It's interesting how one story can lead to another. I was researching an article here about Michael Koukounas's book, Real-World Analytics, and during an interview with Koukounas, he happened to mention the exciting stuff happening at his alma mater, New Jersey's Rutgers Business School. In particular, the Master's in quantitative finance (MQF) program.
The interesting aspect of his recommendation, it turns out, was not that it's a new program. It's been around for more than a decade; he was pointing to it because of increased relevance for employers. That's somewhat interesting. But another eye-opening aspect, it turns out, is that here was a Rutgers MBA promoting a master's degree that wasn't an MBA.
It turns out that the MQF is creating talent where MBAs are often inadequate.
As Professor Yangru Wu, the MQF program director, explained to me, MBA programs generally do not produce enough candidates with the combination of skills needed for employers' analytical positions.
Why not design an entire academic program around the quant, computer programming, and finance proficiencies required?
That's exactly what Rutgers did in 2001 with MQF, starting with seven students, back when it was one of the first such programs in the world. Now, 110 students are enrolled in the two year program (out of roughly 1,000 students who would have applied over that time). The MQF has grown in stature, too, becoming a top-10 national program, with peers and hope-to-be-peers being University of California at Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, NYU, Columbia, Cornell, Georgia Tech, University of Michigan, and Fordham.
"These are the kinds of programs that we are comparing and competing with to a certain degree," Wu said. In total now, Wu estimated that 100 similar programs exist.