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Quant finance straight from undergrad?

I'd love to be able to get some work experience outside internships and see whether quant finance is really for me before investing time and money in an MFE program. What kind of undergraduates are able to find work in quant finance, and what can they usually do? I'm wondering about what kind of courses I'd need to take, and whether a good background stochastic calculus is needed in all aspects of quant finance or just in derivative pricing. Undergrads from my school tend to place very well in consulting and finance, and I think I might like some "real-world" experience before grad school.
 
If:

...you feel that you know Calculus, Linear Algebra, Probability, C++, etc. really well.

And:

... you get an 800Q on GREs (what is it now, 170?)

And:

...you think you could get into an MFE program;

why waste time?
 
why waste time?
I'm not sure if I want to be down $50k+ and a year to get a highly specialized degree in a field that I will have had little practical experience in. If I decide for whatever reason that quant finance is not for me, there is little else I can do with the MFE. On the other hand, if I have some experience first and I want to further my career in the field, an MFE would make more sense.
 
I'm not sure if I want to be down $50k+ and a year to get a highly specialized degree in a field that I will have had little practical experience in. If I decide for whatever reason that quant finance is not for me, there is little else I can do with the MFE. On the other hand, if I have some experience first and I want to further my career in the field, an MFE would make more sense.

Then get a PhD in Applied Math, Computer Science, Physics, EE, etc. Then you will have the skills to enter Quant Finance, you will general receive a free education, and if you think it is crap, you will be able to do something else.
 
Then get a PhD

Easier said than done. :D While getting a PhD (in finance or financial econ) is something I would definitely consider, it's a big commitment. I'd want to work for a year or two before I know whether or not I want to spend 4-6 years in academia.
 
Does someone coming from a top PhD finance program with coursework in financial math and asset pricing not have the background necessary for quant work?
 
What do you consider financial math? I have a BS in Finance and Math. However, I wouldn't say any math I learned in finance would go anywhere. A PhD in Finance requires, in general, that the student have taken Cal 1-3, Linear Alg, and maybe another course or two. A degree in quant finance will require much more math and programming beyond that.
 
Does someone coming from a top PhD finance program with coursework in financial math and asset pricing not have the background necessary for quant work?
Nope. You sure you want to be a quant though? Finance outside of IBD does not imply quant...
 
I think that "real-world experience" is implied in quant finance programs. If you look at the bigger picture, these programs structure their curriculum in a way which balances theory with practice. You'll be surprised as to how much similarity exist in the course with real world questions that arise every day at work. For example, look at Baruch's participation in trading competitions. Those questions are highly based on current issues that arise in the work place every day. I run the financial engineering club at my school which i founded this semester and most of us are preparing for quant finance programs. I've encouraged everyone to take the exam MFE actuarial exam which is a substantive test on derivative securities to see how well they are prepared form that aspect at least.
 
dwsmith said:
What do you consider financial math?
Stochastic calc
However, I wouldn't say any math I learned in finance would go anywhere.
A PhD in finance is an entirely different beast.
A PhD in Finance requires, in general, that the student have taken Cal 1-3, Linear Alg, and maybe another course or two.
As the bare minimum prerequisite, yes. Add to that a class in stats and probability. But if you want to be competitive for the top 20 programs, you'll probably need analysis in addition to more upper-level stats and probability.

A degree in quant finance will require much more math and programming beyond that.

Are we still talking prerequisites? Because a PhD in finance focused on asset pricing certainly learns stochastic calc and most of the things you'd see in an MFE program. The only advantage a CFE student might have is knowledge of C++ and numerical methods, but you can certainly take electives to rectify that.
 
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