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Stevens Launches Quantitative Finance Program

A bitter sweet announcement by Stevens regarding the first ever undergraduate program for Quantitative Finance in the country. My only disappoint is that it wasn’t done four years ago when I first came in to Stevens. I already know of one person who is interested and I am certain it is going to generate more interest as the years go by. Kudos to Stevens on this one.

Program in fast-growing, multi-disciplinary field to begin in fall semester 2009

By John Holl
Special to the Stevens News Service

Beginning in September 2009, Stevens Institute of Technology will launch the first undergraduate program in Quantitative Finance in the country.

This fast-growing, multi-disciplinary field is based on applying modern science, mathematical and engineering methods, and advanced technology to model and execute decisions in the financial domain. Quantitative Finance applications extend from classical investment portfolio management and the design of sophisticated hedging strategies to mitigate business risks.

“Quantitative Finance is becoming essential in the business world,” said George M. Calhoun, Executive-in-Residence at Stevens. “It is not simply enough to stand on the trading floor. The next generation of finance experts will come up with ways to out think the market.”

Quantitative finance – typically used with hedge funds – is more than just analyzing stock portfolios. It is at the heart of all modern financial strategies and operations, from managing pension funds and insurance companies to controlling operations operational risks at manufacturing companies and modeling the behavior of financial markets.

Offered through Stevens’ Howe School of Technology Management, the four-year Bachelor of Science undergraduate program will have a heavy emphasis on math and statistics, but will also teach student to get the understanding of the underlying economic substance of financial decision making, said Calhoun.

When it starts at the beginning of the 2009/2010 academic year, the program will have 20 students, but Calhoun believes there is room for as many as 80 students in years to come. Potential students or those who would like to learn more about the program are invited to visit www.qf-stevens.com

Each student accepted to the program will launch an investment program at the start of the sophomore year. Using a web-based investment platform, the student will start with $1 million in virtual cash, to be invested according to a graded series of financial criteria as the semesters progress. Over the subsequent semesters students will have a chance to focus on everything from common stock in US-listed companies to commodities and exchange-traded options. By their senior year, students will be ready to focus on a project involving real-world implementation challenges – for example, the design and management of a Hedge Fund, or the construction of an Electronic Trading Platform.

“This is a program where being smart gives you an advantage. This is where the employment growth is going to be.”

Stevens’ campus along the Hudson River is uniquely suited to host such a focused undergraduate major, given its proximity to New York City and Wall Street – the financial capital of the world. Students will have unparalleled opportunities to have direct contact with the world’s elite finance firms, bankers, traders, regulators and policymakers.

Members of the Stevens faculty have worked diligently to design the program. They received input from both financial and non-financial firms. As such, the graduates of the program will be part of a broad trend towards a more rigorous management of the world’s financial assets and risks.

“Risk is going to be the name of the game for the next 20 years,” said Calhoun, “and Quantitative Finance will be key.”

Given the recent problems in the global economy, Calhoun and Stevens believe there is no more appropriate a time to launch such a program, continuing a tradition of forward-looking education that fills a major industry need.

“Quantitative Finance is here to stay,” said Calhoun. “In fact, we believe it will become the benchmark for a modern financial education.”

Source: Stevens to launch first undergraduate Quantitative Finance program in the country

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7 Responses

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  1. Anish says

    Killing time at work (when I should be working on these reports, heh). Definitely a good move on Stevens' part – quant finance is a field in which the university can become a niche player.

    “Risk is going to be the name of the game for the next 20 years,” said Calhoun, “and Quantitative Finance will be key.”

    …it's true that VAR models have become increasingly important, but the underlying problem with relying too much on such risk models is that they struggle to give accurate projections when dealing with 1) potential black swans and 2) new markets with little data. It would be best to marry this program with curriculum that revolves around interpreting the outputted numbers (i.e. as traditional finance programs should be focused on) in order for graduates to be more than simply number crunchers.

  2. Anish says

    Great timing on this post, man. BusinessWeek just put up an op-ed piece that's relevant to my last comment, titled "The Risk Mirage at Goldman – Reports that the firm has ratcheted up its exposure are based on a meaningless metric."

    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_3

    It's mostly a diatribe against VaR written by Pablo Triana, author of "Lecturing Birds on Flying: Can Mathematical Theories Destroy the Financial Markets?" Very light read but interesting nonetheless.

  3. NewJerseySucks says

    This is NOT the first undergrad quantitative finance program in the country. In fact, I just graduated with this degree from James Madison University in Virginia who has had such a program for years. Get over yourselves, you dumb New Jersey trash. For future reference, do some research before you proclaim you are the "FIRST EVER" at anything.

  4. Stevens Alum says

    A quantitative finance degree from Stevens, an institution with a long, solid history in hard scientific and mathematically-based education, will be of far more value than one from a general purpose university such as James Madison. The students in the Stevens program will be of far higher academic calibre. It may or may not be the first one but will be the best. As much as I dislike the New Jersey cost of living and taxes, it is still one of the economic engines of the Unites States, unlike you.

  5. Another Stevens Alum says

    For the fun of it I checked out James Madison University's website on their quantitative finance program. It appears as though most of the calculus courses are optional, and from what I can see there is no course dealing with Stochastic Calculus (Ito calculus), Black-Scholes, and econometric/stochastic decision theory. In a technological university such as Stevens, those subjects are required in the quantitiative finance program, and are the foundation of the subject – hedge funds (and others) in particular make their trading decisions using those methods, so if one is not trained in them how valuable would that person be to an employer? I don't think JMU's program really meets the definition of quantitative finance.

  6. what_isStevens says

    It is completely irrelevant for you to call James Madison a "general purpose university". The qfin program there is very rigid and all of the courses are taken apart from the rest of the university. Saying that the students in the Stevens program will be "of far higher academic calibre" is quite possibly the stupidest thing I have ever heard. I'm guessing you say this because you think "Stevens" is the best school in your area, but to the rest of the country, we have never heard of you and you aren't nationally ranked. Maybe you are the best school in new jersey, but that is like being the smartest kid with down syndrome. .

  7. what_isStevens says

    And to the other stevens alum, the calculus courses are most certainly not optional, there are multiple courses that deal with stochastic calculus, black-scholes, and econometrics. Just because a course isn't titled "Black-Scholes" doesn't mean it isn't taught. It is covered in courses such as "Financial Engineering I", "Mathematical Options Pricing" etc. JMU's program has been around for over 15 years and has produced many investment bankers and the like, so even if your second rate "college" had started your program 10 years ago, it still could not lay claim to being the first.____In conclusion, your state and your school are irrelevant and ignorant. Please stop making false claims



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