Choosing a Quantitative Finance Master's Program
What factors you should consider when deciding which quant Master's degree to pursue.
Should you pursue a Quantitative Finance Master's Program?
Pursuing a Master's Degree is one of the surest ways to break into the Quantitative Finance industry. Not only does such a degree signal to prospective employers that you have advanced knowledge in the domain of finance, statistics, and mathematics, but also highlights that you are interested in research - an important factor in quant finance.
Furthermore, Quant Master's Programs often have very high employment rates for their cohorts. This means that a sizeable majority of the students that pursue such programs end up receiving a full-time offer at a quant firm upon graduation.
What factors of a Quantitative Finance Master's Program should you consider?
There are several important factors to consider when choosing which program to pursue in quantitative finance. Below we've summarized which factors we believe are most important. Additionally, you can find a comprehensive comparison of quantitative finance master's programs on our website.
1. Admission Rate
The admission rate gives you an indication of how competitive this program is to gain admission. When applying to schools, it's typically advised to take a portfolio approach in which you apply to a few target, mid, and safety schools. While the category of a school (target, mid, safety) will differ based on the student, you can cross-check your academic stats with the averages from each program website to understand how competitive of an applicant you are.
2. Employment Rate
For most students pursuing a Master's program in quantitative finance, the objective is to receive a full-time job offer upon graduation. The employment rate indicates the percentage of students from the graduation cohort that received a job offer upon graduation. These rates can vastly differ from university to university and therefore should be an important factor to consider when applying. For example, Baruch College is recognized to consistently have a 99% or higher employment rate for its graduating class.
3. Cohort Size
Each university program will vary in regard to the number of students it admits into its program. Some schools take only a small cohort (approximately 30 students), while others bring on large groups (approximately 100 students). Depending on your personal preferences, you may favor small or large cohort sizes.
4. Tuition Cost
Tuition is often one of the most important factors to consider when evaluating a Master's program. Depending on the school, the tuition fees can exceed $100,000 or be under $50,000. Oftentimes students believe that tuition cost is directly associated with the value of the program being delivered. This, however, is not always the case. For example, Baruch has one of the cheapest Master's programs yet one of the highest employment rates.
5. Average Total Compensation
While we discussed employment rate as one of the major factors that one should consider, it is also valuable to understand the quality of the offers students typically receive. Compensation tends to vary widely in the quantitative finance industry and therefore getting connected with the right employers is important to ensure that you walk away with a salary that matches your expectations.
The location of a university's campus to other companies can be a major factor in your decision process. When applying for internships and jobs, being in close proximity to large quant hubs such as New York or Chicago will make the interview process much easier. However, these locations often have higher living expenses. It's wise to factor in the cost of living associated with the city in which your university is located.
7. Program Duration
The duration of a Quantitative Finance Master's program can range anywhere from two semesters to two years. Depending on how long you would like to be in school, you may want to avoid programs that take a much longer time to complete.
Thank you for reading our article on Quantitative Finance Master's Programs. If you're interested in a comparison of all of these programs you can find one here. Additionally, if you enjoyed this article feel free to check out our other articles on our Quantitative Finance blog.