Dear members, From the overwhelming possible choices of masters for a quant career, I have applied and been offered a place for both the 1) Msc in Mathematical and Computational Finance in Oxford, and2) MPhil in Statistical Science in Cambridge.I have done a lot of research and trust me it is hard for me to decide between the two, so I hope I can obtain some advice from more experienced people here. There a couple of questions I have and I will appreciate any advice.I heard that entry-level quant positions in major financial institutions usually requires a PhD in maths, physics, etc and the only other alternative is a MFE. Is that true? In that case, I think I should go for the MSc in Oxford?On the other hand, I am tempted to do the MPhil in Cambridge, as it is the best place to do mathematics(stochastic calculus, etc..) and I think it has a slightly stronger branding than Oxford especially in maths. However, I am afraid that already having a bachelor in Mathematics and Computer Science from Imperial, andhaving another masters in mathematics will label me as a mathematician. I rather be labelled as a financial engineeras I think many people in IB will think of mathematicians and physicists as somewhat "academic" and "impractical".Another aspect that I am looking at is the industry links of both universities. My intuition says that Oxford has better ties with the industry, for having the quantitative finance research group closely linked withthe MSc. Is this a substantial plus point for me to go for Oxford,as this connection will increase my chance to step foot in a major financial institution for a quant position?By taking up the MPhil in Cambridge, I think i will have a very rigourous treatment on probability and statisticsespecially stochastic calculus. Is it an overkill for a quant position? In my bachelor degree, I have done almost no PDEs, no numerical analysis and very limited differential equations, although I have read some on my spare time. Would that matter much when applying for job?The Msc in Oxford do cover those and probably will make my CV looks much better?Also, the Msc in Oxford has many modules on financial derivatives, advance fixed income, etcwhich the MPhil in Cambridge does not. Do the employer expect me to know thisat entry-level? On top of everything, I have to pay 20k for the MSc in Oxford but 0 for the MPhil in Cambridge as I got a scholarship covering the tuition and college fee. However, I have always been advised to look into the long term, and not let immediate gain cloud anybigger opportunity.Awaiting your repllies. Thanks.

if you fancy researching then MPhil. If not Msc. Can always make your research finance based. Isn't the MSc a two year pt. time thing now as well?Being labelled a mathematician (with degrees from Imperial and Cambridge) would hardly be a hindrance. Far easier to learn the finance than the maths.

If you're doing the degree as preparation for a quant career then Oxford and it isn't even close.

- DominicConnor
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I'm glad you are doing net present value, not cash flow and srioae says what the majority of hiring managers will agree with.Sadly CompSci degrees don't have the status or rigour they once did, so a world class maths qualification is more important to you than to a maths or physics grad.Did you get my mail ?

Srioae,I thought Oxford only had it's MSc in Mathematical Finance as a part-time thing and the MSc in Mathematical and Computational Finance was effectively a full-time version of that. Do you have any information that even the MSc in Mathematical and Computational Finance has been converted to a part-time course? The course websites don't mention anything on that.

I'm sure you are right BetFut and my apologies If I've misled anyone: I didn't realise that they ran two courses. I was down there recently and heard quite a lot about the pt time Math Fin course but nothing about the full time Math & Comp. Finance MSc. Easy to get confused I'm sure you'll agree...

Last edited by srioae on July 8th, 2007, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

The Msc in Oxford seems to provide a thorough introduction to maths finance,and the MPhil in Cambridge seems to provide a very rigourous training onthe maths side.What do you think about the modules in Cambridge?http://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/postgrad/cas ... s.pdfRough Path Theory and Applications - pg 31Advanced Probability - pg 32Stochastic Calculus and Applications - 35Advanced Financial Models - 39Applied Statistics - 41Optimal Investments - 40Statistical Theory - 41Mathematics of Operation Research - 39Is it too theoretical? An overkill for a quant job?How do you compare them to the modules in Oxford?http://www.maths.ox.ac.uk/prospective-s ... scmcf/They only provide the outline of the course as they are still revising the contents of the course.

I have another question. The course in Oxford which is 9 months long ends in July where asthe course in Cambridge ends one month later. I heard most banks start their training programme in July,therefore the course in Cambridge might be a little too slow. Or do they have a separate entry time for quants?Thanks.

QuoteOriginally posted by: DCFCI'm glad you are doing net present value, not cash flow and srioae says what the majority of hiring managers will agree with.Sadly CompSci degrees don't have the status or rigour they once did, so a world class maths qualification is more important to you than to a maths or physics grad.Did you get my mail ?No. Please send it to me again. I do really appreciate thatAS I have to make this decision with almost ZERO knowledge on the industry.

Dear c2t,You might find my background of some relevance to you, since I have done Physics at Imperial (PhD), and Maths at Oxford.Both degrees are equally interesting although it is clear than none of them would be THE definite preparation for a quant career.In fact, I would say there is no such thing as a quant engineering degree, because the spectrum of quant jobs is so wide, depending on the asset class, how much you'll be involved with technology, which invesment bank, etc.....For sure my first physics degree did not help me get a job ( undergrad level is far too low to be considered as an asset, although the general maths you learn in the course of your first degree is always useful - you certainly have to show how fluent you are in this during interviews - if in addition you have done a lot of stats then it is not a bad start at all).The Msc at Oxford helped me a lot to sell my CV. It is not the same as the one you 're applying for (I did the Msc in Maths modelling and scientific computing), but you do have numerical courses, which you don't in Cambridge, and I garantee that the level of numerical analysis courses in Oxford are top in the UK - by quite a margin. I can't really comment on the level of other courses in stats and stochastic calculus in Oxford. From a teaching point of view, the numerical part of teh Msc, held in the Comlab is the best academic experience I have had. I have mixed feelings about courses that were held in the maths institute. Having said I have heard a lot of very good comments about the Mathematical finance group which was set up in 2001.The MPhil in Cambridge is probably the best of its kind. The stats Lab has some big names associated with it. I have seen the work of certain members being quoted in the quant literature. BUT, do not mistake the MPhil project for a short PhD thesis.There is a lot more to be said about appropriate curriculae for a quant career, but I don't have enough time to write about it. If you send me a personal thread, we can arrange a phone call - I won't charge the service ;-)Dunkan

Hi Dunkan, First of all, I would like to say that I do really appreciate your elaborate reply.I have been trying to elicit information from "people who have already been there" who are at least way ahead of me,but the replies albeit benign, are usually brief like a gospel, such as "Go to Oxford. It's more relevant". With little andno information gain, I can only console myself that neither decisions I make are bad, but it still worries me as the flavour of both courses are quite different. Maybe it does not really matter at all as we bachelors (or masters) are generally undesirableanyway, and it all depends only on our employer's good faith on us.I wrote to Mark Joshi recently who has kindly replied:"my instinct would be oxford as its more relevant to quant. They alsohave a longer tradition of delivering relevant courses as they havebeen running the diploma/msc in math finance for a long time"and also the famous Mark Davis:"I'd go for Oxford, on the grounds that it's more focussed on the needs of a quant career. Of course, either would be excellent."and other people from the quantitative finance dept. in my college: "I'd go for Oxford, on the grounds that it's more focussed on the needs of a quant career. Of course, either would be excellent.""In general, for a quant career in a major financial institution you'll need a PhD either in mathematics or in physics, although there are exceptions. I am not very familiar with the contents of either of the courses you listed, but the one in Oxford sounds more relevant.""My general advise is to do what you are most interested in, since you want to be excellent inorder to convince smart people to hire you for their team. More maths is generally v good and most quant teamsare actually made of phds, mostly. What your taste and financial constraints are, you must know best.All good students I had had have found good work.Otherwise, you may consult the usual web newsgroup for discussion on such topic, but be aware thatwhat is said there is to be taken with a prise of salt unless you can tell whether people tell from experience orguessing. In my opinion, 'brand' is less important than most students think, and excellence and work attitude are more important than many think. "It seems that the general consensus is 100% Oxford, 0% Cambridge and 10% It doesnt matter, but I still don't know why.Maybe you are right. There are no such thing as THE best quant masters programme as there are a spectrum of quant jobs. Perhaps the more relevant question is which part of the Quant sea I would like to sail, and which course doprepare me better for it. On the contrary, I also come to suspect that most quant programmes are like Satyajt Das expensive "quant conveyor belts" rides that lead to no where. In fact, I suspect the whole quantitative finance thing is a scam.It's hard to believe that human's greed and ambition behave "normally" in a market. Probably, the only reason why shrewd banks employs an elite group of academia from the ivory tower, including me and you, is to create an impression of the fairness of the price of derivatives. They created this "garbage" market where randomly priced instruments are tradedso that they can rip off some money from the unknowing and gullible buyers and sellers. The biggest losers at the end are the shameful academia, including me and you, who thought they are doing some socially important and practical research.Maybe I should stick to the more classical old school probability theory which are covered quite thoroughly in Cambridge,and apply it somehow one day to statistical trading. Seems plausible.Finding my way in this Quant sea of elusive information, I hope someone more experience can show me the way.Everything is so mysterious that I am starting to get paranoid. I am also grateful if there are simple answers to the my questions What level of mathematics are required for model building at entry-level ?What level of mathematics are required for statistical trading at entry-level?Will a strong quantitative finance group (Oxford) will help me to get a good job?Are there case studies of non-phd students who got into quant jobs and what do they do?How are the competition? Am I getting a job?Which institutitions I should apply for statistical trading? How much I am getting paid? Is it better to get into an IB or hedge fund?What other kind of quant jobs are close to the money? How do I work my way there?Is the course Optimal Investment and Levy processes in Cambridge relevant?Will a lack of numerical courses affect my application?Does it matter a 9 month or 10 month course?Are they more guides for beginner besides Mark Joshi's?The best quant course in my definition is the one that will land me a job most easily. Oxford or Cambridge?

QuoteOriginally posted by: c2tHi Dunkan,The best quant course in my definition is the one that will land me a job most easily. Oxford or Cambridge?FYI: All the people you asked and quoted above have said Oxford.

QuoteOriginally posted by: c2tIt seems that the general consensus is 100% Oxford, 0% Cambridge and 10% It doesnt matterif you can't spot a problem here, you're gonna have difficulties later in your mathematics career. Also the fact that you are still asking the question of which is better indicates that you don't count 6 or 7 answers in one direction versus zero in the other as statistically significant, which makes me wonder if the Statistical Science program is really for you anyway.

Last edited by samyonez on July 12th, 2007, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

QuoteOriginally posted by: samyonezQuoteOriginally posted by: c2tIt seems that the general consensus is 100% Oxford, 0% Cambridge and 10% It doesnt matterif you can't spot a problem here, you're gonna have difficulties later in your mathematics career.hey, we tried so hard to help him, we gave 110%

hmm, you complain about the blandness of the advice from senior people you e-mail, and then post their private comments on a public board!

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