Statistical & Financial Consulting by Stanford PhD
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Below is a non-exhaustive list of programs offering master’s in mathematical finance. The list is no attempt to rank the programs. There are two reasons for that. First, I am loyal to Stanford and Stanford is a very good school. In fact, if a student manages to stick around for at least 3 years and focus on statistics, optimization, quantitative finance and sports Stanford is the best school in terms of course offerings. In my humble opinion. Second, I do not think that a master’s in finance is sufficient education unless you come with a solid base in mathematics, including probability theory and mainstream statistics.

Nothing of depth can be taught fully in 1.5 years. But many improvements can be done in that period. Also, if you are more pragmatic and less idealistic and view quantitative finance master’s as an express to different jobs, this may be your move. Most hardcore quant desks prefer PhDs but many trading and structuring desks may exhibit a different attitude. Depending on the background of the head trader / structurer, a PhD degree may be viewed either as a plus or as a pain in the neck.

Another angle: a master’s in quantitative finance does not close a road to PhD. If you decide this is what you really want during your master’s days, the professors are likely to let you stay for a PhD with full funding. This, of course, is conditional on your getting good grades. I have known students like that.

When comparing the programs pay attention to three things: the strength of the program, the prestige of the program and the overall prestige of the university. The overall strength of the university and richness of the course offerings are less important since you will have time for only 1-2 electives outside the program... Unless you think you may stick around for longer.

Please note that there are many strong departments which offer concentration in quantitative finance. One notable example is the Probability and Finance course taught by Nicole El Karoui at the University of Paris 6 and l'École Polytechnique. However, the list below is restricted only to programs that award formal master's degrees.


Derman, E. (2004). My Life as a Quant: Reflections on Physics and Finance. Wiley, Hoboken, New Jersey.