The typical route - from what I understand - is a bachelors degree in some quantitative field (mathematics, statistics, physics, engineering, etc.) into a MFE program. My first issue with this is that in New Zealand, our bachelor degrees are only three years long. Most courses require a '4 year US bachelor or equivalent'. Is this as simple as completing a New Zealand MSc (one extra year), meaning I have a four year degree? Does anyone who works with recruitment / any other international students know how to deal with this?

However, if I find throughout my time in university that I become very passionate about my major, I will choose the PhD route. This will again be either a PhD in Mathematics (with a focus in stochastic calculus, numerical methods, computational mathematics and modelling) or a PhD in Statistics. I would like to attend a US school for this too - ideally somewhere like Stanford. Again, this comes with another problem. As I apply to these schools, my 'masters' only comes out to four years total education, whereas other US applicants will have five. I have no doubt I will be as equally capable as other applicants through self study, though 'self-study' is hardly a credible qualification for a top PhD program unless proven academically. Again, are there any other international students who faced a similar issue?

Finally, in your own opinion, would a mathematics or statistics major contribute more value to a quantitative firm? My current mentality is that through specialisation and rigour, both PhD statisticians and mathematicians will be of equal value (or at least close enough as to where it is not worth sacrificing personal preference in my major). Firms may require specialists in stochastic modelling, but they may also require specialists in machine learning. Would it be best just to follow the route of which I have the most passion for?

There is literally zero 'quant finance' culture in my country, so I hope someone can be of help. Thank you for your time.