Technological advances continue to weave themselves into the fabric of our lives with increased intensity. Both new and mature industries face disruption to their business models with the emergence of new technologies, requiring the expertise of professionals who can deal with these 21st century challenges and respond to new industry demands.
In a similar vein, professionals in banking, consulting firms and other finance-related sectors are seeing a shift in this changing global economy, with an increasing fusion of fields calling for talents who can integrate technological, human and global dimensions of finance. The rise of artificial intelligence, fintech and blockchain are among the new technologies disrupting the financial sector.
Professionals looking to give themselves a career edge will want to future-proof themselves with a relevant qualification, such as a graduate degree in financial engineering.
Your runway to some of finance’s most exciting jobs
A financial engineering qualification is growing in importance and involves the practical application of math to create new financial devices.
Investopedia describes financial engineering as “the use of mathematical techniques to solve financial problems”. The field involves a fusion of knowledge and tools from diverse fields such as computer science, statistics, economics and applied mathematics to address current financial issues and to devise new and innovative financial products, be it in commercial and investment banks, insurance agencies, hedge funds, or similar fields.
However, it’s not just the financial sector that benefits from the skills and knowledge of financial engineers; just about any industry that uses financial transactions, from general businesses to e-commerce platforms, require such expertise.
Graduates and professionals who are looking to explore opportunities in finance, data science or technology may be interested in pursuing the University of California, Berkeley’s Master of Financial Engineering (MFE), offered under the Haas School of Business. Here, students gain the skills, insights and hands-on experience needed to succeed in the digital future.
Where curious minds thrive
Berkeley’s MFE program is among the top-ranked in the US, also serving as a launchpad for student success. It was ranked first in the TFE Times’ Best Master’s of Financial Engineering Programs and is among the top three MFE programs in the QuantNet ranking of Financial Engineering, Quantitative Finance master’s programs in North America for two consecutive years.
QuantNet provides details such as placement and admission statistics for top programs in the region, as well as surveying program administrators, hiring managers and quantitative finance professionals from financial institutions around the world. Its survey notes that Berkeley’s MFE has a 168 average GRE Quant among admitted students, with graduates earning a median first-year base salary of US$124,000 or an average first-year total compensation of US$160,083.
The one-year program serves as rigorous preparation for the real world. Students can expect to gain relevant and up-to-date financial engineering knowledge, while the school also grants students a platform for experiential learning, which forms the heart of the program. For instance, its 12-week internship program is a platform for students to apply the quantitative methods and theoretical frameworks learned. Whether students are eager to branch into a career in finance or data science, the school has successfully placed interns at top companies such as Citibank, BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, Uber, Google and Opendoor.
Following this, students undergo an applied finance project that equips them with practical industry experience. Much like a final thesis, each team writes and presents papers on their chosen topics. The project may be done for three credits, with the winning three-credit project earning a US$5,000 Morgan Stanley Applied Finance Project award.
Stellar program aside, the school’s respected faculty are among the leading minds in finance. Many are thought leaders and practitioners in quantitative finance and data science, in addition to contributing to the development of financial instruments, software and strategies with their ground-breaking research. Students benefit from the faculty integrating their research or practice into the classroom by learning first-hand about the theories and frameworks that will shape the future of the industry.
Unsurprisingly, Berkeley’s MFE program was ranked second in the nation last year for employment outcomes three months after graduation. Its graduates also earn among the highest starting salaries of any MFE program in the nation.
Learn from the movers and shakers of industry
The MFE program is highly experiential and prospective students will have the opportunity to learn from industry experts. The school has weekly Finance Practice Seminars where students can listen to speakers from renowned companies such as AQR, BlackRock, Citadel, Goldman Sachs, Opendoor, Unison and Uber.
Seminars in the first term address the types of jobs available to MFE graduates and the skills needed to contribute to a firm’s mission, while the second term broadening students’ scope into exploring transformations occurring in the financial sector, developing products to meet new needs and evolving data and information systems.
Berkeley’s MFE students enjoy an unparalleled learning experience, with a degree that will prepare them for career success and a global alumni network that will open doors around the globe.