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Princeton 2 year MFin admit, worth it?

Hello guys.

I am a French background student at Ecole Polytechnique with a master's in applied maths. I got accepted to the two year M.Fin program with Princeton and wanted to see if it was really worth it. I have already managed to land an internship on the buy side in London and got on-sites in many top HFs like citadel already. The way I could have aced those interviews more is through working on my coding skills regardless of my background. 120k + living costs + 2 years of opportunity cost is ridiculous for a master's degree considering where I stand right now.
My other options include :
-a one-year program with a scholarship in a top AI master in France, from which people can possibly go to HFs
-I am waitlisted in columbia's OR phd and might get an offer
-A one year masters program in DS at Columbia
- One year maths part 3 in Cambridge
 
If you want to work in the US, Princeton is the ideal option. It’ssmall program, you work closely with the faculty,

For the graduates I know from that program, the tuition and opp cost are rounding errors with respect to compensation. Two had serious careers on Wall Street before attending.

There is a case to be made for not going - lot of undergrads/ 5 year undergrad + MS students from top US schools go directly to the firms you mention. Your school fits that criteria. I haven’t met enough of these students to have an opinion, but I suspect many of them end up staying within the narrow domain they sta

it’s possible it would be a waste of your time, and I think that would be the case for most MFE programs.

princeton has a lot more flexibility built into their programs, and you can tailor your courses away from the math towards macro econ, computing, or whatever you think would be most useful. I think what you don’t know is more important than what you do know, and after 2 years you would come out of there an absolute beast.

good luck.
 
Thanks Onegin for your feedback.

I would be love to go there, work on projects and dig deeper into Economics and OR especially since the Bendheim institute is among the best in those subjects. The value however doesn't seem to outweigh the cost (120k) as I can always learn stuff in a more autonomous fashion or through a paid phd track. However, the one-year accelerated program is very attractive and would do it if they accept to offer me that possibility. Otherwise, I think I will either go for my phd if I get drawn from the waitlist or wait next year and reapply. I do wanna work in the US but phds seem to be much more respected than any Masters in the quant industry and could be cool to do that then.
 
You're already getting interviews with buy side shops and are worried about the opportunity cost with Princeton, but are okay with a 4-6 year commitment to a PhD (with the main intention of being a quant after) which IMO has a even larger opportunity cost (even if it is paid, the pay is minimal), when it's possible to get a research job with just an undergrad / masters?

like typical comp from quant researchers at buy side shops is probably around ~250-300k starting

princeton comp breakdown
-120k for 2 years + 4 * 300k = 1.2mm - 120k = 1.08mm in comp (assuming you have no wage growth as well, which is not going to be the case. I'm fairly sure someone working for 4 years will be making the same as a PhD starting..)

vs phd

60k*6 (assuming you make the bare minimum) = 360k total comp (also assuming you don't end up in the pool of PhD students that end up dropping out) will start likely with the same comp (or slightly less) than the individual whose been at the buy side shop for 4 years above.

isn't the opportunity cost of the phd substantially higher? I could be missing something though

Also yeah, PhDs have a easier time getting a job; but this isn't the case if you're coming from a top program like Princeton for your masters
 
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Hello "Tips" ;)

Thanks for your break down. Indeed if you consider just the first 5 years, on a purely financial standpoint Princeton's MFIn grad may seem to win although it is definetely more risky since you go on a very serious debt on you first two years, with things that can go wrong an infinite number of ways, you may end up with the debt and not with the expected benefits of the regular career path. Whereas even if you drop out of your phd you will be fine with a 0$ debt and can launch you career very well sometimes!
In addition, right after your phd your salary will be growing on average faster than the guy who has been working for 3 years after Princeton. You will be on average very likely to close the gap between you and him. Even if you consider that the Master's alum will be learning the research skills through his experience in the industry, the three additional letters can always have a good effect for quant related fields.

The bottom line seems to be that phd wins when you adjust financial gains to risk and/or consider a longer time frame and Princeton Mfin wins in the short term but is riskier and may be a net loss if I end up going back to Europe right after grad for x or y reasons.

Not that I am entirely sure myself, I am just trying to showcase the other side's arguments to instigate debate.
 
Would just say three things (as someone who wanted to do a PhD over a masters but couldn't get it):

1. If you get the PhD you can finish in <5 years. I know people who have finished their OR and similar PhDs early and professors are actually usually willing to accomodate this if you make that clear once you are there (many people will finish early as they jump to industry). This means you get the benefits of funding and without the opportunity cost of all that time spent at the PhD.

2. Another big advantage of a PhD is that there are just fewer of them to go around. Your job stability is just going to be a bit better at a finance firm or a tech firm if you have a PhD than if you have a masters because it is harder to replace you. This is just less true of people who get masters in finance. It also helps in recruiting--I know at my previous hedge fund (one of the top three in the US) we often didn't even look at masters in finance students but did look at PhDs pretty much no matter what and give them interviews and high consideration.

3. If you are getting buy-side internships and on-sites then you might also want to consider going and working without getting an additional degree (time and money)--you already seem to be very strong. If you are worried about coding skills, those can be built up relatively quickly and can be done before or during a one year program of any kind (even the Cambridge one you mentioned for instance).

On the other hand, Princeton is a very cool place and has cool faculty and that has its own allure I can't lie!
 
Would just say three things (as someone who wanted to do a PhD over a masters but couldn't get it):

1. If you get the PhD you can finish in <5 years. I know people who have finished their OR and similar PhDs early and professors are actually usually willing to accomodate this if you make that clear once you are there (many people will finish early as they jump to industry). This means you get the benefits of funding and without the opportunity cost of all that time spent at the PhD.

2. Another big advantage of a PhD is that there are just fewer of them to go around. Your job stability is just going to be a bit better at a finance firm or a tech firm if you have a PhD than if you have a masters because it is harder to replace you. This is just less true of people who get masters in finance. It also helps in recruiting--I know at my previous hedge fund (one of the top three in the US) we often didn't even look at masters in finance students but did look at PhDs pretty much no matter what and give them interviews and high consideration.

3. If you are getting buy-side internships and on-sites then you might also want to consider going and working without getting an additional degree (time and money)--you already seem to be very strong. If you are worried about coding skills, those can be built up relatively quickly and can be done before or during a one year program of any kind (even the Cambridge one you mentioned for instance).

On the other hand, Princeton is a very cool place and has cool faculty and that has its own allure I can't lie!

This is a very interesting perspective - I recall in an earlier thread that you may have said something different no?

1615143387261.png


It's also a very interesting coincidence that you seem to be waitlisted for Princeton too?
 
This is a very interesting perspective - I recall in an earlier thread that you may have said something different no?

View attachment 39292

It's also a very interesting coincidence that you seem to be waitlisted for Princeton too?
Next time, when you try to smear someone (and creepily stalk their old posts), you will have to try a lot harder. I asked a question in that post, because like many people, I am on this forum to learn more about Mfin's vs PhDs, not knowing everything as you seem to. Anyone, including the poster, can see I am waitlisted at Princeton, but I have other acceptances I like just as much, and anyone can check the truth of what I've said above. I think you'll find it is true. Perhaps your understanding is stagnant, but I've been talking to people in industry and learning more about funds that weren't my own. Plus, I don't have any positive preconceptions about MFins.
 
Would just say three things (as someone who wanted to do a PhD over a masters but couldn't get it):

1. If you get the PhD you can finish in <5 years. I know people who have finished their OR and similar PhDs early and professors are actually usually willing to accomodate this if you make that clear once you are there (many people will finish early as they jump to industry). This means you get the benefits of funding and without the opportunity cost of all that time spent at the PhD.

2. Another big advantage of a PhD is that there are just fewer of them to go around. Your job stability is just going to be a bit better at a finance firm or a tech firm if you have a PhD than if you have a masters because it is harder to replace you. This is just less true of people who get masters in finance. It also helps in recruiting--I know at my previous hedge fund (one of the top three in the US) we often didn't even look at masters in finance students but did look at PhDs pretty much no matter what and give them interviews and high consideration.

3. If you are getting buy-side internships and on-sites then you might also want to consider going and working without getting an additional degree (time and money)--you already seem to be very strong. If you are worried about coding skills, those can be built up relatively quickly and can be done before or during a one year program of any kind (even the Cambridge one you mentioned for instance).

On the other hand, Princeton is a very cool place and has cool faculty and that has its own allure I can't lie!
Thanks for your insight, you have made other strong points in favor of the phd. I even think that in ten years time it might end up as being quite necessary for many industry roles classically filled by bachelors and masters, I guess, as the knowledge they require gets more specialized.
 
I was in the same position last year (Polytechnique - Princeton (1 year though) / Cambridge / MS in France).
I chose to go to Cambridge because the program goes more in depth into Quant subjects (I’m not disappointed at all by the quality by the way), and as you said, masters are less respected in the US.
Good luck for your decision !
 
Hi, I'm just curious, if you are getting a PhD, have you considered being a professor? Is it harder to find a position in academia than in the industry as a quant researcher? I might want to do a PhD and go to academia but I'm not sure yet. I'd like to hear more from you guys and your insights certainly help!
 
Hi, I'm just curious, if you are getting a PhD, have you considered being a professor? Is it harder to find a position in academia than in the industry as a quant researcher? I might want to do a PhD and go to academia but I'm not sure yet. I'd like to hear more from you guys and your insights certainly help!
Hello.

Actually, I don't really consider it but it is definitely up there in the list of jobs I might find myself doing 10 years from now :). Abt the difficulty I think like everything it depends on where you wanna place as TA after graduating from your phd. Academia will get quasi exclusively interested in your publications and interests during your phd years , whereas the quant industry doesn't quite care. They will take you in and you will have to prove your worth by generating good money making ideas in order to survive. I would answer that a TA in MIT for instance is definitely harder but once you are in the average lifespan there is longer that a top quant firm. I am still very foreign to those worlds though ...
 
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