What happens if you don't get into a top 10 quant finance program?

Quant Finance seems more popular than before. I foresee in the future, that there will be a lot of people who aspire to be quants which will make the MFE programs much more competitive to get into. Now I wonder what if you can't get into a good MFE program even if you already had pretty good grades. Are your chances of being a quant much more slim? Should you try a different field instead?
 
That is a pretty narrow point of view. If you could only become a quant after going to one of the 10 top programs - there would only be 10 programs. As a forum I think we get a little too caught up on going to the best school possible that we lose a little perspective on the purpose of education. Grad school is to learn. The math at the number 1 ranking is no different from the number 10 and no different than number 25.... Is the perception of schools in the industry skewed? Maybe. But not everyone can afford to think that way. There aren't that many ivy league kids to go around. There are a lot of employers who don't prioritize an ivy league education. Also education is not the only thing on your resume. Use internships, projects, etc to stand out.

Quant is competitive, but it is alike just about every other STEM career path. In engineering there are competitive and less competitive jobs. There are better schools for engineering and less reputable school for engineering. It safe to say that a wide selection of engineers will be hired - not just the ones that go to MIT. Sure quant is more competitive, but there are far less quants than engineers.

There are plenty of quant jobs - find one that interests you. Study hard, network, and prepare for interviews. Will you get hired by JS or the Citadel right out of grad school with a tier two education? Probably not - but neither will most of those tier one applicants.
 
Are your chances of being a quant much more slim?

The further down the list you go, the slimmer they become. There's a reason why the competition to get into CMU or Baruch or Princeton is white-hot. It doesn't mean that if you earn an MFE from Dogdick University, you can't become a quant at an established firm -- merely that your odds are much more slender. Try to get an idea of the odds. Which is not easy to as the second-tier programs try to obfuscate or hide their placement numbers and the quality of the jobs their graduates are going to.
 
The reality is the bar to get into the top 10 MFE programs is ALOT lower than the bar to land a Quant Research/Quant Trading role at a reputable hedge fund (Princeton and possibly Baruch are the exceptions). I think <= 5 % of CMU/Berkeley/Columbia recent MFE class landed a QR position at a top 10 buy side firm (you can fact check this by looking at CMUs internship 2022 placements). I think jarry is being a bit too optimistic - I seen internal hiring QR documents at not even the top hedge funds and they are extremely ruthless in their cutoff (typically most of the open opportunities are for princeton/baruch, few for CMU/Columbia/Berkeley, good luck to the rest). There really aren't THAT many opportunities - there are only so many reputable hedge funds, and MFE's aren't even the targets. You're competing for these positions with the ~800 students in the top 10 quant programs, as well as all the fresh math/cs/engineering undergrads from an ivey league (who get huge priority - not even sure JS took anyone from a MFE in the recent years). TLDR - the truth is if you have difficulty landing a top MFE program, you're going to have a really hard time getting even a top 30 hedge fund straight off new grad. If your goal is to be sell-side quant then its probably a bit different but I know several princeton MFINs that joined the program just to move from sell-side to buy-side lol)
 
The reality is the bar to get into the top 10 MFE programs is ALOT lower than the bar to land a Quant Research/Quant Trading role at a reputable hedge fund (Princeton and possibly Baruch are the exceptions). I think <= 5 % of CMU/Berkeley/Columbia recent MFE class landed a QR position at a top 10 buy side firm (you can fact check this by looking at CMUs internship 2022 placements). I think jarry is being a bit too optimistic - I seen internal hiring QR documents at not even the top hedge funds and they are extremely ruthless in their cutoff (typically most of the open opportunities are for princeton/baruch, few for CMU/Columbia/Berkeley, good luck to the rest). There really aren't THAT many opportunities - there are only so many reputable hedge funds, and MFE's aren't even the targets. You're competing for these positions with the ~800 students in the top 10 quant programs, as well as all the fresh math/cs/engineering undergrads from an ivey league (who get huge priority - not even sure JS took anyone from a MFE in the recent years). TLDR - the truth is if you have difficulty landing a top MFE program, you're going to have a really hard time getting even a top 30 hedge fund straight off new grad. If your goal is to be sell-side quant then its probably a bit different but I know several princeton MFINs that joined the program just to move from sell-side to buy-side lol)
If it's hard to get a role at a reputable hedge fund, would it be easier to get into a less reputable hedge fund? Then using that experience, move to a more reputable hedge fund?
 
If it's hard to get a role at a reputable hedge fund, would it be easier to get into a less reputable hedge fund? Then using that experience, move to a more reputable hedge fund?
all the hedge funds that look good enough on a resume to let you move to a more reputable hedge fund is really not that easy to get in. an easy way to check is just search -hedge fund name quant researcher/trader- on linkedin, maybe look at the first 10 new grads, and see how ur profile lines up. i think quite a few ppl r underestimating the difficulty, it's really not that easy to land even the smaller buyside firms if ur not from a target undergrad
 
all the hedge funds that look good enough on a resume to let you move to a more reputable hedge fund is really not that easy to get in. an easy way to check is just search -hedge fund name quant researcher/trader- on linkedin, maybe look at the first 10 new grads, and see how ur profile lines up. i think quite a few ppl r underestimating the difficulty, it's really not that easy to land even the smaller buyside firms if ur not from a target undergrad
What about being a sell-side quant? What if you don't really care what quant role or if your pay is somewhat low, but you just want to have any quant job?
 
sell-side desk quant roles are much more obtainable with a top 10 quant finance degree. If you want a middle office quant role like risk (maybe model vetting too but not sure if its more for phds) then yes the pay is lower and it's even more obtainable but you'll quickly notice front office just gets treated alot better than you and it doesn't really help to transition you into front office (I did my undergrad internship in a 'quant' risk team)
 
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