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NYU Courant vs Columbia APAM


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Hello folks - I've been admitted to MS programs in both schools and am having trouble deciding which to commit to.

I'm nervous about getting pulled in by the Columbia prestige and missing out on the Courant education. Is one program significantly better than the other? What are the key differences? Thanks in advance. 

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I also received offers for both programs (NYU M.S. in Mathematics / Columbia M.S. Applied Mathematics).  Think it depends on what you want to do, so I will just give my $.02.

I'm interested in quantitative finance, so I plan to use the degree to build background in PDE's/machine learning/statistics/coding.  This is probably easier to do at Columbia since you can take half the courses in CS/op research departments, though it's possible to do it at NYU as well through research projects and the optional thesis.  NYU could be 4 semesters full-time if you write a thesis, Columbia would be 3.  Career services is probably better at Columbia; this is not a reflection of the relative "status" of the two schools but the fact that Fu Foundation has dedicated career services while NYU Courant (non-MSFM) does not, so an incoming NYU grad student just needs to be aware of that.  However, not many students in the Columbia engineering school are interested in finance, and the career services and alumni relationships reflect that; I think in a weird way Courant probably has an advantage in this respect with regards to alumni (more important) if not career services.

From the point of view of finance industry, my operating assumption is that the two graduate schools are basically indistinguishable, or at least indistinguishable enough that it isn't worth worrying about.  Both departments have been around long enough to have graduated thousands of people who have gone on to do brilliant/useful things at these firms; I think we're well beyond the point where employers look at a Columbia grad student differently from an NYU grad student.  In more recent decades they have both established financial engineering programs that are well-regarded, NYU perhaps even slightly better.  I wouldn't make any consideration for perceived brand since it's really impossible to know the general picture of whether employers really even see any value in making a distinction.

I can't resist taking a potshot at Columbia since I work with so many of their graduates at my current job.  Few schools do more to make a total commodity of their brand.  Columbia admits THOUSANDS of graduate students.  Even if it were reasonable to make a decision based on brand, it seems spurious to assume that employer perception stays undiminished under that admission policy.

Suggest reaching out to alumni and program staff to learn more if you haven't done so.

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