Starting to feel like an MFE degree is not necessary for quant finance

Indigo_

New Member
I have been spending a lot of time thinking what path I should take, such as what school to go to, what to major in, what activities to participate in college in order to build up my resume for a quant finance job. After looking through so many profiles of the MFE graduates, I noticed that many of them were international chinese students. If quant finance is such a lucratice career, why are a majority of graduates international chinese and not consist of a diverse student body? What if the international chinese students simply just have better applications than domestic students applying to mfe programs? It's obviously not because there's lack of talent in the U.S for quant finance, but because most domestic students with the talent aren't going into quant finance; Even if they were going into quant finance, they wouldn't pursue a mfe degree. I know many friends who got into top firms like Jane Street, HRT, and Citadel straight out of undergrad from top engineering schools like Stanford, Berkeley and MIT. They didn't need an MFE degree at all, nor did they need a PhD. As a domestic student myself, I'm thinking to myself why I would belong in an MFE program. After all, some MFE programs are just cash grabs intended to attract international students who don't have much options climbing the socioeconomic ladder. Some firms also having a hiring bias against MFE degrees knowing that some programs don't produce students who have good quantitative skills and that some students can't communicate in english properly. What if I study at a top school and already have the relevant skills? What if I instead pursue a graduate degree in a quantitative field that would interest me more and prepare me better for quant finance than an mfe degree? I just don't see how an MFE degree is valuable for me.
 

princeofbelair

Active Member
The main benefit of MFE programs is the recruiting. If you go to a top undergrad school and capable of passing the interviews then MFE makes no sense to go to. You can definitely get quant finance with other quantitative graduate degrees but the recruiting may not be as strong or just absent.
 

ZFL

Active Member
The main benefit of MFE programs is the recruiting. If you go to a top undergrad school and capable of passing the interviews then MFE makes no sense to go to. You can definitely get quant finance with other quantitative graduate degrees but the recruiting may not be as strong or just absent.
Seconded!
 

Berenger

Active Member
I have been spending a lot of time thinking what path I should take, such as what school to go to, what to major in, what activities to participate in college in order to build up my resume for a quant finance job. After looking through so many profiles of the MFE graduates, I noticed that many of them were international chinese students. If quant finance is such a lucratice career, why are a majority of graduates international chinese and not consist of a diverse student body? What if the international chinese students simply just have better applications than domestic students applying to mfe programs? It's obviously not because there's lack of talent in the U.S for quant finance, but because most domestic students with the talent aren't going into quant finance; Even if they were going into quant finance, they wouldn't pursue a mfe degree. I know many friends who got into top firms like Jane Street, HRT, and Citadel straight out of undergrad from top engineering schools like Stanford, Berkeley and MIT. They didn't need an MFE degree at all, nor did they need a PhD. As a domestic student myself, I'm thinking to myself why I would belong in an MFE program. After all, some MFE programs are just cash grabs intended to attract international students who don't have much options climbing the socioeconomic ladder. Some firms also having a hiring bias against MFE degrees knowing that some programs don't produce students who have good quantitative skills and that some students can't communicate in english properly. What if I study at a top school and already have the relevant skills? What if I instead pursue a graduate degree in a quantitative field that would interest me more and prepare me better for quant finance than an mfe degree? I just don't see how an MFE degree is valuable for me.
You are the first on this web forum to have noticed that there is an elephant in the room
the kid who shouted that the emperor has no clothes
etc
 

noether-skolem

Well-Known Member
C++
Eh I think some context is needed here. If you mean "necessary" as in you can't get into a quant job without an MFE degree, of course it's not necessary. You've sort of answered your own question in your post: an MFE degree is (may be?) attractive for "international students who don't have much options climbing the socioeconomic ladder" (provided they can afford to pay the cost in the first place, I suppose), and probably redundant for those who got "straight out of undergrad from top engineering schools like Stanford, Berkeley and MIT".

Not all MFE students graduated out of those top schools, you know? Maybe they went for an MFE program because they didn't go to high-ranked schools? Some of us don't even have much, if at all, relevant work experience and wanted to switch career. If you could get a quant job at a prop shop or fund out of undergrad (or whatever grad program you've done), clearly you're not the target demographic of these MFE programs.
 

binomial-torrent

Well-Known Member
a follow up question: if i already have experience in a data science role at a buy-side financial institution, is an MFE necessary, or would i still get interviews with another STEM graduate degree (that is decently high ranked of course)?
 
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noether-skolem

Well-Known Member
C++
I don't think I've seen a single job listing that requires an MFE/QF/CF degree, all of them would just indicate quantitative/technical degrees like maths/stats/CS/FE/physics/other engineering fields. I assume you've tried applying to some of them? I think this year has been exceptionally tough for job seekers though, I know a couple of friends/relatives who are struggling to get jobs not just in the US.

Even at Columbia MFE (which is one of the "top" programs based on rankings out there) there are firms that rejected my internship application without interviews. Perhaps my undergrad GPA or research or work experiences were lacking compared to other applicants? Nobody knows except their recruiters, and I try not to dwell too much on things beyond my control - I'd rather focus on the interviews I managed to land or apply to more places instead.

From my perspective as an international student with not-so-relevant work experience, the biggest takeaways from an MFE would be the school brand, career services and the F-1 visa which allows for internships (CPT) and full-time work after graduation (OPT, up to 3 years). If you don't need these for whatever reasons (US citizen, green card, student/graduate from a good US university), it might not make much sense for you to spend another 1-2 years (and 100k++) doing MFE.
 

binomial-torrent

Well-Known Member
yeah the 70k+ thing is another issue. i can do a ms in computer science at georgia tech for pennies and it will open the door to being a machine learning engineer at tech companies too which imo is a much better plan b than risk/model val
 
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ExSan

Well-Known Member
I have been spending a lot of time thinking what path I should take, such as what school to go to, what to major in, what activities to participate in college in order to build up my resume for a quant finance job. After looking through so many profiles of the MFE graduates, I noticed that many of them were international chinese students. If quant finance is such a lucratice career, why are a majority of graduates international chinese and not consist of a diverse student body? What if the international chinese students simply just have better applications than domestic students applying to mfe programs? It's obviously not because there's lack of talent in the U.S for quant finance, but because most domestic students with the talent aren't going into quant finance; Even if they were going into quant finance, they wouldn't pursue a mfe degree. I know many friends who got into top firms like Jane Street, HRT, and Citadel straight out of undergrad from top engineering schools like Stanford, Berkeley and MIT. They didn't need an MFE degree at all, nor did they need a PhD. As a domestic student myself, I'm thinking to myself why I would belong in an MFE program. After all, some MFE programs are just cash grabs intended to attract international students who don't have much options climbing the socioeconomic ladder. Some firms also having a hiring bias against MFE degrees knowing that some programs don't produce students who have good quantitative skills and that some students can't communicate in english properly. What if I study at a top school and already have the relevant skills? What if I instead pursue a graduate degree in a quantitative field that would interest me more and prepare me better for quant finance than an mfe degree? I just don't see how an MFE degree is valuable for me.
wow!!!
".... If quant finance is such a lucratice career, why are a majority of graduates international chinese and not consist of a diverse student body? What if the international chinese students simply just have better applications than domestic students applying to mfe programs? It's obviously not because there's lack of talent in the U.S for quant finance, but because most domestic students with the talent aren't going into quant finance; Even if they were going into quant finance, they wouldn't pursue a mfe degree. ..."
 

noether-skolem

Well-Known Member
C++
yeah the 70k+ thing is another issue. i can do a ms in computer science at georgia tech for pennies and it will also open the door to being a machine learning engineer at tech companies which imo is a much better plan b than risk/model val
If you think your profile is strong enough to not need the career services provided by these expensive MFEs, you should save the money. 70-120k (depending on living cost and location) is no joke, you could downpay an apartment/house somewhere nice for that money (or even fully pay one in a less expensive city).

Mfe is more for people who maybe didn’t go to target schools but realized they wanna go to quant finance. If you go to a top 5 it’ll probably be worth it, still better then many other degrees in the market
It's a decent option for those interested in working in a different country too, usually the transition from student visa to work visa is easier than directly getting a work visa from overseas (not 100% sure if that's the case in the US or not).
 

PongoShib

Active Member
That's fair. I went to a top US school (as a domestic student) but decided to do a MFE because I switched late from wanting to do medicine. Maybe because I was already prepared to go to grad school for 4 years was I more open to it. Nevertheless, it has definitely opened more doors I believe. The cost is something to think about but I went to undergrad for basically free so.

However, if I started undergrad thinking about doing something in business let alone quant finance, I probably wouldn't have gone to MFE.
 

Photize

New Member
70-100k certificates? Just invest it in a property in a stable growth economy or region , harvest 10% plus capital growth basically index linked for the rest of your life! Which would you find more useful in life $800 a month for life or a piece of paper that says you read a book?
 

Onegin

Well-Known Member
C++
Come off it. To believe all of these are all 70-80k merit badge programs is both cynical and short sighted.

Of course there are plenty of talented undergrads who went to good schools who can go directly into quant finance - there's no licensing mechanism like in medicine / law. More power to them. There are also a lot of talented (international) MFE students who already had a strong foundation, maybe comparable to that of the top grads of domestic schools. They could have probably obtained similar jobs, but they need work authorization. We should define a good school as one that has a reputation for consistently producing well-trained and capable quant analysts. Employers are more likely to recruit from these programs, and schools need to continually invest in both the curriculum and these relationships to maintain the benefit. So are we saying network and career service is nothing? Hogwash.

Which begs the question - why are there so few "domestic" students? Well, we agreed already that students from top tier schools can get directly in from undergrad. What about the rest of us (I'm in this demographic)? I think US students are under-represented in quantitative fields in undergrad. My first undergrad was language / literature. My second degree, in math, was in the same city with classes at 2 other private universities. I was typically the only non-international student in classes once we got above the 300 level. I have no idea for certain. I can say education policy in most of the US is at the town or city level, not national. So in my town, I didn't have to take math after the 10th grade. So I didn't, which was a terrible choice on my part.

An MFE is an investment, like any other. You need to do your due diligence. For some it has a (wildly) positive payoff. For others, IRR is quite negative. The good programs try to select students to skew the distribution to the upper tail.

I am very glad for my experience, though quite disappointed to be recruiting into this insane market. The opportunity set is much different than I anticipated, but I'm much more competitive and useful than I would have been without the program. Maybe confirmation bias, but I am having a hell of a lot more fun working on more interesting problems, and there are a lot more opportunities open to me.
 
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