Quant Guide 2021: Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh and New York City, US

Posner Hall, Carnegie Mellon University
Photo: Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University’s Master of Science in Computational Finance (MSCF) is a persistent high-achiever in the Risk.net Quant Guide rankings, appearing at eighth place in both the 2019 and 2020 editions. For our 2021 ranking, it slides a couple of places to tenth.

The three-semester course, led by executive director and adjunct professor of business Richard Bryant, has had to make adjustments in response to the coronavirus, in common with most of its peers.

For applicants unable to obtain student visas, classes have been delivered online. For those students who do attend one of Carnegie Mellon’s physical campuses – in Pittsburgh and New York – class sizes have been cut down, schedules have been adjusted to reduce corridor traffic, and mask-wearing is mandatory. The university has worked to improve ventilation, conducts regular deep cleans, and has also appointed a number of pandemic safety officers.

As for the curriculum, students are expected to spend part of the summer in an industry placement. Out of 91 placements in summer 2020, only three were cancelled. However, there were adjustments: the majority of internships were conducted virtually, and some had condensed timeframes.

Remote learning has also forced institutions such as Carnegie Mellon to take a fresh look at how to preserve the integrity of the learning and testing process. Speaking in August, Bryant told Risk.net how staff and students were getting to grips with new surveillance technology, installed to discourage cheating in remote exams. In one case, the software – which also captures audio and screen activity – helped to detect one candidate who was texting during their examination, given away by a telltale tapping sound.

But while they might be effective, the measures have drawn criticism from some staff and students. In response, the programme plans to adjust its invigilation approach, says Bryant.

Despite various disruptions, the MSCF has remained in high demand. The latest programme received over 1,000 applications – an increase of almost 200 on last year’s figure – and extended 191 offers versus last year’s 167. The course’s graduate employment rate has risen to 99%, and graduate salaries are up, too: the mean base rate of pay over the last two years is $108,846, putting the MSCF in the Quant Guide’s highest salary quartile.

View this institution’s entry in the 2020 guide

View other universities and a guide to the metrics tables

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