Quant Guide 2020: University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, US


The University of Minnesota’s Master of Financial Mathematics programme makes its debut in the Risk.net quant guide and ranking this year. The academic programme, based at the university’s Minnesota Center for Financial and Actuarial Mathematics, runs for two years. With working students in mind, classes take place at night. This format also suits the faculty, explains Laurie Derechin, one of two course directors, along with Rina Ashkenazi.

Six course instructors work as quants by day, says Derechin, adding that their industry experience helps to keep the curriculum up with emerging trends. Instructors include: Chris Bemis, head of quantitative analysis and research at asset manager Whitebox Advisors; Pritam Dalal, head of quantitative research at Aware Asset Management; and John Dodson, a vice-president of quantitative risk management at the Options Clearing Corporation.

In the past year, Minnesota’s programme has added a new optional module focused on data analysis and visualisation in Python, plus a new faculty member with industry experience in asset and liability management, risk management and data science. Like many in its peer group, Minnesota is working to enhance the data science element of its financial mathematics programme and the new full-timer, Derechin says, will contribute to the effort.

This new focus reflects the fact that financial mathematics graduates across the US and elsewhere are increasingly moving into data science and data analytics roles, as well finding positions at fintechs. Employers of recent grads from the Minnesota programme include e-commerce giant Amazon, asset manager Columbia Threadneedle Investments, fintech FIS Global and payments firm Sezzle, says Derechin. Career services include weekly development workshops, alumni mentoring and the ‘MN Quants’ club, which involves student projects with industry partners.

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