PhD in Hong Kong or MFE in the states?

Hi people,

I am a new graduate from the LSE in London. I know this forum is mainly US based, but I hope to hear some advices if any of you is keen to speak.

I did MSc financial mathematics at the LSE but I didnt like it. So I am wondering what should I do next.

I have been offered to do a PhD at the The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU). Or there are professors in The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) interested in me as well. They are all in directions of financial mathematics/engineerings.

Anyone has any thought on these offers?

Alternatively, I can look for a job here in the UK, and apply for another MFE. Because I think, ultimately at some point, I would love to move to the US.

So the choices are:

1. Taking a PhD in Hong Kong and upon obtaining my PhD:

1. try to find a job in the states (anyone knows how hard a hong kong phd is to find a quant job in the states?) (I am canadian so there is no visa issues)

2. if I can't find a job in the states right away then maybe do another master's in the states just to relocate if they really prefer local graduates that much even over PhDs.

2. Work in the UK first for one or two years then apply for a MFE in the states to relocate.

Really like the program at Berkeley but I heard it is very hard to get in. So I plan to work first then maybe I can use my work experience to apply. If anyone knows how they assess British graduates and think I should just apply right now then please point out.

Thank you all!
 
Before giving my opinions I'd like to ask, why didn't you like the MSc course at LSE, and if you didn't like the course, then why do you want to work/do a PhD in the same field??

About HK PhDs: first, what topics exactly? Not "directions of financial mathematics/engineerings", it would be best to know what exactly. Second, I can't comment on getting jobs in the US with a HK PhD. Third, I doubt you'll have the soul left to do another Master's in the US after doing a PhD (source: I am doing a PhD).

Based on what I know from your post (didn't like the MSc, unclear about (future paths after) PhD), working in the UK seems a better option than doing a PhD. If you work in an appropriate area, you'll
  • Strengthen your profile for US MFE admissions
  • Earn money
  • Get a better idea of what you actually enjoy doing
Just my two cents.
 
LSE is too theoretical and I don't like their curriculum as well.

Try getting a job in the UK, and understand the industry. When you have decided what kind of role you would want to work in, for ex: Quant Dev/Trader/Researcher @ Sell/Buy side or Crypto start-up, apply to the top-5 MFEs in the US.
(Berkeley prefers candidates with some experience)
During your MFE focus on your area of interest in quantitative finance. Use your MFE for going beyond what you learned at LSE and switch your career.

I'm not sure about job opportunities and VISA sponsorship requirements for Canadian citizens, but if you do the above, no firm should be able to deny you. Career-focused effort in a top-5 MFE program will get you a job even if you are from a third-world country.
 
Last edited:
Before giving my opinions I'd like to ask, why didn't you like the MSc course at LSE, and if you didn't like the course, then why do you want to work/do a PhD in the same field??

About HK PhDs: first, what topics exactly? Not "directions of financial mathematics/engineerings", it would be best to know what exactly. Second, I can't comment on getting jobs in the US with a HK PhD. Third, I doubt you'll have the soul left to do another Master's in the US after doing a PhD (source: I am doing a PhD).

Based on what I know from your post (didn't like the MSc, unclear about (future paths after) PhD), working in the UK seems a better option than doing a PhD. If you work in an appropriate area, you'll
  • Strengthen your profile for US MFE admissions
  • Earn money
  • Get a better idea of what you actually enjoy doing
Just my two cents.
@alovya Thank you for the response.

As @Sudhansh Dua mentioned, it is too theoretical so it is not useful in terms of landing jobs, yet not theoretical enough as it doesn't even have a dissertation. I don't like it as it essentially provided not enough industrial experience nor enough academic education. It has nothing to with the subject, just the course structure, and I still enjoy the subject and mathematics so I feel like a PhD.

Regarding the actual topics, there are several potential supervisors so I have not yet decided yet, they are mostly in pricings, there are profs doing algorithmic tradings which seems fascinating but they are very junior in the school.

Hong Kong PhDs seem to much shorter than in the states. I am presuming you are doing a PhD in the states and I am wondering if you could provide some more insights on careers prospects of PhDs in the states. For example, if you dont know much about HK PhDs, how would you say the career prospect of a PhD in the states from a mediocre, less reputable university, comparing to top MFE programs?

Thanks.
 
LSE is too theoretical and I don't like their curriculum as well.

Try getting a job in the UK, and understand the industry. When you have decided what kind of role you would want to work in, for ex: Quant Dev/Trader/Researcher @ Sell/Buy side or Crypto start-up, apply to the top-5 MFEs in the US.
(Berkeley prefers candidates with some experience)
During your MFE focus on your area of interest in quantitative finance. Use your MFE for going beyond what you learned at LSE and switch your career.

I'm not sure about job opportunities and VISA sponsorship requirements for Canadian citizens, but if you do the above, no firm should be able to deny you. Career-focused effort in a top-5 MFE program will get you a job even if you are from a third-world country.
@Sudhansh Dua

Thanks for the comment. Are you also a LSE graduate? Have you moved to the states and how did you do that, may I ask?

I think LSE curriculum is so bad so it is suffering a bad reputation in the city here as well, which made me a bit hard to find a good job in bigger hedge funds or banks anyway. I might ending up getting lesser suitable even not quant job roles, and those are the ones I am comparing to the PhDs.

Canadian citizens dont need visa. And indeed I am presuming job services in the US is much better than here. But by top-5 you do not include the program in UCLA I am thinking. Is it not as good? I like California very much and intend to move there, so if I intend to do a MFE on the west-coast then Berkeley seems to be the only choice if I really need to land a job upon graduation?

Thanks.
 
Hi, @David.C,
Yes, I am an LSE graduate, but I didn't study FinMath. Unfortunately, I graduated in 2020, when international students didn't have a 2-year stay back.

Which role do you prefer that requires a Ph.D.? I think with LSE FinMath, you can easily get into sell-side in London and even ask them to transfer you to the US office as you don't need a VISA. They will be happy to do so if you perform well.

If you don't want to go towards the academic side, I'll strongly suggest a career-focused MFE. For choosing an MFE, look at the curriculum, the professors (do they include industry professionals), electives, flexibility n all. The location should be after these as zoom interviews are a thing now. Don't repeat the LSE mistake. Just because a university is in a good location and has a QS under 50 doesn't mean all programs are good.

UCLA has a nice curriculum, unlike LSE. It's just that I only researched the top 3 programs when I was deciding to apply for an MFE. So, based on that, I will suggest UCB and Baruch.
 
Last edited:
Hi, @David.C,
Yes, I am an LSE graduate, but I didn't study FinMath. Unfortunately, I graduated in 2020, when international students didn't have a 2-year stay back.

Which role do you prefer that requires a Ph.D.? I think with LSE FinMath, you can easily get into sell-side in London and even ask them to transfer you to the US office as you don't need a VISA. They will be happy to do so if you perform well.

If you don't want to go towards the academic side, I'll strongly suggest a career-focused MFE. For choosing an MFE, look at the curriculum, the professors (do they include industry professionals), electives, flexibility n all. The location should be after these as zoom interviews are a thing now. Don't repeat the LSE mistake. Just because a university is in a good location and has a QS under 50 doesn't mean all programs are good.

UCLA has a nice curriculum, unlike LSE. It's just that I only researched the top 3 programs when I was deciding to apply for an MFE. So, based on that, I will suggest UCB and Baruch.
@Sudhansh Dua Thank you very much for the advice.

I think both of you are saying doing a PhD is a very bad idea if the ultimate goal is not academia. In that case I would listen to people.

I had not heard anything from any sell-side though. There were some small hfs contacted me and I am going through some interviews.

Also, though I did almost perfectly in my undergrad, I did not do well in my master's at LSE, merely a pass. Would I be able to compensate that with a good GRE score when in the future I apply for MFE's in the states? May I ask what did you do after your graduation from the LSE? Which MFE did you end up going to, and what happened before that?

Thanks again.
 
@Sudhansh Dua Thank you very much for the advice.

I think both of you are saying doing a PhD is a very bad idea if the ultimate goal is not academia. In that case I would listen to people.

I had not heard anything from any sell-side though. There were some small hfs contacted me and I am going through some interviews.

Also, though I did almost perfectly in my undergrad, I did not do well in my master's at LSE, merely a pass. Would I be able to compensate that with a good GRE score when in the future I apply for MFE's in the states? May I ask what did you do after your graduation from the LSE? Which MFE did you end up going to, and what happened before that?

Thanks again.
You need to reach out to people in London, they are always hungry for that referral bonus. Reach out to the VPs on the sell-side and send them your CV.
GRE cannot compensate for anything, GRE and GMAT are just standardized tests. Your experience will help your application now as mine did.

Get good experience, understand the industry and find out where you would like to fit in. By doing this you'll make sure that you are in a better position (career and potential job-satisfaction-wise) than someone who's clueless about the industry but has good academic grades and has ended up in your MFE program or a better even in a better ranked one. If you think your grades are not good, it's fine, the goal is to get into a role you like.

I work in Model validation, not in the states yet, and will be joining MFE next year. Good luck with your interviews.
:)
 
You need to reach out to people in London, they are always hungry for that referral bonus. Reach out to the VPs on the sell-side and send them your CV.
GRE cannot compensate for anything, GRE and GMAT are just standardized tests. Your experience will help your application now as mine did.

Get good experience, understand the industry and find out where you would like to fit in. By doing this you'll make sure that you are in a better position (career and potential job-satisfaction-wise) than someone who's clueless about the industry but has good academic grades and has ended up in your MFE program or a better even in a better ranked one. If you think your grades are not good, it's fine, the goal is to get into a role you like.

I work in Model validation, not in the states yet, and will be joining MFE next year. Good luck with your interviews.
:)
@Sudhansh Dua

Thank you very much for your replies. Would you be able to give any further advices for job searchings? e.g. what kind of companies likes to hire LSE financial math graduates? Should I apply to grad schemes or just entry level full time jobs? Ive been having a difficult time in getting interviews from major invest banks.
 
Top