Carnegie-Mellon Rules the Schools for Financial Engineers

QuantNet released its biennial review of North America’s top 25 graduate-level financial engineering programs and once again the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie-Mellon University takes valedictory honors. If you’re beyond brilliant, have masochistic tendencies, are willing to pay $77,100 in tuition and can spend two years in Pittsburgh, you too can earn CMU’s coveted Master of Science in Computational Finance degree. (There is a Wall Street satellite campus, consisting of two classrooms and a lounge.)

Number two on the list is shared by the Ivy League tag team of Princeton University and Columbia University; Columbia wins the intramural battle of New York-based programs. Of course, you could go to the tied for third place Baruch College of the City of New York University for less than half the price of the number two programs — and if you’re planning on marketing yourself as an empirical guru, you have to at least consider that. Baruch ties with University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, the best of the West.

Next on the list is Columbia again — its separate Mathematics of Finance program playing second fiddle to its traditional MFE course. No list in this field would be complete without the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management representing New England (Harvard and Yale didn’t even rank.)  The Top 10 are rounded out by a tie between Cornell University and Atlanta’s Georgia Institute of Technology, the first among financial engineering programs in the South.

Other notables lower on QuantNet’s list include two Rutgers University programs, another Baruch program (in contrast to Columbia, CUNY’s Mathematics of Finance outranks its MFE), and the sole Canadian entry, the University of Toronto.

The biggest surprise in this latest list, as compared to that of two years ago, is that tech-savvy Stanford University sank since the last ranking — from a sixth-place tie with rival Berkeley to falling off the list altogether. North Carolina State University and Ohio’s Kent State University also missed the cut, but they were on the bubble to start. This cleared the way for newcomers: The University of Washington, The University of Minnesota and Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University.

Still, there can only be one first-place winner, and CMU’s MSCF distinction is it. According to recent alumni, it’s unparalleled not just in its reputation, but in its ability to deliver the skills that buttress that reputation.  “The time I spent at CMU in Pittsburgh was definitely the most satisfying in my academic life,” says Sudhanshu Ladha, ’11. “The MSCF program is rigorous, practical and provides you with an extremely solid foundation for any job related to financial engineering, trading or quantitative analysis. … [It] also helped me get exactly the job that I was aiming for and I don’t think I could have been better prepared by any other course.”

As with anything, you’re not likely to get any more out of it than you put into it but, if you’re a quantitatively-inclined person looking to maximize your value while applying for investment banking jobs, it behooves you to check out the relative merits of MFE programs.

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