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The Best Quantitative Finance Degrees

Discover the perfect educational program to break into quantitative finance.


Are you a prospective student looking to break into quantitative finance? Not sure which school to apply to and what major to pursue? Curious about what education will help you land a job as a quant?

In this article, we’ll break down a plethora of options you can choose when pursuing a bachelor's or master's degree in quantitative finance. While the ideas that we present in this article are tailored towards the traditional pathway of pursuing a degree from an accredited university, it’s important to remember that a lot of the learning you will need to become a quant will take place outside the classroom. While traditional degrees are great for learning foundational mathematics, statistics, finance, and programming concepts, a lot of the more advanced and modern methods in this field will be beyond the scope of any class you take. If you’re interested in learning the best resources for becoming a quant, checkout out our article here.

Preface: The Quant Trinity

Before we outline the various education tracks available, it’s important to keep in mind that depending on the type of quant you would like to become, the education you pursue may vary. Broadly, there are three primary categories of quants: Quantitative Researchers, Quantitative Traders, and Quantitative Developers. While all three types of quants share some overlapping skill sets, there are a few stark differences between the three.

The role of a quantitative researcher is to develop proprietary trading strategies using statistical and machine learning based models. Oftentimes, quantitative researchers come from backgrounds in advanced statistics, mathematics, or econometrics.

Quantitative traders actively monitor the firm’s trades and send orders to exchanges. At some firms, quant traders also work as portfolio managers and help the firm with risk allocation. Oftentimes a degree in mathematics or finance is sufficient for these types of jobs.

Finally, quantitative developers are primarily responsible for the various programming tasks that take place in a firm. This could range from implementing models that were designed by quantitative researchers to developing back-testing engines and ad-hoc scripts. Quantitative developers need to have a solid foundation in software development, and therefore a degree in computer science and statistics is often the most valuable.

Now that we’ve covered the slight differences that exist in the educational backgrounds of different types of quants, we will next share with you what are the best programs that offer this form of education.

Undergraduate Degrees in Quantitative Finance

Finding an undergraduate degree that specializes purely in quantitative finance can be cumbersome. In fact, only a few select universities in the United States cater to this specific program. However, there are many interdisciplinary programs that offer a combination of statistics, computer science, and finance that could easily function as good alternatives. Pursuing a double major, or dual degree, in any of the aforementioned subjects may serve as a viable alternative if your school doesn't offer a quantitative finance program.

Below, we will highlight some of the universities and programs that specialize in quantitative finance as well as some alternatives that offer similar coursework. The schools we mention below aren’t in any particular order, but all provide high-caliber programs.

Carnegie Mellon University - Bachelor of Science in Computational Finance

  • Program Website: CMU Quant Finance
  • Tuition: ~ $60,000 / year (as of 2022)
  • Acceptance Rate: 14%

Carnegie Mellon offers an undergraduate program in computational finance that focuses on helping students develop a deep knowledge of mathematics, probability, statistics, and their applications to finance.

This program is particularly interesting because it blends coursework from three different schools at CMU: The Mellon College of Science, the Heinz College of Public Policy and Management, and the Tepper School of Business. The coursework for this major involves “Introduction to Mathematical Finance”, “Modern Regression”, and “Principles of Computing”. Furthermore, CMU offers some amazing electives such as “Mathematics of Fixed Income Markets” and “Advanced Methods for Data Analysis”

While the major itself at CMU is great, you get much more than the education when attending this university. In fact, some of the top quantitative finance firms in the country all recruit from this school. Companies like Citadel, DRW, and Two Sigma all hire CMU computational finance students so your odds of landing a quant job are definitely increased by attending this university.

Stevens Institute of Technology - Quantitative Finance

Stevens Institute of Technology offers a great bachelor's program in quantitative finance. The program places a heavy emphasis on business, math, finance, and computer science with curricula such as “Statistics for Quantitative Finance”, “Advanced Time Series Analytics and Machine Learning”, and “Financial Market Microstructure and Trading”.

Stevens Institute of Technology places a heavy emphasis on career opportunities post-graduation by helping students obtain certifications and internships. Many top quant firms recruit out of SIT including BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, and Citigroup.

Princeton University - Operations Research & Financial Engineering

Princeton University offers a Bachelor in Operations Research & Financial Engineering (ORFE). This program is highly technical involving academic coursework in statistics, probability, stochastic processes, and optimization. It also features many certificate opportunities in areas such as “Statistics and Machine Learning”, “Finance”, and “Applied and Computational Mathematics”.

Princeton also offers many research opportunities in quantitative finance. The Financial Econometrics Laboratory specializes in building statistical methods for risk management and data analytics modeling.

Overall, the ORFE program at Princeton is great if you are interested in diving deep into mathematical modeling and want a strong foundation to bring with you when pursuing graduate school.

Baruch College - Bachelor of Science in Financial Mathematics

Baruch College offers a Bachelor of Science in Financial Mathematics that focuses on computational tools and techniques needed to become a quant. The program features courses such as “Introduction to Probability” and “Data Analysis and Simulation for Financial Engineers”.

One of the nice parts about the program at Baruch is that it is quite affordable. Similar programs at other top-tier universities are often double the price of the degree offered at Baruch which makes it a great option if you’re looking for a more price-friendly alternative.

Minors in Quantitative Finance

While it is often difficult to find schools that offer an undergraduate program in quantitative finance, there are many schools that offer greater statistics, finance, and computer science majors that can be complemented by a minor in quantitative finance. Here are a few schools that offer minors in quantitative finance.

Rice University

University of Washington

University of Southern California

University of Virginia

Masters Programs in Quantitative Finance

If you’re looking to pursue higher education, in the form of a Master’s degree in quantitative finance, there are many great programs that you may want to consider. Here are a few schools that have highly-ranked programs.

Princeton University - Master in Finance

Princeton’s Master in Finance has consistently ranked amongst the best programs to learn quantitative finance. This shouldn’t be a surprise based on the success its students have had in finding career opportunities post-graduation. One of the great aspects of this program is that they provide you with one-on-one career counseling to help you find jobs and internships, while also hosting many workshops and speaker series to help you with your career search.

Baruch College - Master of Science in Financial Engineering

Baruch College’s Master of Financial Engineering is one of the most esteemed master’s degrees available in quantitative finance. The program offers a cutting-edge, flexible, and streamlined curriculum featuring a wide variety of different electives to choose from. Furthermore, the program has had an amazing track record of placing students, with a 100% employment placement and 100% internship placement rate in 2022.

University of California Berkeley - Master of Financial Engineering

UC Berkeley’s Master of Financial Engineering is one of the top programs in the country. The school features a rich curriculum in statistics, mathematics and computer science. One neat aspect of this program is that it also offers a part-time option for those looking to pursue a Master while also working in industry.

Imperial College London - Master of Science in Mathematics and Finance

  • Program Website: ICL Quant Finance
  • Tuition: ~ $60,000 / year (as of 2022)
  • Acceptance Rate: 14%

If you’re looking for an astute program outside of the United States, this is the college for you. ICL offers excellent training in modern mathematics and its applications to various financial concepts. The school also places a heavy emphasis on research in the quantitative modeling of financial markets.

Carnegie Mellon - Master of Science in Computational Finance

The MSCF program at Carnegie Mellon offers students a unique opportunity to blend coursework in finance with computer science and statistics. One of the many highlights of this program is that 98% of graduates received full-time job offers within three months of their graduation. Furthermore, the mean salary for these graduates was $117,513.

Final Note

It’s important to recognize that while we have listed a few degree programs that offer specialized programs in quantitative finance, there are many other majors that you can pursue to learn similar material. For example, a blend of applied statistics and computer science could be nearly equivalent to a specialized major in computational finance.

Thanks for reading this article. If you enjoyed it, feel free to check out more of our content on our quant blog. Also, if you’re looking for a job or internship as a quant check out OpenQuant for the best quant jobs.