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FEN 2007 Annual Special Report: Graduate Education Programs in Financial Engineering, Mathematical Finance, Computational/Quantitative Finance and Risk Modeling/Management

 

 

Well, here it is: The fifth annual installment of our Special Report on Graduate Education Programs in Financial Engineering, Mathematical Finance, Computational/Quantitative Finance and (new this year) Financial Risk Modeling/Management. Special Report editor Laura Sullivan has done a wonderful job of interviewing thirty (Yes 30) programs worldwide and incorporating the salient facts on each program in this summary article. Does this report represent a comprehensive review of all programs worldwide? Absolutely not, and I encourage prospective students interested in pursing a graduate education in this field to begin with this report and continue their research using other websites and search engines like Google.com. But this list is a great place to begin.

 

We are grateful to the five programs which co-sponsored this year's Special Report (The University of California, Berkeley; University of Tulsa; George Washington University; Brunel University; and Baruch College- City University of New York). Their financial support was instrumental in allowing us to produce and publish this popular report. The exclusive articles featuring each co-sponsor can be accessed by clicking the links in the first table below.

We remember very well the first year we launched this Special Report in 2003. There were less than fifteen programs we could find based on primary research that qualified for coverage in the report. That number has grown steadily each year to this year's thirty programs which only reinforces the growth of financial engineering and its growing importance across all aspects of the financial services industries- buy side, sell side, corporate finance, alternative finance and (as a profession) risk management.

We hope you enjoy this year's report we've assembled on graduate programs worldwide.

Financial Engineering News

Click on the links below to read exclusive articles on our Special Report Co-Sponsors
Baruch College Brunel University George Washington University
University of California, Berkeley University of Tulsa  

 

 


More Demand Means More Master’s Programs

By Laura Sullivan, Special Report Editor

Again, like last year and the year before, the applicant pool for graduate programs in financial engineering is growing significantly. The demand for the specialized skills that are earned with a Master’s degree in Financial Engineering (or like-titled degree) is spurring students and experienced professionals to pursue higher academic goals. Whether the study leans towards finance or mathematics, theory or application, schools with existing programs are keeping their curriculum sharp and new institutions are joining the trend to meet market demand. As perspectives turn to global markets and the knowledge of financial engineering is applied to new business realms, one thing remains consistent in every program: excited anticipation for the developments of tomorrow.

In this article, we summarize discussions with individuals from 30 programs in the United States, Europe and Asia, highlighting the many differentiations in approach to the financial engineering graduate degree.

Baruch College (report co-sponsor: click on the link to read their exclusive article)
What has made the Master of Science in Financial Engineering (MFE) program at the Weissman School of Liberal Arts at Baruch College in New York City unique since its inception in September 2002 is the local make-up of its students; nearly 65 percent of the applicants are U.S.-based, about 40 percent from New York, at this public school.

But that is not the only novel aspect to the program, according to director Dr. Dan Stefanica. “Whether you want to do full-time or part-time studies, you have to be good enough to be admitted, and then you will be our student, period,” Stefanica says. This makes for a strong bond between all students and, accordingly, an active alumni association, of which the large majority work in New York to easily provide industry updates and mentoring.

But up-and-coming does not only mean hot trends and new elective options. Stefanica makes sure that the three-semester, 12-course MFE program reaches its goal of “creating all the necessary conditions for our students to be successful” regardless of economic swings with a core of C++ programming requirements. “This is a cyclical business,” he says. “The general market is so good right now. But times will change. We are strengthening our program for just those times.” CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

Boston University
Unlike most other programs, at Boston University students earn a Master of Arts in Mathematical Finance. The elegance of program introduction deserves that definition: “I have been fascinated by the beauty of mathematics since childhood … I invite students with a strong affinity for mathematical reasoning to take a glimpse into the field of mathematical finance to see if this field appeals to them intellectually,” writes Dr. Andrew Lyasoff, program director.

The rest of the program is summed up as “not only relevant and current, but also coherent, consistent and efficient.” The three-semester, 10-course curriculum presents practical and theoretical mathematical principles within a financial context.

Applicant numbers are increasing, and with it more students having considered the field late in their undergraduate studies, an issue all programs need to address, says Lyasoff. On the other end of the applicant field, BU offers experienced professionals a five-course Certificate in Mathematical Finance. Such continuously morphing programming reflects the field of financial engineering itself.

“This area will expand into risk management and also what we call corporate finance, but on mega scale—mergers between huge corporations,” Lyasoff says. “And that will require completely different financial tools that I think have yet to be developed. Another area is corporate law. Business law was basically written in the thirties; now we live in a profoundly different world. Lawyers need to understand micro-finance—how financial markets work on a micro scale.”

“I think the future for financial engineering is … I wouldn’t use the word bright, because it’s going to be really hard. We’re going to have to adjust, first our research and then the education in financial engineering because we have to incorporate these new trends. Nobody is better positioned than the graduate programs in financial engineering to provide for this.” CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

Brunel University/CARISMA (report co-sponsor: click on the link to read their exclusive article)
At Brunel University in West London, a full-time, one-year Masters of Science degree is offered in modeling and management of risk. The program is run out of the Centre for the Analysis of Risk and Optimisation Modelling Applications (CARISMA) at Brunel which is headed by Dr. Gautam Mitra. While the emphasis of the program is very much on financial risk modeling and management, it also covers and considers related risk fields such as environmental and industrial risk.

The program consists of five study modules: Risk Overview, Regulation and Environmental Risk; Applied Risk Modeling and Optimization in Financial Planning; Financial and Treasury Management; Risk Simulation and Decision Analysis; and a final Dissertation based on an independent research project. “The research projects are based both on ideas developed within CARISMA and in conjunction with commercial enterprises such as financial institutions which sponsor projects” says Dr. Mitra. “These projects are conducted during the final four months of the program- June to September and are supported by a faculty advisor”.

There are currently fifteen students enrolled in the MSc. Program for modeling and management of risk. The program begins at the end of September each year and concludes twelve months later. 40% of the student body comes from Europe and the remaining 60% from developing countries, notably India, China and Pakistan. CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

City University of London
“Our programs are the most quantitative finance masters in the U.K.—on par with the top MBA programs offered in the States,” says Mario Levis, professor of finance and associate dean, Master of Science programs at the Cass Business School of the City University of London. “The size of Cass (over 100 academics), its set-up, which includes a world-renowned actuarial faculty, and its location (in the heart of the city) allows us to be at the cutting edge of quantitative finance and to deliver the whole range of areas important in quantitative finance.”

The two degrees offered—Master of Science in Financial Mathematics and Master of Science in Quantitative Finance—take a full year to complete and cover analytical and quantitative areas, C++ as well as other computer languages and modules to introduce recent inceptions, such as application of Lévy processes and stochastic optimal control, and credit derivatives valuation. There are also hands-on practical resources, like the Reuters Room and the Bloomberg Dealing Room.

Looking toward the future trends in financial market demand, Levis looks east. “We expect increasing demand from Europe in general, and Eastern Europe in particular which still lags behind in very specialist applications of quants in finance,” Levis says. CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

Claremont Graduate University
After receiving a 100 percent increase in applicants last year, the Master of Science in Financial Engineering (MSFE) program at Claremont Graduate University in California has seen an even larger increase for 2007. According to Jullie McCurdy, program administrator, applicant backgrounds are changing somewhat, with more U.S. residents applying for the recently introduced part-time option, as well as increased numbers from Europe and South America.

The leadership development emphasis in the MSFE program at Claremont is a result of the blending of both the Peter F. Ducker and Masatoshi Graduate School of Management and the School of Mathematical Sciences. “This positions our students for rapid professional development,” McCurdy says. In addition to its technical training, the program was developed with an appreciation for the practical. “Our program is non-lock-step,” says McCurdy, “and enables students to switch between full- and part-time to capitalize on employment opportunities as they arise.”

Further attention to professional matters is demonstrated by a recent assessment of how the 12-course, three-semester program can meet the needs of students who seek professional certification, such as the CFA or FRM designations. “We also have increased staffing committed to placement of our graduates and alums,” McCurdy adds. CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

Columbia University
Like other programs based in commuting distance of Wall Street, a key strength of the Master of Science in Financial Engineering program at Columbia is “location, location, location,” according to Jenny Mak, academic and professional development director. Being in New York City means access to top industry practitioners as instructors and lecturers and the ability to hail a cab or hop the subway downtown for part-time work, research and practical experience.

Of course, being one of the country’s top universities has other benefits. The core of the program aims to provide applicable practical knowledge that “takes quantitative knowledge and the engineering, and applies that to finance.” But during the elective half of the one-year, full-time program, students have every Columbia University resource at their disposal, whether the law school, MBA program, engineering or international affairs. The resulting graduates, Mak observes, have been welcomed into an industry that now recognizes the skills acquired with an MFE and more appropriately places such degree holders in sophisticated positions.

Though, Columbia administrators do not depend entirely on their New York locale. They are currently working with international affiliates in Europe and Asia. “More and more, the location is becoming global,” says Mak. “The question is not just what are the needs of the U.S. market, but what are the needs of the global market and location-specific markets? We want to not only train students to serve those markets, but play a role in shaping those markets as they are emerging.” CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

Cornell University
Back in 1989 when it launched the field’s first journal, Mathematical Finance, and established its program, Cornell University was a pioneer in financial engineering education. Today, the school’s Master of Engineering in Operations Research (Financial Engineering Concentration) builds on the multiple disciplines of mathematics, computer science and business-based financial engineering in which its Ithaca, New York campus excels; it also offers an on-the-scene Wall Street perch at Operations Research Manhattan, where symposia, courses and special events are held and internship opportunities are identified.

“Our program is also differentiated through the intense team project experience that it offers, focusing on a real problem for a prominent industry client,” says Dr. Mark Eisner, associate director of operations research and information engineering. “The project is done after the students build a mathematical foundation that prepares them as well to create and absorb innovation and change as the industry changes.”

The 50-student program spans three semesters, including a summer internship. Graduates move on to largely traditional positions in the financial hub of New York, but also to Chicago firms and credit card companies in the Southeastern United States.

Although, like most of its kind, this program struggles to attract more diversity in its student population, there have been interesting changes to the largely undergraduate applicant pool. “We have also seen an upsurge in the number of women applicants (nearly all international) and are strengthening our efforts to attract women, underrepresented minorities, and domestic applicants to Cornell.” CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

Fordham University
Dr. John Finnerty, professor of finance and director of the nascent M.S. in Quantitative Finance program at Fordham University, says that this 2007 addition to graduate education is a response to market demand.

“Before we embarked on this project, we interviewed about twenty financial institutions to really see if we had indeed identified a market opportunity and we confirmed that we had,” Finnerty says. “When we looked at programs in the New York area … there are a lot of MBA programs that are fabulous, but they are not quite so strong in the quantitative area. And there are some very good math programs, some of which also teach finance. We provide in-depth training in both finance and the use of quantitative methods to solve valuation, portfolio optimization, risk management and other financial problems.”

The one-year program starts with a summer financial boot camp. Each of the two semesters is divided into two, 7 1/2 week modules and is capped off with a team-based internship focusing on a specific problem or problem set at a New York financial institution. And Fordham’s former graduates entrenched in the New York scene are an asset regardless of the program’s newness, “because of the strong affinity alumni have for the university,” Finnerty explains.. CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

George Washington University (report co-sponsor: click on the link to read their exclusive article)
Located in the U.S. capital, George Washington University’s Master of Science in Finance program (MSF) draws an international student body of 130 individuals from twenty countries with an average of more than five years work experience and many with masters degrees already. They come with an eye on career advancement and that is what program administrators aim to deliver.

“When they leave the MSF program, our students should have all the quantitative and computational skills needed to solve any financial problem they may face,” says program director George Jabbour. “They understand how the market works and are comfortable with code and data.”

Consisting of 12 four-credit courses taught by full-time faculty, the largely practical program also prepares students for professional certifications, such as the CFA and PRM exams. A few students even opt for a joint MBA-MSF degree for the recognition of the first and the technical skills of the second. Another benefit students gain from proximity to federal headquarters: internships and job offers from the likes of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Reserve and the World Bank. CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

Georgia Institute of Technology
The M.S. program in Quantitative and Computational Finance is an interdisciplinary mix of mathematics, management and industrial and systems engineering with an emphasis on implementation, according to Dr. Bob Kertz, codirector. The aim: “to have our graduates be able to determine and confront new situations and problems, and to work towards viable solutions, both as members of groups and as leaders of groups.”

To that end, steps have recently been taken to improve students’ communication skills to relay technical and non-technical ideas to a wide-ranging financial audience. Other changes include a codirectorship with increased administrative support, more assistantships, additional seminar speakers from academia and institutions and the “soon-to-be-totally-operational” trading floor, which will double the size of existing facilities.

The result of three semesters of full-time study is imparted on a wide range of students with divergent professional goals and various post-graduate destinations such as investment firms, banks, federal agencies, hedge funds, energy firms and financial data and applications firms. CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

Georgia State University
Georgia State University’s financial engineering program has a more than fifty-year-old tradition in risk management education at the Robinson College of Business. “We have the largest dedicated risk management department among U.S. universities,” says Dr. Richard Phillips, chair and Bruce A. Palmer professor of risk management and insurance. Graduates aspire to risk management functions at banks and insurers, as well as non-financial companies.

The three-semester, 10-course Master’s in Mathematical Risk Management includes an oft overlooked subject—how strategic risk management creates value for firms. “In this program we focus our students’ quantitative work to the risk management arena and as such we give them a good idea how these techniques fit into the overall perspective of corporate strategy,” says Phillips. The department also offers Master’s of Actuarial Science and dual degrees.

“The idea of combining the techniques of actuarial science and financial engineering means that our students can quantitatively manage risk exposures that are not easily traded,” Phillips says. “We’re seeing an explosion of interest in these types of risks in the global markets and our students are enjoying the attention not only by insurers, but also by banks seeking higher returns in illiquid markets.” CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

IIT Stuart School of Business, Center for Financial Markets
With more than 200 students, the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) is able to offer a wide variety of concentrations in its three 18-month M.S. programs in Financial Markets, Finance and Mathematical Finance. This includes risk management, investments, financial engineering and programming and trading strategies, further narrowed to hedge funds, automated trading system development, fixed income trading strategies, enterprise risk management or Bayesian econometrics.

As a technical school, many IIT students—some of whom now apply with undergraduate degrees in quantitative finance—focus on automated trading systems design and chose to enter the fields of high-frequency and derivatives trading. “Beyond the textbook, however, our programs encourage, even require, students to apply what they have learned by developing their own research, alternative investment strategies and automated trading systems in our Quantitative Research Lab and Trading Lab,” says Ben Van Vliet, lecturer and associate director at the Center for Financial Markets.

In addition to the industry experience of the faculty, alumni help keep practical application current. “The broader perspective of our alumni community enables us to quickly identify cutting-edge mathematical concepts, strategies and technologies and integrate them into coursework,” says Van Vliet. “For this and many other reasons, we regularly see alumni returning to campus to recruit new graduates to their firms.” CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

ICMA Centre, University of Reading
At the ICMA Centre (formerly ISMA Centre) at the University of Reading, the 200 student-program recently added to its degree options. Not only can graduates pursue the Master of Science in International Securities, Investment and Banking, but now Master of Science degrees in Capital Markets, Regulation and Compliance; Finance and Real Estate; Financial Risk Management and Investment Management. The programs are available in 10-month, full-time sequences, 18-month, flexible schedules or two-year distance, learning opportunities.

“Our program is specially handcrafted with the main goal to prepare students for work in the industry,” says Lucy Hogg, marketing manager. “Whilst we provide courses to build up the much needed theoretical background in stochastic calculus, financial mathematics and pricing methods, we also think that it is essential to familiarize the students with the tools, techniques, models and implementation issues related to the different types of markets and instruments. Additionally, our curriculum includes a hands-on, market-oriented course in C++, much sought after by the industry.”

The ICMA Centre has also received nearly $10 million for an extended facility, including a 50-seat flagship dealing room sponsored by Reuters, scheduled to open in 2008.

Kent State University
“We graduate quants that can trade,” says Rebecca Evans, program administrator for Kent State’s Master of Science in Financial Engineering. “We always ask our board members what we need to do to get our students hired by their firm. Their answers and our reactions to the answers set us apart from other financial engineering programs.”

The full-year, 36-credit curriculum includes an industry-based project, networking visits to firms in New York and Chicago and use of a live data feed trading floor. “Visits from students that have selected other programs have revealed that our trading floor is far different than anything they have seen,” Evans says. “[It is] not an enhanced computer lab.”

The MSFE program makes graduates employable. “We spend many hours with guest speakers working on things such as marketing, interviewing, employee relations, how to handle fellow co-workers, how to best establish a working relationship with bosses, what to do when you travel for business, how to interact in the business world, networking, etc.,” says Evans “Our students have mandatory etiquette training.”

New program additions include a seminar series for industry firms, a course on the economics of financial engineering, alumni training presentations and a changing capstone course reflecting current trends. CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

London Business School
The London Business School Masters in Finance program includes over 140 students of nearly 40 nationalities in an international center of finance, which makes for an education in global perspective.

The 10-month, full-time (or 21-month, part-time) program begins with four core finance units (financial accounting and valuation, corporate finance and valuation, capital markets and foundations of finance), which lead into specializations based on more than 30 electives.

“We are committed to ensuring that our program is both academically rigorous and closely aligned with professional practice,” says Tyron Hayes a spokesperson for the London Business School. This includes partnering with professional organizations, such as the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Institute, and keeping in touch with the “incredibly active” alumni, who are mostly at investment banks—about half in the U.K., though also in Europe and Asia.

“We see finance becoming an increasingly technical field,” Hayes says. “Academic institutions and professional practice organizations both play a large role in meeting these requirements. We will continue to work closely with professional practice organizations, as well as stay involved with industry through our various research centers and projects to ensure that our program equips students with the latest and most relevant tool kit.” CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

Nanyang Technological University
Based in Singapore with an international roster of students, it is not surprising that the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) MS in Financial Engineering program places graduates worldwide, from London and New York to Hong Kong, Indonesia and Japan. This diversity, according to Tan-Lee Loo Hiang, principal manager for the one-year program, is due to the ability range Nanyang MFE graduates possess.

“The combination of skills obtained by MFE graduates—an understanding of complex financial strategies, financial modeling ability and computational proficiency—are difficult for employers to find in graduates of general MBA or engineering programs,” Tan-Lee says.

Like many schools, the MFE students here benefit from other departments, gaining business perspective from one school and technical knowledge from another. NTU has also developed a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), which hosts a seven-week research and education program in finance, computer science and mathematics over the summer, leading to a Certificate in Computational Finance.

The key for the future development of financial engineering programs such as theirs, according to Tan-Lee lies in combining the high-technology vein with a humanistic one. “There is a serious shortage of financial engineers who are able to communicate with the end users,” she says. “There is strong demand for qualified financial engineers who are also good communicators.” CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

National University of Singapore
The Master of Science in Financial Engineering (MSFE) program at the National University of Singapore Risk Management Institute, launched in 1999, is an entirely part-time program with a significant distance-learning initiative, incorporating students across Asia, and around the globe, including from the United States. And those are not its only unique trademarks.

Another recent development is a partnership with the University of California, Berkeley, in conjunction with the Monetary Authority of Singapore, to create the Berkeley-NUS Risk Management Institute (RMI). NUS has found itself as the center of regional knowledge in the burgeoning Asian market, and in turn is expanding international connections.

“We hope through the Risk Management Institute we can have better links with the industry in terms of education, training and research,” says Dr. Ng Kah Hwa, program director and deputy director of RMI. “This is part of the objective in Singapore. There is a shortage in the pool of talent in the area of financial engineering and risk management and therefore we need to provide the training.

“Going forward,” Ng continues, “because financial engineering and risk management is very much global and because our students go on to work all over the world, we want to have more links with institutions not only in the U.S. and Canada, but also in Europe to make the program more global.”

In addition to the MSFE, which takes 18-months to two years to complete, NUC recently launched a joint three-week program with Berkeley that concludes in a Certificate in Financial Engineering. Future certificate programs being planned would cover risk management (in collaboration with the Professional Risk Management’s International Association), quantitative finance and risk management. CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

North Carolina State University
The goal of the four-semester Masters of Financial Mathematics program at North Carolina State is straightforward: it produces quants. “Courses are taught by faculty active in research, so students learn state-of-the-art math modeling in finance,” says Dr. Jeffrey Scroggs, associate professor and assistant head, mathematics, and interim director of the financial mathematics graduate program. “Financial mathematics at NCSU is highly quantitative, with a six-course core, four-course electives cluster and a capstone internship or project.”

Although a majority of applicants come from the Pacific Rim, Dr. Scroggs says domestic interest is on the rise. Students are exposed to multi-discipline course offerings and input from alumni on the workplace environment and skills valued by employers. Graduates continue to careers in banking and energy and commodities, some remaining local in Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina.

Although he is pleased to have swiftly responded with programming to the growth in the application of quantitative finance to credit risk and active portfolio management, according to Dr. Scroggs, future growth has expanded beyond the M.S. program. “The growth in quantitative business careers in moving to the undergraduate program,” he says. “We offer a BS/MS program in mathematics and financial mathematics that gives students the opportunity to complete both degrees in five years. BS/MS students are the top students, so they are often hired into the industry with just their BS.” CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

Oklahoma State University
Dr. Tim Krehbiel, director of the M.S. in Quantitative Financial Economics program at Oklahoma State University, understands the importance of industry vigilance in his role. “We’ve obviously got a great deal of technical material to cover in any program of this type, and that’s not going to change,” he says. “But another aspect that greatly affects how we’re working are the economic trends and the industry-specific issues like the Basel Accord and its impact on the employer side.”

To keep the two-year program (three semesters for post-doctorates) at the William S. Spears School of Business current the faculty and administrators use alumni in both a formal advisory role, in the form of an annual industry survey, “but also on an informal basis to provide our network that we rely on a great deal,” says Krehbiel.

Student-based adaptability is another draw, Krehbiel says. “We have a flexible program that serves people from the hard background of engineering, physics, mathematics and statistics, and at the same time we can service the other side, students coming in from a business and economics background.”

Recent graduates have benefited from the influx of job opportunities from industry changes like the Basel Accord, which calls for more risk management. And enrollment has likewise increased at Oklahoma State as students seek to fill those positions. CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

Polytechnic University
Dr. Charles Tapiero, distinguished Topfer chair professor of technology and financial engineering and department chair of finance and risk engineering, wastes no words describing developments at Polytechnic University.

“The change this year has been dramatic,” Tapiero says. “Three faculty members have been added, the financial engineering program has become a part of a separate department—the department of finance and risk engineering—the number of students has doubled, and the program’s curriculum has been restructured and rationalized.”

Students can complete the degree in one year with a 30-credit program plus a six-credit capstone project, structured on three possible tracks—computational finance, financial technology and corporate finance and financial markets. New courses, requirements and emphasis on hands-on experience have led to financial lab workshops being added to the core and has been facilitated by new economic and finance professors.

With more than 220 students already, further expansion is planned. This includes a potential Ph.D. program, an undergraduate minor in finance and risk engineering and discussions over joint degree programs in actuarial science and insurance finance with the mathematics department, and technology and financial services with the computer science department. Potential global projects include joint research and education with universities in France, Italy, Hong Kong and China. CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

Princeton University
The Bendheim Center of Finance prides itself on developing in its students an understanding of “the broad aspects of finance with teaching focused on conceptual underpinnings rather than analysis of niche products,” according to David Blair, director of corporate relations. “We teach our students how to think about finance with the belief that a broader understanding will serve them well as the financial products of today morph into new recombinant forms.”

The 50-student group in Princeton’s Master in Finance program, however, need not rely on merely their smarts upon completion of their degrees. With a nod to the practical, the program has instituted a “boot camp” with emphasis on skills like interviewing, as well as initiating placement assistance.

The dynamics of the student population at the center has changed over the last few years, says Blair. Today, as opposed to the traditional route from undergraduate studies, the program has fit itself into the aspirations of Ph.D.s and those already experienced in the financial world. The flexibility of the program allows each of these students to acquire the education they require, with experienced individuals usually spending one year as opposed to two to complete their degree.

The emphasis on theory at the Bendheim Center is backed by the range of departments at Princeton for elective choices. Students have utilized the computer science department for financial computer strategies and the psychology department for behavioral sciences.

Such diversification will be key in times to come, according to Blair. “While there is no shortage of opportunity on Wall Street at present, we continually upgrade our contacts in the corporate world to prepare for the future,” he says. CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

Rutgers University, Business School
“In addition to the standard quant courses that other schools offer, we want our students to develop a basic understanding of financial markets and institutions,” says Dr. Yangru Wu, program director of the Master of Quantitative Finance (MQF) program at the Rutgers Business School. “To that end, we require students to take several MBA-level finance courses.”

The program has a very practical goal—to place students at top quality financial institutions in positions such as risk manager, senior market analyst or senior quantitative analyst. Thus administrators recently expanded the MQF degree to a two-year study plan and increased the number of industry teachers and speakers, made practical by the school’s proximity to Manhattan. The fall and spring semesters are filled with 29 core and nine elective options taught by both MGF faculty and other Rutgers department members including statistics, mathematics, computer sciences and economics. CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

Rutgers University, Department of Mathematics
Rutgers University, with a student population of more than 30,000, is large enough to support two graduate degrees in financial engineering; thus, the School of Mathematics offers the Master of Science in Mathematics, with Option in Mathematical Finance.

“The key difference is that our program is more math-focused,” says Dr. Paul Feehan, associate professor of mathematics and the Mathematical Finance Master’s program director. “It’s more technical and hard edged. It’s a slightly narrower degree for someone who wants to get a job as a quant, possibly in risk management or derivatives pricing.”

Many students come with industry experience, using the degree to move into more quantitative roles. To respond to that need, the 10-course, three-semester program, which will enter its second year in 2007, is taught by industry practitioners, and the curriculum is “driven by what we see as demands by employers,” says Feehan, who also works for J.P. Morgan. “In terms of skills being demanded by top-tier investment banks of their quants, I think our program delivers exactly what they want.” CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

Temple University
The Fox School of Business at Temple University will welcome its inaugural M.S. in Financial Engineering (MSFE) candidates in the fall of 2007. “We plan to leverage our many alumni in the field of financial services around the world,” says Dr. John Soss, director of the MSFE program in the finance department. “Fox School alumni are currently leading business initiatives in the Philadelphia region—from the Swathmore Group to Black Rock to Susquehanna. Beyond Philadelphia, the Fox network includes alumni at Deutsche Bank, Guy Carpenter and UBS in New York City. Beyond the region, alumni are influencing the direction of financial companies from Lloyd’s in Monaco to Bloomberg in Singapore.”

It is a 10-month, fast-track program, concluding with a possible Masters project, or a course in interest rate options, in the summer. Admissions requirements call for candidates with strong quantitative backgrounds, most often from engineering, natural sciences and mathematics.

“Tuition rates at state-supported institutions bring a fast return on investment,” says Soss. “Temple University tuition rates are extremely competitive without a compromise on quality. When students enroll at the Fox School, they place themselves in a winning situation—they gain a top-rate education at a reasonable cost.”

University of Chicago
“Our 10-year-old Master of Science in Financial Mathematics program was a pioneer in the integration of theoretical applied math and practical applications of pricing derivatives and managing financial assets,” says Dr. Niels Nygaard, director of the Master of Science in Financial Mathematics program at the University of Chicago.

Distinguished mathematics, economics and statistics departments as well as proximity to the Chicago Stock Exchange and Chicago Mercantile Exchange continue to strengthen the program today. “We also have a dedicated Ph.D. whose specialty is financial mathematics, which is unique in the field,” Nygaard adds.

In 2006 the Stevanovich Center for Financial Mathematics was opened, and now houses the master’s program. “It brings together academicians and practitioners to facilitate the advanced study and free exchange of ideas on the use of higher mathematics in the world of finance,” says Nygaard. “The center will host workshops, lecture series and conferences on campus, and maintain an active visitors program whereby distinguished researchers, both in academia and the financial industry, will be invited to the university. The center will also offer research facilities and support to attract young researchers in the field to the university.”

Eventually, the school hopes to offer a Ph.D. program in financial mathematics, but until then the full-time, one-year program continues to garner ever-increasing positive feedback from its alumni, according to Nygaard. CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business (report co-sponsor: click on the link to read their exclusive article)
The unique, one-year Master of Financial Engineering program at the prestigious Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley focuses on financial economics from a conceptual point of view.

“Our push was not just to teach students how to derive formulas and do computer programming and implement them,” says Dr. Mark Rubenstein, the Paul Stephens professor of applied investment analysis. “We wanted to give our students a sort of deeper understanding of the situations under which using various tools would be appropriate.”

The faculty is drawn from the University of California system and includes almost exclusively financial economists. The curriculum includes case studies for practical comparison, and a mid-year, 2 1/2-month internship, at which the first seven months of study are applied. The program concludes with courses that then expand upon that practical experience.

Elite recruiters from financial firms are commonplace to the campus, assuring high placement rates for graduates. But program administrators are looking at expanded possibilities, including corporate finance. “As it gets more sophisticated,” says Rubinstein, “there’s going to be a great demand for people who are taught in a program like an MFE program where you can assume people have some reasonable quantitative background.” CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

University of Tulsa (report co-sponsor: click on the link to read their exclusive article)
At the University of Tulsa, the Master of Science in Finance (MSF) program emphasizes three unique applications: risk management, investment and portfolio management. “We’re not designed to send people to Wall Street,” says Dr. Roger Bey, chairman of the department of finance and operations management and J. Bradley Oxley chair of business administration. “Our people go into major corporations to perform risk management functions.”

The 36-credit program in the College of Business Administration also incorporates a two-year, part-time internship, which often leads to a full-time position. Additional program assets include an extensive computer laboratory (the William Risk Management Center), and Friends of Finance, a non-profit organization that draws regular speakers and hosts networking meetings. The MSF degree can also be pursued simultaneously with an MBA.

The job market for graduates from the MSF program is not likely to dry up, especially as more companies seek individuals with sophisticated knowledge applicable to risk evaluation. “The driving force is that financial engineers are able to solve financial problems and create economic wealth,” says Bey. CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

University of Twente
The master’s program in financial engineering at the University of Twente in the Netherlands is in a unique position. According to Dr. Arun Bagchi, program director, not only is it one of the only such financial engineering programs on the continent, it is also one of just a handful that is part of the two-step bachelor-to-masters degrees in Europe. Though the norm in the United States, across the Atlantic such masters programs have been gaining momentum only over the past two years, making Twente an academic leader in this realm with its M.S. in Applied Mathematics and M.S. in Industrial Engineering and Management.

The heavily theory-dominated, two-year curriculum at Twente is also unique from its U.S. counterparts in its industry-exposure; the final project is not an internship but a research project, conducted over a series of months at a company. The school is also investigating the possibility of creating a one-year diploma.

Employment for graduates is ample. “It’s very easy for students to get jobs,” says Bagchi. “There is enormous potential in the Dutch market in banks and investment firms, as well as pension funds and insurance companies.” CLICK HERE to read more about this program at our website Directory of Graduate Education Programs.

University of Wisconsin at Madison
With only 14 students (approximately seven admitted each year for the two-year curriculum), the University of Wisconsin at Madison has one of the smallest, but also one of the oldest financial engineering masters programs. Established 14 years ago, the two-year Quantitative Master’s in Finance program in the finance department of the business school is an intense education designed primarily for post-Ph.D. study.

“We think our students are better trained in econometrics than other students,” says Dr. David Brown, program director. “They do get financial modeling, continuous time finance derivative pricing and risk management, but because they are in the program for two years and get a heavy dose of econometrics, our students are well-suited for positions where those skills are used. That’s why we see success for our students going into hedge funds or quantitative investment shops, for example.”

Indeed, the program has a track record of placing students in whichever market is burgeoning, according to Brown: energy traders in the nineties (although not Enron, he insists) and hedge funds today.

“But there will always be something new and different,” Brown says, emphasizing the need for the program to adapt to the inevitable downfalls in the currently plum financial job market. One persistent conundrum, however, is the lack of interest amongst U.S.-born students, who are the minority of applicants to the Quantitative Masters in Finance program.

“With some patience, diligence and work some of our college kids could be having very successful careers with interesting and well-paying jobs, if they were aware of these opportunities and willing to work to get them,” Brown says.



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