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Undergrad research and MFE admissions

Hi everyone,

I'm currently an applied math undergrad in Singapore. I aspire to pursue MFE after graduation, preferably in a top school in NY. I've been seizing any opportunity that my school can offer me to boost my resume as well as add value to my technical skills (like computing). Recently, I got accepted for this 6 week research attachment at Imperial College, London. The project is about Model Predictive Control (and applying constraint optimization to solve problems in engineering) and MATLAB will be the programming language to be used.

It is essentially a 10-week project, 4 weeks of which will be undertaken in Singapore. That's pretty much my whole summer so I am a bit undecided about this. The thing is, I'm also doing a 1 year undergrad research on Monte Carlo Simulation in zero-coupon bond pricing and I'm about to finish by next month. So, I don't have the steam for this project anymore because for one, I also want to relax for a week or two and fly back home (I'm not a local).

I have another alternative for the summer which is the UCLA summer session and it will only run for 6 weeks. Going for this option gives me a lot of time to relax before and after the program so it is very favorable for me.

My question is, would it matter which one I choose? Naturally, you might think that the research attachment at UK would be beneficial but you see, I'm really really tired. What are your thoughts on this? I know getting into MFE is competitive so I'm considering my options seriously.


I'm graduating this year from a US University, but have no internship experience. However, I have had 2 years of research work, and it was in a field less related to math finance than what you seem set to work on in the next few weeks (Econometrics). That being said, I've gotten into NYU & Cornell FE so far, and am awaiting some other other schools to answer. So, to answer your question, doesn't matter what you chose, as long as you do chose one. Pick one that (1) interests you genuinely, and (2) you feel you will be able to exploit its virtues in your application process.
What does the UCLA summer session involve?

All else being equal, think of it this way: you are on the admissions board and just read your post from an applicant. Would you accept the candidate that ran out of steam and took the easier option or the candidate that pushed themselves?

Carlo makes a good point about which opportunity you can exploit in your application to maximize your brand.
hi guys, thanks for the replies. Well, I'll be taking two courses at UCLA - game theory and ODE. (they moved the mathematical finance course from Session A to Session C but due to the differences in the academic calendar of my school and UCLA, I can only go for Session A.)

I lost steam because I've undergone 1 year of undergraduate research coupled with school work and extra curricular activities. The thing is, if I go to UCLA, it wouldn't eat up my whole summer so would still have time to relax. Lame excuse perhaps but you can't be successful if you're overwrought. Or am I wrong?

In what ways would a summer exchange to UCLA be advantageous over a research attachment to Imperial College? What about the other way around? The research is going to be heavy on linear algebra as opposed to probability (non-existent in this case actually).

By the way, if the research project @ Imperial College would be about mathematical finance, I wouldn't lose my steam. This one about contraint optimization leaves me hanging.

I have until April 15 (SG time) to decide :(
A research project at Imperial (though not directly related to finance, it sounds applicable skill-wise) sounds more impressive to me than taking a few courses at UCLA, but that's just my opinion.

It sounds like you have already made up your mind. Good luck!