Online programs allow students to study at their own pace while continuing their professional and personal endeavors. Professionals can earn advanced skills and knowledge that help them further their careers. However, students must understand the nuts and bolts of taking an online course before signing up for an distance-based financial engineering degree.
Unlike other engineering disciplines that require hands-on work, a degree in financial engineering can be completed exclusively online, without ever setting foot on campus. Almost all programs detailed in this guide do not require on-campus attendance.
Students can expect to learn from pre-recorded as well as live lectures. Online programs also have dedicated discussion forums to enable interaction between students and faculty members.
An important prerequisite to succeeding in an online program is being disciplined with one's time. Along with professional commitments, students must dedicate time to viewing lectures, participating in class discussions, and taking tests. Being self-motivated is an essential trait of online learners who thrive.
While online programs offer ample flexibility, it's also important for students to maintain accountability if they want to succeed in an online degree program.
While applying to an online financial engineering program can be different for graduate and undergraduate admissions, there are some commonalities that are helpful to understand.
The online application process for undergraduate online programs generally comes along with a nominal fee and must include test scores (e.g, SAT, ACT), transcripts, personal essays, and letters of recommendation.
Students must view start dates for programs they wish to pursue. Generally, undergraduate programs begin in the fall semester, and applications are due by the beginning of the year (January or February). Programs may also accept applications for the spring semester in the fall of the previous year (that is, September or October).
Graduate programs for financial engineering can be quite competitive and have stricter experience and academic requirements for admission. The majority of financial engineering graduate programs require that entering students already have a bachelor of science (BS) degree in engineering, science, mathematics, computer science, or a related field from an accredited academic institution.
Common application requirements might include academic transcripts from one’s previous education, a statement of purpose, a current resume, recommendation letters, and English language proficiency. Some programs might also require students to submit GRE or (less frequently) GMAT scores.
Typically, master’s of science in financial engineering degrees are accredited by the International Association of Quantitative Finance, a not-for-profit professional society that works towards advancing the field of quantitative finance. However, it has only accredited a handful of US universities—none of which offer online programs.
A limited number of US schools offer online programs in financial engineering. These programs have been accredited by reputable regional accrediting bodies such as the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Regional accreditation institutions recognize only the most competitive and deserving universities in a given field.
As with most academic programs, the exact curriculum for one online financial engineering program will not be the same as another, but there are similarities.
In general, master’s degrees in financial engineering include advanced versions of courses in undergraduate programs.
Students can expect to study higher-level courses in computational finance, portfolio theory, financial markets, financial engineering, portfolio management, and investment analysis. Additionally, financial engineering master’s students also delve into various mathematics and programming related courses such as linear programming, programming systems design, and differential equations.
While there are several universities that offer a master of science in financial engineering programs online, a few colleges also offer master’s in related subjects such as computational finance and risk management.
A few programs also offer concentrations such as financial statistics, algorithmic trading strategies, financial risk engineering, financial services analytics, and financial computing. Students can expect to complete a master’s program in financial engineering in two years.
Students who don’t wish to commit to a two-year master’s degree can also take up an online graduate certificate in financial engineering. Several renowned institutions such as Columbia University and the University of Central Florida offer a graduate certificate program in financial engineering.
Graduate certificates generally comprise 12 to 15 credit-hours and can be completed in a year. With a combination of required and elective courses, they allow students to build a stronger foundation in risk management, financial mathematics, dynamic pricing, revenue models, and stochastic models.
The University of Southern California offers an online MS in financial engineering program through the Viterbi School of Engineering. The program is ideal for those who have a foundation in applied mathematics, engineering, or physics, as they learn how to apply these skills to finance.
Major admission requirements for the program include a bachelor’s degree in engineering or an engineering-related field from an accredited institution, official transcripts, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, a current resume, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and TOEFL or IELTS scores for international students with English as their second or third language.
The curriculum comprises 30 credit-hours in topics such as financial engineering, probability for electrical and computer engineers, corporate finance, stochastic processes, mathematics and tools for financial engineering, investment analysis and portfolio management, linear programming and extensions, and programming systems design.
On successful completion of the program, students can take up lucrative opportunities in myriad fields such as programming, insurance and trading information technology finance, banking, regulation, and risk management.
Johns Hopkins University offers a master of science in financial mathematics, a graduate certificate in financial risk management, a graduate certificate in quantitative portfolio management, and a graduate certificate in securitization.
These programs can be completed online, thus allowing students to manage their work, family, and life simultaneously. In order to enhance students' understanding of the subject matter, the programs include real-life case studies on topics such as risk management, financial derivatives, data analysis, quantitative portfolio theory, and Monte Carlo methods.
Admission requirements for the program include an undergraduate or graduate degree in a quantitative discipline from an accredited college or university, a minimum of two years of relevant work experience in finance or a related field, transcripts, and TOEFL or IELTS scores for international students.
The master's degree consists of ten courses, while the certificates are made up of four courses each. The curriculum includes courses such as an introduction to financial derivatives, interest rate and credit derivatives, financial risk management and measurement, financial engineering and structured products, statistical methods and data analysis, optimization in finance, Monte Carlo methods, and time series analysis, among others.
Graduates of the program will have access to leadership positions in finance as well as governmental organisations. They will be able to harness engineering-driven methods for deploying financial processes and transactions.
The Stevens Institute of Technology offers an online master's in financial engineering program providing students with a basic understanding of financial systems and the structure of financial markets and products. The master’s program combines statistical analysis, mathematical modeling, finance, computer programming skills, systems thinking, and economics to help students solve financial problems at the systemic and enterprise level.
For admission to the program, students must have a bachelor’s degree; official transcripts from all universities attended; completed courses in calculus and differential equations, probability and statistics, linear algebra, and programming; a current resume; GMAT or GRE scores; and two letters of recommendation. International students also must include TOEFL or IELTS scores.
Consisting of 30 credit-hours, the degree includes six required courses: stochastic calculus for financial engineers, pricing and hedging, computational methods in finance, portfolio theory and applications, advanced derivatives, and special problems in financial engineering.
Apart from these, students can either select four electives or pursue one of the following five concentrations: algorithmic trading strategies, financial services analytics, financial risk engineering, financial statistics, and financial computing.
The University of Washington offers an online master’s degree in computational finance and risk management (CFRM) program, which is ideal for working professionals. Students in this program will not be required to visit campus and will be taught by the same instructors as the on campus students. The CFRM program provides students with a rigorous statistical and mathematical foundation, as well as extensive instruction in the use of open-source R-programming.
The program requires a minimum of 42 credits (26 credits of mandatory coursework and 16 credits of elective coursework). Students receive instruction in investment science, financial data science, asset allocation and portfolio management, options and other derivatives, Monte Carlo methods in finance, ethics in the finance profession, and optimization methods in finance, among others.
Applicants to this degree program must show proficiency in calculus, probability and statistics, and a programming language such as Java. Additional admission requirements include academic transcripts from undergraduate or previous graduate education, a statement of purpose, a current resume, recommendation letters, a completed application, and English language proficiency for students whose native language is not English. Applicants with limited professional experience must take the GRE exam.
University of Central Florida (Graduate Certificate)
The University of Central Florida offers a mathematical science graduate certificate in financial mathematics. It has been designed especially for students who wish to advance their knowledge of mathematical finance and pursue a career in financial services. The program is available 100 percent online.
Admission is open to students who have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. An application to the graduate certificate program and official transcripts must be submitted, while no GRE is required.
This graduate certificate consists of 12 credit-hours; nine credit-hours comprise required courses and three credit-hours are elective courses. The curriculum includes courses such as financial mathematics, risk management for financial mathematics, differential equations for financial mathematics, and computational methods for financial mathematics.
Upon successful completion, graduates can take up roles such as commercial analyst, investment specialist or manager, financial advisor, portfolio manager, senior financial data analyst, and regulatory scientist.
Columbia University (Graduate Certificate)
Columbia University offers an online certificate program in financial engineering, designed to nurture an understanding of applying quantitative and engineering methods to finance. All courses can be completed online, and are delivered through the university's Columbia Video Network (CVN).
To get accepted into the program, applicants must have an undergraduate degree in engineering, computer science, mathematics, science or a related field from an accredited institution; a background in mathematics; official transcripts; three letters of recommendation; a personal-professional statement; a current resume; and $150 application fee.
The program comprises 12 credit-hours (four graduate-level classes). The curriculum includes courses such as optimization models and methods, stochastic models, corporate finance for engineers, and dynamic pricing and revenue management.
At the end of the program, graduates will be prepared to take up roles in banking, securities, and financial management, as well as quantitative roles in corporate treasury, consulting industries, and finance departments of service firms.
WorldQuant University (Alternative Program)
WorldQuant University offers an 100 percent online master of science (MSc) in financial engineering, which integrates statistics, computer science, and mathematics with finance theory. Graduates of the program go on to have successful careers in highly collaborative, professional environments.
Comprising 30 credit-hours, this program consists of nine graduate-level courses and one capstone course. Courses include financial markets, econometrics, discrete-time stochastic processes, continuous-time stochastic processes, computational finance, portfolio theory and asset pricing, machine learning in finance, and data feeds and technology.
Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree, a completed online application with all required documents, a passing score of 75 percent on a quantitative proficiency test, official transcripts from one’s highest college or university degree earned, and proof of English proficiency.
Students will learn the applications of machine learning to financial markets and become adept at applying forecasting and economic modeling to finance. They will be able to evaluate financial global trends, apply calculus to pricing and hedging, and analyze and design financial programs using distributed ledger technologies. Graduates can take up careers in banking, financial management, and securities, and general manufacturing and service firms.
Most programs that offer online financial engineering degrees, be it a master’s degree or a graduate certificate program, do not require students to visit campus to complete their degree.
In general, students can complete all coursework and assignments in their state of residence without ever traveling to the university campus.
With a wide range of online programs on offer, students may find it daunting to choose a program that perfectly fits their needs and career goals. It is important to consider what one’s larger goals are before selecting an online program. Students may want to consider if they will be able to cope with a 100 percent online education with limited face-to-face guidance.
It is also important to consider if a given program helps students to identify local internship or other hands-on professional opportunities to supplement their online learning. Some institutions help students find resources through their vast alumni network and industry connections, while others may leave the responsibility of finding these largely on the students.
Most online financial engineering programs utilize their on-campus professors for their online courses as well, meaning that distance learning students get the same quality education as their peers on campus.
The following are five highly regarded financial engineering professors who teach both online and on-campus.
Cesar Acosta, PhD - University of Southern California
Cesar Acosta is an associate professor of industrial and systems engineering at the University of Southern California, Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering. He teaches numerous classes in the master’s financial engineering program and the masters’s program in data analytics.
Dr. Acosta’s research efforts are focused on machine learning methods to solve real-world problems using advanced statistics. He has been published in prominent journals such as Communications in Statistics and Quality Engineering. He completed his PhD in industrial engineering at Texas A&M University, a PhD in statistics at the University of Texas at Dallas, and a BS in industrial engineering at the Catholic University of Peru.
David Audley, PhD - Johns Hopkins University
Dr. David Audley is the senior lecturer and executive director of the financial mathematics master’s program in the Department of Applied Mathematics & Statistics at the Whiting School of Engineering. He currently teaches courses such in financial derivatives, as well as financial risk management and measurement.
Dr. Audley’s current research explores financial mathematics, fixed income derivatives, term structure models, and quantitative portfolio strategies. He has been published in influential journals such as the AIAA Journal of Guidance and Control and Automatica. He earned his PhD in applied mathematics and electrical engineering from Johns Hopkins University, his BSEE from the Citadel college, and his MSEE from the University of Southern California.
Dragos Bozdog, PhD - Stevens Institute of Technology
Dr. Dragos Bozdog is an associate professor in the financial engineering division at the Stevens Institute of Technology. He also serves as the deputy director of the Hanlon Financial System Laboratory, which was built especially to facilitate hands-on learning. He teaches courses in financial engineering, pricing and hedging, advanced derivatives, mathematics for finance, and macroeconomics, among others.
Primarily, Dr. Bozdog’s research focuses on the mathematics of finance, emerging markets, and early warning systems and threat assessment. He has been published in top-notch journals such as Tire Science and Technology, the Journal of the Applied Vision Association, and the Wilmott Journal. He holds a PhD in financial engineering and an MS in financial engineering from the Stevens Institute of Technology, a PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Toledo, and a BS in mechanical engineering from the Polytechnic University of Bucharest.
Zhenyu Cui, PhD - Stevens Institute of Technology
Dr. Zhenyu Cui is an assistant professor of financial engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology. He teaches classes such as stochastic calculus for financial engineers, applied stochastic differential equations, computational methods in finance, the master’s thesis in financial engineering, and the volatility surface.
Dr. Cui’s research efforts are focused on financial derivatives pricing, Monte Carlo simulation, stochastic models, financial systemic risk and contagion effects, and stochastic volatility models. Renowned journals such as the European Journal of Operational Research, the Journal of Banking and Finance, and the Journal of Financial Econometrics have published his work. He holds his PhD and master’s from the University of Waterloo, and a BSc from University of Hong Kong.
Tim Leung, PhD - University of Washington
Dr. Tim Leung serves as the director of the computational finance and risk management (CFRM) program at the University of Washington in Seattle. An excellent mathematics professor who has won tenure, he teaches courses such as Monte Carlo methods in finance, investment science, data analysis for financial engineers, and the foundations of financial engineering, among others.
Dr. Leung’s research efforts explore areas such as optimal stochastic control and financial mathematics. His work has been published in prominent journals such as the Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Stochastic Models, and Studies in Economics and Finance. He holds his PhD from Princeton University and his BS from Cornell University.
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