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Online Undergraduate

Hello -

I posted here before in the past, and received excellent advice from a few people on here on how to proceed. I had originally planned on doing part time work and doing full-time school, but circumstances has changed. I will most likely need to work full time starting August (bills, insurance, etc), and curious on a potential roadmap that would provide clarity (if at all) on where to go.

I know that online undergraduate degrees are frowned upon in the industry, but are there any exceptions to the rule?

What institutions should I consider attending to finish my undergrad in? Should I just pick an easy major for the 4.0 then do prep classes at a community college in the math/programming before applying to a Masters program?

My employer would provide up to $5,000 tuition reimbursement. This would cover half of my tuition costs/expenses.

As far as job capacities, I will be assisting in Operations/Technical (IT, Engineering) at my current company. I will be doing some database development (along with SAS/Python).

Or is the door for this kind of work closed to someone like myself?
 
Not sure how online degrees look to employers - but definitely DO NOT pursue an easy major for a high GPA. Employers will see right through this. A GPA is relative to a degree. Getting a 4.0 in engineering is impressive and shows that you can excel in the hardest courses engineering has to offer. Getting a 4.0 in a historically easy field does not carry the same weight. Quant employers want to see that a candidate has been stress tested and is capable of digesting complex concepts. I would recommend completing the courses that matter (math/cs) at a reputable school.

The door to quant is never "closed" - some just have to work much harder than others.
 
Not sure how online degrees look to employers - but definitely DO NOT pursue an easy major for a high GPA. Employers will see right through this. A GPA is relative to a degree. Getting a 4.0 in engineering is impressive and shows that you can excel in the hardest courses engineering has to offer. Getting a 4.0 in a historically easy field does not carry the same weight. Quant employers want to see that a candidate has been stress tested and is capable of digesting complex concepts. I would recommend completing the courses that matter (math/cs) at a reputable school.

The door to quant is never "closed" - some just have to work much harder than others.

Thank you. There are some institutions that offers a Computer Science program. Another one offers a Mathematics (BA) - Regular or Applied Mathematics - with this I can do a double major with a CS degree along with it.

What would make an attractive candidate, and there are also no online Quant programs right?
 
Kind of a tough question to answer - there are probably many right answers. I would say a good candidate has a solid STEM education (probably includes a graduate degree), job experience (whether this is full time or internships), and some research or projects to talk about (top tier positions also want to see competition results). You would probably get better info from a recruiter for specific positions. Quant jobs vary in responsibilities so some roles put more emphasis on things. For example: having good research REALLY matters when applying for QR positions.

I think a lot of graduate programs have adopted the hybrid approach - maybe undergrad has as well? This would be a good question to ask a program coordinator. There may be a regular reputable program that you can complete completely remote. I think WorldQuant is completely online - but I really have no idea what this program is. I have seen it a few times on this forum but can't tell you if it is worth doing or means anything. Maybe something to look into?
 

Ken Abbott

Managing Director
The jury is out with respect to online education at the college level. I think it's generally accepted that it's poor for elementary school students and questionable for high-school students. I believe a consensus will evolve over the next 10 to 15 years when we will be able to compare the on-the-job performance of those educated during Covid and those not.

I also suspect that there are many pedagogical issues involved. Professors my age (61) can generally only envision a world where education is primarily in-person. The next generation of teachers may develop better ways. Clearly, some material can be learned online, as EdX, Coursera, and Khan Academy have shown. Whether or not technical material can be taught online is more uncertain. My dinosaur mentality generally doubts it, but I can't rule out new approaches to teaching that I've never considered.

I'd be curious to hear the opinions of people in this forum on the topic. Can highly technical material be learned remotely?
 
The jury is out with respect to online education at the college level. I think it's generally accepted that it's poor for elementary school students and questionable for high-school students. I believe a consensus will evolve over the next 10 to 15 years when we will be able to compare the on-the-job performance of those educated during Covid and those not.

I also suspect that there are many pedagogical issues involved. Professors my age (61) can generally only envision a world where education is primarily in-person. The next generation of teachers may develop better ways. Clearly, some material can be learned online, as EdX, Coursera, and Khan Academy have shown. Whether or not technical material can be taught online is more uncertain. My dinosaur mentality generally doubts it, but I can't rule out new approaches to teaching that I've never considered.

I'd be curious to hear the opinions of people in this forum on the topic. Can highly technical material be learned remotely?
yes, a good portion of columbia MFE students skip many of our classes (if MFEs are even considered highly technical)
As long as there are good lecture notes / reference textbooks I learn better just reading them than going to class (more time efficient - lectures tend to be pretty slow). At least for columbia, id say there is a very weak correlation between performance and how many times you actually attend class in person
 
Kind of a tough question to answer - there are probably many right answers. I would say a good candidate has a solid STEM education (probably includes a graduate degree), job experience (whether this is full time or internships), and some research or projects to talk about (top tier positions also want to see competition results). You would probably get better info from a recruiter for specific positions. Quant jobs vary in responsibilities so some roles put more emphasis on things. For example: having good research REALLY matters when applying for QR positions.

I think a lot of graduate programs have adopted the hybrid approach - maybe undergrad has as well? This would be a good question to ask a program coordinator. There may be a regular reputable program that you can complete completely remote. I think WorldQuant is completely online - but I really have no idea what this program is. I have seen it a few times on this forum but can't tell you if it is worth doing or means anything. Maybe something to look into?
Graduate degree programs in Computer Science/Stats/Mathematics do exist.

I know Master of Computer Science - Online MSCS Program through Georgia Institute of Technology is well known. They take students who attended institutions such as Western Governor's University (Software Development, IT, Computer Science majors) and Southern New Hampshire University (another online program). This can be used as a stepping stone before transitioning into a Masters in FE/Quant program.

How would firms view these?
 
The jury is out with respect to online education at the college level. I think it's generally accepted that it's poor for elementary school students and questionable for high-school students. I believe a consensus will evolve over the next 10 to 15 years when we will be able to compare the on-the-job performance of those educated during Covid and those not.

I also suspect that there are many pedagogical issues involved. Professors my age (61) can generally only envision a world where education is primarily in-person. The next generation of teachers may develop better ways. Clearly, some material can be learned online, as EdX, Coursera, and Khan Academy have shown. Whether or not technical material can be taught online is more uncertain. My dinosaur mentality generally doubts it, but I can't rule out new approaches to teaching that I've never considered.

I'd be curious to hear the opinions of people in this forum on the topic. Can highly technical material be learned remotely?

Yes. Referenced below - there are well-known online Masters in Computer Science program such as Georgia Tech.

I would love to attend an on-campus program, but in reality it may not be an option at this point in my career/life.

I live in SoCal, so not many institutions offer evenings/hybrid programs that I can look into.
 
yes, a good portion of columbia MFE students skip many of our classes (if MFEs are even considered highly technical)
As long as there are good lecture notes / reference textbooks I learn better just reading them than going to class (more time efficient - lectures tend to be pretty slow). At least for columbia, id say there is a very weak correlation between performance and how many times you actually attend class in person

Is the MFE @ Columbia highly technical?
 
Graduate degree programs in Computer Science/Stats/Mathematics do exist.

I know Master of Computer Science - Online MSCS Program through Georgia Institute of Technology is well known. They take students who attended institutions such as Western Governor's University (Software Development, IT, Computer Science majors) and Southern New Hampshire University (another online program). This can be used as a stepping stone before transitioning into a Masters in FE/Quant program.

How would firms view these?

The undergrad degree or the MSCS program would be a stepping stone? If you get a masters in CS through Gtech, I would not worry about completing a MFE/quant program.

As far as how firms view programs - I honestly cannot tell you. About 95% of the content on this website is pure speculation on how degrees look to employers and I do not think we have learned anything. Your best bet on getting that insight is finding a specific subset of quant roles that you want for a specific group of employers. Reach out to their recruiting staff directly and ask about what they look for in a candidate (this is when you can ask if online degrees are considered second tier to in person).

If you want to get a general idea of how people perform after they graduate the program in question, find some alumni on linkedin and look at what they are doing. Filter by degree, check out professional experiences, and DM some of them.
 
The undergrad degree or the MSCS program would be a stepping stone? If you get a masters in CS through Gtech, I would not worry about completing a MFE/quant program.

As far as how firms view programs - I honestly cannot tell you. About 95% of the content on this website is pure speculation on how degrees look to employers and I do not think we have learned anything. Your best bet on getting that insight is finding a specific subset of quant roles that you want for a specific group of employers. Reach out to their recruiting staff directly and ask about what they look for in a candidate (this is when you can ask if online degrees are considered second tier to in person).

If you want to get a general idea of how people perform after they graduate the program in question, find some alumni on linkedin and look at what they are doing. Filter by degree, check out professional experiences, and DM some of them.

I was aiming to actually do the MSCS Program from Georgia Tech as a stepping stone. Companies I am familiar with (including crypto and HFs) historically recruited graduates from this program.

I will be meeting with their program counselor soon on steps to prepare for admission. When you say not to worry about completing a MFE/Quant program, are you saying that the program is more then enough to get into a QR role?
 
I was aiming to actually do the MSCS Program from Georgia Tech as a stepping stone. Companies I am familiar with (including crypto and HFs) historically recruited graduates from this program.

I will be meeting with their program counselor soon on steps to prepare for admission. When you say not to worry about completing a MFE/Quant program, are you saying that the program is more then enough to get into a QR role?
A lot of those roles require a graduate degree (MS or PhD). So if you complete the MSCS, you will satisfy that requirement - no need to go back to school after. If your goal is QR, then research is your best bet. QR is one of the quant paths that REALLY prefer (some require) PhDs. You will need some solid work/research experience if applying with a masters.

If you are considering the MSCS program as a stepping stone and are really interested in the quant path, then I would consider skipping MSCS and applying to MFE programs.
 
A lot of those roles require a graduate degree (MS or PhD). So if you complete the MSCS, you will satisfy that requirement - no need to go back to school after. If your goal is QR, then research is your best bet. QR is one of the quant paths that REALLY prefer (some require) PhDs. You will need some solid work/research experience if applying with a masters.

If you are considering the MSCS program as a stepping stone and are really interested in the quant path, then I would consider skipping MSCS and applying to MFE programs.

I would start the MSCS to understand more on the industry. I am fairly new to it all, and I'd say 2-3 years of work experience would let me see if the MFE program is worth pursuing.

How do firms view MSCS candidates versus MFEs and other quant-type program candidates?
 
I would start the MSCS to understand more on the industry. I am fairly new to it all, and I'd say 2-3 years of work experience would let me see if the MFE program is worth pursuing.

How do firms view MSCS candidates versus MFEs and other quant-type program candidates?

If you can work 2-3 years in quant after MSCS then the MFE would not be worth it (maybe I am missing what you are trying to say?). Why spend the time and money going back to school after you have broken into quant? The exception to this would probably be going back and getting a PhD. I would be willing to bet an employer would weight your 2-3 years of quant experience much heavier than a masters degree.

Again, no idea - I don't recruit at a firm. I would guess some care, others don't. IMO both degrees would be interchangeable if paired with a quant internship. I think you may be overthinking the "how does my degree look to others" question. Interested in studying CS? Pick MSCS. Interested in studying financial math? Pick a math oriented MFE or an applied math program with a math finance concentration. Check the coursework out and see what YOU are more interested in.
 
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If you can work 2-3 years in quant after MSCS then the MFE would not be worth it (maybe I am missing what you are trying to say?). Why spend the time and money going back to school after you have broken into quant? The exception to this would probably be going back and getting a PhD. I would be willing to bet an employer would weight your 2-3 years of quant experience much heavier than a masters degree.

Again, no idea - I don't recruit at a firm. I would guess some care, others don't. IMO both degrees would be interchangeable if paired with a quant internship. I think you may be overthinking the "how does my degree look to others" question. Interested in studying CS? Pick MSCS. Interested in studying financial math? Pick a math oriented MFE or an applied math program with a math finance concentration. Check the coursework out and see what YOU are more interested in.

I like the aspect of ML/AI concepts in addition how technology applies to the markets.

I’ll do my DD and reach out to recruiters and firms to see how their recruiting structure goes. In this day and age, I feel the MSCS is also highly marketable.

Thank you.
 
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