[UMN MFM] Review on University of Minnesota Master of Financial Mathematics Program

liu-yunpeng

New Member
I got selected by this program a little more than two years ago. What drew most of my attention when I applied was that this program is under the mathematics department of University of Minnesota. UMN math department is continuously ranked top in the U.S. so that I knew this program would be mathematics-intensive.

Later on I found my choice to be absolutely right! Students of this program can choose to study for a minor master's degree in mathematics. And to my favourite part, I can customize my curriculum based on my interest and strength. I registered Fourier Analysis and audited subsequent Numerical Analysis classes, which helped me get better understanding when it comes to topics inside MFM curriculum such as finite element method in Option Pricing. And did i mention that we happen to have some most important scholars in the field of PDE such as Prof. Douglas Arnold who is also on the board of one of the most important Python PDE packages?

In terms of job placement, the past record shows that it is not enough to just sit in a classroom studying to secure a preferred position in the quant world. This program values local and national quant alumni networks as much as academic strength. As a recent graduate of this program and as a new hire into the industry, I appreciate a lot the help I got from my seniors. That is the reason why I feel the need to share some thought and review here about this program. Hope this helps you get to know more about your options when applying. Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions!

Yunpeng
 
I had applied for the MFM course for fall 2019 at UMN, but I recieved admit for the Fundamentals of Quantitative Finance (FQF) which a prerequisite certificate course for MFM.
Is this offer worth considering? and are there good chances of FQF students getting transferred to MFM course?
Please give your insights as a UMN student as I have too mich dilemma in choosing my college. I have also got offer from Stevens for Financial Engineering..what do you think about it?
Thank you
 

liu-yunpeng

New Member
I had applied for the MFM course for fall 2019 at UMN, but I recieved admit for the Fundamentals of Quantitative Finance (FQF) which a prerequisite certificate course for MFM.
Is this offer worth considering? and are there good chances of FQF students getting transferred to MFM course?
Please give your insights as a UMN student as I have too mich dilemma in choosing my college. I have also got offer from Stevens for Financial Engineering..what do you think about it?
Thank you
Hi! I'm glad you reach out!

So question by question:
Definitely FQF is also worth considering, because of its upward potential and possible transfer to an MFM. First of all, FQF students can choose to sit in the same classrooms, to listen to the same teachers, and to do the same projects and assignments for the classes that MFM students also have to go through. The ones you see in the FQF curriculum are the essentials and founding ground for later developing advanced knowledge and skills. One big take away here is that: in terms of course work, you are starting at the same line with many MFM students!

In order to transfer to the MFM program, you need to demonstrate your ability to handle complex logic deduction, multi-period/multi-leg instrument modeling, and capability to validate/endorse your idea about financial markets with solid, fast, and efficient codes. But don't worry yet, all these things are covered in the classes of FQF. All you need to do is participating in class, doing assignment, being active in group work and discussion, and making a practical plan with your advisors early on! These are not hard things to do. These just require your dedication! First year is relatively easy compared to the second! If you work hard and stay involved, I'm sure you will do well. There are previous cases of such successful transfer! You will enjoy all the career and acedemic activities before you transfer and you can keep all your FQF credits towards your MFM after your transfer and graduate within the same length as MFM students do!

I also considered Stevens at the time I was applying, but didn't initiate that application. MFM seems to have more customized education with practical financial industry projects support and stronger relation to a professional network, over Stevens. Later I verified all of these aspects and I really enjoyed my experience here.

I don't know about Stevens placement rate, but from my graduation batch, all my friends got a satisfying job, and we all know this is just about doing the right things and good results follow. You can go checking the latest updated placement record on the website.

Hope this helps. Let me know if anything else you are interested in!
 
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Hi! I'm glad you reach out!

So question by question:
Definitely FQF is also worth considering, because of its upward potential and possible transfer to an MFM. First of all, FQF students can choose to sit in the same classrooms, to listen to the same teachers, and to do the same projects and assignments for the classes that MFM students also have to go through. The ones you see in the FQF curriculum are the essentials and founding ground for later developing advanced knowledge and skills. One big take away here is that: in terms of course work, you are starting at the same line with many MFM students!

In order to transfer to the MFM program, you need to demonstrate your ability to handle complex logic deduction, multi-period/multi-leg instrument modeling, and capability to validate/endorse your idea about financial markets with solid, fast, and efficient codes. But don't worry yet, all these things are covered in the classes of FQF. All you need to do is participating in class, doing assignment, being active in group work and discussion, and making a practical plan with your advisors early on! These are not hard things to do. These just require your dedication! First year is relatively easy compared to the second! If you work hard and stay involved, I'm sure you will do well. There are previous cases of such successful transfer! You will enjoy all the career and acedemic activities before you transfer and you can keep all your FQF credits towards your MFM after your transfer and graduate within the same length as MFM students do!

I also considered Stevens at the time I was applying, but didn't initiate that application. MFM seems to have more customized education with practical financial industry projects support and stronger relation to a professional network, over Stevens. Later I verified all of these aspects and I really enjoyed my experience here.

I don't know about Stevens placement rate, but from my graduation batch, all my friends got a satisfying job, and we all know this is just about doing the right things and good results follow. You can go checking the latest updated placement record on the website.

Hope this helps. Let me know if anything else you are interested in!
Thanks a lot for the response!!
So basically if a student completes FQF with satisfactory grades and shows involvement, he will get a transfer into tye MFM program?
Could you tell me how much time would I take to finish the FQF course, and if I am starting in Fall 2019, do i have to wait till Fall 2020 to begin my MFM clasees if I am getting a transfer to the MFM?
 

liu-yunpeng

New Member
Hi!

Again, question by question:

Yes, this is the idea!

You can finish in two years, as most of the MFM students (some took three years based on their own plans). That means you will graduate together with your peers at the same time in May of 2021. Your first year classes are also the first year classes of many MFM students. You can continue on the MFM second year classes right after you transfer.

FQF is a step stone to MFM degree, with the same length, same amount of credits, and same experience.

Don't feel shy to ask more! I'm glad you post your questions here so that others can also see it!
 
Hi!

Again, question by question:

Yes, this is the idea!

You can finish in two years, as most of the MFM students (some took three years based on their own plans). That means you will graduate together with your peers at the same time in May of 2021. Your first year classes are also the first year classes of many MFM students. You can continue on the MFM second year classes right after you transfer.

FQF is a step stone to MFM degree, with the same length, same amount of credits, and same experience.

Don't feel shy to ask more! I'm glad you post your questions here so that others can also see it!
Hi!

Again, question by question:

Yes, this is the idea!

You can finish in two years, as most of the MFM students (some took three years based on their own plans). That means you will graduate together with your peers at the same time in May of 2021. Your first year classes are also the first year classes of many MFM students. You can continue on the MFM second year classes right after you transfer.

FQF is a step stone to MFM degree, with the same length, same amount of credits, and same experience.

Don't feel shy to ask more! I'm glad you post your questions here so that others can also see it!
Could you tell me how are the intership and placement opportunities for this program as Minnesota is not much of a financial hub?
 

liu-yunpeng

New Member
Could you tell me how are the intership and placement opportunities for this program as Minnesota is not much of a financial hub?

Actually MN is quite a big financial hub:
  • It is rated 9 out the top 20 most active cities in the US for hedge funds in the Prequin Report on hedge funds, version July 2018
  • There are many asset managers with very big AUM
  • Minneapolis has the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and some of the top US Commercial Banks are headquartered here or have big Operations, such as US Bank headquarters, RBC, and big Wells Fargo bank hub)
  • There is a very large insurance hub here and many opportunities in hedging in places like Allianz Investment Management. ( US HQ for Allianz in US is Mpls); Ameriprise, and many more!
  • Also MN is a very big hub for Agribusiness with a lot of trading opportunities ( Cargill, CHS, Land O Lakes).

So, I think Minneapolis has plenty to offer in order to fulfill your career perspective! Some of the top hedge funds and commodities trading there are well known local quants who teach in and mentor students in our program and that our MFM alumni are very competitive in these firms as we are the ONLY Financial Engineering in the Upper Midwest. The majority of our classmates get placed in Mpls (a wonderful place to live with great culture and low living expenses). Those who want to be in Seattle, CA, NYC and NYC also get placed there too.

For my personal experience, Minneapolis is a great place for a new quant. While having plenty of hedge funds and trading companies, it doesn't all stress you out like New York and Chicago, where you have to compete with hundreds of NYU and Cornell graduates for 1 position!

You can search more about the greater Minneapolis& Saint Paul area. It does not have as glorious global fame as NYC but it will surprise you in a way how much it has to offer!


Let me know if any other question!
 

Aaron Shi

New Member
I also graduated from the UMN MFM program about 3 years ago and have been very happy with my decision of taking this program.

First off, I could never have got a job as a quant analyst with one of the top investment banks without this degree. As an international student, I had two internships with local insurance companies while in the program, and I have interviewed with many top financial firms around graduation. I was also lucky enough to get an offer within 2 months of the time I graduated. This program has taught me so much that goes beyond all the mathematical theories as liu-yunpeng has mentioned, which is undoubtedly a strength given the program resides in UMN's highly distinguished math department.

The practitioner's course (FM5031/32) is where all the theories meet practice, and you would be using programming skills learnt in other courses (e.g. FM5091/92) combined with the financial/mathematical/statistical theories to solve real world, and sometimes future work-related problems (seriously, since I have used pieces of the very same course projects in my job).

What I would also like to emphasis is the vibrant, warmhearted alumni network and career coaching activities that really count when it comes to job searching. I do not know too much about the alumni networks at other programs, but from what I have heard from my colleagues, they are not as helpful as people tend to get disconnected after a few years, whereas I still am connected with many of our alumni at NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, Minneapolis/St Paul, etc. Not to say that some of my colleagues even told me they didn't receive very good training on how to land a job while in their program! (No wonder they don't feel connected anymore after graduation, I guess.) And yes, since we have so many alumni in major financial/technology hubs, it is not only possible but actually easy to locate jobs beyond the Twin-Cities area if you would prefer.

The last thing I would like to mention is, since I stay connected with the program, I am always astonished at how fast the MFM keeps evolving and stays integrated with the industry. There has been significant changes in the course sequences to meet developments in industry demands, based on feedbacks from alumni and outreach of the program directors, etc. You can also listen to many lectures/talks given by well-known names from both industry and academia. I keep learning new things and am absolutely not disappointed every time I have the opportunity to revisit/reconnect with the program.

Aaron
 

SeJunBae

New Member
Hello, @liu-yunpeng, I am a senior who is interested in the financial mathematics program at UofM due to mathematical rigor.
Some reviews of the program on the ranking page mentioned that you learn C# instead of C++, which seems to be the standard in the field. Is this true? And if it is, do you think this lack of courses on C++ put you at a disadvantage?

Thank you!
 

liu-yunpeng

New Member
Hello, @liu-yunpeng, I am a senior who is interested in the financial mathematics program at UofM due to mathematical rigor.
Some reviews of the program on the ranking page mentioned that you learn C# instead of C++, which seems to be the standard in the field. Is this true? And if it is, do you think this lack of courses on C++ put you at a disadvantage?

Thank you!

Hello! I'm happy you bring it up!

I've also seen discussion around this topic for long! I can give some personal opinion from a post-graduation perspective.

  • Before everything else, father of C++, Bjarne Stroustrup, works at Morgan Stanley, directs architecture and oversees technology performance. C++ has been known to perform the best in massive, complicated system especially for some trillion dollars business of Morgan Stanley. However, not every investment bank chooses to use C++ considering
    • that it is comparably more difficult to maintain and to develop,
    • that it is closer to the machine instruction architecture which also makes it harder to code higher level integration, network communication suite, and packages.
  • You should think about the trade-off of learning C++ and target only the few biggest investment banks for the two quant/strat positions issued by each bank every year, v.s. of learning something more applicable that could potentially be useful to a broader range of jobs in a larger variety of quant perspectives that fit your career planning. Maybe how many quant C++ jobs out there is not necessarily lower, but from my own experience in job hunting, C++ requirement is comparably rare.
  • C++ and C# are very widely used languages and are fast changing. The gap between the speed of computation has been shrinking over time, and in most cases C++ performs faster not because of the language advantage but because the specific piece of code is written by a top-notch coding artist, someone like Stroustrup himself.
  • Parallel computing is a must for the industry when data piles up for the big shops, regardless of either C# or C++. I guarantee you that you will get the best in line of modern parallel programming lessons from one of my favorite teachers, Chris.
  • You will find C# development toolkit amazing and makes you want to code in C# over C++ whenever situation permits. You will be truly impressed by how much "re-inventing the wheel work" has already been taken care of for you!
  • The concept of programming fashion and OOP paradigm I think is somewhat more important than knowing the syntax of a specific language. C# has all the features you want to learn and explore.
Just to be objective, there is a disadvantage but is negligible if you know only C# not C++, the same disadvantage if you know only C++ not C#. C# generally gives you no disadvantage in your way of becoming a true quant!

Hope this helps! Let me know if more questions, or concerns.

Updated 2019-04-20:

Look at the recently released new version of Visual Studio! Introduction page stresses some of the most important things programmers care in their coding:
  • Improved code cleanup and debug ,
  • Using AI for code snippet recommendation,
  • Better collaboration and version control
I can't wait to try out the new features!
 
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liu-yunpeng

New Member
I also graduated from the UMN MFM program about 3 years ago and have been very happy with my decision of taking this program.

First off, I could never have got a job as a quant analyst with one of the top investment banks without this degree. As an international student, I had two internships with local insurance companies while in the program, and I have interviewed with many top financial firms around graduation. I was also lucky enough to get an offer within 2 months of the time I graduated. This program has taught me so much that goes beyond all the mathematical theories as liu-yunpeng has mentioned, which is undoubtedly a strength given the program resides in UMN's highly distinguished math department.

The practitioner's course (FM5031/32) is where all the theories meet practice, and you would be using programming skills learnt in other courses (e.g. FM5091/92) combined with the financial/mathematical/statistical theories to solve real world, and sometimes future work-related problems (seriously, since I have used pieces of the very same course projects in my job).

What I would also like to emphasis is the vibrant, warmhearted alumni network and career coaching activities that really count when it comes to job searching. I do not know too much about the alumni networks at other programs, but from what I have heard from my colleagues, they are not as helpful as people tend to get disconnected after a few years, whereas I still am connected with many of our alumni at NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, Minneapolis/St Paul, etc. Not to say that some of my colleagues even told me they didn't receive very good training on how to land a job while in their program! (No wonder they don't feel connected anymore after graduation, I guess.) And yes, since we have so many alumni in major financial/technology hubs, it is not only possible but actually easy to locate jobs beyond the Twin-Cities area if you would prefer.

The last thing I would like to mention is, since I stay connected with the program, I am always astonished at how fast the MFM keeps evolving and stays integrated with the industry. There has been significant changes in the course sequences to meet developments in industry demands, based on feedbacks from alumni and outreach of the program directors, etc. You can also listen to many lectures/talks given by well-known names from both industry and academia. I keep learning new things and am absolutely not disappointed every time I have the opportunity to revisit/reconnect with the program.

Aaron
Thank you Aaron! You mentioned quite a lot of angles that I didn't touch!
 

SeJunBae

New Member
Hello! I'm happy you bring it up!

I've also seen discussion around this topic for long! I can give some personal opinion from a post-graduation perspective.

  • Before everything else, father of C++, Bjarne Stroustrup, works at Morgan Stanley, directs architecture and oversees technology performance. C++ has been known to perform the best in massive, complicated system especially for some trillion dollars business of Morgan Stanley. However, not every investment bank chooses to use C++ considering
    • that it is comparably more difficult to maintain and to develop,
    • that it is closer to the machine instruction architecture which also makes it harder to code higher level integration, network communication suite, and packages.
  • You should think about the trade-off of learning C++ and target only the few biggest investment banks for the two quant/strat positions issued by each bank every year, v.s. of learning something more applicable that could potentially be useful to a broader range of jobs in a larger variety of quant perspectives that fit your career planning. Maybe how many quant C++ jobs out there is not necessarily lower, but from my own experience in job hunting, C++ requirement is comparably rare.
  • C++ and C# are very widely used languages and are fast changing. The gap between the speed of computation has been shrinking over time, and in most cases C++ performs faster not because of the language advantage but because the specific piece of code is written by a top-notch coding artist, someone like Stroustrup himself.
  • Parallel computing is a must for the industry when data piles up for the big shops, regardless of either C# or C++. I guarantee you that you will get the best in line of modern parallel programming lessons from one of my favorite teachers, Chris.
  • You will find C# development toolkit amazing and makes you want to code in C# over C++ whenever situation permits. You will be truly impressed by how much "re-inventing the wheel work" has already been taken care of for you!
  • The concept of programming fashion and OOP paradigm I think is somewhat more important than knowing the syntax of a specific language. C# has all the features you want to learn and explore.
Just to be objective, there is a disadvantage but is negligible if you know only C# not C++, the same disadvantage if you know only C++ not C#. C# generally gives you no disadvantage in your way of becoming a true quant!

Hope this helps! Let me know if more questions, or concerns.
Thank you for the detailed response!
 

liu-yunpeng

New Member
Hello! I'm happy you bring it up!

I've also seen discussion around this topic for long! I can give some personal opinion from a post-graduation perspective.

  • Before everything else, father of C++, Bjarne Stroustrup, works at Morgan Stanley, directs architecture and oversees technology performance. C++ has been known to perform the best in massive, complicated system especially for some trillion dollars business of Morgan Stanley. However, not every investment bank chooses to use C++ considering
    • that it is comparably more difficult to maintain and to develop,
    • that it is closer to the machine instruction architecture which also makes it harder to code higher level integration, network communication suite, and packages.
  • You should think about the trade-off of learning C++ and target only the few biggest investment banks for the two quant/strat positions issued by each bank every year, v.s. of learning something more applicable that could potentially be useful to a broader range of jobs in a larger variety of quant perspectives that fit your career planning. Maybe how many quant C++ jobs out there is not necessarily lower, but from my own experience in job hunting, C++ requirement is comparably rare.
  • C++ and C# are very widely used languages and are fast changing. The gap between the speed of computation has been shrinking over time, and in most cases C++ performs faster not because of the language advantage but because the specific piece of code is written by a top-notch coding artist, someone like Stroustrup himself.
  • Parallel computing is a must for the industry when data piles up for the big shops, regardless of either C# or C++. I guarantee you that you will get the best in line of modern parallel programming lessons from one of my favorite teachers, Chris.
  • You will find C# development toolkit amazing and makes you want to code in C# over C++ whenever situation permits. You will be truly impressed by how much "re-inventing the wheel work" has already been taken care of for you!
  • The concept of programming fashion and OOP paradigm I think is somewhat more important than knowing the syntax of a specific language. C# has all the features you want to learn and explore.
Just to be objective, there is a disadvantage but is negligible if you know only C# not C++, the same disadvantage if you know only C++ not C#. C# generally gives you no disadvantage in your way of becoming a true quant!

Hope this helps! Let me know if more questions, or concerns.
Looks like I've got some data to support my points! Look for Microsoft VS product line!
 

CharlesFossey

New Member
Hi Liu,

I am beginning the MFM program next month, and I wanted to ask about the internship opportunities. I'm entering the program two years separated from my undergrad degree, and I wouldn't say that I've accumulated the most relevant experience over that time (one year as a data analyst, one year working in a laboratory part-time). I would like to begin getting relevant experience that the program endorses, i.e. an internship, as soon as I would be eligible.
  • How abundant are the internship opportunities?
  • Are these available fairly early on, or are they reserved for 2nd year students of the program?
  • Without needing specifics, what is the general compensation for an intern in a "quant-esque" position?
  • What are the terms for the different internship opportunities? Are they summer internships, since the program doesn't run over the summer, or are they year-long and semester-long, given that the program is designed around working professionals?
Thanks for your insight!
 
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