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Classes start today at UC Berkeley for new master's of financial engineering degree at Haas School of Business
02 April 2001

By Ute Frey, Haas School of Business

Berkeley - Forty-nine students are starting classes today (Monday, April 2) in a new graduate degree program in financial engineering at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business. The Master's in Financial Engineering, the first such degree program in the United States offered entirely under the auspices of a business school, will prepare candidates with superior analytical skills for a growing niche of quantitative finance careers.

The MFE program will be taught at the Haas School by leading finance faculty members from Haas and from UCLA's Anderson School of Management. The program will prepare students for jobs as risk managers, investment bankers, asset managers, derivatives traders, and developers of specialized securities at the world's leading commercial and investment banks, insurance companies, and corporate and public treasury departments.

The Class of 2002 is represented by an international group of highly educated scientists and professionals:
* The class represents 19 countries: seven students come from China, five from Korea, six from Canada, and five from five different European countries. Also represented are South America (Chile and Columbia), Africa (Zimbabwe), and Southeast Asia (India and Indonesia), as well as Taiwan, Hong Kong, Russia and the Republic of Georgia.

* Top professions include finance (25 percent), engineering (18 percent) and research & development (11 percent)

* Eighteen percent hold a PhD, and 25 percent hold a master's degree in another field.

* One fourth of the class performed in the top percentile of the GMAT.

"Haas is training a new generation of financial engineers who will be in strong demand in the modern finance marketplace," said Haas School dean Laura Tyson. "The program will also offer students the distinct advantage of being part of a world-class business school with its first-rate career services, practical internships, and alumni network."

The Haas MFE Program will be distinctive in several ways:

* It is the first U.S. program to offer its students a three-month internship at a top financial firm as part of the learning experience. Some students will also have the option of taking an internship prior to the start of the program each year.

* Founding sponsors include some of the world's top financial firms, namely AIG Inc., Barclays Global Investors, BARRA Inc., First Union Bank, Gifford Fong Associates, Goldman Sachs & Co., KMV LLC, MBIA Inc., Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Quantal International Inc., The Dean Witter Foundation, and WR Hambrecht & Co. Sponsoring firms will be accepting interns from the programs.

* It draws on the finance faculty of the two leading business schools within the UC 10-campus system, UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, recently ranked #7 in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, and UCLA's Anderson School of Management.

* Its leading-edge curriculum will balance teaching the latest financial theory with practical applications of financial modeling concepts. For example, in one new MFE course, students will study the lessons of past financial engineering triumphs such as the securitization of the mortgage market. They also will assess disasters such as the recent collapse of the hedge firm Long Term Capital Management that nearly caused a run on the world financial system.

* Students who are admitted to the Haas School MFE and MBA programs can earn both degrees in two years - combining the in-depth study of financial economics and the dynamics of markets of the financial engineering program with the leadership and general management education of the MBA program.

Academic programs that offer training in financial engineering are mushrooming at universities around the world because of the tremendous industry demand for skilled professionals. Most of these programs are offered by departments of mathematics, operations or other applied research.

"We're seeing tremendous interest among talented individuals coming from technical backgrounds, such as engineers, mathematicians, and scientists, who are in narrow jobs and are keen to transition to a brand new career where opportunities are abundant and continue to grow," says MFE executive director John O'Brien. O'Brien came to the Haas School after having served as managing director at Credit Suisse Asset Management, a multi-billion dollar asset management company.

While taught at a public university, the Haas School MFE will be a self-sufficient program funded by student fees and industry sponsorships. The tuition for the MFE degree is $34,000. Students in the concurrent degree will pay a $32,000 MFE fee in addition to regular MBA admissions fees of $10,458 for California residents or $20,702 for nonresidents.

"Our primary reason for sponsoring the Haas MFE program is our need to find first-rate candidates in this field," says Bob Litzenberger, managing director at Goldman Sachs and head of the Firmwide Risk department. Goldman Sachs & Co. is a founding sponsor of the program. "The growing demand and competition for highly educated financial talent warrants greater emphasis on proactive and creative recruiting efforts."



Master's of Financial Engineering Web site