Double Degree - Finance With Math or Computer Science?

Hey WSO,

I know there have been a couple similar threads (The one with the Wharton and some previous Waterloo DD w. S&T threads) but I still want some opinion, etc.

I plan on going to the University of Waterloo and Wilfred Laurier University double degree for either Math/BBA or CompSci/BBA and of course I plan to specialize in finance on the BBA side. I'm interested in S&T but open to all areas of higher Finance (e.g. iBanking, etc.) especially outside of Canada.

I was initially set on Math/BBA but there are a couple things that I have begun considering.

  1. I find Computer Science definitely much more applicable than math - being able to program is obviously application wise much more useful than learning math.
  2. Kind of reiterating but my options for my math specialty are actuarial science, statistics, mathematical finance pretty much (there are a couple others) but they are not too related specifically to any job I'm interested it (Mathematical finance is more for Phd quant stuff)
  3. I've had more exposure to Math but that's just because of how high school is but was only able to take one Comp Sci Class because of my school. I excelled in both subjects but I'm worried I might be behind in Comp sci vs my peers in first year at least - although I don't think this should be too much of a problem.
  4. Waterloo's co-op is one of the best programs in Canada at least if not more and this is mainly due to the amazing comp sci jobs leading the front. This could be a good place to start to break in to finance. However, I wouldn't say Math is too shabby either.
  5. Probably the most important question is what I'm more interested/passionate about and to answer that - I really don't know. I definitely am not too interested in pure math (Never was into math contests and stuff) and I haven't had too much exposure in Comp Sci. I guess I could say I like both because they are both interesting and though provoking. However, I can definitely I'm very interested about finance.
  6. I hear people say math is a better compliment to business but I've also read how computer science could be as well.

There are a couple other things that I might have left out but I guess that's the gist of it. I want to hear your opinion!

Comments (19)

Apr 1, 2011

CS

Apr 1, 2011

math/cs instead

Apr 1, 2011

There is no math/cs except a math major with cs minor or cs major with math minor

"Know thyself"

Apr 1, 2011

I would do computer science. It's more practical and applicable to trading. Traders can use algorithmic trading to increase their profits. You can write the shit out of some macros to improve efficiency. If you look at UPenn's (Wharton's) employment statistics, you can see that a lot of finance + cs kids ended up at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. As Carl Icahn said in a guest lecture to a Yale class: "I wish I understood the computers. They're over my head. Back in the 60's, I found the bonafide arbitrage opportunities by looking hard for them. Now, I can't beat the computers."
I'm doing the computer science and business double degree. I got rejected from Wharton, so I'm coming to Waterloo. I'm going to try to transfer to Wharton after one year at Waterloo, and I suggest you do the same. Wharton is Ivy League and frankly, Waterloo doesn't compare. UPenn has a Wharton + engineering dual degree program that's basically a more hardcore version of this program, and these kids place into Wall Street better than anyone else.

"The code of competence is the only system of morality that's on a gold standard." - Francisco d'Anconia

Apr 1, 2011

Look at this thread //www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/st-waterloo
Everybody says that cs is better. One BB recruiter says, "Some of those Math/busi DD don't take enough CS electives..."

But, the financial mathematics concentration would help too. They're both great programs, I just didn't apply to the Math/Busi DD lol.

"The code of competence is the only system of morality that's on a gold standard." - Francisco d'Anconia

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Apr 2, 2011

I would do CS and BBA. I know that Waterloo offers two computer science courses for freshman, the beginners and the advanced course. So just pick the beginners course (like the majority of the CS freshmen) and you'll be fine.

Also, you might want to limit your geographic scope as the placements for Laurier/Waterloo graduates outside of Canada (ie US), especially for BBs isn't that strong. But I know of some engineers from Waterloo who work in the Big 5 banks, so there's that.

Apr 2, 2011

Hey guys, thanks for the responses.

Toby, I have read the posts on that thread a couple times before I posted my own. Valid points are brought up for comp sci/BBA. I also recieved an offer to Waterloo's Math/CA. While I'm not sure if I want to go, my parents are kind trying to persuade me to choose Math/CA - they don't really know the differences in the business job industry ><

"Know thyself"

Apr 2, 2011

.

"Know thyself"

Apr 2, 2011

Dude, don't do the math/CA program. You do realize that you're about to let your parents force you to become an accountant? Do you want to be mocked for the rest of your life and have a pitiful existence?
Here's a stat for you: 2% of the Wharton class goes into accounting. 60% go into the financial services. Wharton kids can do whatever they want, they can conquer the world, and the vast majority choose finance over accounting.

"The code of competence is the only system of morality that's on a gold standard." - Francisco d'Anconia

Apr 2, 2011

I have a question too. Should I have Waterloo or Laurier as my base school? I want to do S&T.

"The code of competence is the only system of morality that's on a gold standard." - Francisco d'Anconia

Apr 2, 2011

Couple questions:

-What is your school stronger in?

-How conservative are you?

CS at a good engineering school already covers more than enough courses for a minor and perhaps covers 40-50% of the required Math coursework for an applied math major. You'll cover calculus through Calc III, diffy'qs, linear algebra, probability-based calculus, and discrete mathematics.

I'm a conservative guy and on balance, I think CS is the best choice. It gives you a whole lot more backups and optionality. During recessions in 1983 and 2008, it was great to have a programming background that you could lean on, rather than just a CS background.

Math is often a tougher major and I think a lot of recruiters recognize that, but an Engineering CS degree tends to get a lot of credit too. So I'd make my decision based on some combination of whether you have a stronger CS or Math program and how lucky you are feeling.

Apr 2, 2011

One thing that hasnt been brought up is that you shouldnt let your desire to have the best major combo on your CV fuck your GPA over. It doesnt matter if you have a BBA/ECS/Math tripple major if you have a 2.0 GPA your still going to be fucked.

As far as S&T goes a programing based CS is a much better choice it will allow you to write your own systems for trading and do it on your own.

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

Apr 2, 2011

Well, again, this is assuming a strong program. For a strong undergraduate CS program, for instance, I would expect three algorithms courses with a strong emphasis on algorithmic complexity management and reduction, with the final one at a level where it can be taken concurrently for PhD/MS credit. If you are coming out of school without knowing when to do a radix vs divide-and-conquer sort, or not knowing how to handle network flow problems, or not knowing how to avoid deadlock in threading, that's going to put you at a competitive disadvantage for algorithmic trading. That's the baseline for algo trading; from there, you then have to be better than the competition at taking insights from the market that others can't see.

If you can't take a 400-level algorithms course, or a course on threading, I would steer you towards a Math major instead.

Apr 2, 2011

Waterloo has one of Canada's top Math, CS and Engineering programs in Canada. In fact the only comparable school would be UofT (But UofT is more focused on academics and research, Waterloo more focused on industry). Basically, the math program and computer sciences programs are the best I can get.

In terms of how conservative I am - I honestly don't really how to assess myself properly to answer that question. I guess I could say I am on the less conservative side but not too impulsive/risky either.

In regards to the GPA comment - one of my top priorities would be to be able to attain a high GPA and I think I could be suited to in both programs (Although less sure in computer science).

Also, I mentioned I'm not set in stone at all really for S&T, or anything for that matter. I'm pretty interested in finance though - I don't think there are many high school kids who were deeply interested in things like the recent financial crisis and the financial products that caused it (Maybe there are, but not around here in Toronto ahahahha).

"Know thyself"

Apr 2, 2011

That's so true. I'm from Toronto too, and most of my friends don't know what Goldman Sachs is.
"Who's Goldman sach's? Some jewish guy?"
Are you waterloo side or laurier side? I heard laurier has more finance-related coop. But I'm on the waterloo side for now.

"The code of competence is the only system of morality that's on a gold standard." - Francisco d'Anconia

Apr 2, 2011

Most likely on the Waterloo side.

"Know thyself"

Apr 6, 2011

Seriously, which school as the better coop system for S&T? I know that Laurier has more finance positions than Waterloo, mostly for ibanking. But since S&T is such a quantitative job, and a lot of traders are engineers, wouldn't that mean that Waterloo's coop system would be better?

"The code of competence is the only system of morality that's on a gold standard." - Francisco d'Anconia

Apr 10, 2011

Bump.

"Know thyself"

May 18, 2013
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