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loztop
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Joined: June 17th, 2009, 12:13 pm

Oxford PhD vs ETH Msc

November 26th, 2009, 9:05 am

Hi all,I have been fortunate enough to be admitted to a Dphil in Engineering (Life sciences, 4 years) at Oxford. Although there is a large content of Biology it also involves stochastic processes, monte carlo methods, programming in Matlab, C++ etc.My other option is the Msc Computational Science and Engineering with specialisation in financial engineering (1.5 years). (both have funding)I would like to work as a quant in algo trading and definately can not afford a MFE of any sort.Thank you very much for you're help.
 
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DominicConnor
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Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

Oxford PhD vs ETH Msc

November 26th, 2009, 10:44 am

There is actually a section on bio-quants in our quant careers guide.Essentially the problem is one of perception.We all (should) know that modelling the flow of blood is vastly harder than the flow of water, yet some managers see anything to do with biology as wholly non-quant.Thus a lot goes to the very precise nature of what your PhD is called and how it is presented. To put it in short form a PhD in engineering in Oxford using C++, stochastics and a bit of time series is a very good basis for starting off in algotrading, if you had that now we'd be talking about some jobs....If you can keep the squishy bits behind the maths and programming, then I reckon you'll be OK.But...I know almost nothing about you other than you're bright enough to get an offer that many people can't get.There is what I call an algotrading mind set, I can't define that well, and it has different flavours, and since I can't define it, you can't know if you have it.The nearest thing I have to an objective self test is whether you have ever worked > 20 hours without sleep to beat some technology problem, even though you were not forced to do so.The Oxford Dphil/Phd beats the ETH MSc, typically, but that's stochastic dominance not simple inequality.There exists no course that is set up to build algotraders, elements of the CQF are very useful for this (C++, blackjack, Kelly criteria, etc), arguably it's more practically useful than the ETH course, for an algotrader, but we make no claim that you will be one at the end.But...An MFE or the ETH MSc or CQF give you options on a wider range of banking jobs, and I wonder how much you have thought about whether you would like plan B ?For instance, if you aren't suited for algotrading, or regulation makes the number of jobs, or the nature of it changes so that your skills are not relevant, would you be happy doing risk management for a mid sized bank ?Not saying this will happen, but there's more people doing risk than algotrading, > 10 times as many.You might be doing tactical VBA for a trading desk doing oil deals once every three days.There's also a perception thing about banks, and before people start getting heated about this, I am not talking about reality at all, just what people think,Oxford is a global brand, ETH isn't even that well known in Europe, and is obscure to Brits, indeed depending upon the culture and language of the hiring manager, it may even sound like a teacher training college.
 
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endian675
Posts: 143
Joined: March 11th, 2008, 7:09 pm

Oxford PhD vs ETH Msc

November 26th, 2009, 8:02 pm

DPhil every single time, no doubt about it.
 
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loztop
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Posts: 4
Joined: June 17th, 2009, 12:13 pm

Oxford PhD vs ETH Msc

November 26th, 2009, 11:08 pm

Thank you for you're detailed and very helpful response. The reason I was tending towards the masters is that I will be doing an internship in FX trading this summer and a masters would keep my doors a bit more open. However, now that I know the Dphil in Engineering/Life Sciences will not be a one way into academia, the DPhil does seem to be the wiser and probably more enjoyable option.I think I know what you mean by '20 hours without sleep to beat some technology problem', I did an internship last summer and worked a bit on the algo trading desk and have heard similar stories. I am also a bit suprised about ETH's repuation, everyone(mainly lectures) I have spoken to rank it as one of the top 5 places in Europe for math based subjects. Dominc's guide is also great.Thanks again, you've made my choice a lot easier.
 
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KennyMing
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Joined: February 23rd, 2007, 4:43 pm

Oxford PhD vs ETH Msc

November 27th, 2009, 8:51 am

How about if comparing between ETH MSc Quantitative Finance and Imperial College MSc Maths and Finance?
 
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elio
Posts: 134
Joined: April 5th, 2006, 5:19 pm

Oxford PhD vs ETH Msc

November 27th, 2009, 9:21 am

ETH is more than a decent place to study hardcore math, math finance (Schweizer) and numerical methods.They have also a top reseach group in machine learning at Computer Science, but AFAIK it's not connected to finance in any way. However, if you are into algo trading, you may come up with a proposal and try to write thesis with them.If you have a very good idea of what you want to do and don't want to lose time, go to ETH. Otherwise PhD is probably a better choice. Speaking of brands, I'll somewhat agree with Dominic.
Last edited by elio on November 26th, 2009, 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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DominicConnor
Posts: 11684
Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

Oxford PhD vs ETH Msc

November 27th, 2009, 11:32 am

ETH may indeed be "Top N Europe", Oxford is top N world, but my advice is not based upon objective, fairly weighted interpretation of the quality of research in advanced maths at the universities, but the image it has in the very diverse set of views held by hiring managers. Do not interpret my advice as a judgement of the teaching quality, indeed the right granularity for that is not by university but by department, sometimes even by lecturer.Elio's right about machine learning, indeed we are hunting for some good people there as well.
 
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KennyMing
Posts: 119
Joined: February 23rd, 2007, 4:43 pm

Oxford PhD vs ETH Msc

November 27th, 2009, 12:54 pm

Alright.What's more, how is the comparison between Warwick MSc Financial Maths and ETH MSc Quantitative Finance?
 
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DominicConnor
Posts: 11684
Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

Oxford PhD vs ETH Msc

November 27th, 2009, 1:18 pm

Really tough call.
 
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KennyMing
Posts: 119
Joined: February 23rd, 2007, 4:43 pm

Oxford PhD vs ETH Msc

November 28th, 2009, 1:30 am

Some of them told me that the general ranking of ETH is higher than University of Warwick. But the MSc Financial Maths is considered as one of the top five financial maths programs in UK with sound good track placement record in the past. The MSc Quantitative finance at ETH, the new established one, is taught by some "big-name" professor like Paul Embrechts and they have good network with swiss banking institutes. Definitely, if we are talking about between CMU and ETH MFE, the answer is trivial.However, I wanna know if both programs are considered in your interview or target list for quantitative analyst position? More importantly, how is the demand of quantitative analyst in financial market for both sell side and buy side at this moment and near future? (I think you should have some insights on it) To Elio: Where are you working now after your MAS Finance at ETH? (It was a tough year in 2008 and perhaps 2009)
Last edited by KennyMing on November 27th, 2009, 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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JDQuant
Posts: 45
Joined: November 7th, 2009, 8:31 pm

Oxford PhD vs ETH Msc

November 28th, 2009, 6:29 am

If you can get into Oxford's Ph.D, surely you'd be accepted to one of their excellent and relevant M.Sc programs such as the M Sc in Mathematical and Computational Finance?
 
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JDQuant
Posts: 45
Joined: November 7th, 2009, 8:31 pm

Oxford PhD vs ETH Msc

November 28th, 2009, 6:32 am

From all my research I don't think there would many - if any - places on the planet better than Oxford to study mathematical finance.
 
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elio
Posts: 134
Joined: April 5th, 2006, 5:19 pm

Oxford PhD vs ETH Msc

November 29th, 2009, 7:59 pm

2KennyMing: I started a PhD at Swiss Finance Institute @ Lausanne Uni/EPFL (www.sfi.ch).
 
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KennyMing
Posts: 119
Joined: February 23rd, 2007, 4:43 pm

Oxford PhD vs ETH Msc

November 30th, 2009, 2:06 am

Your classmate (Xin, a chinese girl) is going to apply a PhD at Swiss and UK as well. Is there any scholarship/assistantship for PhD as Swiss Finance Institute?
 
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elio
Posts: 134
Joined: April 5th, 2006, 5:19 pm

Oxford PhD vs ETH Msc

November 30th, 2009, 10:14 am

Yeah, I know about Xin.> Is there any scholarship/assistantship for PhD as Swiss Finance Institute? Absolutely. One gets 30000 CHF grant for the first year (when there are courses) if he/she is accepted into the PhD program. After one's settled with the topic and the professor it becomes somewhat more from what I hear (at least here in Lausanne).
Last edited by elio on November 29th, 2009, 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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