Chicago MSFM Seeking changes, Chicago MSFM fired founding director

lejing

New Member
At least compared with last year, the teaching qualities hasn't improved at all, which is disappointing. The curriculum and the instructors are almost the same as last year, regardless of the poor reviews for some instructors. Overall, the teaching quality is not too satisfactory. You hear students complaining often. The curriculum are not well designed, some of the courses is poorly taught and not very relevant to each other. Roger Lee and Mark Hendricks are two instructors that most students consider excellent. It is ridiculous and useless to have three required C++ courses without using C++ in any other course. Matlab is widely used. It would be helpful to have other language choices, like R and Python. Hopefully, these will be improved soon.

As far as I am aware of, the majority of students this year, more than 70%, if not higher, of students have NOT got an internship yet, and it is now March already. This year, the program size in Chicago campus increased a lot from about 60 to more than 100 students. However, the resources doesn't increase, which makes much harder for every student to find internships. There are only three staffs in the career service, and Edonna seems the only one working harder to help students. Students who already have internships are students who already know a lot before they went to this program. They started searching jobs early on and was able to find jobs themselves anyway. Bank recruiting seasons were in the first quarter. Many students didn't know much about the timelines at all. Now, we could only try to get internships from smaller firms. Hopefully, there will be more opportunities next quarter.

In the same time, the workload at this program is a lot. UChicago, compared with Columbia, is more academic and focus on schoolwork, which is great. However, as a degree that aims to help students find jobs, it might be better to have more flexibility. On average, you take 400 credits of courses for the first three quarters. Each course has a lot of homework, I mean a lot! Students find it hard to have time to prepare for interviews. I found it hard to find time going over the quant interview guides during the quarter.

Overall, I think the curriculum need to be improved in a way that courses are more practical, more inter-related, and more structured. Career service needs to be improved too. We don't pay this much tuition and fees only to do everything on our own.

Hope my biased comments might help.
Wow thanks so much for the detailed comments! It helps a lot! Good to have some insights from current students!
 

JLevin

Member
At least compared with last year, the teaching qualities hasn't improved at all, which is disappointing. The curriculum and the instructors are almost the same as last year, regardless of the poor reviews for some instructors. Overall, the teaching quality is not too satisfactory. You hear students complaining often. The curriculum are not well designed, some of the courses is poorly taught and not very relevant to each other. Roger Lee and Mark Hendricks are two instructors that most students consider excellent. It is ridiculous and useless to have three required C++ courses without using C++ in any other course. Matlab is widely used. It would be helpful to have other language choices, like R and Python. Hopefully, these will be improved soon.

As far as I am aware of, the majority of student this year, more than 70%, if not higher, of students have NOT got an internship yet, and it is now March already. This year, the program size in Chicago campus increased a lot from about 60 to more than 100 students. However, the resources doesn't increase, which makes much harder for every student to find internships. There are only three staffs in the career service, and Edonna seems the only one working harder to help students. Students who already have internships are students who already know a lot before they went to this program. They started searching jobs early on and was able to find jobs themselves anyway. Bank recruiting seasons were in the first quarter. Many students didn't know much about the timelines at all. Now, we could only try to get internships from smaller firms. Hopefully, there will be more opportunities next quarter.

In the same time, the workload at this program is a lot. UChicago, compared with Columbia, is more academic and focus on schoolwork, which is great. However, as a degree that aims to help students find jobs, it might be better to have more flexibility. On average, you take 400 credits of courses for the first three quarters. Each course has a lot of homework, I mean a lot! Students find it hard to have time to prepare for interviews. I found it hard to find time going over the quant interview guides during the quarter. In addition, some of the courses at this program are very theoretical and too complicated and do NOT really effectively help students with interviews. As a result, students are poorly-prepared for the job market.

Overall, I think the curriculum need to be improved in a way that courses are more practical, more inter-related, and more structured. Career service needs to be improved too. We don't pay this much tuition and fees only to do everything on our own.

Hope my biased comments might help.
Knowing whether the teaching quality has improved isn't really possible, because it's not like people stick around after going through the program. The program has excellent attributes, but there is definitely room for improvement (and there are already big efforts being made). With regards to the 70% of people not securing an internship offer yet, it sounds like you've come up with this number based on word of mouth.
 

uchicagomsfm

New Member
Knowing whether the teaching quality has improved isn't really possible, because it's not like people stick around after going through the program. The program has excellent attributes, but there is definitely room for improvement (and there are already big efforts being made). With regards to the 70% of people not securing an internship offer yet, it sounds like you've come up with this number based on word of mouth.
Good point. That's why I only say compared with last year. This program is now 15-month. And current students do spend time and communicate with students last year especially during the last quarter, which made the comparison possible. There is also a big difference between efforts made and changes in effect. What matter in the end is the changes that students will see. But you are right that at least the program is trying to improve.

With regards to the 70% number, it is indeed an estimation based on talking to many students in the program about their status and what they know about other students. However, based on the number of students I talked to. I actually think 70% might even be a underestimation. 70% might be OK for now. From what I heard from last year, most students secured an internship, regardless of its quality, in April and May. The big problem is that the class size this year is much bigger. Students are working very hard and hope will get more support from the program. Hopefully, most people will find an internship soon.

Again, this is just my opinions, and I definitely hope the program can get better and better.
 

JLevin

Member
Good point. That's why I only say compared with last year. This program is now 15-month. And current students do spend time and communicate with students last year especially during the last quarter, which made the comparison possible. There is also a big difference between efforts made and changes in effect. What matter in the end is the changes that students will see. But you are right that at least the program is trying to improve.

With regards to the 70% number, it is indeed an estimation based on talking to many students in the program about their status and what they know about other students. However, based on the number of students I talked to. I actually think 70% might even be a underestimation. 70% might be OK for now. From what I heard from last year, most students secured an internship, regardless of its quality, in April and May. The big problem is that the class size this year is much bigger. Students are working very hard and hope will get more support from the program. Hopefully, most people will find an internship soon.

Again, this is just my opinions, and I definitely hope the program can get better and better.
I agree with your second paragraph that there are too many students this year, and that has to be cut back down unless they're able to increase program staff.

I can't agree with the first paragraph though. Project Lab (where students can actually work with excellent companies) didn't exist until 2012 or 2013. Now it's every quarter and a large number of students have the opportunity to get industry experience and in some cases a job. The program has been extended into a 5th quarter only since last year (although I think they have to refine the curriculum of the electives in this 5th quarter). Our Director is newly appointed and our Associate Director is newly appointed. As you said, these are the people who students generally regard as excellent instructors. You don't see the changes because they don't/can't happen overnight (even over one quarter).

I understand the frustrations, because the degree is extremely challenging, and searching for jobs at the same time is a huge layer of stress.
 

Simon.ZY

Member
I remember last year around the same time, I received an offer from UoC MSFM program and was searching for all available information online for this program. After being here almost two quarters, I feel like I should share some of the thoughts that I have right now. I will try to say unbiased for the entire process

Yeah, the class size is unusually large this year, but it is unlikely going to happen again. I remembered talking to the admission officer and was told that this year they gave around 120 offers and around 100 of them are accepted and decided to come. Usually when you give 120 offers, you are only expecting half of them to come. But yeah, something interesting happened last year. I know 3 to 5 of us gave up offer like Columbia MFE Baruch MFE to come here, because Chicago is where all the prop shops are. If you know what you want to do for your career, the decision would be easier to make.

Yeah, classes are difficult and students suffer to have time to prepare for interviews and other exams like CFA and FRM. To be honest, our classes are hard and the homeworks are time-consuming. If you want to do option pricing, use numerical methods to solve PDEs , this program is the place to go. Professor is really good at this topic.

Yeah, project labs are extremely helpful. Project lab in this quarter is providing internship opportunities for almost half the students (45-50 students). We have companies like CME, Euroex and also have chicago local prop shops to work for. There are a wide range of projects you can apply for. Although these projects are usually hard and time-consuming as well, the experience is valuable and a good add-on on the resumes. They can turn into jobs as well.

Yeah, career offices are improving and doing better. Career office are helping students to set up interview using their connections and the connections of the Professors. I was in an interview yesterday with a PE firm who look to hire a quant to model FX,credit default and Real Estate market. The firm was referred from one of our professors. Career offices have been working very hard especially Edonna to help us along the way.

In short, UoC MSFM is improving and doing much better than it was. Last year there was alumni going to GS,JP and MS strat team. Having our program name on resume helps us a lot to get interview calls from various companies including big firms on the street. After you get the first interview, your school does not matter anymore. It is about the knowledge you know and how you can contribute those to the real work.
 

lejing

New Member
I remember last year around the same time, I received an offer from UoC MSFM program and was searching for all available information online for this program. After being here almost two quarters, I feel like I should share some of the thoughts that I have right now. I will try to say unbiased for the entire process

Yeah, the class size is unusually large this year, but it is unlikely going to happen again. I remembered talking to the admission officer and was told that this year they gave around 120 offers and around 100 of them are accepted and decided to come. Usually when you give 120 offers, you are only expecting half of them to come. But yeah, something interesting happened last year. I know 3 to 5 of us gave up offer like Columbia MFE Baruch MFE to come here, because Chicago is where all the prop shops are. If you know what you want to do for your career, the decision would be easier to make.

Yeah, classes are difficult and students suffer to have time to prepare for interviews and other exams like CFA and FRM. To be honest, our classes are hard and the homeworks are time-consuming. If you want to do option pricing, use numerical methods to solve PDEs , this program is the place to go. Professor is really good at this topic.

Yeah, project labs are extremely helpful. Project lab in this quarter is providing internship opportunities for almost half the students (45-50 students). We have companies like CME, Euroex and also have chicago local prop shops to work for. There are a wide range of projects you can apply for. Although these projects are usually hard and time-consuming as well, the experience is valuable and a good add-on on the resumes. They can turn into jobs as well.

Yeah, career offices are improving and doing better. Career office are helping students to set up interview using their connections and the connections of the Professors. I was in an interview yesterday with a PE firm who look to hire a quant to model FX,credit default and Real Estate market. The firm was referred from one of our professors. Career offices have been working very hard especially Edonna to help us along the way.

In short, UoC MSFM is improving and doing much better than it was. Last year there was alumni going to GS,JP and MS strat team. Having our program name on resume helps us a lot to get interview calls from various companies including big firms on the street. After you get the first interview, your school does not matter anymore. It is about the knowledge you know and how you can contribute those to the real work.
Hi, Simon! Thank you so much for the input! It definitely helps a lot!

One thing I am curious about, are there a lot of students going into risk management in the program? Or are most going into trading?
 

Simon.ZY

Member
Hi, Simon! Thank you so much for the input! It definitely helps a lot!

One thing I am curious about, are there a lot of students going into risk management in the program? Or are most going into trading?
No problem. I would say half and half. A lot of risk positions here in Chicago. And this program does offer some good risk management classes to prepare students to do quant risk.
 
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