1. Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Education: BA Mathematics
Prior work Ex: approx 1.5 years
2. Did you get admitted to other programs?
NYU Math Finance
3. Why did you choose this program?
There were two deciding factors: close attention from the faculty (Dan comes on strong), and superior teaching. Other programs I observed had, what I considered to be a very poor learning environment.
4. Tell us about the application process at this program
Application process was straightforward and responsive.
5. On a scale of 1-10, how would you grade the accessibility of the faculty and staff?
6. Programs like Baruch MFE, UCB MFE have refresher courses for incoming students. Does this program offer such courses? How useful was it?
Baruch has refresher courses, although “refresher” is a misnomer. They are stand-alone courses of their own, which cover material you are not really expected to have known previously, although they will probably be a real challenge if you haven’t learned those subjects before. When I took them, there was some push back from students who also had full-time jobs (even part time admits take four days a week of refresher courses!) and found it very difficult to keep up.
7. On a scale of 0-10, how would you grade the usefulness of these refresher courses?
8. Tell us about the courses selection in this program. Any special courses you like?
When I attended there were roughly 14 courses of which you took 11 and a capstone (give or take one course). I felt at the time that the offerings were somewhat restricted and narrowly focused; if you had an interest in algo trading, there was nothing for you. However, if you had an interest in equity options, this program was perfect. Now, they have broadened the offerings somewhat, so you have more flexibility in this regard.
I felt that Sylvain’s courses on structured finance were very instructive, since they were project based. I also benefited greatly (at large personal cost, given how demanding it was) from the programming courses.
9. Tell us about the quality of teaching.
The quality of teaching was variable. Some instructors were very good, whereas some were too busy to prepare for class, or did not structure the curriculum well, or did not answer questions and were generally unavailable. As a result, more than one course in the program yielded little benefit to me or other students, who were quite vocal about this problem.
On the other hand, some courses were very demanding and I learned a great deal, which continues to be useful in my work. (For the doubters, that includes Stochastic Calculus.)
TAs were extremely helpful and responsive. The other students are also very collaborative and provide assistance on homeworks.
The support from TAs in each class is great and an invaluable help to comprehend better the class work.
10. On a scale of 1-10, how would you grade the quality of teaching?
11. Materials used in the program
All the books are shown on quantnet (master reading list for MFE students)
12. On a scale of 1-10, how would you grade the practicality of the curriculum?
13. Programming component of the program.
C++ primarily. VBA and R were also used at times
We did a number of individual and group projects. In our C++ course we did a PnL calculator for stocks and bonds, and a series of projects based on Mark Joshi’s options book (highly recommended). We also programmed a linear algebra library for the linear algebra course. For structured finance we programmed a deal using excel & VBA. For a handful of other courses, we used R (or our language of choice).
15. Career service
There is very good career service, with good placement and close attention. Placement is a very high priority.
Of course, this was a challenge when I was a student and few positions were open. Nonetheless, Dan devoted significant time and resources to opening new avenues of hiring.
16. What do you like about the program?
The intensity of the program is crucial to its success. It strains personal relationships in particular in the first semester for full-time students. However, you move quickly up the curve and resources are there for those who want them. Given its small size and value placed on enterprise, a student who decides to take leadership and responsibility is rewarded with it, in the classroom and in the community. However, you will be allowed to languish if you choose not to participate.
17. What DON’T you like about the program?
The rest of my review has a number of criticisms; inconsistency of teaching and course material was my biggest objection.
18. Suggestions for the program to make it better
Since I have left, I think many of my peeves have been improved. Furthermore, there are many proposals and countervailing opinions floating around among the faculty of their vision for the program. These are suppressed now; it would be best to listen to them both to increase faculty satisfaction and to improve the coursework from seasoned practitioners and educators.
19. On a scale of 1-10, how would you grade your experience in the program?
20. What are your current job status?
Employed as quantitative analyst
21. Other comments?
What you put into any masters program is what you get out. Baruch MFE gives you a path for success, but you must apply yourself, and selectively choose what is important to learn and what interests you. (Presumably much of it interests you as you chose to attend the MFE). It will always be a mistake to choose an “Easier” course at this level of education (solely for that reason); the goal should be to maximize exposure to topics and improve your skills; leverage other students, the school’s resources, faculty. Again, Baruch has those available, so use them.