CMU MSCF vs. LSE MFin for BB trading position


I got into these two gradaute programs: CMU MSCF, LSE MFin and have a hard time to decide for one.

I am an European engineering undergrad with internship experiences in consulting, risk, structuring and M&A. No full-time experience so far (full-time defined as entry level analyst position, not internship).

My long-term goal is to trade discretionary macro eventually, that is, to form a world view and to structure directional positions based on that view. I do NOT want to become a quant (although I'm good at math), because pure quantitative analysis is just not suitable to my personality, whereas discretionary macro is (this is somewhat irrational, but definitely true in my case). From the information I have gathered both here and on LinkedIn, sellside trading (IR/FX/EM) seems to be a viable path to eventually get hired at places like BlueCrest, Caxton, Breven Howard (or other smaller places which provide equally great opportunities)

Anyway, with my long-term goal in mind, I did some research and reasoning when comparing those two programs:

CMU Pro:

- high chance to get into a BB trading position in NYC - I know this is a quant program, but over half of the graudating class last year landed S&T positions at BB's, and about 20% of the entire class landed actual trading positions, even though trading itself is not a quantitative role.

- integrated summer internship

- good reputation in NYC and broad alumni network in the industry; however not sure if the reputation is specifically for quants, or for traders as well

- solid and established hiring relationships with DB/UBS/Citi; and "ok" relationships with GS/MS/JPM - which means that those banks hire a certian number of MSCF students every year, but GS/MS/JPM usually prefer undergrads for trading positions (not sure if that depends on personal performance or their hiring policy, because many MSCF students are pre-experience too)

- great career services: from resume/cover letter editing, mock interviews, to introduction to potential employers and hosting networking events only for MSCF students etc.

CMU Con:

- risk of being pigeonholed in a quant or risk position; although it is possible for quants to move into trading internally, it can be a long stretch and as I mentioned above, I don't want to become a quant in the first place

- although 20% of the class getting BB trading positions is quite a high number, that means also that 80% of the class didn't get them; ok lets assume that half of them didn't want to become a trader in the first place, but that still leaves over 30 people who couldn't make it into trading and hence had to settle for quant or risk

- Curriculum is probably 10x tougher than LSE, but I personally don't have any issue with that since it's only 16 months, and I have done a fair amount of advanced math and computing during my engineering undergrad (otherwise I wouldn't have been admitted in the first place)

LSE Pro:

- MFin is the (or one of the) flagship programs at LSE and the admissions rate is low (

- top target in UK, highly respected by most recruiters

- large alumni network in London and strong front office placements, so pretty high chance to get into trading as well (I would say even higher than CMU?)

- it's a highly qualitative education, which suits my personality better since I don't want to become a quant anyway

LSE Con:

- no integrated summer internship (program runs Sep15 - Jun16), however I have already had some relevant internships so I don't think this should be a huge concern, but again not sure

- although career service is available, I would say definitely not as strong as CMU

---> From the reasoning above, it seems that LSE would be a more reasonable choice for my personal goal, because there are less Con's and I don't have to worry about becoming a quant due to the nature of the curriculum.

But CMU has been my dream school for years and based on my own personal but honest assessment, I do have better verbal English communication skills than most MSCF students from Asia/India, which can indeed be a plus in trading interviews, because interviewers care more about communication skills, fit and personal well-roundedness, rather than "can you solve this stoch diff equation". So I would expect to outperform at BB trading interviews compared to many of my peers.

However, I don't know if it is wise to bet on that 20% chance.

So, if the goal is to land a trading position at DB/Citi/GS/MS/JPM, which program would you choose and why?

Also, if you disagree with or have comments on any statement above, I would be very happy to read them as well.

Sorry for this long post and many thanks in advance for your insights !!!

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Comments (4)

Mar 8, 2015 - 10:40pm

I think you might be overestimating CMU's curriculum rigor vs. LSE's, especially coming from an engineering background... if you're aiming for S&T in NYC go with CMU and never look back. If you're trying to stay in Europe then LSE might be a better play recruiting-wise but I can't comment on that. Good luck

Mar 9, 2015 - 10:08am

I would choose LSE. Firstly, the tuition is cheaper at LSE compared to CMU and if you want more math then you can choose elective courses from the MSc in FinMath. Secondly, in the US, you will need a Visa to work; you do not need that in the UK. Finally, you can definitely get a summer internship in London at one of the leading BBs even though you are a postgraduate student. I got a summer internship at GS in S&T and I am an MSc student at one of the target schools in the UK.

Mar 9, 2015 - 10:08am

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