Master's Degree Programs in Quantitative Finance
Master's programs in quantitative finance help prepare students for careers in the financial services industry and are typically STEM-designated degrees. Examine the course and degree requirements for these programs, as well as how to apply.
How to Earn a Master's in Quantitative Finance
Students interested in studying quantitative finance can pursue a Master of Quantitative Finance (MQF) or a Master of Science (MS) in Quantitative Finance, both of which are usually classified as a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degree program. These programs can be completed with full- or part-time enrollment, may range from about 36 to 45 credits, and can be completed in 12-24 months. The required coursework for these degree programs usually include both core courses and electives, and some programs may include an optional internship experience to give students hands-on learning opportunities in the field. Some common courses in this program may cover econmetrics, financial management, and financial modeling.
Econometrics uses a variety of statistical methods to better understand the relationship between different economic variables. Students in these courses receive an overview of techniques used in econometric analysis of financial data and databases. Some of these courses may also focus on topics in machine learning or financial econometrics, like data management and estimation. Other topics for these courses may include linear and nonlinear models, hypothesis testing, systems of equations, interaction variables, and more.
Courses in financial management are designed to equip students with the necessary financial skills to make quality, long-term financial decisions. Students may examine basic concepts in valuation that financial managers may base these decisions on, such as time value of money and systematic risk. Additional topics could include the valuation of stocks and bonds, financial leverage, dividend policy, no-arbitrage, and cost of capital.
Students may take multiple or an advanced course in financial modeling to further develop and practice skills in quantitative financial analysis. Some of these courses may utilize programs like Microsoft Excel or other software to help students practice analytical techniques and use their findings to make informed business decisions. These courses may examine topics in state preference theory, capital asset pricing model, equity derivatives, forecasting, Value-at-Risk (VAR) analysis, and more.
Students in these courses receive an overview of financial risk management and ways to minimize risk. Some of risk management courses may focus on modeling and quantitative techniques used to address issues in the field. Students often get hands-on training with modeling risk through various simulation techniques. Specific course topics for these classes may include asset price fluctuations, asses pricing models, modern portfolio theory, and performance evaluation.
Courses in derivatives or derivatives securities aim to provide students with an overview of the different types of derivatives and how they are used/delivered. Students could learn both how to use and how not to use models for these derivatives to make decisions concerning risk management and portfolio management. Students may need some advanced math skills, such as experience with stochastic calculus. These courses may also discuss specific topics in hedger strategies, pricing contracts, replication strategies, futures and options, payoffs, and more.
Admission Requirements for Master's Degree Programs in Quantitative Finance
Due to the advanced analytical skills needed for a master's degree in quantitative finance, some of these programs may place more emphasis on a student's academic record and/or test scores than work experience or extracurricular participation during the admissions process. Most programs require applicants to submit their current (taken within the last 5 years) GRE or GMAT test scores, unless students meet criteria for test score waivers (such as holding a doctoral degree). Some of these programs may also require applicants to meet prerequisite course requirements, such as calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, and/or computer programming. Many master's programs in quantitative finance require applicants to submit the appropriate application(s) along with their official transcripts, test scores, letter or letters of recommendation, a resume, and/or an essay. Usually the essay is meant to allow students to address their personal qualifications for the program, interest in the subject, educational background, career goals, and/or reasons for choosing the specific school and program.
Master's degree programs in quantitative finance are usually offered as MQF or MS degrees and can be completed in 1 to 2 years of full- or part-time study. Students in these degree programs may need to have advanced math skills to apply to coursework and usually participate in hands-on learning experiences to further develop skills in quantitative finance.