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MFE vs OR? Questions

1300coupe91300coupe9 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
edited November 2012 in Graduate School
Hey guys,

First post, sorry if I mess up somewhere.

I'm a junior in college. Grad school thoughts have become pretty relevant lately. I think this is the time to research, correct me if I'm wrong.

Before I go any further, here are my two criteria:
1) I want to do quantitative/computational analysis
2) I want to one day go for a PhD and teach(personal goal)

I can't decide between a Masters in Financial Engineering(MFE) or an applied math degree such as Operations Research(OR).
Here are the quick facts:
Public PA school - Tripple Major
Current(forecasted) GPA: 3.9
Math curriculum: Calc I-III, Stats I,II and Applied Stats, Lin Alg, Discrete, others
Comp Sci: Linear/Non-Linear struct. Assembly, AI, ML, Computational Finance
Econ: Econometrics, Forecasting + Finance courses
Hypothetical GRE(based on previous st. test): V:570 Q:790 new: V:152(?) Q(170) will be taking them soon

When it comes to OR, most schools are very prestigious as it is a rigorous discipline.. but even bigger factor - half the programs are PhDs. I have no "real" research experience. I have an internship in "business data analysis/forecasting" and hopefully something good this upcoming summer.

The reason I initially started looking at MFE's is because the pay is really good. And we all want to get paid really well. On the other hand, the skill set acquired is almost identical(math part) and the cost is significantly higher. Also, MFE doesn't usually lead to PhD.

What do you guys think? Am I thinking about this the wrong way? Again, ideally, I would like to work in finance(or other lucrative field) to begin with and eventually teach on the side. Which program? School suggestions that I can start researching? Do I even have a chance of getting into a top school, given the one I'm currently attending?

Thanks for reading. I appreciate any feedback!
Post edited by 1300coupe9 on

Replies to: MFE vs OR? Questions

  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 10,817 Super Moderator
    First of all, your undergrad school doesn't matter much in determining where you go. You can go from a small public university in PA to an Ivy League or equivalent. I go to Columbia and the students who go here come from all over.

    Now. I don't think it matters what you get your master's degree in - operations research or financial engineering - when it comes to your future goals. The reason is because for PhD programs (especially ones like applied math, applied stats, finance, OR, etc.), as long as you have the stated prerequisites you aren't required to have any specific major. If you are a strong applicant and show evidence that you know your stuff, they aren't going to reject you because your MS is in math instead of stats or something like that. What you need to do is make sure that whatever you study, you take the classes you're going to need as prerequisites to a PhD program, and that you go to a university with a strong research program in finance and whatever it is you want to do research on. When you go for your master's, get involved with a research lab and work/volunteer as an RA.

    I also expect that a field like FE or OR would expect less formal research experience from prospective students. It's not a traditionally theoretical field, and most of its expert faculty members probably spent years in the private sector as financial engineers/corporate statisticians before they got a PhD and started teaching and doing research. In applied fields, often work experience is just as valued as formal research in a lab because the work is so applied. So I think the kind of experience that you are getting is fine to start off and will "count" when you apply, although you should also try to get some more formal research experience if you want a PhD.

    Also look into programs that may have different names but teach the same thing, like "quantitative finance."

    My university (Columbia) offers an MS in both fields (financial engineering, operations research), and a master's in mathematics in finance.

    Financial Engineering: NYU Poly, Berkeley (Haas), UCLA (Anderson), Cornell (program is in Manhattan), Baruch College (inexpensive! and a top 10 program), Temple (Fox), Michigan, NC State, Claremont Graduate University, Kent State

    Operations Research: Georgia Tech, Carnegie Mellon (top program), Cornell, Case Western, UNC-Chapel Hill, Rutgers, Princeton (MSEng - geared towards people who want a PhD), USC (Viterbi), Northeastern, William & Mary...there are a lot of OR programs

    Others that may interest you: Carnegie Mellon's computational finance; Stanford's mathematical finance, NYU's mathematics in finance, Boston U's mathematics in finance, UIUC's finance, Rutgers mathematics or quantitative finance programs,
  • 1300coupe91300coupe9 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    Thank you for the input. I appreciate the encouragement! As I understand, the next thing to try to get involved in is actual research. I have a couple of professors who are always looking for help with their projects, so maybe that can be beneficial. And eventually look into PhD programs and tailor my graduate curriculum so it can prepare me for the program. I appreciate it!
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