Which MFE/MQF to choose?

UCLA vs. St. Gallen

  • UCLA

    Votes: 3 100.0%
  • St. Gallen (and potentially UCB)

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    3
Hey everyone!
I am having some issues deciding which master program to choose and wanted to collect some other opinions :)
I would like to eventually work as a quant at a HF. I am from and in Europe.
I have been admitted to UCLA’s MFE as well as University of St. Gallen’s MQEF.
In my mind working at a HF is most likely happening in NY, which speaks for studying in the US. However, I am unsure if UCLA will give me a real advantage over the European university especially considering the tuition fees.
What are your opinions? Does anyone know how rigorous UCLA is or how well St. Gallen places outside of Switzerland?

EDIT:
I am also on UC Berkeley’s waiting list for their MFE. If I accept St. Gallen I would still have the option to change after one semester should I be accepted, which I would not if I went to UCLA.
 
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First and foremost, Congratulations on your admission to UCLA's MFE and St. Gallen's MQEF programs.

Deciding what program to choose is relative to the factors you are considering. Here are my 2 cents:

1. Tuition: I can see from your post above that tuition is foremost on your mind when comparing what program to choose. Based on QuantNet's data, UCLA's MFE program would cost you about 81,216 US dollars, and based on my research St. Gallen's MQEF would cost you CHF 1,429 per semester if you are a Swiss national and CHF 3,329 per semester if you are a foreign national. For four semesters, the St. Gallen's MQEF program would cost you CHF 5,716 or 5,845 US dollars if you are a Swiss national and CHF 13,316 or 13,618 US dollars if you are a foreign national.

Decision: Considering the cost of tuition, If I were you, I would choose St. Gallen's MQEF program over UCLA's MFE program.

2. Ranking: QuantNet's ranking does not include European quantitative finance programs. However, we can consider the general ranking done by the Times Higher Education. According to the Times Higher Education, UCLA ranks 20th globally, and St.Gallen's ranks 301-350.

Decision: If university ranking matters to you in making this decision, then UCLA is the obvious choice.

3. Opportunities: You aspire to work as a quant at a hedge fund (HF), and you specifically mentioned NY, which I take to mean New York. That's a good aspiration to have. In terms of opportunities, UCLA has the advantage over St Gallen's because it's in the United States. In my opinion, Quantitative Finance as a field has grown tremendously in the United States compared to any country on earth. You have the opportunity to work for the best quant/trading firms (e.g., Jane Street, Citadel, HRT, etc.) and hedge funds in the world.

Decision: Clearly, opportunities to work as a quant during and after college matter to you. So, if I were you, I would choose UCLA over St. Gallen's.

4. Program Maturity and Alumni Network: From my research into UCLA's MFE program and St. Gallen's MQEF program, I can confidently say that in terms of program maturity and alumni network, I would choose UCLA over St. Gallen's.

Decision: If program maturity and alumni network are factors in choosing which institution to attend, then UCLA's MFE program would top the list.

Final Score: UCLA - 3, St.Gallen - 1

The choice is now yours to make, and please make the right choice.

All the best!
 
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Hey everyone!
I am having some issues deciding which master program to choose and wanted to collect some other opinions :)
I would like to eventually work as a quant at a HF. I am from and in Europe.
I have been admitted to UCLA’s MFE as well as University of St. Gallen’s MQEF.
In my mind working at a HF is most likely happening in NY, which speaks for studying in the US. However, I am unsure if UCLA will give me a real advantage over the European university especially considering the tuition fees.
What are your opinions? Does anyone know how rigorous UCLA is or how well St. Gallen places outside of Switzerland?

EDIT:
I am also on UC Berkeley’s waiting list for their MFE. If I accept St. Gallen I would still have the option to change after one semester should I be accepted, which I would not if I went to UCLA.

I'm curious why changing from UCLA after a semester isn't an option, is that a rule among UCs or something?
 
I dont want to pay double tuition fees :(
Or am I missing something?

No you're definitely right :(, I overlooked that, does St. Gallen offer refunds after 1 semester or is it an acceptable sunk cost. With UCLA you would have to forfeit 1 or 2 quarters worth of tuition at minimum which is a pretty large amount.
 
No you're definitely right :(, I overlooked that, does St. Gallen offer refunds after 1 semester or is it an acceptable sunk cost. With UCLA you would have to forfeit 1 or 2 quarters worth of tuition at minimum which is a pretty large amount.
You pay on a semesterly basis, plus the sunk cost of the tuition fee is negligable.
 
You write that most HFT firms are in NY. This isn’t the case. Amsterdam is the European HFT capital and you have lots of firms in London and some in Dublin as well. In the US there are more HFT firms in Chicago than in NY. HK and more recently Singapore are the big trading hubs in APAC with some firms in Sydney.

I had a brief look at the St. Gallen program as I haven’t come across it before. It’s too soft in my opinion if your are aiming for HFT quant jobs. Too heavy on finance and economics and too few hard maths and stats classes. Generally speaking MFE is not the ideal pathway into HFT trading / quant. Yes, you have some students who place at the big trading firms. I work for one of the Amsterdam trading firms and the majority of our grads come out of STEM degrees - mostly math, stats, comp-sci and physics. MFE programs these days are still very pricing focused but this skillset is more demand in banks than on the buyside, especially in HFTs.

If you come from a STEM undergrad, consider applying for an MSc. in stats or econometrics (in the math department - not the business school).
 
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Hi CrossGamma,

Response 1:

In my previous post, I never mentioned that most HFT (High-Frequency Trading) firms are in NY. I only gave an example of HRT (Hudson River Trading), an algorithmic trading firm headquartered in NY, when giving an example of the best quant/trading firms. I know there are quant/HFT firms everywhere else, but the post by UnsureUndergrad specifically mentioned NY(New York). In my opinion, the United States (Chicago & NY) trumps other countries in quantitative finance or financial engineering, whether in Amsterdam, London, HK, Dublin, or wherever.

Response 2:

I agree that the program seems to focus more on finance and economics and not so much on challenging maths and stats classes. However, I can't entirely agree when you said, "MFE is not the ideal pathway into HFT trading/quant firms." Instead, I would say they are other STEM programs that can get one into HFT/quant firms since there are people presently working at these firms with degrees in Physics, Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, etc.

I also can't entirely agree with your advice to UnsureUndergrad to consider applying for Msc. in stats or econometrics. He has already been admitted into two programs (UCLA and St. Gallen's) and waitlisted at one (UCB).

Note:
1. UnsureUndergrad made the post in the first place, so they could weigh their options and choose; not to start considering other master's programs.

2. To any unsure undergrad, I would recommend a master's in a quantitative finance program over a master's in stats or econometrics.
 
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You write that most HFT firms are in NY. This isn’t the case. Amsterdam is the European HFT capital and you have lots of firms in London and some in Dublin as well. In the US there are more HFT firms in Chicago than in NY. HK and more recently Singapore are the big trading hubs in APAC with some firms in Sydney.

I had a brief look at the St. Gallen program as I haven’t come across it before. It’s too soft in my opinion if your are aiming for HFT quant jobs. Too heavy on finance and economics and too few hard maths and stats classes. Generally speaking MFE is not the ideal pathway into HFT trading / quant. Yes, you have some students who place at the big trading firms. I work for one of the Amsterdam trading firms and the majority of our grads come out of STEM degrees - mostly math, stats, comp-sci and physics. MFE programs these days are still very pricing focused but this skillset is more demand in banks than on the buyside, especially in HFTs.

If you come from a STEM undergrad, consider applying for an MSc. in stats or econometrics (in the math department - not the business school).
Hi CrossGamma,

Response 1:

In my previous post, I never mentioned that most HFT (High-Frequency Trading) firms are in NY. I only gave an example of HRT (Hudson River Trading), an algorithmic trading firm headquartered in NY, when giving an example of the best quant/trading firms. I know there are quant/HFT firms everywhere else, but the post by UnsureUndergrad specifically mentioned NY(New York). In my opinion, the United States (Chicago & NY) trumps other countries in quantitative finance or financial engineering, whether in Amsterdam, London, HK, Dublin, or wherever.

Response 2:

I agree that the program seems to focus more on finance and economics and not so much on challenging maths and stats classes. However, I can't entirely agree when you said, "MFE is not the ideal pathway into HFT trading/quant firms." Instead, I would say they are other STEM programs that can get one into HFT/quant firms since there are people presently working at these firms with degrees in Physics, Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, etc.

I also can't entirely agree with your advice to UnsureUndergrad to consider applying for Msc. in stats or econometrics. He has already been admitted into two programs (UCLA and St. Gallen's) and waitlisted at one (UCB).

Note:
1. UnsureUndergrad made the post in the first place, so they could weigh their options and choose; not to start considering other master's programs.

2. To any unsure undergrad, I would recommend a master's in a quantitative finance program over a master's in stats or econometrics.
Thank you borh for your great answers.
Sorry if it was unclear but by HF I mean a regular hedge fund, not high frequency trading.
I believe that the curriculum is actually more rigorous at St. Gallen than at UCLA. What I am worried about is that going to comparably unknown St. Gallen will limit my possibilities to join a hedge fund in New York or Chicago in the mid term. Thus limiting my options to join a hedge fund overall (as in my understanding most jobs will be located in the US).
Perhaps either of you knows how important the university is for hedge funds after 1-2 years work experience at a bulge bracket bank in a quantitative role?
 
There are many different types of hedge funds. If you want to join one of the systematic quant funds (Citadel, Two Sigma, DE Shaw, …) then what I wrote about HFT still applies - their candidate pool is almost identical. The difference is often just whether they take outside money or not. For more discretionary places it might be a different story, but that’s outside of my area of expertise.
 
@CrossGamma - Ok, I thought you were referring to me.

@UnsureUndergrad - You will likely choose St. Gallen over UCLA based on the above-mentioned factor (curriculum rigor). However, you are concerned that it would limit your chances of joining a hedge fund as a quant.

Here is my observation: Using LinkedIn as a verifiable source, most of the quants in hedge funds across the USA have a master's degree from a university in the USA. I have hardly seen any individual with a master's degree from another country or continent getting a job as a quant in a hedge fund in the USA (NY & Chicago).

The combination of degrees of quants working in a hedge fund in the USA usually takes this form:

(i) Bachelor's degree from a university in the USA, or
(ii) Bachelor's degree from a university in another country and a master's degree from a university in the USA, or
(iii) Bachelor's degree from a university in another country, a master's degree from a university in another country, and a Ph.D. from a university in the USA.

Note: After 1-2 years of work experience at a bulge bracket firm in a quantitative role, the university you graduated from may or may not affect your chances of joining a hedge fund in the USA.

Advice:
1. I will advise that you focus on bulge bracket and mid-market quant firms; that way, you have a larger sample size of potential employers.
2. Use LinkedIn to your advantage by filtering out quants at hedge funds you want to work for who have a similar experience.
- A master's degree from a university in another country, having 1-2 years of work experience at a bulge bracket bank in a quantitative role and working in a hedge fund in the USA.
3. Reach out to them; they may be able to offer some advice that can be helpful.


I wish you the best.
 
I agree a lot with what CrossGamma says, but SamDQuant is being extremely optimistic that it might be misleading. For example: "opportunity to work for the best quant/trading firms (e.g., Jane Street, Citadel, HRT, etc.) and hedge funds in the world"... I have never heard of a Jane Street placement from any MFE and only a handful of Citadel and HRTs out of all the MFEs added together (and they all done something pretty exceptional in their undergrad in terms of both prior internships and academic accomplishments). The truth is OP's really not gonna have a shot at any non-shady hedge fund with either St.Gallen or UCLA (unless his undergrad experience is already good enough to land him straight into a hedge fund but in that case why bother even doing a MFE). My advice would be to just wait and hope you get accepted into Berkeley, or temper your expectations and aim for a bulge bracket (even if you do get into Berkeley, temper your expectations).
(i) Bachelor's degree from a university in the USA, or
(ii) Bachelor's degree from a university in another country and a master's degree from a university in the USA, or
(iii) Bachelor's degree from a university in another country, a master's degree from a university in another country, and a Ph.D. from a university in the USA.

Let me revise this slightly - the people who work in a hedge fund in the US mainly consists of:

(i) Bachelor's degree in cs/math from a top university in the USA (I know someone from HRT that said the algo devs there are basically 45% MIT CS undergrands, 45% CMU CS undergrads, i know someone from two sigma who said something similiar).
(ib) Bachelor's degree from some other place but already have stacked internships and really good grades, or placed well on a coding/math/physics contest

(iia) Bachelor's degree from a Tsinghua/Peking/IIT and a master's degree from a US university (typically concentrated in the top few MFE programs, there are tons of these people in Millenium, IMC, Arrowstreet, Akuna, etc.)
(iib) Bachelor's degree from some other place and a master's degree from a US university but did something pretty exceptional already

(iii) don't know much abt PhDs

Basically, the emphasis is not really on the master degree... its everything else they did before they went into the masters if they even went into one... the value of the master degree is honestly primarily the CPT-OPT visa thing for international students that lets you do an internship in the US
 
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