Prerequisites and Summer Courses for Fordham MSQF

Richard Phu

New Member
I thought now–before the program starts–would be a good time to go over the application process, prerequisites and summer courses. I won’t rehash the application requirements that can already be found on the Fordham website: I’ll focus instead on what happens after the application is submitted.

The deadline is April 1st and applications are reviewed as early as March 1st. Prospective applicants are then called in for interviews with the application committee, comprised of the director and four professors of the program. The questions in my interview were standard fare: what’s your background, why do you want to join, etc.

Most students will come from either the finance/economics side or the math/engineering side. The program expects the class as a whole to move more or less at the same speed–with the finance/economics students spending more time or having more difficulty in the math/programming courses and the math/engineering students doing the same in the accounting/finance courses.

Since I came from the finance side, my admittance to the program would be conditional on my completion of Calculus III and Linear Algebra over the summer before the program started. Finding and taking these courses was an adventure in and of itself so I will save it for another post (it would most likely devolve into a rant and I want to keep this post informational).

On top of any prerequisites that are needed, there is a summer refresher program. There are four courses in this program: Mathematics for Quantitative Finance, Financial Accounting, Basics of Economics, and Basics of Finance. Depending on your background, the application committee will either suggest or require any number of those classes taken. My financial background and my pursuance of the CFA and CAIA charters excused me from having to take the Accounting, Economics, and Finance courses. The committee suggested I take the Mathematics for Quantitative Finance course but it was not required since I would be taking Calculus courses over the summer. I decided to take the course anyway: it’s been ten years since I’ve even taken a derivative and I don’t turn down opportunities to learn.

Among all the prerequisites, a laptop computer is required for the program. Since my current laptop was a 17” desktop replacement that weighed in at 10lbs, I decided it would be prudent to get a new laptop that was more portable. After looking at netbooks and ultra-portable machines I ended up getting the Acer Aspire TimelineX AS3820T-5246 13.3-Inch HD Laptop: 13.3” screen, Intel Core i3 2.26Ghz, 4Gb memory, 320Gb HDD, 8 hours of battery life, less than 1” thick, less than 4lbs and they can be found for $700. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a portable machine for their graduate studies.

Outside of the summer classes, I am studying for the CAIA Level II exam in September and trying to make my way through the MFE Master Reading List posted here on the QuantNet site. I must say that the first part of My Life as a Quant (also known as My Life as a Physicist) was a little dry and I didn’t really enjoy the book until halfway through. I think I can safely cross off being a Physicist as a life goal. Currently I’m reading Nerds on Wall Street: Math, Machines and Wired Markets with about 100 pages left. It’s a very insightful and entertaining read; however, since some of the chapters are reprints of his papers and articles, certain subjects get repeated. Next I plan to read Advanced modelling in finance using Excel and VBA as well as Absolute C++ to teach myself programming. The extra work now will help lessen my load in the Fall.

jason mellone

New Member

one pointer and piece of reading material i wish i had for the subway while i was in the program is mark joshi's book (

pick it up and try and read on the subway and during free time. it will help to start to prep you now for the interview questions you will definitely be facing.