Recommendations for Masters admissions

Hi everyone,
I'm a Math and Physics double major at Rutgers currently in my junior year. I did my first two years at a local community college to finish up all my gen-ed and introductory major requirements with minimal damage to the pocket (I'm an international student). I finished my CC stint with a 3.95 (blame it on 2 A-s in health ed and gen chem) gpa and the standard academic excellence awards in Math/Physics yada yada yada. After a lot of self-evaluation and research, I think Quant is the direction that I'm heading towards as a career path. I still have 3 semesters to graduate. However, I wanted some specific answers to question on how I can improve my chances to be admitted into the schools of my choice by the time I'm done.
a.) I have taken/am currently taking the following Math classes:
Calculus I,II,III,differential equations, linear algebra, discrete Math, Applied Algebra-which was basically a class on the mathematics of signal processing ( I have As in all these), Intro to PDEs(B+), number theory, Calc based Probability, Intro to Math Finance, Math Reasoning (I expect to get As in most of these classes, B+ being the worst case scenario for one). Would a one or two Bs or B+s really hurt my case? What other Math classes would help my case?
b.) Even though I do well in Physics, I'm not really sure I am as interested in it as I was earlier. So I'm thinking of minoring in it. Since I have the time (I'll be done with the minimum requirements for my Math major, Physics minor and gen. ed. electives by the end of the year; just need some more credits next year to graduate), would it help my case if I took some classes in statistics/programming/finance?
c.) I'm an international (female) student. Would that make it harder for me to get admitted into any of the masters programs? I'm used to being in the minority in most of my Math classes (less than 20% of all my classes is female) anyway and it's never been a problem for me to keep up. If anything, it's been one of my biggest motivations.
d.)Because of the nature of my visa (I'm not on an F-1 YET), I don't have a work permit. But that means, I won't have much research experience. How much would that hurt?
e) Fall of 2012 will be my last semester which means I will have 6 months before I enter my masters program. Should I stay in college and take some more classes or should I look for an internship?
My colleges of choice are NYU-Courant(my dream) and Baruch. Is there anything else I can do to improve my chances to get into them? What other colleges are realistic choices for me?
I know it's a long post but I would REALLY appreciate some help.
a) Maybe a real or numerical analysis class.
b) Take programming classes.
c) No, may even help you from a diversity standpoint.
d) Research experience is important for PhD admissions not MFE.
e) Internship, assuming it is relevant/related to what you ultimately want to do. For example, interning at an investment bank would be good, but if all you can get is a job at McDonalds then your time is better spent in school. Try to be flexible and prepare for both cases until you know whether you get a good internship.

I think the MFE is really only worth it if you go to a top program, from which you have a better chance of getting a job. Sounds like you want to stay on the east coast so maybe consider Columbia. MIT also pops into my head even though its a masters in finance but I believe it has quite a few quantitative courses.

To improve your chances, score as high as possible on the GRE. A perfect 800 on the quant section is a must and while the verbal and writing sections aren't considered as important, the higher you score on them the better.

The GRE Math subject test isn't required and won't help alot but because of your strong math background you may be able to do very well on it easily, and it could provide a small boost.

You need to be able to program and demonstrate your ability in your transcripts, resume, statement of purpose, etc. Try to take a few classes and work through a finance with C++ work from the reading list.

A few questions that you may need to answer in an admission essays: Why quantitative finance? Why this specific program? What are your career goals and how does this masters help you obtain them?

Having good answers to these will really help your statement of purpose. I don't handle admissions but just from this forum I have heard the reasoning for people's interest in finance to be that they become interested in it after the crash. This isn't necessarily a bad reason, but if I'm on the admissions board and half of the candidates have this same reason, it is hard for one of them to stand out. You want to be unique as a MFE candidate or job candidate; what is your edge? what do you have or know that the other guy doesn't?

Paul Mithouard

Look at the profile of the current student on the program's website. All of them have professional experience in the industry.
An internship or some work experience would be very appreciated there.
Thanks Connor (for the prompt and invaluable response) :) . I think that gives me a great launching pad! My programming skills definitely need work. I only have basic Java and Matlab skills, but I think I will work on getting some solid C++ experience and acing both sections of the GRE (which I've started preparing for) and TOEFL.
One of the reasons I want to give myself time to prepare and explore (and have back-up plans) is because the most important for me is to really make sure I like what I'm doing.

I do have a follow-up question about internships: Do they only have to be in the financial sector? If, for whatever reason, that didn't pan out, I was wondering if interning at an IT firm would be a bad option? Because of a previous stint as an IT recruiter and having enough contacts, I might have a better chance at it. It's definitely not my ultimate goal, but would it be a bad worst case scenario? I'm not really keen on spending an extra semester in college because I would have taken almost all the UG math courses that are offered (and then some) and it does turn out to be quite expensive. That being said, I don't want to get a completely unrelated job either.
It sounds like you are interested in quantitative finance but not necessarily 100% decided. Do some research on finance careers, read some of the books on our master reading list, because if you are more interested in the quantitative aspect and not so much the finance part, there are other masters to consider (applied math, statistics, cs, etc).

Depends on what the IT internship had you doing. Probably the most useful experience in IT would be if you were programming.