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Applied Mathematics vs Computational Finance

  1. Feb 27, 2013 #1
    I have received some admissions decisions from the graduate programs that I have applied to, and I am stuck with a tough decision to make. I am hoping to hear from those who may have found themselves in a similar situation or someone who may have relevant industry experience who can shed some light on which academic program may be the wiser choice.

    My background is a BS in Economics from a large research university. I was shy of a double major with mathematics because I didn't take the physics courses required of the math major.

    I have been accepted into a MS in Applied Mathematics from a top ranked department and I have also been accepted into a MS in Computational Finance from a top ranked (math) department.

    Basically, I feel like my decision is coming down to whether I want to be a scientist or do I want to make tons of money?

    With the A.Math degree, I would probably choose to go on to a Ph.D. in A.Math. I have also found quite a diverse set of internship opportunities and career paths such as working at one of the National Laboratories or the Department of Defense.

    With the Finance program, I feel like my life would be stuck in finance, but with opportunities to make substantial amounts of money. The finance programs offers courses involving Monte Carlo Simulation and also courses in financial computing techniques with R, C++, VBA, and Excel; which from what I have read are pretty important topics for computational finance professionals to know.

    If I choose to accept the A.Math program and study topics such as PDE's, Fluid Dynamics, Computing, and Optimization, and I end up deciding that scientific research just isn't my thing, how marketable, in the computational finance industry, would my A.Math degree be if I didn't take those finance courses that the Computational Finance program offers?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 27, 2013 #2


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    I am by no means am an expert on this area, but one thing I know is that computational finance is a research area within applied mathematics so I would think that a MS in applied math should open doors for you in that area, in addition to the internship you had highlighted. I might also add that most of the people I know who are working as "quants" in the financial sector have graduate degrees in math, applied math, statistics, physics or operations research, not specifically in computational finance.

    If you want my opinion, I would suggest you pursue the graduate program in applied math, because the program provides you with more varied options in terms of careers. The graduate program in computational finance sounds a little too limiting to me in terms of career choices.
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