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Would this be a sufficient undergrad education?

Would this be sufficient to pursue a mfe, or would you guys recommend going more in depth http://mfe.berkeley.edu/academics/prerequisites.html ?

I'm not actually at Berkeley, but I'm just curious if I should follow their prereqs.

Their recommended courses:
C++ (1 course)
Calculus 1,2,Multi
Linear Algebra & Differential Equations
Intro to PDEs
Statistics (2 courses)
Numerical Analysis (1 course)
Undergraduate Finance (2 courses)

For those reading in the future; in case berkeley has decided to change the link, I've taken the liberty to create a pdf of the webpage.


  • Berkeley_MFE_Prerequisites.pdf
    174.6 KB · Views: 17
Those are the topics you need to know for the basic MFE stuff; think of it as a bare minimum. Berkeley isn't saying that those are the prerequisites to be accepted into the program, but the most necessary to be success in the program. Those courses are the background you need to be able to learn/understand the material covered in the MFE.

Admissions is a completely different story. You will be up against applicants with undergrad/master degrees in math, statistics, computer science, engineering, and finance; applicants with relevant finance work experience. And probably a few applicants with PhDs.

For a sufficient undergrad education with the intention of doing a top MFE, I'd recommend double majoring in computer science and math and minoring in finance (erring on the side of taking more classes than the min you need to graduate). Remember that you probably can't take too many math/cs classes. Plus a few good internships.
What kinds of internships should I be looking at doing? and How in the world is an undergraduate math major suppose to compete with people who have masters and PhDs??
1-2 finance internships: I think ideally 1 in investment banking and 1 in investment management/hedge fund.
1 math/programming/research: Something where you will get some good coding experience. This could be at a software company or being a summer research assistant for a professor. I think doing summer research with a professor researching a quant finance topic that gave you the opportunity to also do some coding would be a great experience and lead to a good letter of recommendation.

The finance internships I mentioned above are highly competitive, so look/apply early. For finance also consider corporate finance or commercial banking. The FED and SEC also do internships that I think would help build your resume.

Don't forget that at school it is important to make great grades and build relationships with professors as you will need their help/recommendations to graduate school of any kind.

Also important to consider is your university. All else equal, is a math student from Harvard equal to a math student from a state university I've never heard of? No. But if you are at a less well known university, you can somewhat compensate by taking more, challenging classes and having great grades.

Another small boost to your application would be to take a few graduate level courses as an undergrad; some universities will let juniors/seniors do this. Assuming you do well in these grad classes, it helps to show that you can be successful at that higher level and you will appear less risky to admission boards.
How in the world is an undergraduate math major suppose to compete with people who have masters and PhDs??

Take more programming and numerical analysis courses. Remember that it's not just a question of getting admitted but also getting through the program and then getting a job at the end of it -- a job that will probably involve serious coding. Kick out the micro- and macro-economics courses: it is so much dross. The math they're listing truly is a bare minimum: I presume probability is somewhere in the stats courses, and real analysis has been left out altogether. A stochastic processes course would also come in handy.
If so, would you recommend any courses related to economics or finance?

Difficult to think of anything offhand. I know micro- and macro-economics and to me it's redundant for a quant. It's nice but not necessary if a prospective quant has some basic accounting and financial exposure -- knows how to read financial statements, knows the rudiments of double-entry book-keeping and so on. But again, none of this is essential. Too little time and so much to be crammed in. Something has to give. Stick to key courses in applied math and programming. If during your undergrad years you manage to squeeze in reading a book like Hull or McDonald on derivatives and options -- neither of which is unduly taxing -- you should be okay.