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Frequently Asked Questions about New York University's Math Finance Program

NYU Math Finance Program

Petter Kolm, Director of the Mathematics in Finance Masters Program at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University answers some of the frequently asked questions about the Math Finance Program at NYU.



Petter Kolm is the Director of the Mathematics in Finance Masters Program and Clinical Associate Professor, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University. Previously, Petter worked in the Quantitative Strategies Group at Goldman Sachs Asset Management where his responsibilities included researching and developing new quantitative investment strategies for the group's hedge fund. Petter coauthored the books Financial Modeling of the Equity Market: From CAPM to Cointegration (Wiley, 2006), Trends in Quantitative Finance (CFA Research Institute, 2006), Robust Portfolio Management and Optimization (Wiley, 2007), and Quantitative Equity Investing: Techniques and Strategies (Wiley, 2010).

Petter holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale, an M.Phil. in applied mathematics from Royal Institute of Technology, and an M.S. in mathematics from ETH Zurich. Petter is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Portfolio Management. As a consultant, he has developed quantitative trading strategies and forecasting models, risk management procedures, and portfolio construction methodologies incorporating transaction costs.

Shailesh Otari has conducted this interview.



Understanding the Math Finance program


Why MS – Math Finance from NYU? How is it different from other Finance related masters degrees?


The program is very quantitative in nature, as it is part of the Department of Mathematics at the Courant Institute. The courses we offer were created specifically for this program.


We are located in the heart of the financial center of the world, New York. The majority of our instructors are world class practitioners – a “who is who” in quantitative finance - working in the financial industry in and around New York City. They come to teach and share their experiences with the students in our program.


Do students who already have an MBA in Finance apply to this program? If yes, what value addition do these students get from this program?


Students with previous advanced degrees often apply to the program. We frequently see applicants with advanced degrees in physics, engineering and math. A student with an MBA in Finance would get a much greater quantitative focus here than what they would have received from an MBA program.


Can students choose a particular field of specialization like – portfolio theory, asset pricing and risk management?


There are no areas of specialization for the program but once students complete the seven required courses, they can choose from among the electives offered (such as Advanced Risk Management, Algorithmic Trading and Quantitative Strategies, Advanced Portfolio Management, Time Series Analysis and Statistical Arbitrage, Credit Models, Interest Rates and Fore ign Exchange, to name a few).




Is a finance work experience (say even an internship) useful for admission? Does research experience in finance help? Does a CFA or FRM improve the chances of admission?


Work experience is not required for admission to the program. The required background for admission is that students must have completed multivariable calculus, linear algebra and a calculus based probability course. Previous financial experience could help a student during the internship and full time job search. A CFA or FRM does not improve chances of admission.


Has the number of applications gone up or down due to this financial crisis?


For fall 2009, applications decreased slightly from where they were for fall 2008 (900 applications) but for fall 2010 the number of applications are back to the pre-crisis level.




Currently the program does not provide any fellowship or scholarship to students. Are there any plans of providing financial aid in the future?


The program does not provide any program specific fellowships or scholarships. However, students are encouraged to work with the Office of Financial Aid at NYU regarding all loan programs available.




What percentage of students found a paid internship? What percentage of International students found full-time jobs?


100% of students found paid internships for the summer of 2010. 100% of our graduating full-time class of 2009 found jobs. This is consistent with previous years – we are typically able to place all of our students.


Some finance firms have received TARP money and cannot hire international students. How has this affected job placements for International students?


This has had a minor effect for our international students.


Are Financial Engineering career options primarily focused on developed economies or do we have good options in developing economies as well?


The majority of our international students take their first jobs in one of the major financial hubs (New York, London, etc.). Then, after a few years of experience they may move back to their home country.

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