AU's Hot Commodity:
Specialized Master's Finance Degrees
With a new lab providing a virtual Wall Street trading floor experience and new graduate degrees in quantitative finance, AU’s Kogod School of Business is positioned to prepare tomorrow’s leaders with the skills and knowledge to handle the challenges of the changing financial landscape.
Banks, investment firms, and automotive companies on the brink of failure. Frozen credit markets. A real estate market flooded by foreclosed homes. As the financial world struggles to right itself with help from the government, one thing is clear: the next generation of leaders in finance, banking, and real estate will need to have an improved mastery of the mathematical and analytical skills required to minimize risk and responsibly maximize return.
Schools across the United States, such as American University’s Kogod School of Business, are rising to meet the need by offering new master's degree programs focused on quantitative finance. The programs are highly specialized, technical, and mathematically focused, whereas MBA programs—even those with a finance track—usually provide a broader, management-based focus.
“We have seen a strong increase in demand for excellent quantitative skills in finance and real estate,” said Kathleen Getz, senior associate dean for academic affairs at Kogod. “The complexity of global financial markets requires more analysts with increasingly higher levels of skills and knowledge.”
According to data gathered from the Web site global-derivatives.com, the number of such programs in the United States—including mathematical and computational finance as well as financial engineering—appears to have almost doubled since 2000. Of those launched since 2000, approximately 26 percent were established during the past five years (2004–2009) and of those programs, nearly 47 percent were established during the past two years (2007–2009).
The most recent programs include two at Kogod and programs in business and applied sciences schools at Purdue University, the University of Maryland–College Park, the University of California–Los Angeles, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Delaware, Stony Brook University, and the University of Minnesota.
“Finance is inherently a field in applied mathematics and economics, and we have positioned our programs to help students succeed in that environment,” said Phil English, director of Kogod’s master of science in finance and master of science in finance and real estate degree programs, first offered in fall 2008.
The increased offering of graduate quantitative finance programs is not only in response to a high demand in the marketplace, but also one from prospective students.
“Right now, the number of applications for our master's in finance programs is three times the number of students we have enrolled in the programs,” said English. “Not all of the applications have been processed, so it is likely that we are talking about five to six times more applications than there are current students.”
In direct response to the financial crisis, programs such as those at Kogod include courses tailored to address current topics and regulatory efforts.
“We can change these classes to ensure our students are competitive,” English said.
To further enhance its financially focused curriculum, Kogod recently added a new financial services and information technology lab that simulates a Wall Street trading-room floor experience. It is part of the new multimillion-dollar expansion of the Kogod building. The lab is equipped with state-of-the art technology including ThomsonONE financial software and a trading wall with a financial ticker and news feed.
American University’s Kogod School of Business is the oldest business school in Washington, D.C., and is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
Founded in 1955, Kogod is named in honor of its benefactors, Robert and Arlene Kogod. Dedicated to providing an interdisciplinary business education, Kogod offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs that leverage the expertise of the business community to create market-driven programs that produce outstanding candidates prepared for productive careers in the global business environment.
Kogod is Expanding
The expanded Kogod building features seven new classrooms, including a financial services and information technology lab.