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Questions from an undergraduate student

I am currently attending a public state school, majoring in Financial Maths. My interests lie in applied mathematics, finances, and economics, so naturally, it lead me to this major. There are a couple of questions that I would like answers to:

First, the prospects of quants. After undergrad, I'm planning on applying to masters programs in financial engineering. Obviously, predicting the job prospects can never be perfectly accurate, but I'd like to know that years spent solely on a specialized degree will pay off.

Next, the chances of being accepted into such a program. I know that only top programs are worth applying to: Baruch, Berkeley, CMU, etc.. and I'm afraid that my acceptances into such a program will be minuscule to none. So far, only two quarters, I'm looking at a 3.7. Also, I'll be finishing this degree in 3 years (21 years of age when I'll be applying- will this harm my application?). If I don't get accepted into a program, then my efforts in undergrad seems wasted.

The third question is directly applicable to my undergraduate education. Should I pursue a double major or graduate in 3 years? I'm thinking of doing a double with CS, Math, or Econ. My current major requires me to take PDEs, ODEs, Stochastic Processes, Time Series, Numerical Analysis.. etc. basically a heavily based mix of Mathematics and Statistics. I guess another major would make it more future proof if Financial Maths leads nowhere.

Thanks in advance for the help.
 
1. I think the prospects will definitely improve in the future as the economy improves, hopefully. But it really becomes a problem of supply and demand. Because of the increased interest in quant finance and the increasing number of MFE programs, there will be more people with the MFE qualification seeking a limited number of jobs.

2. Key aspects of your application: GPA, university reputation, internships, letters of recommendation and statement of purpose. Since you are majoring in FM at the undergrad level, a question that comes to my mind is why a MFE? What value does it add? You will need to answer this question for yourself and the admissions board.

3. If circumstances allow you to pursue a double major, I say do it. Double majoring with CS gives you the programming skills you need to succeed in quant finance and a MFE program plus it opens up other career options in case your interests change or the job market in quant finance is bad.
 
Your first and second questions are interlinked. If you don't end up in a top program with a solid career services office, your job prospect will be severely affected to the point that you are better off not enrolling in a also-run program which majority of them are.

The job market will be more competitive which leads to more competition at the top programs. My guess is that you can't study the same old Black Scholes, stochastic calculus, Hull and expect to land a prop trading role, structurer, etc like the good old days. You may have to get a much better programming toolkits so you can contribute on the first day.

Don't know SQL? Not going to fly.
 
Thanks for the reply

Sounds like a CS double would be a good option. Our school offers a CS degree with an emphasis in computation economics. By all means, if I could get a job as a quant right out of undergrad, I would. My reason for wanting to pursue a MFE would be to further my education as I doubt that my undergrad education in FM is as in depth as graduate courses. A year long intense MFE program seems well suited for solidifying my undergraduate knowledge.

I'm not afraid of competition. Knowing my work habits, I'll do everything I can to get into a top program. However, there is a line between competitive and impossible. Also, as long as financial engineering isn't a dieing field, my worries are a bit more settled.
 
Hi all, I got a similar question...

I am recent graduate in Mathematics ( with some finance involved, e.g Black Scholes ) from an average university in England... I achieved a first class degree and now i'm at a cross road.

I want to become a quant, however I do not have any programming skills. Here's the dilemma, ive been accepted into Kings College to study Financial Mathematics Msc (due to start this September) but its tuiton fees are way too high. This course would cover programming classes e.t.c. So all in all, it has the whole package

So, to solve the money problem, Ive decided to do an MSc in Mathematics (which allows me to select classes from the financial maths programme and its much cheaper) to start in 2012 instead and then I'll take up a much cheaper financial engineering courses with some heavy programming involved at a different uni between now and september 2012.

What do you guys think of this plan? does it work? I mean the financial engineers courses i would take between now and next year pretty much covers what an MFE or MSc in F.Math does, most importantly, classes in C++ e.t.c.

P.s its also from a reputable university here in the UK.
 
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