residence units. Doing it this way would have you complete 16 courses rather than the 10 required for the degree.

If you took 3 courses at a time, you would pay for "1/2 residence unit" each term. You would need to do this for 4 semesters in order to get 4/2 = 2 residence units, which would enable you to get the degree while completing 12 courses (rather than 10).

If you pay for a full residence unit then you can register for 4, 5, or (if you are truly a masochist) 6 courses in a term. This way you could complete the degree in 2 semesters at the minimal tuition cost -- but you wouldn't gain the experience of doing an internship and becoming more a more competitive candidate in the final (3rd) semester.

In theory, if you were to space out your courses by doing 4 each of the first 2 semesters and then 2 in the final semester, you would have to pay for 2 1/4 residence units. I'm not sure whether this is exactly how Columbia handles this. Perhaps another reader who is or has been a student in a Columbia GSAS program could clarify exactly how this works.

Note that Columbia Engineering does not follow this "residence unit" scheme for tuition. In that school, tuition is per credit.
 
they will not let u do both mafn and stats since u can take all the classes the mafn student can take as a stats student. your resume would either read stats- emphasis in quant finance
or math finance
 
Thank you...also I know UChicago has a Masters Degree in Statistics with an emphasis in quant finance and they also have a Masters degree in Computer Science that allows for some math finance courses. Chicago is home to many of the reputable prop trading firms, so which of these two degrees/skill sets is better on a resume for prop trading in Chicago. I am asking only out of intellectual curiosity and find NYC more attractive than Chicago having briefly visiting both places.
 
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