Frequently Asked Questions
How do I apply to the Mathematical and Computational Finance Program?
Refer to the ICME admissions webpages for all details and questions on applying: https://icme.stanford.edu/admissions
Can you tell me in advance if my application will be competitive?
We get too many applications to discuss this information during the process, or if the application is incomplete. It is your responsibility to ensure your completed application is received before the deadline. Apply and await the results.
Will sending supplemental emails and materials help my chances of Admissions?
No. These will not be considered and will have no influence on the Admissions process.
When should I take the GRE? Do you have minimum scores?
You should take GRE such that scores are received by the Application deadline. You must specify that your scores be sent to Stanford University, GRE code 4704. There are no minimum cutoffs as we consider the applicant’s entire file.
Should I hire an admissions consultant? Should I seek assistance in writing my essay?
No. Admissions consultants will not improve your chances and may cause your application to violate the Stanford Honor Code. You may edit your essays with the advice of others, but you must author the essays yourself. Submitting work that is not your own is a violation of the Stanford Honor Code.
What are you looking for?
Simply put: a solid mathematics background and a passion for finance!
Do I need to have work experience in finance?
Work experience can be a great indicator of your passion. It is not required however.
Does it help my admission chances to contact faculty or staff to make my case?
You are welcome to contact Stanford faculty and staff if you have specific questions not addressed herein. As a general rule such contact is not required and will not influence your Admissions process.
What courses should I take as a future applicant?
We can’t make specific course recommendations but a solid math background is required. Many of our applicants have succeeded in taking graduate level courses in Mathematics as undergraduates. Carefully consider our core curriculum, topics covered and related prerequisites.
What topics should I be prepared to study?
Linear Algebra, Probability, Statistics, Numerical Methods, Optimization, Computing in Python, C++, etc. We also offer refresher courses right before Autumn quarter. We also offer a placement test for candidates with a strong computing background. Closely study our required course lists and the related prerequisite topics.
What is the relationship between MCF and the Financial Mathematics program within the Stanford Statistics Department?
The Financial Mathematics program was managed from the Statistics department and was one of the oldest quantitative finance masters degrees and produced top graduates in both academia and industry. In 2014 we renamed the program MCF and relaunched it within the Stanford School of Engineering. In so doing we have built off of the Financial Mathematics core strengths and updated the curriculum to be positioned along current trends in computer science, data science/machine learning, numerics etc… at Stanford and more generally. We consider ourselves to have a startup mentality with a long tradition and alumni base!
Can I take the GMAT instead of the GRE?
No. GMAT does not meet our admissions standards and cannot be submitted.
Do I need to take the TOEFL exam?
If you received either your undergraduate or graduate degree from a university in a non-native English-speaking country, then you must submit the TOEFL. There are no exceptions.
Should I apply to MCF in the Stanford School of Engineering or the MBA in the Stanford Graduate School of Business?
Both are terminal masters degrees offering specialization in Finance, world class recruiting opportunities, a strong cohort experience and joint club participation. In fact many MCF students will take GSB courses and many MBA students take courses in the Engineering school. Some of our students have gone to study finance at the PhD level at the business school. Some of our students take jobs in more traditionally MBA type roles within finance. The MCF degree, at the end of the day, is an academically rigorous program which will instill solid foundational technical skills which can be applied directly in both quantitative and general finance careers.
Should I apply to MCF in ICME or the Financial Analytics M.S. concentration in Management Science and Engineering (MS&E)?
Both are terminal masters degrees offering specialization in Finance with world class recruiting opportunities. MCF is characterized by a strong cohort experience, an uncommonly rigorous academic curriculum and a strong track record of placement in banking, financial services, investment management, and other impactful roles in finance. The financial analytics degree is a part of Management Science and Engineering and has different degree requirements. Traditionally, financial analytics has had a more industrial orientation as compared to a more “Wall Street” orientation, as reflected in the differing courses.
I have heard it is hard to get into MCF. Should I instead apply to the General track or Data Science track in ICME?
All are terminal masters degrees offering specialization with world class recruiting opportunities. MCF is a competitive program, and that is reflected in recruiting and reputation in industry. A growing share of our students do end up going to technology or data science roles either in fintech or technology broadly. While other ICME tracks offer solid generalist preparation, MCF is a smaller cohort with a more focused orientation and well established tradition in industry.
Can I continue on to get a PhD at Stanford or academia?
Yes. Typically 1-2 students continue on to PhD in ICME, MS&E, GSB, or other Universities. Our alumni include over a dozen faculty in the field around the world. You will automatically be considered for PhD advising as you participate in the masters program. Admission to the PhD program is merit based however, and is not automatically guaranteed.
How does Stanford MCF compare to other quantitative finance masters programs?
Our goal is to train a small group of exceptionally talented students for high impact careers in quantitative finance academia and industry. We are not focused on growing enrollment numbers or preparing students for more generic roles. As a result we have uncommonly high student selectivity combined with hands on mentoring to guide students to get the most of the considerable campus wide resources and opportunity that Stanford brings. Our focus is rigourously quantitative and at a PhD level. For the right student this provides a uniquely strong foundational career launchpad. For a more generalist finance education we would refer students to the Stanford Graduate School of Business MBA program.
Is there help with Career Placements and Internships?
Stanford generally tends to attract students with an entrepreneurial drive and spirit in managing their careers. Beyond program advising there are placement events and resources at the MCF program level, at the ICME level including our Fall Xtend career event, advising and year round career events at the School of Engineering and the Career Development Center at the Stanford level. Beyond formal online application systems and on campus structured recruiting exams, there tends to be unstructured recruiting in the form of student clubs and networking. On occassion Stanford students, including in our program, have also been known to startup their own companies.
Can I Complete the Program Part-time?
Only as an HCP applicant, see ICME website: https://icme.stanford.edu/admissions/program-details
What is the cost of Tuition?
A Stanford education is unfortunately not inexpensive. Please refer to the published school of Engineering tuition rates. Most students will complete the program in two years or 6 quarters, however exceptionally prepared students can manage an accelerated 5 quarter program.
Does Stanford link Scholarships and Financial Support to Admissions for MCF?
No. Admissions are conducted on a need blind basis. We do not engage in the practice of using offers of guaranteed financial support for admissions offers. Students are responsible for procuring their own funding via loans, scholarships, internships or other external sources. While historically students have been able to find on campus job opportunities available to students after their first 2 quarters or other teaching or research assistantships; these are competitive and not guaranteed.
How long is the program?
6 quarters. Students must take their first 3 quarters Autumn, Winter, Spring and typically take an internship during their Summer quarter. For the second year students would generally take Autumn and Winter quarters. The second Spring though not required is a recommended option for those wishing to take more classes and especially project classes.
I Was Not Offered Admission, Why?
We get many more qualified applicants than we have spots. We also try to build a balanced cohort. We encourage you to strengthen your credentials and apply next year!
How many apply and are admitted?
We have designed the program to target approximately 10 students per cohort. The Financial Mathematics program, which was the predecessor to MCF, had 15 year history of uncommonly selective admissions. Since launching as MCF our admission rate is roughly around 5%
Will being in California instead of New York impact my job placement chances at a NY-based investment bank or hedge fund?
In recent years placement risk has not been a factor. Of course this cannot be guaranteed to continue, but we do teach a widely transferrable skill set. Our geography is a key strength of our program! Since we are small and not all of our graduates are focused on banking (academia, startups/VC, buyside/hedge funds) and Stanford is a target recruiting school for most tier 1 banks and funds, our students have strong interviewing prospects within banking and success in obtaining those roles with relatively minimal internal competition. Outside of banking, we are blessed with a strong buy side and entrepreneurial community which appeals to some of our students. The largest ranked geographical clusters of our alumni are 1) NYC Metro area 2) San Francisco Bay Area 3) London 4) Hong Kong and other major financial centers around the world.
What are your placement statistics?
We have a 100% placement rate for students desiring internships and full time industry employment in recent years. While this cannot be guaranteed without respect to employment conditions, our small size, long running reputation in industry, alumni network and broadly transferrable skill set have served our students well. We also have a strong academic placement history.
What are some finance companies that have offered internships and employment to MCF students in the past few years?
Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Bank of America, Citigroup, Tudor Funds, Two Sigma Investments, Blackrock, GMO, Cubist Investments, Citadel and many others.