The numbers are in and once again, the Bendheim Center for Finance Master in Finance program has been ranked #1 by Risk.net for the fourth consecutive year. The ranking takes into account a number of factors, including student/teacher teaching ratio, influential teaching staff, graduate starting salaries, research, and more.
Some of our staff and faculty had this to say about the program, recent challenges related to the pandemic, and the outlook for aspiring quantitative finance executives:
Professor Caio Ibsen Rodrigues de Almeida is a Professor of Economics and serves as the Program Director for the Bendheim Center for Finance Master in Finance program.
Since the publication of the last guide, you have replaced Rene Carmona as program director. How has your first year as program lead been for you?
My first year as BCF program director has been very positive. I’ve been a professor at BCF since 2017, so when I assumed the role of Director of Graduate Studies, I was more than ready. Rene did a wonderful job for many years in this role and I was eager to follow in his footsteps to serve the students and contribute to the continued innovation of BCF. Working on research and teaching are among the most rewarding activities of my life, and I truly enjoy working closely with our students and guiding them in their studies and academic choices.
What aspects of your teaching have you found the most challenging or enjoyable this year? Are you glad to be back in the classroom?
The pandemic has certainly challenged all educators and institutions to rethink the traditional modes of teaching. So, we had to adapt fast. At Princeton, we were able to quickly switch from in-person classes to a virtual campus format with Zoom classes and teaching with the use of i-pads as a substitute for classroom blackboards has been very helpful. Thankfully this Fall we were able to return to regular in-person classes and I was very happy to be able to be in the classroom again because this allows a much greater level of personal interaction with the students. I’ve generally found that the students asked more questions and it’s helpful being able to assess them directly when they’re in the classroom. That being said, for the foreseeable future, I believe we are all being tasked with being more flexible, creative, and innovative in our teaching methods and formats as we continue to grapple with and respond to the effects of the pandemic. Princeton has been really great at facilitating quick pivots from in-person to virtual learning, and we are very grateful for that. And as educators, we are also up to the task!
Starting salaries for quant graduates remain on an upward trend, according to the data we collect for the Quant Guide year on year. Do you think salaries will continue to rise in future, or would you expect them to reach a ceiling at some point?
It’s certainly our expectation that the value of candidates from top-tier programs will continue to appreciate in the eyes of employers. Starting salaries for our MFIN graduates reflect not just the value they are bringing to an organization at the outset but also their future potential and the ability to solve challenges in a rapidly evolving industry – which is in part a function of the education and training that our program provides.
Lindsay Bracken is Manager of Career Development, Alumni Relations and Corporate Development at Bendheim Center for Finance.
Despite ongoing pandemic uncertainty, Princeton reported a 100% employment rates for both internships and full-time grad positions this year. Did you find any aspects of your work as career development manager particularly tough?
We’re very proud of our placement rate for graduates and internships, which is typically at or very close to 100% year after year. We offer comprehensive support and individualized attention to each of our students with a variety of approaches including our career bootcamps, mock interviews, our career speaker series, one-on-one advisory, and more. And when the pandemic hit, we were able to quickly pivot to an online format with virtually no disruption. All that said, it ultimately comes down to our incredibly talented and determined students who rise to the challenge including during the pandemic.
Have any firms demonstrated notable interest in MFin grads over the last year?
We have an extensive network of industry professionals and corporate affiliates which are a vital and important part of the BCF community. And our students definitely benefit from these relationships and connections as they enter the workplace after graduation. As our degree is focused on quantitative finance, many graduates naturally attract interest from investment banking firms, hedge funds, and private equity firms. But more and more our students are also branching out into other areas, such as fintech, consulting, and even the start-up world.
Finally, have you seen any notable interest in your grads from non-financial firms – in data science or machine learning, for example?
Great question! As the financial industry evolves, these areas become increasingly important to know and understand as a finance professional. While data science and machine learning can be a facet of a particular student’s academic track – since we offer coursework and certificate programs in both areas – most of our graduates appreciate our interdisciplinary approach to quantitative finance and are specifically looking to enter the financial services sector once they attain their degree. However, as we do offer personalized and individualized career support, if a student is interested in a tangential area or a particular field like data science or machine learning, we would work with them to prepare to enter that field.
To view the full report, go here (Subscription Required)