Saw this on GD. Maybe QN can ask that guy to submit an official review here. That would provide more credibility to what he said
I am a student in the program and would strongly agree. The MSFM program sucks. There is a LOT of scope for improvement.
Two good things about the program:
1. Roger Lee: He is a God. Beyond excellent. Takes his time to work through the material. Uses 3 standard textbooks. Derives all the proofs. If you are not taking the Math of Options class offered by him this semester, you are wasting your time at Chicago.
2. Nygaard: The regression analysis class is surprisingly quite good.
Bad things about the program: Everything else!
Horrible stochastic calc professor, Stoc Calc was a total waste of time and money, will have to retake this someplace else.
useless TAs, giving 1 word answers like "yes!", "no!" even when you ask a question in detail.
rampant and widespread homework copying among students. You can actually SEE people sitting and copying answers from each other half hour before the class starts. quite sickening. Don't see what is the point of homework if everybody is cut-pasting solutions.
office hours are a waste
zero blackboard usage leading to students nodding off to numerous powerpoint slides at 9pm at night. Seriously, this 6:30-9:30pm slot does not work for me and many others. Majority of the students are day scholars and entire daytime is being wasted.
No university teaches mathematics using powerpoint slides. People have traditionally used chalk & blackboard for over 500 years because when you take the time to write it out, derive it, solve it, prove it, that's when it actually registers. Math is not a storybook you can just read by flipping powerpoint slides. You have to work through it. Roughly 20 minutes is wasted dealing with the technology hiccups when one tries to scribble on the tablet pc. Just use the chalk on the blackboard behind you.
horrible classroom timing, zero use of daylight, zero interaction with faculty outside of class.
The StatRisk class had no standard textbooks and took different bits of material from different places, cannot understand how anyone can go from Basic Probability to Copulas in just 1 class! Though the material was comprehensive, it is much better to stick to a standard textbook. However, this was one of the better classes last sem, so I won't complain too much.
The finance classes were a total joke. I don't think one can call that form of "teaching" as a class or education. It was just mindless chitchat, anedote-swapping, war stories, "when I was at UBS then I did this that and the other..." - so why exactly do I care ? Shut up and teach. Honestly I felt I was watching a mishmash of Seinfeld and CNBC. Some jokes, some industry chatter, some more jokes. No actual teaching.
I could go on and on.
Overall, I am sticking it out, hoping things will improve next semester. But if they use the same set of faculty and "industry professionals", it is very unlikely.
Ten Suggestions for UChicago:
1. stick to UChicago faculty like Nygaard, Roger Lee, Mykland. These people have real PhDs and they can really teach.
2. use standard time-tested math textbooks which are used in most MSFM and PhD programs. Don't cut-paste material from different sources, you just introduce mistakes and non-standard notations.
3. discourage/penalize copying among students.
4. The "industry pros" and retired visiting faculty are a complete waste of time. Get real UChicago faculty from Booth/Econ/Finance depts.
5. Provide electives. Many of the daytime college courses especially in Stat are quite good and should be available as elective.
6. Provide some actionable trading strategy, work through examples, not just plain theory.
7. Useful office hours, not saturday 8am.
8. Get knowledgeable and polite TAs, not rude economics majors with 1-liners.
9. Some daytime alternative for people who cannot do mathematics at late night.
10. Charge more. I and most of my colleagues will happily pay 100k$ if you actually do a good job. This is University of Chicago, not a diploma mill, for Christ's sake. Why do you have 130 students in 1 classroom ? Isn't that some kind of fire-code violation ?