COMPARE UCB MFE vs. Princeton MFin vs. CMU MSCF w scholarship

Hey guys! I was lucky enough to get into Princeton MFin, UCB MFE, and CMU MSCF (NYC) with a ~75% scholarship. I’m pretty sure of which one I’m going to accept, but I wanted to hear everyone’s opinions - what are pros and cons of each? Which would you take? What kinds of things should I take into consideration? Any and all advice is very appreciated!
 
Hey, I am on a similar boat to you in the Princeton vs CMU decision. My CMU scholarship is not as high but still it has me thinking
 

Michsund

Active Member
C++ Student
I was gonna say Princeton but I would seriously consider Cmu with a 75 percent scholarship. You’ll be saving well over 50k. I don’t know what I would do but yeah think over the financial cost for sure.
 

Soccent

New Member
First, congratulations for amassing a record that would garner admissions from two great programs. Very impressive.

Not only are the programs both great, but the schools are both fine universities.

However, if I had a choice, I would pick Princeton. You would be a member of the Princeton community, which will have lifelong benefits. Furthermore, barring an economic collapse, the money you would save by rejecting Princeton now is a relative drop in the bucket.
 

Michsund

Active Member
C++ Student
Yeah I would agree I love Princeton as well and is definitely the better school. But your cost of Carnegie Mellon vs Princeton would be 100k-20k approximately. That’s definitely not a trivial amount.
 

idkmyname

New Member
If you can afford Princeton or you've already worked for a couple of years, go for Princeton. Otherwise, go for CMU if you enjoy coding.
 

Onegin

Member
C++ Student
It’s not clear Princeton is more expensive on a net present value basis. Initial cash flow and opportunity cost are higher, but this could be justified by higher salary over the career.
 
I would go with the scholarship - in the long run, the degree name will mean little compared to your experience. Do you actually believe having Princeton vs CMU MSCF on a resume will be the reason someone turns you down? If they did you wouldn't want to work for that firm anyway. With the scholarship, you'll have a comfortable, debt free life for a few years post graduating cause you won't be making your FU money in that time period anyway. Unless your parents are bankrolling you and they're made of money, CMU is the most reasonable option. The only other reason to turn down CMU for Princeton is if you're interested in PhD programs afterwards... I definitely think the Princeton program is more intellectual in nature and will set you up better for that if that's in the cards.
 
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Michsund

Active Member
C++ Student
I would go with the scholarship - in the long run, the degree name will mean little compared to your experience. Do you actually believe having Princeton vs CMU MSCF on a resume will be the reason someone turns you down? If they did you wouldn't want to work for that firm anyway. With the scholarship, you'll have a comfortable, debt free life for a few years post graduating cause you won't be making your FU money in that time period anyway. Unless your parents are bankrolling you and they're made of money, CMU is the most reasonable option. The only other reason to turn down CMU for Princeton is if you're interested in PhD programs afterwards... I definitely think the Princeton program is more intellectual in nature and will set you up better for that if that's in the cards.
I applied for round 2 yesterday, that was the deadline unless i'm mistaken?
 
I applied for round 2 yesterday, that was the deadline unless i'm mistaken?
They extended it again till the 17th for those with an incomplete application.

I edited that comment out cause I checked and found out everyone gets automatically considered and notified with their decision.
 

Onegin

Member
C++ Student
@quanttrader - maybe the CMU scholarship is a signal; you're the first I've heard getting 75% - I've heard 25% max in the past for a top candidate. That means they've identified you as a top priority for the program, which puts you at the head of the queue for the networking, professor connections. When their top industry contacts call and ask for the best student, most schools have 1-2 "go-to" candidates. At least, this was my experience when I went to a low/unranked MBA but was the top student and ended up doing quite well after. CMU is not a low ranked program, but it sounds like you'd be "a big fish" there. There's something to that.

UCB MFE has a solid reputation, as you know. I like that they've increased their pre-req requirements, which means their data science offerings will be more serious. Adjuncts there are pioneers in quant equity investing - think blackrock, Axa Rosenberg, Barclays out of the San Francisco office.

Princeton more theoretical - the program was started by Ben Bernanke when he was there and I kind of think of it as central banker training school. The princeton network, and ivy league prestige are no joke, to @Soccent 's point. CMU was my top choice, then I read more about the Princeton program and found an unbelievable amount of cool stuff there. If you know exactly what area you want to specialize in, or consider a future PhD, or really like macro forecasting Princeton is tough to beat.

CMU has a more focused course plan, one that seems closely aligned w/ industry. If you're not sure what area you want to get into, then CMU might be the better approach because you'll get a broad, solid foundation in quantitative finance. I can say those interns I worked w/ from CMU, both grad and undergrad, were several standard deviations above other schools. The computational training seems top notch.

Another way to think about this - technical skills are more important earlier in your career, so the initial "bang for your buck" might be more out of CMU. Princeton may prepare you more for the long game, when you'll need to formulate the investment thesis rather than implement it. But it could be challenging out of the gates if you don't have the programming skills to implement.

Alumni interviews are probably your best source of information. More important even might be defining what you want after the program.
 

Michsund

Active Member
C++ Student
@quanttrader - maybe the CMU scholarship is a signal; you're the first I've heard getting 75% - I've heard 25% max in the past for a top candidate. That means they've identified you as a top priority for the program, which puts you at the head of the queue for the networking, professor connections. When their top industry contacts call and ask for the best student, most schools have 1-2 "go-to" candidates. At least, this was my experience when I went to a low/unranked MBA but was the top student and ended up doing quite well after. CMU is not a low ranked program, but it sounds like you'd be "a big fish" there. There's something to that.

UCB MFE has a solid reputation, as you know. I like that they've increased their pre-req requirements, which means their data science offerings will be more serious. Adjuncts there are pioneers in quant equity investing - think blackrock, Axa Rosenberg, Barclays out of the San Francisco office.

Princeton more theoretical - the program was started by Ben Bernanke when he was there and I kind of think of it as central banker training school. The princeton network, and ivy league prestige are no joke, to @Soccent 's point. CMU was my top choice, then I read more about the Princeton program and found an unbelievable amount of cool stuff there. If you know exactly what area you want to specialize in, or consider a future PhD, or really like macro forecasting Princeton is tough to beat.

CMU has a more focused course plan, one that seems closely aligned w/ industry. If you're not sure what area you want to get into, then CMU might be the better approach because you'll get a broad, solid foundation in quantitative finance. I can say those interns I worked w/ from CMU, both grad and undergrad, were several standard deviations above other schools. The computational training seems top notch.

Another way to think about this - technical skills are more important earlier in your career, so the initial "bang for your buck" might be more out of CMU. Princeton may prepare you more for the long game, when you'll need to formulate the investment thesis rather than implement it. But it could be challenging out of the gates if you don't have the programming skills to implement.

Alumni interviews are probably your best source of information. More important even might be defining what you want after the program.
Great analysis!
 
@quanttrader - maybe the CMU scholarship is a signal; you're the first I've heard getting 75% - I've heard 25% max in the past for a top candidate. That means they've identified you as a top priority for the program, which puts you at the head of the queue for the networking, professor connections. When their top industry contacts call and ask for the best student, most schools have 1-2 "go-to" candidates. At least, this was my experience when I went to a low/unranked MBA but was the top student and ended up doing quite well after. CMU is not a low ranked program, but it sounds like you'd be "a big fish" there. There's something to that.

UCB MFE has a solid reputation, as you know. I like that they've increased their pre-req requirements, which means their data science offerings will be more serious. Adjuncts there are pioneers in quant equity investing - think blackrock, Axa Rosenberg, Barclays out of the San Francisco office.

Princeton more theoretical - the program was started by Ben Bernanke when he was there and I kind of think of it as central banker training school. The princeton network, and ivy league prestige are no joke, to @Soccent 's point. CMU was my top choice, then I read more about the Princeton program and found an unbelievable amount of cool stuff there. If you know exactly what area you want to specialize in, or consider a future PhD, or really like macro forecasting Princeton is tough to beat.

CMU has a more focused course plan, one that seems closely aligned w/ industry. If you're not sure what area you want to get into, then CMU might be the better approach because you'll get a broad, solid foundation in quantitative finance. I can say those interns I worked w/ from CMU, both grad and undergrad, were several standard deviations above other schools. The computational training seems top notch.

Another way to think about this - technical skills are more important earlier in your career, so the initial "bang for your buck" might be more out of CMU. Princeton may prepare you more for the long game, when you'll need to formulate the investment thesis rather than implement it. But it could be challenging out of the gates if you don't have the programming skills to implement.

Alumni interviews are probably your best source of information. More important even might be defining what you want after the program.
Thanks so much for the detailed response. I’ll definitely take this all into account.

My initial thoughts are that I genuinely do want a more well-rounded finance education and am not as interested in becoming a full time developer - I want to be a part of both idea generation and implementation. That being said, I know that both programs have their major advantages, and I’m planning on speaking with some students and alumni in the upcoming weeks.
 

quantdude

New Member
@quanttrader - maybe the CMU scholarship is a signal; you're the first I've heard getting 75% - I've heard 25% max in the past for a top candidate. That means they've identified you as a top priority for the program, which puts you at the head of the queue for the networking, professor connections. When their top industry contacts call and ask for the best student, most schools have 1-2 "go-to" candidates. At least, this was my experience when I went to a low/unranked MBA but was the top student and ended up doing quite well after. CMU is not a low ranked program, but it sounds like you'd be "a big fish" there. There's something to that.

UCB MFE has a solid reputation, as you know. I like that they've increased their pre-req requirements, which means their data science offerings will be more serious. Adjuncts there are pioneers in quant equity investing - think blackrock, Axa Rosenberg, Barclays out of the San Francisco office.

Princeton more theoretical - the program was started by Ben Bernanke when he was there and I kind of think of it as central banker training school. The princeton network, and ivy league prestige are no joke, to @Soccent 's point. CMU was my top choice, then I read more about the Princeton program and found an unbelievable amount of cool stuff there. If you know exactly what area you want to specialize in, or consider a future PhD, or really like macro forecasting Princeton is tough to beat.

CMU has a more focused course plan, one that seems closely aligned w/ industry. If you're not sure what area you want to get into, then CMU might be the better approach because you'll get a broad, solid foundation in quantitative finance. I can say those interns I worked w/ from CMU, both grad and undergrad, were several standard deviations above other schools. The computational training seems top notch.

Another way to think about this - technical skills are more important earlier in your career, so the initial "bang for your buck" might be more out of CMU. Princeton may prepare you more for the long game, when you'll need to formulate the investment thesis rather than implement it. But it could be challenging out of the gates if you don't have the programming skills to implement.

Alumni interviews are probably your best source of information. More important even might be defining what you want after the program.
I would like to add a point - If you're the smartest in the room, you're in the wrong room.

Having said that, it looks like you're on CMU's priority list, thereby putting you in the crest of their cohort. Purely for that reason, I believe Princeton might be a better choice.
 

Onegin

Member
C++ Student
I would like to add a point - If you're the smartest in the room, you're in the wrong room.

Having said that, it looks like you're on CMU's priority list, thereby putting you in the crest of their cohort. Purely for that reason, I believe Princeton might be a better choice.
taking the other side of the trade! I love it! It's similar to Groucho Marx - Why would I want to be in a club that would have me as a member?
 
My opinion is that all the idea generation, fundamental finance knowledge is easy to pick up on through personal reading and looking at some research. I did a lot of reading on investing as a ugrad and, for the most part, it didn't mean anything in my quant finance interviews cause for them I needed to pass through all the technical barrier tests that requires all those cs/applied math courses. I wasn't getting success till I put myself through a coding bootcamp post graduation. Whatever program I go to, I'm loading up on CS and applied math courses cause those subjects are more difficult to learn without daily practice and some instruction. The intuition can be learnt by following the markets and picking up a couple books in your free time.

Also I would just discount UCB based on location. It'll be a pain in the ass to network with and interview for the majority of jobs in NYC. I'd only go there if you know you want to be based in SF.
 
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IntoDarkness

Active Member
just go to princeton. the graduates of their program are generally very successful. let's run large and say you take 200k loans to cover tuition and living costs for the entire 2-year duration. that's a formidable amount for most people indeed. but you should be able to pay it all back well within 5 years after you obtained your degree. just ask the admin to refer you to some alums. i bet they will all say the same
 
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