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Stanford Masters vs Johns Hopkins PhD

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Hey everyone,

I recently got accepted to Stanford for a Master's in Statistics as well as Johns Hopkins for a PhD in Applied Mathematics and Statistics. I'm looking to pursue in a career in becoming a quantitative analyst. Does anyone mind helping me weigh the pros and cons? Also, is Johns Hopkins' PhD in Applied Mathematics and Statistics ranked highly?

Thanks for your help!

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Kinda late to the one-man party, but here are my several cents:


I've read a lot about being a quant, on WSO, QuantNet, Nuclear Phynance, Quora, etc. I ultimately gave up that path, but here's what I learned:


1) Johns Hopkins

- PhD! If you really really want a PhD, then you've got your opportunity here.

- FUNDED! $$$ Though consider opportunity cost of work experience and compensation, since you know you don't want to stay in academia. 

- It's a PhD program. If things don't work out, leave with a Masters and do yo thang.


2) Stanford

- THE BEST STATS PROGRAM IN THE WORLD: Think about your peers and the network potential with the best MBAs

- THE BEST BRAND NAME IN THE WORLD: Brand name can opens doors like crazy, especially Stanford's, and especially compared to Hopkins' lackluster Wall Street representation (short of med-related groups). Stanford is currently the best brand in the world (among everything), and probably for the far future.

- Quant trading is pretty meritocratic. You eat what you kill in the market. And a Master's gives you 3-4 years of prime killing time in your 20's.

- The Stanford environment makes anything feel possible. You may decide you want to join a startup afterwards. I've even seen LinkedIn profiles of people starting quant funds (see Dev Nag and Seldon Capital). I've also seen Venture Capital funds hire data scientists / quant analysts.

- Wall Street goes to Stanford to recruit. Hopkins? Not so much.

- If you really really want a PhD, apply again with a Stanford M.S.

- Bay Area vs Baltimore? Not even a contest...


3) Quant Trading vs Quant Research

- Getting a Phd will bin you as a Quant Researcher. That is, generating ideas and testing them, but leaving the traders to implementing them on the market. This is a support role, with little P/L exposure. Many Researchers want to move to the Trader position.

- Getting a M.S. keeps all Trader positions open to you, as quant funds hire even hire quality B.S. candidates for this role. 

- Common concern is a M.S. can distract you into quant developer roles. I've personally seen this for several PhDs too. This is a slight but equal risk for both programs.


4) Your goal: Become a Quant Analyst

- PhD: research things and publish, publish, publish, 24/7. Depends on advisors' interest. Hopkins isn't known for finance research.

- M.S.: don't do research, but build a quant system or portfolio in your free time. Test it for 2 years, get academic feedback and recommendations, write about it on a blog. This looks VERY VERY good if you put in the effort.


So, you can see that the above comments are more enthusiastic toward Stanford, and for good reason. Of course, this is just want I'd think if I had a huge desire to be a quant analyst. 

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