Carnegie Mellon University

MSCF Program FAQ

"Corporate Finance" – J. Berk and P. DeMarzo

"The Complete Guide to Capital Markets for Quantitative Professionals" – A. Kuznetsov

"Options, Futures and Other Derivatives" – J. Hull

While the terms "quantitative finance," "computational finance," "mathematical finance" and "financial engineering" are often used interchangeably, there are subtle differences in their meanings. Financial engineering programs often emphasize finance and financial markets at the expense of more rigorous computing and quantitative skills. Some mathematical finance programs focus on theoretical math at the expense of real-world application. Few programs embed programming into their curricula and fewer still have been able to replicate Carnegie Mellon's well-balanced and carefully coordinated mix of math, probability, applied finance and computation. Not all financial engineering degrees deliver the same value. We often advise students evaluating programs to ask the following key questions:

  1. The skills needed for the quantitative finance industry are, by definition, interdisciplinary. Is the program isolated in one department or top-heavy in math or finance?
  2. Will you benefit from a customized curriculum that is designed specifically for the jobs and careers of interest to you?
  3. Does the program offer knowledgeable career counselors who will work closely with you and with interested recruiters in helping you obtain your career goals?
  4. Will you enjoy a program with many years of experience in developing its curriculum and overall student experience?
  5. Will you be participating in a program with a large alumni network and which is committed to strong alumni ties?

Other than location, there are no differences between the New York and Pittsburgh programs. That said, location does matter: the significant advantage of the New York program is its proximity to global financial institutions and the networking possibilities of having so many MSCF alumni and fellow students employed at these institutions. The significant advantage of the Pittsburgh program is the ability to work closely with faculty and other master’s students at the Tepper School of Business as well as engage in academic and student life across the Carnegie Mellon campus and its seven colleges. The admission and requirements are the same for each location as is the coursework and faculty. Courses are broadcast from Pittsburgh to New York via live, interactive video, giving students and professor the ability to see and hear one another and to engage in an effective classroom format. Professors teach in-person from New York twice each seven-week mini-semester. Tuition costs are the same in Pittsburgh and New York.

The MSCF program begins in the fall of each year. Since the courses are sequential, fall is the only time a student can enter the program. However, incoming students are required to be present for orientation, which begins in the middle of August. Admitted students will be advised of the dates for orientation.