General Questions about Quantitative Finance at Stevens

When does the Quantitative Finance Program start?

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.  For application timeline please visit www.stevens.edu/sit/admissions/apply/timeline.cfm

How do I apply?

The Admissions application, schedule, and other requirements are available online at www.stevens.edu/admissions or call 800-458-5323

What are the admissions requirements?

Applicants to the Quantitative Finance Program should have a strong background in math and/or computer science.

How selective is the Quantitative Finance Program?

The Quantitative Finance program is highly selective. Accepted students will rank in the top 15% of the Stevens in-coming class. Cross-over applications from students accepted or enrolled in other Stevens majors will be considered upon application to the Program Director. A “Minor in Quantitative Finance” option is being considered.

What about internships?

This is a key advantage of the Stevens program: because we are located in the New York financial center, there are many internship opportunities available to our students. We encourage and will assist students to obtain summer internships in the financial sector, normally after the sophomore year. Based on our experience with the Business & Technology program, almost all of our students who want summer internships are able to find useful positions, and many of these later convert to offers of full-time employment upon graduation

Quantitative Finance Basics

So – what is Quantitative Finance exactly?

Quantitative Finance applies math and engineering techniques, along with computer science, to better understand problems in the field of finance and economics.

What kinds of problems does Quantitative Finance focus on?

Two issues probably account for the lion’s share of Quantitative Finance applications: (1) managing financial assets, and (2) managing risk. (Of course these are often intertwined.)

More specifically, what is Quantitative Finance used for?

Quantitative Finance is actually quite broad in scope. Applications can include:

  • Designing or analyzing investment strategies.
  • Constructing hedging operations to manage business risk (e.g., currency risks arising from business activities or investments overseas)
  • Building computerized trading platforms to speed execution or improve pricing accuracy.
  • Evaluating regulatory requirements for banks and other companies exposed to volatile financial market conditions.
  • Calibrating a company’s capital structure to manage leverage and improve returns to shareholders.

What are the job opportunities in this field?

Quantitative Finance is becoming a part of the business mainstream. Although the field originally developed on Wall Street, and the financial industry still hires a majority of Quantitative Finance graduates, Quantitative Finance is now used in many non-financial companies, often in the Treasury or cash management functions of the Finance group. It is also finding application in insurance companies, at pension fund managers, and other organizations responsible for managing financial assets.

And, as noted, Quantitative Finance techniques are central to the analysis and mitigation of business risk, and the design of hedging operations to offset currency risks, interest rate or commodity price risks – all of which affect a broad spectrum of industries. Finally, the Federal Reserve, the SEC, and the stock exchange companies themselves are all beginning to hire people trained in Quantitative Finance.

What is the impact of the “credit crisis” and the turmoil in the financial markets on the prospects for Quantitative Finance?

In the course of designing the Stevens Quantitative Finance program, we have consulted extensively with prospective employers and corporate sponsors both on and off Wall Street – and we hear a strong and consistent message: The timing of this new program is excellent!

The crisis in the financial markets puts a greater emphasis on understanding risk, and if many of yesterday’s financial models have proven inadequate, the effort to strengthen them is only that much more urgent. It is likely that we are entering a period of heightened attention to the financial industry, stronger regulation, and stronger scrutiny. Better regulation must rely upon better information – and better information almost always involves more rigorous use of scientific tools and improved technology.

I know that Wall Street is going through troubled times right now. Is this the right time to pursue a degree in Quantitative Finance?

Well, Quantitative Finance is not tied to Wall Street.  Our Quantitative Finance program has been designed with inputs from many non-financial companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Honeywell, General Electric and other who will be looking for Quantitative Finance skill sets to apply in their finance and operational functions for financial analysis, cash management, hedging and risk-management operations, as well as asset management functions (e.g., pensions).

Thus, we do not see Quantitative Finance as a narrowly “techie” skill-set, something that goes in or out of fashion depending on the business cycle, but as a part of a broad trend towards more rigorous management of the world’s financial assets and risks.

Fine – but what about the impact of turmoil in the financial sector?

The Financial industry goes through bull markets, and bear markets. We don’t know where Wall Street may be in that cycle in the Spring of 2013, when our first Quantitative Finance class graduates; but we do know that the long term trend for employment in the financial sector is upwards.

New York is the financial capital of the US, and the most important financial center in the world. We consistently place over half of our Business & Technology graduates in positions in the financial industry.  We also know that the financial industry is in a long-term transition away from older methods of decision-making based on “gut instinct” and towards a more scientific and rigorous methodology of financial management and this trend also will only strengthen over time. Certainly, the financial world is only going to move forward in terms of its use of advanced technologies. Quantitative Finance is here to stay – in fact, we believe it will become the benchmark for a modern financial education.

Why Stevens?

What is special about the Stevens Quantitative Finance Program?

The Stevens Quantitative Finance Program is the first premier undergraduate degree program in Quantitative Finance to be offered in the U.S. Quantitative Finance is normally taught at the Masters or PhD level. At Stevens, we are offering the same content, with the same rigor, to a select group of undergraduate scholars.

But can Stevens do as good a job at the undergraduate level?

We think we can give our students a stronger preparation in a full 4-year Bachelor of Science degree than can be done in just 2 or 3 semesters at the Masters level. The Stevens Quantitative Finance degree is broad-based. We don’t over-emphasize narrow technical proficiency. We focus on making sure our students understand real business, and grasp the economic substance underlying the assumptions behind the math and the models.

What else is special about Stevens?

Location, location, location…Stevens is at the heart of the New York financial center, 20 minutes from Wall Street. We have solid relationships placing our graduates with most of the major financial center banks, and many of the world’s largest non-financial corporations headquartered in our region.

Why Stevens?

Being right in the center of the financial world is an incomparable advantage for our students. It opens the door to internships, job opportunities, and constant cross-fertilization with the environment of the world’s leading capital markets.

What else?

Stevens is one of the leading science and technology oriented universities in the country. That means that we have a solid base of engineering, mathematics, computer science, and technology management faculty and course offerings to draw upon.

What is special about the Stevens Quantitative Finance curriculum?

The Quantitative Finance program is modeled on Stevens’ successful and innovative Business & Technology Program. Quantitative Finance shares many course offerings with the B&T program, a foundation in the basics of business, including accounting, marketing, and corporate finance.

Another successful Stevens innovation is the Spine. Each semester, the Quantitative Finance students take a Spine course, where they are taught to apply the techniques and concepts they learn in their other courses to a real-world 3-dimensional project assignment.  For example, in the sophomore and junior years, students in the Spine will focus on designing and managing a virtual (but highly realistic) investment portfolio. They will learn how to evaluate investment alternatives (stocks, bonds, options, etc.), and how to trade and manage a portfolio, bringing finance concepts and quantitative techniques together to make real decisions.

The senior year carries this idea further, as students select group projects involving a design of an important piece of financial technology, such as a hedge fund, or a computerized trading strategy – and the evaluation of the project will involve students interacting with external professionals and experts in the appropriate field (traders, hedge fund managers, bankers, corporate finance executives).

I’m interested. What’s Next?

Interested students should first visit our program website, at www.stevens.edu/qf The site is expanding and is updated frequently. Second, we encourage students to contact us directly, to speak by telephone or to arrange a campus visit. You will have a chance to view our facilities, speak to faculty, and get a feel for the Stevens environment (which is quite special). We will take whatever time you need, one on one, to address your questions or concerns.

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