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New Master's of Financial Engineering degree to be offered at UC Berkeley
15 Nov 2000

By Ute Frey, Media Relations

Berkeley - A new, one-year Master's of Financial Engineering (MFE) degree program is being launched by the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, to prepare candidates with superior analytical skills for a growing niche of quantitative finance careers. UC Berkeley's MFE is the first such degree program in the United States offered entirely under the auspices of a business school.

Taught by finance faculty from UC Berkeley's Haas School and UCLA's Anderson School of Management, the MFE 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 inaugural MFE class, the Class of '02, will begin taking courses at the Haas School at UC Berkeley in April 2001 and will graduate in March 2002. MBA students will have the option of earning both an MBA and MFE degree concurrently from the Haas School over two years.

"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., Gifford Fong Associates, Goldman Sachs & Co., KMV LLC, MBIA Inc., Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Quantal International Inc., and The Dean Witter Foundation. 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 and UCLA's Anderson School of Management. Earlier this year, the Financial Times ranked the Haas School's faculty #1 in the world for its research.

* 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 huge 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 nuclear physicists, mathematicians and engineers 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 (CSAM), 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 $32,000. Students in the concurrent degree will pay the 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."