Quant Guide 2017: Paris Diderot University

Paris, France

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Master in Statistics, Probability and Finance | metrics table at end of article

Since its launch 30 years ago, the master’s in statistics, probabilities and finance run by Paris Diderot University has established itself as a leading quant programme. An ability to keep up with the times may explain some of its success, one alumnus suggests.

“At the time it was one of the few master’s programmes that was offering machine learning and data science,” says Fiodor Gorokhovik, who graduated in 2014 and now works in structured products ‘strats’, or quantitative strategies, at Goldman Sachs in London. 

“I didn’t want to do a theoretical programme – many people end up using a limited proportion of what they actually studied – and my degree was more applied, but with modules on pure maths. I use a large proportion of what I studied in my job,” he adds.

In total, the year-long programme comprises 30 courses, of which four are compulsory: stochastic calculus, data modelling, Markov chains and data mining. Students can then choose between two distinct tracks: statistics and stochastic models in finance, or statistics and data science. 

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The list of modules for both tracks is regularly updated. For example, a module on computational statistics has been introduced recently, adding to an existing computer science course, which includes programming in C++.

“We have a long partnership with the industry; every two to three years we adapt our courses to the needs of the industry,” says Huyên Pham, programme co-director.

Links with the financial industry are strong in other ways too: eight of the courses are taught by practitioners, and students have to spend at least four months gaining professional experience. Internship offers come from companies such as Barclays, Crédit Agricole, Credit Suisse, Natixis and Societe Generale. 

Many students stay on at the firms where they interned, joining the ranks of the 90% of the programme’s graduates who find jobs in finance within six months of graduating.    

The university is also open to ideas coming from students, says Gorokhovik. “In the past we recommended adding courses in Python and more courses in machine learning, which were added.”

At present, the master’s is taught entirely in French but from the next academic year some modules will be delivered in English, starting with compulsory subjects.

The aim is to attract more international students – who currently make up less than 5% of the total intake – expanding the reach of one of the most competitive and venerable quant programmes in France. 

Like its peer master’s at Pierre and Marie Curie University, it requires applicants to have a solid background in mathematics and, similarly, features the name of its founder in its commonly known previous name: DEA Laure Elie.

Paris Diderot University metrics

Click here for links to the other universities and an explanation of how to read the metrics tables

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