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MFE after PhD, PhD after MFE, and related questions

Yuriy

MFE Alum
Just like I suggested earlier, we might want to have a thread to discuss questions related to MFE and PhD. Getting MFE after PhD, getting PhD after MFE, advantages of having one or the other or both.

I will contribute on the subject of PhD after MFE when I get a bit more time. Meanwhile, feel free to say whatever you would like to say about this topic.
 
I kind of see the idea of people with PhD in various fields doing an MFE. First, you have great career service from the program and with a PhD, you can expect to get higher starting salary.

On the other end, people with MFE and plan to do PhD, I don't see much from the economic point of view. MFE is supposed to be a professional, terminal degree that prepares you well for a range of career on Wall Street.

I've been on both side and I know which is for me and which is not for me. To me, one has to know exactly what he wants before spending 5-7 years doing a hard science PhD. This is pretty much case by case personal choice.

Why you plan to do that, Yuriy ? And what kind of career track you envision having ?
 

alain

Older and Wiser
I agree with Andy. IMHO, it is important to have a career path in mind or an objective planned out for what you want to achieve doing a PhD program after an MFE. Also, keep in mind that age could be a factor as well.
 

Yuriy

MFE Alum
Andy, your question is one of the reasons I started this thread :)

First, I want to mention "great career service from PhD programs". There are few problems with this. The area of PhD and its educational nature determine the kind of career service you get. Most of your networking and career service advices are related to education. When I was at Florida, most of the positions advertized were at various universities across the World. Also besides universities, you get to know about positions through personal contacts of professors whose interests span certain areas. So, if most people in your department are interested in Biostatistics, then most of the positions you get to know about from professors are in the area of Biostatistics. Therefore, if you are interested in working at a university in the area of Biostatistics, career services help is there for you. But if you decide to go work on Wallstreet, then the school won't help you :) unless school contacts are also working on Wallstreet.

However, if you already have PhD and interested in Finance, there are thousands of employers looking for you, and you might be able to find a good job without help of your school.

If you go for an MFE, then you get an excellent training in Math/Finance/CS and career help from your MFE school.

What I would like to mention here is the kinds of jobs you can get with MFE and PhD. And this is where I might answer the question why "PhD after MFE". I won't go into details about the jobs, just want to mention that I'm personally interested in those that happen to require PhD. I had a job intereview long time ago where they told me that they were looking for a Quant Modeler (or someone similar) and preferred the person to have a PhD.

Also, in my case it just happened that "PhD is after MFE", I would prefer to call it "PhD and MFE" :) My reason for getting PhD is that I don't view MFE as a terminal degree because some 10-15-20 years from now I see myself teaching, publishing papers, going to conferences, etc. But before I go teaching, which I very much like, I want to do something on the street. By something I mean developing something of my own, and that something must be of practical nature.
 

Yuriy

MFE Alum
how long does it take to complete a PhD program?

Depends on where you go. Most schools won't give you money for more than 4-5 years. So if you do it Full-Time being a Teaching or Research Assistant, then 5 is the maximum without Masters degree. But if you have a Masters in a related area, subtract 2 years. Also, as someone told me and I will probably see that for myself, at some schools, all you need is to complete a certain number of "in class credits" and pass qualifying exams and then you can do your thesis while working Full-Time anywhere in the world. So, if you already have relevant Masters, and they let you do your thesis Part-Time, then you go to school for a year or a little more and pass qualifying exams and after that do the thesis while working.
 
PhD in what discipline?
Usually, people with MFE and want to get PhD will be choose IEOR, Apply Math/Stat., or Quan. Economics.
However, those areas do not have much funding to support advanced study.
Unlike you are doing CS, ME, EE, CE, BioM.E, or natural sicnece PhD. u will have tones of money for ur study.

Actually what Yuriy said is not always true. There are places(at least I have seen) your professor pays you pretty good money as a PhD student, but won't let you graduate. I know ppl did their PhD in 5 or 6 years, why so long? Cheap labor. Your professor provides you funding, but trying to keep you in the lab as long as he/she can. Often professors are lazy, don't like to teach undergraduate classes. So what they do is let their PhD students to do it. Therefore, in most of the cases, funding is never a problem at least for Engr. or Science areas.

Usually, you need 45 to 60 class credits. That is like 2 years class work. Within that period, you will have to pass two exams. After the second exam, you are ABD. Certain schools have language requirements too, you need to pass the language exam before your ABD.
I know for CUNY's Math and CS, the language choices are Russian, German, Japanese, or French.
Thank god, Latin isn't on that list. LOL
 

alain

Older and Wiser
PhD in what discipline?
Usually, PhD after MFE will be IEOR, Apply Math, or Quan. Economics.
However, those areas do not have much funding.
Unlike you are doing CS, ME, EE, CE, BioM.E, or natural sicnece PhD. u will have tones of money for ur study.
Luso,

I don't know if what you said make sense. PhD in Finance will work and they will get funding. Economics will also work and they will get funding. Funding depends on a lot of things amonf then: which school you are getting your PhD, how important/powerful/skillful your advisor is, etc.
Actually what Yuriy said is not true. There are places(at least I have seen) your professor pays you pretty good money as a PhD student, but won't let you graduate. I know ppl did their PhD in 5 or 6 years, why so long? Cheap labor. Your professor provides you funding, but trying to keep you in the lab as long as he/she can. Often professors are lazy, don't like to teach undergraduate classes. So what they do is let their PhD students to do it. Therefore, in most of the cases, funding is never a problem at least for Engr. or Science areas.

These are pretty heavy words. The students in such program always have the choice to leave if they don't like it.

Usually, you need 45 to 60 class credits. That is like 2 years class work. Within that period, you will have to pass two exams. After the second exam, you are ABD. Certain schools have language requirements too, you need to pass the language exam before your ABD.
I know for CUNY's Math and CS, the language choices are Russian, German, Japanese, or French.
Thank god, Latin isn't on that list. LOL

IMHO, this sounds absurd although possible. If it is true, it says a lot about CUNY Math and CS PhD programs.
 

Yuriy

MFE Alum
Well, let me clarify a few things :)

When I said 4-5 years, I used the words "most schools", leaving some room for schools with special cases where people do PhD longer than that. When I went to Florida, they told me I would have financial support for 5 years for sure. So, in general, if you only have a Bachelor's Degree and want to do a PhD, then aim for 5 years plus or minus one (extreme cases two). If you do it Part-Time, it can take much longer.

Also, financial support is a separate issue. As far as I understand, money can come from two sources: the school or professors.

The school needs TAs, and TAs come from PhD and Masters students. Yes, some schools even give financial aid in the form of teaching assistantships to all incoming graduate students, not just PhDs. The reason is that there are introductory courses taken by 1000 or 2000 or even more undergraduates in any given semester; the school has 1 or 2 lecturers teaching the course in an in-class/online mode, with about 40 TAs teaching labs, grading and tutoring. If school has this kind of structure for at least some of its introductory classes, then it will need TAs in those departments (IEOR, Math, Stat, etc). Also, it might be the school's policy that PhDs cannot stay longer than 5 years.
And of course, there are schools that simply have enough money for most departments, so money is never a problem no matter what PhD you want to do.

And if professors provide funding, it is their own money, so they hire the best students in their area and might want to keep the students longer.

Now about TAs teaching courses. I don't think it has much to do with "lazy professors". It has more to do with the school trying to save money. If there is a student who can (i.e., knowleadgeable enough and can handle the class) teach his/her own class, then the school will pay the student much less than they pay professors and have a person teaching the class. And many students want to do that. And yes, it is true that many professors go away in the summer, and students have opportunity to teach their own classes.
 
I have to make it clear, I am talking about things in general, not just CUNY.
A lot of things are not just "heard on street" but personal experience.

Funding mainly refer to GOV grants.
Yes, there are private/corporate grants, donation, etc. however, the sources are not very stable.
For most of the colleges, public grant is the most important means.
There are plenty of data about research funding on internet. At least I recall 2 or 3 years ago, when I read a report by IEEE, in terms of funding, DOD, NASA, DOH/CDC, DOEnergy are on the top give funding agency list. In general, you can see natural science, life science and engineering PhD students are getting far more financial support than those PhD students in liberal arts, language, humanity, social science programs. Why? Because some programs can get funding easily compare to others. Of course there are always exceptions. And those are well related to a particular school’s financial condition, fund raising, reputation, outside connections, etc. If you Google online, you can find a lot of scholarships for advance degree in math, engineering, or medical/health research (excluding MD programs), or natural science. How often you will find scholarships for MBA, MFE, Business, Law, Finance studies? It pretty much reflects the topic we are talking about.


Yes, I agree those are pretty heavy words. Once again, I am not trying to imply the majority of the schools nor any particular schools. But, what I said does happen in schools across the country. Remember, 60% of every year’s new PhD holders are not born in US. That pretty much tells why in many cases, faculties like to keep their students in the lab longer than the average 4-year study period. It used to be a lot of foreign students in engineering or hardcore science programs got their green card almost the same time they got their degree (this has been changed significantly after 2003 since US Gov tighten up the process due to 9/11 incident.). That also tells why often students “choose” to study longer period of time. Anyway, it is a fair game, faculties and students both get what they want.


Regarding the language requirements, please see the following link:
Mathematics Ph.D. Program at CUNY
The candidate must demonstrate ability to read the literature of mathematics in two of the following languages: French, German, and Russian. Substitution of other foreign languages may be permitted in special cases. Students must demonstrate the required proficiency in one of these languages before they complete their second year of study and in the second language before graduation.

I am not sure about how other school does it. At least when I was accepted into the CS PhD program, the student handbooks (2004/5 version) says you need to pass the exam in Russian, French, or German. They will accept Japanese too. The idea is other than English, most of the research papers in Math or Computer areas were written in those four languages. PhD students need to be able to read paper from foreign resource. Nowadays, most of the papers are in English, I doubt the need of the language requirement. Also Google can help you too. LOL
 
Well, let me clarify a few things :)

Now about TAs teaching courses. I don't think it has much to do with "lazy professors". It has more to do with the school trying to save money. If there is a student who can (i.e., knowleadgeable enough and can handle the class) teach his/her own class, then the school will pay the student much less than they pay professors and have a person teaching the class. And many students want to do that. And yes, it is true that many professors go away in the summer, and students have opportunity to teach their own classes.

Maybe the word “lazy” is too strong. It is obvious enough, a number of professors don’t really like to teach specially those elementary undergraduate classes. However, in a lot of schools faculties are required to teach 2 to 3 courses per semester (depends on their research and administrative loads). Some faculties rather to only do research and/or teach advanced graduate courses. However, if one gets a grant, he/she can apply reduced teaching load, and use part of the grant money to pay his/her students to teach the class.

Also, for school, paying a graduate student $50 or 60 per hour to teach a class is far more cheaper than paying a full time professor to do the same thing.
 

Yuriy

MFE Alum
If you Google online, you can find a lot of scholarships for advance degree in math, engineering, or medical/health research (excluding MD programs), or natural science. How often you will find scholarships for MBA, MFE, Business, Law, Finance studies? It pretty much reflects the topic we are talking about.


One thing I can say for sure. If some department has money, they would rather give it to those students who are interested in physical sciences rather than finance. The reason being that they want to encourage people to do physical sciences, there is enough encouragement (without money) in going to finance.

Well, in any case, money is not the greatest concern. MBA takes 50 to 60 credits to complete and students don't get any financial aid (except from their employers, but thats not everybody).
 

Yuriy

MFE Alum
And personally, I would very much like to have the language requirement :) but it looks like the requirement is being replaced by various other exams in certain schools. I don't know why.
 

Yuriy

MFE Alum
Yuriy, see if University of Phoenix has an online PhD program ;)
They are considered one of the forerunners that started the online trend. That could be very convenient for you.

If I could get a PhD in the next few weeks, then I would consider that option ;) But I'm not staying here longer than I planned :)
 
And personally, I would very much like to have the language requirement :) but it looks like the requirement is being replaced by various other exams in certain schools. I don't know why.

At one point, the number of PhD holders was limited. Holding a degree like that means you are very well educated and belongs to the elite class. For members in those classes, the elegant languages are Latin and Greek, (French is consider the upper class social language). Actually, it is very true that that Latin and Greek are widely used in Engineering or Science. It is impossible not to run into those big Latin or Greek words in chemistry, biology, or math textbooks. Traditionally, a lot of schools (mainly those so-called elite private and public schools) need their PhD students to have the ability to read and understand at least one European language. It is very impressive if you can carry out a few Latin phrases in your conversation with other professionals. On a date, if you can walk into a upscale French restaurant and using fluent French to communicate with the waiter without using a single English sentence, definitely, your girl will be impressed.

I still remember few years ago, I took an Optimization class at GC, the professor was a very old fashioned scholar (his name starts with B). One day he was explaining some math phenomenon and terms, it happens we can’t distinguish the meaning among those Latin terms. The whole class was confused with those similar names. I remember he said: “ How come you guys, PhD students, don’t have any basic knowledge in Latin? Even you just have high school level Latin, you will be able to understand what I said easily. I want to spend more time to explain those math concepts rather than spending time to explain you those Latin terms.” For those who took Prof. Kosygina’s stochastic calculus last year would remember at least a few times she was explaining some theorems using French. She said those theorems were originally developed by Frenchmen, and if you know that language, you can understand the meaning easily without trying to remember the explanation of the theorems.

As I said before, nowadays, over 60% of the annual PhD degree recipients are foreigners. They may have to spend a great deal of time to master English for their study, and it is nearly impossible to impose those PhD level language requirements on them. That is why you see the many schools are dropping this requirement. By the way, the number of US high school students taking SAT Latin is constantly declining.
I think it is just a "mutatis mutandis" in our time.

Bottom line: for those who are interested to pursuit a PhD degree, knowing those languages is always a big plus in your professional career or your personal life.

dixi !
 

Yuriy

MFE Alum
I would want to learn French :) but rather for myself and not for exams. In the US, it might be reasonable to learn Spanish or Chinese. I know a lot of Russians in Russian far east speak Chinese and I've heard that Russian used to be the language taught in China.

I would definitely choose Russian in case of an exam, so far it is better than my English :)

I wonder if having a language elective would add value to the MFE program. Since many graduates work in companies doing business globally, a language elective might be a good thing to add. French 1001 and 1002 are offered in the summer, a nice thing to know for future.
 
Research Ideas

Hello Everyone,

I'll be applying to Ph.D. in Finance programs for 2009. This gives me about one year to learn towards a strong SOP and do independent research towards a publication-level paper. I've a CS undergrad from Georgia Tech and have written code for Finance and Operations related applications at several companies. I plan to pursue an online certificate in FE during 2008 to strengthen my base for independent research and come up with ideas for my SOP. I've identified two online programs, at Columbia CVN - Columbia Video Network and Stevens WebCampus.Stevens:: Financial Engineering I request your feedback on the same and information on other good programs.

I'm looking for research ideas that I can work on towards a publication-level paper. I've taken coursework in Economics and Accounting and broadly read on Finance. I plan to apply the certificate courses to data modeling efforts and use Java and SQL to build experiments. I request your thoughts on potential research ideas.

Thank You,
finssite
 

Yuriy

MFE Alum
Ph.D. is not just finding a topic for a publication-level paper.
In the first few years you will be taking classes. Later on you will need to find an advisor who works in the area that interests you. He or she will help you find a topic.
I don't think you can just come up with your own topic. The topic must be approved by the department and there should be professors in the department who work in that area.
 
Hi Yuriy,

Thank You for the reply. What I meant is I'm looking for a research idea that I could carry out for the next year and demonstrate my research abilities to the professors for admissions. Unfortunately, I didn't do any undergraduate research except the Senior Design requirement because I was studying and working in the industry simultaneously. I did have ideas but never the time. Hence, I couldn't develop my research mindset and resume required for admissions to the top programs. I'm looking for a research idea that would apply my computer science background along with my broad base (coursework and general readings) in mathematics, economics and finance towards demonstrating my ability to carry out research in the field of Finance. I should be pursuing an online FE course during the next year to further develop my knowledge base towards research.

I've about a year to work on some research towards admissions and would like to know whether some on/off-line community exists that does open/collaborative research in Finance where I could find opportunities to contribute and perhaps improve myself as a researcher.

Thank You very much for the reply. I've received several responses on the different forums and already learned quite a bit towards my goals. This is a great place to be!

Thank You,
Shakti
 
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