# COMPARERutgers MSMF vs Columbia FE

#### marilapi

I'm currently an undergrad in the Aerospace Engineering Program at Rutgers. I'm finishing the program a semester early with 15 credits toward the MSMF. I can finish both degrees in four years which I think is pretty good-- (BS and MS by the time I'm 22 years old). Should I consider, though, trying to go to a better school like Columbia or Carnegie Mellon? I might not finish as early as I want to. My GPA is 3.9 and I have internship experience with Morgan Stanley.

#### Andy Nguyen

Have you talked to the director of the program about using 15 credits towards the MSMF? If you can get the degree with little time and money spent, it's a wise investment. You will still compete for the same kind of jobs as graduates of Columbia or CMU.
There are always better things out there than what you currently have but you need to ask the question whether the extra time, money, lost opportunity cost would justify your quest. It will all come down to what do you want to do with the degree.

#### marilapi

I have talked to the program director. I can be admitted to the B.S.-M.S. program next year and the credits I take towards the MS will count. The program does cost less than any other schools I have looked at. Also, I don't think the grad credits I take here would transfer to any other school which means I'll have to spend at least a whole year elsewhere. That time is valuable to me because I want to gain as much work experience as I can. So if I need more time and money to go to a different school, it makes sense to just complete the degree here. I ultimately want to work for a hedge fund and then either start my own or go to business school.
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#### financeguy

I think it has a lot to do with if you can get MS to hire you after your program. Andy and I have different views on choosing a program (which is fine - I'm sure there's a lot of people that would agree with him as there are people that would agree with me). I've been at 2 bulge bracket firms in NY in the past year and have met a good amount of people from various FE grad programs (NYU, Columbia, CMU most often) but never one from Rutgers. It could just be that Rutgers is not a target school, which would make it very difficult to get in a bulge bracket firm straight after the program especially without any work experience as they just don't recruit at your school. That would mean your options are mainly on the buy side - and that segment of the job market is really not where it used to be, and who knows where it will be next year. There's also the consideration of quality of education, access to awesome profs, and brand name on your resume for the long term rather than just for your first job.

#### const451

Ilya, why did not you apply for MSMF at Rutgers instead of Stat?

#### IlyaKEightSix

Because I wanted a background for statistics for statistical arbitrage, not mathematical arbitrage. I don't really care for the theory of this or that and how things should be. All I care for is simply seeing how things empirically are.

And in all honesty, I'm very glad I didn't. Their C++ course from what I can understand is a C++ version of my second undergraduate programming course which was in Java. In other words, I can plow through Savitch's or Eckel's book on the month off I have from Rutgers and be up to speed with C++ programming. The rest is their numerical methods in I'm not even sure which language (MatLab?).

But look, I'll let their job list speak for you guys. Oh, and get this--today, there was an info session in a room that could sit possibly 50, and there were all of 8 people seated, and I wasn't allowed in.

Why?

Because I was a statistics masters, not an MSMF.

Which begs the question, in all honesty...

If their program is the #16 in the country (and previously ranked top 10 among Princeton and Columbia and so on), why is it that they're so afraid of a little statistics student being able to network with the people that come to campus? If the program was so good, wouldn't they be able to out-merit me anyway? Maybe there's something I'm missing here.

Eventually, the lady in charge of finding the people just told me to come down the elevator with her so I wouldn't meet the representatives. Why? Because I didn't pay the extra "services".

And, well, when you tell this to someone who came to America with $15 and 2 suitcases and no English raised by a single mother since he was 13 running a discretionary business that you're going to hurt his career prospects because you couldn't nickel and dime a kid with a negative net worth, how well do you think that's going to go over? Now you can make whichever conclusions you want from that. Edit: as for the programs, I think the situation is obvious. A program designed from 20 years of experience of one of Goldman's best quants. Nuff said? #### iddqd Mr. IlyaKEightSix, It seems that indeed, the Rutgers MSMF is not a very good program. Please find attached a screen cap from Poly MFE job portal website. Regards, Fakirchand Bhanderchod MS Risk and Finance Engineering, '10 #### Attachments • poly.jpg 32.1 KB · Views: 96 #### Tigga Ilya, How much did you pay for the Stats tuition. From the page here, it seem the Mathematical Finance students pay more than other graduate students at the New Brunswick campus. I can't also see the 3,000 fee you mentioned anywhere. As for why they don't let you in, it makes sense from a business point of view. It is not fair for other Math Finance students who pay more than you to have any Jack and Jill just walk in and share their exclusive resources. If you run an exclusive club, would you want any street banger into your club and ruin the VIP image you are trying to build? You have no right to complain. They have all the right. Don't push your luck, just be thankful that they didn't call campus security to escort you out for the "misconduct". #### IlyaKEightSix Edit @ Tigga: If you do the subtraction between MF and regular grad school, it comes out to around$3,000. But wow, I thought that was per year. It's per semester?! Holy $H!T That extra is for that "job portal" of which you see the 5 positions, and an info session once in a blue moon. Worth it? I don't think so! Edit @ iddqd: Renaissance Technologies--Vice Janitor--Setauket, NY: Salary:$1,250,000

:D :D :D

You, sir, win many interwebs.

#### StevenBachrach

##### Rugters MSMF
Ilya,

I graduated from both the Stat program and the MSMF at Rutgers and I can honestly say even with the higher tuition you get a lot more bang for your buck with the MSMF. You are not just paying for the employer connection; you are also getting access to extra classes that you can't take as a stat student and professors from industry who cost more to bring in then a typical professor. And this is still at a far cheaper rate than for most Math Finance programs.

#### financeguy

Yes it is far cheaper than most math finance programs, but just know that it's held in much lower regard than most math finance programs. I cannot speak for the quality of the education as I have never been to Rutgers, have never met anyone from the Rutgers MSMF program, and have never attended a Rutgers MSMF class, but I can guarantee you that you simply won't get nearly as much street cred nor nearly as much access to great job opportunities as a NYU, Columbia, CMU, Princeton, Berkeley, Stanford grad. (Full Stop.) So, enroll if you wish for the reason of getting a math finance masters quickly and cheaply, but do it with your eyes wide open and know that that, and that alone, is exactly why you're enrolling.

Ilya,

I graduated from both the Stat program and the MSMF at Rutgers and I can honestly say even with the higher tuition you get a lot more bang for your buck with the MSMF. You are not just paying for the employer connection; you are also getting access to extra classes that you can't take as a stat student and professors from industry who cost more to bring in then a typical professor. And this is still at a far cheaper rate than for most Math Finance programs.

#### IlyaKEightSix

Ilya,

I graduated from both the Stat program and the MSMF at Rutgers and I can honestly say even with the higher tuition you get a lot more bang for your buck with the MSMF. You are not just paying for the employer connection; you are also getting access to extra classes that you can't take as a stat student and professors from industry who cost more to bring in then a typical professor. And this is still at a far cheaper rate than for most Math Finance programs.

From what I've seen, there seems to be no reason to even hire a professor from the industry. The C++ course is quite basic, stochastic calculus can be taught by someone from outside, the regression course is taught by a statistics professor (who thinks the whole financial industry is a can of sh*t as well, mind you)--I'm in that one (that said, the guy is just a really fun professor to have), and I have no clue who teaches the numerical methods.

Furthermore: two of the courses the MSMFs are enrolled in next semester are statistics (time series/statistical inference)--I'm enrolled in both of those, and the other two are the continuation of stochastic calculus and numerical methods.

The MSMFs have a third semester to take I have no idea what, so that may be their two-course kicker. But they spend the tuition for an entire extra semester for that.

As for the connections--I've seen the kinds of "connections" brought in, and I will tell you right now--Lehigh brought in some similar people. Simply put, however, it is my opinion that the MSMF programs are quite similar across the nation with the difference being the connections, connections, and connections.

Year of stochastic calc. Two C++ courses. Some IEOR or statistics courses. Token derivatives/econometrics courses.

First of all, if a program doesn't fill out that checklist, odds are, it's not a phenomenal program. But if it does (and this shouldn't be overly difficult...if a school has an IEOR and finance dept., all it needs to do is teach the Stoch. Calc), then the difference plain and simply is connections--aka the quality of firms you bring in.

Now for the kinds of stat-arb high-liquidity I-don't-give-a-damn-about-exotic-financial-instruments trading that the top-tier quant funds do, I'd imagine that MSFE may not be the absolutely uncontested way to go, and a PhD may do you some good.

However, the issue is this:

A) How many firms know about these MSFE programs?
B) How many firms actually think that those with an MSFE are better candidates than those with an M.S. statistics/applied math/operations research?
C) How many firms would like the MS rather than a PhD?
D) How many firms of the above subset will you actually be able to attract to your campus, when NYU and Columbia are right in NYC itself?

That narrows it down quite a bit.

As for Rutgers' MSMF, considering that living expenses are about $4000 a semester and tuition is about$9000, spread across 3 semesters, that's around \$40,000.

As someone coming from very humble economic circumstances, I wouldn't call that cheap.

#### financeguy

However, the issue is this:

A) How many firms know about these MSFE programs?
B) How many firms actually think that those with an MSFE are better candidates than those with an M.S. statistics/applied math/operations research?
C) How many firms would like the MS rather than a PhD?
D) How many firms of the above subset will you actually be able to attract to your campus, when NYU and Columbia are right in NYC itself?

A) Most firms know about MSFE programs, from huge bulge brackets on down to little hedge funds. I guess I don't know all that much about firms outside the NYC area, but around NYC everyone that matters knows about them.

B) Fair point. This probably varies from firm to firm and job to job. It is conceivable that you'd find a firm that would value a candidate having an MSFE over a masters in anything else, though you'd probably find that most would view any applicable quantitative masters as intrinsically the same. (Of course this means if you're just doing a regular stats masters or something like that you'd have to provide some sort of evidence that you're familiar with a solid chunk of financial theory.)

C) A lot, actually. Much of the time PhDs get type-casted as too brainy/nerdy for anything but quantitative modeling / support roles. In this way, you can actually 'overqualify' yourself for a job you might want by getting a PhD. The best example here is becoming a trader. I would argue that it is far easier to become a trader at a BB or HF from a masters program than from a PhD program. It is true of course that PhDs can get these jobs, but more often the PhDs that end up in trading first go through being a quant for a while. There is also the argument that for most jobs in finance a PhD is just unnecessary and a firm might not care about the extra years you put in in academia over a masters graduate, putting you on a very even playing field after more time and effort.

D) Can't disagree with you there. That should be a very big concern for a Rutgers student.

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