On Line Courses on Financial Engineering

Sam Harris

Space Systems Engineer
Very nice :) How does your boss feel about you leaving the company? He basically is helping you find another job and leave the company.

I have a feeling that in a few years, 50% of degrees, especially in business, will be awarded online.

My boss has encouraged this decision. He told me, "You're too young to start giving up on your dreams. If your dream is to work on Wall St, then dammit, go work on Wall St!"
 

Yuriy

MFE Alum
My boss has encouraged this decision. He told me, "You're too young to start giving up on your dreams. If your dream is to work on Wall St, then dammit, go work on Wall St!"

Sam, that is excellent! I wish everyone's boss would be like that :)
Actually, my boss was also supporting me in getting an MS degree. She had let me shift my schedule so I could leave work at 4:30pm to get to school on time for 6pm class. My commute was 1h 15min. It is nothing compared to my present commute that averages 3h 30min :) each way.
 
I've actually taken 3 courses online (non-MFE) through UC Berkely, and I presume my experience is similar to other online courses. They have their plusses and minuses. Sam Harris did a good job pointing out some of the plusses.

One minus that nobody talked about is that the self-paced nature of the courses can actually work -against- you sometimes. I have a packed schedule already, what with a demanding job and other responsibilities, and a self-paced course, rather than making things easier, makes it that much harder for me to to say "no" to a lot of things in my life that are urgent, but in the long run not as important to me.

One other ironic thing is that all of the courses had discussion boards but oddly enough there was close to zero student interation (unless that was actually given as part of an assignment). There's more life on quantnet course thread then there was on any of these online courses.

What it is great for is when you have a gap in your knowledge and you know you need a -real- course with some depth, not just some 3-day seminar, and you can't deal with an actual university course with their fixed-schedule course dates and non-matriculation paperwork. For this reason I'm sure I'll be taking online courses again in the future.
 
There's more life on quantnet course thread then there was on any of these online courses.
OMG ! I wish you were part of last year refresher and Dan's courses. People literally posted back and forth in real time when discussing the HW. It was madness and memorable at the same time. (I probably got more than half of my post count from posting in the HW threads.)

If those online programs can get their online discussion boards anywhere close to what we have, they would have attracted plenty. :)
 

Yuriy

MFE Alum
Actually, there is one plus of not having discussion boards. If you get stuck on a problem and have no one to ask, you try a million ways to solve it. By following those million ways, you inevitably read some extra material, learn other things that you would not learn if you were given a hint earlier on.

Last year (before I came to this forum) I had learned so much about physics when trying to figure out what RMS was for Structured Finance class :)
 
RMS = Richard M Stallman
:D

just kidding

Yuri, you've got a point. As for me, there comes a time when flailing around on a problem by yourself is no longer getting you nowhere. Depending on the subject, if I'm not getting anywhere in a half-hour I need to get help or sleep on it b/c my time is better spent elsewhere. (But yeah, it's no fun to have a bunch of threads consisting of people asking about stuff they could've looked up themselves.)
 

alain

Older and Wiser
I think online education is the way to go. In the next 5 years time, most of the programs will be onlin
I tried on-line classes and I hated them, too impersonal. On-line classes are not for everyone. I rather sit in a class with other students and interact with them and a professor standing in front of the room.

Also, you lose another source of networking when you do online programs.
 

foquant

Wandered in from M&A
I have done a number of online courses, and a proper eval of the idea is too dependent upon the individual program/course to be able to create a generalized statement.

in the courses I completed, the discussion board was very lively, with professors, tas, and students actively posting questions, links, and comments.

I would be so bold as to say that in some of these courses, the discussion was significantly better than what is realized in class, and there are a number of reasons for this.

1. forum postings have permanence, so if you say something stupid, everyone will see it for a long time as opposed to forget it as may happen in a large lecture hall. this, at least with my exposure, ensured that postings were well developed thoughts
2. postings can pull in outside media including file attachments and links, so current events and full length documents can be more explicitly referenced, and sourced by the students (not just the professor)
3. students weren't pressured to make comments that would be scored, as happens in many live graduate level courses. I've got a buddy at a top 5 school and another at a top 25 school right now... both of them have to make 1 comment per class session, which is graded from 1 to 5. both have said you have many students who repeat comments or who say things that are irrelevant or poorly developed, just to hit their 1 comment.

the networking is what got hit the hardest, which has been commented on - but, I think everyone involved understood that impact, so we all maintained very open email lines. very much like any other forum, such as this one.

all said and done, I think it really depends upon the people involved. active forum members make many of the detractions seem less relevant or material, while inactive members highlight the weaknesses of online courses.
 
I've taken a few courses at the Stevens Inst of Technology WebCampus, and must say I was impressed. The classes, though online, still meet every week at a preset time, for about 2 hours. The instructor talks and writes on a whiteboard, asks questions, and students participate actively. I've taken a math finance class at NYU and actually had worse experiences (one big miss was that the class was so overcrowded).

I am also mid-career and currently make significantly more than the highest salaries posted on the websites of Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, etc. I wanted to find a program that wouldn't cause me to change careers (as I'm already in the investment world) but rather help advance it. I chose Stevens because of the flexibility in their program (you can chose between a quantitative track or 2 different technology tracks). I don't plan on doing all of my courses online, maybe half (mainly because the electives I want are outside of the FE department).

I realize I'll be missing the networking component of traditional programs. Obviously, that's a downside. However, from what I can tell the part-time programs at some of the better schools do not provide career placement services.

As I take more classes at Stevens I'll let you know what I think. But, like I said, so far I'm pretty impressed.
 
Do NOT spend Money on Columbia's CVN. I started with their Corporate Finance course and wanted to do Asset pricing ones. I had one of worst experience of my life. They charge $3k+ for a course and do not have user friendly infrastructure to provide distance education. Also the professor many times do not actually conduct the course. I met a real piece of crap who was "managing" the course and unfortunately suffered a loss of $3k because of such (mis) management.

I am not dissuading against MSFE @ Columbia as I feel it is one of the best if you do it in class. I am myself considering that as on option but surely (1000 times) dissuade any body from using CVN. I truely hate CVN.
 
I am just wondering the Columbia CVN program will offer you the same degree?

Will you get all the opportunities like career services as full-time student? (I am living near NYC)

How hard is it to get into the program?
 
I am just wondering the Columbia CVN program will offer you the same degree?
From everything I read here, you will get the same kind of degree as regular students. This is where the similarity ends.
Will you get all the opportunities like career services as full-time student? (I am living near NYC)
This is where the brick-mortar and online program differ. It would make sense that regular students have access to all the internship, career service while CVN students may get some, if any.
 
This is where the brick-mortar and online program differ. It would make sense that regular students have access to all the internship, career service while CVN students may get some, if any.

Some regular brick-and-mortar programs also restrict their career services. For example, from NYU's website for Financial Mathematics regarding part-time students:

"This can include taking 4 courses per term but the availability of resume advice and job placement assistance is restricted to those admitted full time."

Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences NYU

I'm not sure why they would exclude part-time students.

-Mike
 
It's a little known fact about NYU program. I just hope that part-time students there get in knowing full well the fact. Maybe those who study PT there already hold a job so the need for job is eliminated ?
Anyway, different programs have different rules/approaches about placement assistant. At Baruch MFE, the little difference between FT and PT students is that PT students are not taking 4 courses a semester. Other than that, every single student receives the same kind of help and resources when it comes to job, study, etc.
 

DominiConnor

Quant Headhunter
DCFC, do you think CQF really worths the $$.
I have first to declare an interest, in that I teach C++ on the CQF, and my business partner is Paul Wilmott.
If you are within the bounds of not knowing this stuff already, but knowing enough to understand it, then the expectation for most people is that it pays back.

A more difficult question is whether it is the optimal investment in time and money.
There are other choices, most of which are more expensive, but it is still far from free.
Also it is a commitment in time which should not be ignored.

I think that's driven a lot by personal circumstances and ambitions.

When someone asks me, whether it is right for them, I generally have one of N replies:

0: A few are such clear cases that I tell them to do the CQF. That is only a tiny %. I always advise going to an open evening first, and typically set them up with an alumnus to talk about whether it is right for them.

1: Some simply don't have the background to get traction.
2: You're on the edge, take the maths paper, and/or do some more study in maths.
3: Some people have from/to that I can't properly model, so I put them in touch with an alumnus like them.
4: Some actually know enough that the marginal value is quite low.
5: Some want to do things that the CQF does not help with. For instance compliance, sales, or accountancy type work.

As a well known headhunter, I feel ethically obliged to give it to people straight, so I don't really "sell" at all.
 
I am considering Steven's Institute for FE program. Is it really good?. Is it worth the money?. How are the professors?. How long do you think it would take on average to complete the program?.
 
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