Quant Guide 2021: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Urbana and Champaign, Illinois, US

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The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Master of Science in Financial Engineering (MSFE) makes its second appearance in this year’s Risk.net Quant Guide. The programme, directed by clinical professor of finance Morton Lane, takes place over 16 months and includes industry partner-sponsored practicum projects as a key element.

Like many others, the course has seen a decline in student numbers this year – the latest cohort contains 22 students, against the last programme’s 50, the result of a large number of deferrals – it has made impressive gains in other areas. The average employment rate has increased since the MSFE’s last Quant Guide appearance, and graduate salaries have rocketed from an average of $87,500 to $102,343, putting the programme among the higher-earning segment of this year’s Quant Guide population.

The MSFE is taught between two of the university’s colleges: the Gies College of Business; and the Grainger College of Engineering. Students, says Lane, have access to the career services teams in both colleges. He adds that the pandemic caused problems with recruiting for the current cohort, saying that staff saw a “drop-off in general inquiries from prospective employers”.

Luckily, however, employers seeking particular expertise continued to court the programme.

“[The drop in general interest] was offset by a pick-up in inquiries for specific skill sets – fortunately, ones that our students represent,” says Lane.

Although remote teaching is not the programme’s preferred approach – Lane says that online classes are often more time-consuming than traditional ones – students have responded well to the coronavirus situation. The director adds that the MSFE has also introduced dedicated conversation sessions for students in China and the US, to foster the community atmosphere that cohorts expect to experience on campus.

View this institution’s entry in the 2020 guide

View other universities and a guide to the metrics tables

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