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MSF vs MFE for International Student

Hi,
I am in a very peculiar situation and I need to make a decision in the next week. I am an international student in the US on a dependent visa. I did my engineering from a tier 2 for undergrad and MBA from a top school in my home country. I also worked in corporate banking as a credit analyst for close to 2 years.
Now I choose to obtain to a US degree just to increase my job prospects (cannot work on the current visa). I have an admit from a Tier 1 MSF and a Tier 2 MFE.
I understand they are two different program to compare but for an international student which degree would provide better prospects. Post graduation, I am interested in structured finance or risk management roles (anything but financial software firms). Also, location wise, I prefer to stay in the South due to family reasons (Atlanta being the top choice).
I have an FRM certification and giving my level 2 CFA this june.
Any advice would greatly help...thanks
 

menovive

Columbia MAFN
I would suggest you MSF as your experience and Interest, both prevails the same path of MSF. And you don't seem to be interested in quant/coding...!!
 

roni

Cornell FE
A fried of mine graduated from Columbia MSFE two years ago and he said that a big number of the students ended up in risk management positions...
 
I think an MSF would be fine in your situation. You have an engineering background and the FRM. With a little work on your own, you could get an MSF and pass as a mini quant. The MSF would position you for banking, trading, risk, etc.

Here is the issue. Well two of them. MFE degrees tend to be better for foreign students than an MSF. The reason being is that an MSF tends to be in client facing roles. You really need to have strong English skills to be in these roles. Quant roles tend to be a little more forgiving of less than perfect English. Again, these are generalities, but I think they are about correct.

You are also getting to the point where you have too much education. I mean an MBA, MSF, FRM, (eventually) CFA. I know a lot of cultures think it is better to have more than less, but becoming an alphabet soup without the work experience to back it up will just hurt your chances.

I would go for the MSF, but put as much time working on the soft skills as you do the classes themselves.
 
I am no immigration expert, but I believe there is one important difference that you might want to be aware of, as you have indicated that you would like to work in the US following your degree but cannot do so on your current visa.

You probably already know that students can work in the US for a year following their degree under "Optional Practical Training" (OPT) status, if they find a job which is related to their degree. Many such students then seek to transition to an employer-sponsored "H1B" visa, which would permit US residence and employment for an additional six years.

What should be pointed out is that while most students can only use the OPT status on their student (F-1) visa for 12 months, those who obtain degrees in designated "Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics" areas (STEM) can actually extend their OPT period for an additional 17 months, for a total of 29 months, before it would be necessary to obtain an H1B sponsorship.

Here are some URLs regarding this program, which was implemented 3 years ago:

http://www.uscis.gov/files/article/OPT_FAQ_4apr08.pdf
http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/press_opt_ifr.pdf
http://www.dhs.gov/xnews/releases/pr_1207334008610.shtm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optional_Practical_Training

The reason that I bring this up is to point out that an MS in Finance would probably not be eligible for this OPT extension, while it is much more likely that, as an "engineering" or "mathematics" degree, an MFE degree should qualify for the extended OPT period.

The official list of designated STEM degrees which qualify for the OPT extension is here:

http://www.ice.gov/sevis/stemlist.htm

You may want to check with the international students offices at the universities to which you have been admitted in order to confirm the classification of each degree you are considering.

Also, I am told that while working under OPT status, foreign students are exempt from the US Social Security and Medicare taxes...

http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/international/article/0,,id=129427,00.html

I hope this information is useful (and I hope it is still accurate).
 
Just because a school gives you a "Master of Science" degree doesn't mean that it qualifies for the 29-month OPT program.

Looking more closely at the US Government's degree classification scheme:

http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/Files/Introduction_CIP2010.pdf
http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/search.aspx?y=55

they do have a category for Financial Mathematics -- it is 27.0305

http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/se...al,mathematics&sw=1,2,3&ct=1,2,3&ca=1,2,5,3,4
http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/cipdetail.aspx?y=55&cipid=89376

This code does not appear on the list of STEM codes approved for the 29-month OPT, but several closely related codes do appear on the STEM list:



27
27.0101
Mathematics, General
27
27.0102
Algebra and Number Theory
27
27.0103
Analysis and Functional Analysis
27
27.0104
Geometry/Geometric Analysis
27
27.0105
Topology and Foundations
27
27.0301
Applied Mathematics
27
27.0303
Computational Mathematics
27
27.0501
Statistics, General
27
27.0502
Mathematical Statistics and Probability

So perhaps a department offering a "Financial Mathematics" degree would have to persuade the immigration authorities that such degree should be categorized as one of the above listed degrees in order to ensure that their students can get 29-month OPT.

For those studying in an IEOR department, that degree code does appear on the STEM list, so such students should have no difficulty obtaining 29-month OPT:

http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/cipdetail.aspx?y=55&cipid=87773



14
14.3501
Industrial Engineering
14
14.3601
Manufacturing Engineering
14
14.3701
Operations Research

Unfortunately for those pursuing an MSF, it would appear that all "finance" degrees would be categorized with codes beginning with 52, and the only degree which falls under code "52" which appears on the STEM list is "actuarial science" :

http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/se...arial&sw=1,2,3&cf=88873&ct=1,2,3&ca=1,2,5,3,4
http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/cipdetail.aspx?y=55&cipid=87833



52
52.1304
Actuarial Science
 
I think an MSF would be fine in your situation. You have an engineering background and the FRM. With a little work on your own, you could get an MSF and pass as a mini quant. The MSF would position you for banking, trading, risk, etc.

Here is the issue. Well two of them. MFE degrees tend to be better for foreign students than an MSF. The reason being is that an MSF tends to be in client facing roles. You really need to have strong English skills to be in these roles. Quant roles tend to be a little more forgiving of less than perfect English. Again, these are generalities, but I think they are about correct.

You are also getting to the point where you have too much education. I mean an MBA, MSF, FRM, (eventually) CFA. I know a lot of cultures think it is better to have more than less, but becoming an alphabet soup without the work experience to back it up will just hurt your chances.

I would go for the MSF, but put as much time working on the soft skills as you do the classes themselves.

Thanks Anthony. congratulations on the MSF HQ website. I follow it quite regularly :)
 
I am no immigration expert, but I believe there is one important difference that you might want to be aware of, as you have indicated that you would like to work in the US following your degree but cannot do so on your current visa.

You probably already know that students can work in the US for a year following their degree under "Optional Practical Training" (OPT) status, if they find a job which is related to their degree. Many such students then seek to transition to an employer-sponsored "H1B" visa, which would permit US residence and employment for an additional six years.

What should be pointed out is that while most students can only use the OPT status on their student (F-1) visa for 12 months, those who obtain degrees in designated "Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics" areas (STEM) can actually extend their OPT period for an additional 17 months, for a total of 29 months, before it would be necessary to obtain an H1B sponsorship.

Here are some URLs regarding this program, which was implemented 3 years ago:

http://www.uscis.gov/files/article/OPT_FAQ_4apr08.pdf
http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/press_opt_ifr.pdf
http://www.dhs.gov/xnews/releases/pr_1207334008610.shtm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optional_Practical_Training

The reason that I bring this up is to point out that an MS in Finance would probably not be eligible for this OPT extension, while it is much more likely that, as an "engineering" or "mathematics" degree, an MFE degree should qualify for the extended OPT period.

The official list of designated STEM degrees which qualify for the OPT extension is here:

http://www.ice.gov/sevis/stemlist.htm

You may want to check with the international students offices at the universities to which you have been admitted in order to confirm the classification of each degree you are considering.

Also, I am told that while working under OPT status, foreign students are exempt from the US Social Security and Medicare taxes...

http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/international/article/0,,id=129427,00.html

I hope this information is useful (and I hope it is still accurate).

What you have pointed out in your post is actually accurate. I actually am considering this while weighing my options as the MSF is not elgible for the additional 17 month OPT extension under STEM category.
 
Thanks for the compliment Fingirl.

Vandy has a great program and you can customize your courses to really focus on what you want. Maybe there might be a middle ground where you can add more stat/math classes to quant-up your MSF. I did not know what was mentioned about about OPT, etc, but it might be something to strongly consider. The job prospects for internationals is tough right now and anything that can give you more time to find work is better. If you were comfortable with doing a PhD I would recommend Vanderbilt since you would have 1 year at a strong program to find work and if that didn't work out, you could do a PhD and get your quant card stamped.
 
that is a close call. I would say pick Vandy MSF. I think they are more reputed in MSF than Gtech is in MFE. I also think their placements are much better - you could check with anthony.

I did an MSF myself, but feel like an MFE might have been a better track for me.
Given your interests, an MSF or MFE would be suffice. It would come down to personal preference and location, etc...
 
that is a close call. I would say pick Vandy MSF. I think they are more reputed in MSF than Gtech is in MFE. I also think their placements are much better - you could check with anthony.

I did an MSF myself, but feel like an MFE might have been a better track for me.
Given your interests, an MSF or MFE would be suffice. It would come down to personal preference and location, etc...
Exactly given my preference to stay in the South and Vandy having a solid reputation there, I figured it would be a better choice. thanks everyone
 
Also, remember this. If you learn a few programming languages on your own and you come into an MSF with a strong math background, I think you could make a good case to be considered along with MFE students. My GF did an MSF with me and had an engineering background and now she works in a quant role. It is all in how you sell it. Good luck!
 
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