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NeFall
02-10-2008, 03:39 AM
I have scoured these forums for sometime and I just want to talk a bout the Math subject. I have done a lot of searching and have seen a lot of people 's, who post here, opinion. I even read Mankiw's ideas (Greg Mankiw's Blog: Which math courses? (http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2006/05/which-math-courses.html)) on the subject.

However, after reading Levitt's Freakonomics I saw this: "Iím not good at math, I donít know a lot of econometrics, and I also donít know how to do theory." (Levitt explaining himself as an economist).

I understand he is probably selling himself a bit short, but it begs the questions: If you are into empirical research, corporate finance and its structure, the stock market, etc why do you need the math?

I was never that good in math and I only took the needed 1 year of calculus that Fairfield University required to get my finance degree. Now that I have been in the field for two years working on a equity capital markets desk for a small bank I want to get back into academia. Not to digest the theories of mathematics for classes such as Real Analysis but to study investment thesis, the fundamental analysis, the pros and cons of CEO pay disclosure, FED policy, the pricing of volatility, the effect of news on the market, why the market has crashed, etc.

I know the importance of going to a HBS, Cornell, Yale, MIT, etc and I want to give myself that experience because I believe I have the financial savvy for it, minus the math. I started reading Simmons, Precalclus Mathematics in a Nutshell, in hopes of then reviewing my calculus notes and embarking on a long road of math courses to apply to a program and never use the math skills, to that extent, again. However, while reading Simmons' work, which is quite easy to read and well put together, I asked myself, "Do I really give a **** that two objects of the same height with equal areas of their corresponding cross-section have the same volume?" The answer is no. Nor do I care how and why Pythagorean Theorem is what it is.

I have sat in both B-School and Undergrad finance courses, never is any of this stuff used. Why should I have to bore myself for a couple of years to get through Multivariate Calculus, Differential Equations, Linear Algebra, and Real Analysis to explain to my undergraduates and/or b-school students why when a bond trades below its par it is at a discount? Or when I write a journal article researching the effect of discount brokers on the stock market?

I just do not understand, and if anyone can help clear this up please do.

Andronicus
02-10-2008, 03:50 AM
If you want to do real empirical research, you need to understand econometrics beyond the level of simply reading off t-statistics and R-squares. That's going to involve multivariable calculus and linear algebra, certainly. If your econometrics courses get into probability from a measure-theory perspective, you will definitely need to know some real analysis.

AstralTraveller
02-10-2008, 03:55 AM
Finance at undergraduate level (i.e., "real life") v/s graduate level (i.e., "academia") are like night and day. Advanced mathematical tools are actually needed and used extensively to do research.

As a professor of mine used to say "Finance is nothing but a branch of microeconomics". And microeconomics at graduate level uses proof based math a lot (try to sit through MasColell-Whinston-Green without the math). Even in Corporate Finance there's a lot of Game Theory involved (and Game Theory is hugely math intensive). Pythagorean Theorem is really the least of your concerns.

And, when you have to do empirical research, you'll need Stats and econometrics to understand what the computer is doing (or to tell it to do what you actually need). And I don't know how could anybody understand econometrics properly without advanced calculus, real analysis and probability theory.

Cheers,
AT

GymShorts
02-10-2008, 04:10 AM
Look at some the basic stock pricing formulas. Almost all of them are derived as an infinite series that converges. Look through your old corporate finance textbook. All the formulas in there come proofs, many of which involve mathematics far beyond calculus II. If you're content just trusting those formulas are true, then don't get a PhD. If you want to actually understand why they are true under the assumptions of the model, and why they aren't true when those assumptions are broken, then you should get a PhD...and you should also take a lot more math.

NeFall
02-10-2008, 04:13 AM
How did someone like Levitt make it? Even Mankiw, whose research is anything but math intensive?

Also, do you need to know all of the math before you enter graduate school or is any taught to you? I just do not know how I will catch up on my calculus and then take classes for: Calc III, LA, DFE, Foundations, RA, Econometrics, Game Theory and THEN apply. How do people do it and have it not take more than 1-2 years?

Lastly, is to say I do not like math pretty much saying I cannot pursue a PhD in Finance?

Andronicus
02-10-2008, 04:20 AM
I'm sure when Levitt says he's not good at math, he probably means he's not good at math for a U of C economist. That's kind of like being one of the weaker shooters on the Detroit Pistons. I'd be shocked if he didn't get through Calc III and Linear Algebra with A's, at bare minimum.

NeFall
02-10-2008, 04:32 AM
I am willing to learn it all if need be because I am very serious about this. However, I look back at all the math I have learned and there is a lot I have forgotten, which I bet is like many people here. I will be honest and humble and admit that I am not to familiar with how math works, so I ask this newbie question: If I learn a Calculus text book, which covers I-III, cover to cover (figuratively and literally) will I be then good to go to learn LA, DFE, RA, etc? Or are thre things covered before Calculus that are needed? I ask this because as I flip through a Pre-Calc text Table of Contents tere is a lot of stuff I do not know/remember (such as polar coordinates and vectors).

I guess what I am looking for is for someone to aid me in getting prepared if they can end me that much of a favor.

GymShorts
02-10-2008, 04:42 AM
First, you need to determine what your goals are. If you want to be the next Levitt or Mankiw, then you should go to a top university, in which case you'll need a lot more math than you have now. But if you just want to teach undergraduate finance courses at some unknown college, then you don't need to go to a top school.

If you don't want to go to a top school, then you'll just need to add a few math classes (linear algebra, calc III, and econometrics). If you must go to a top school then take those class, add differential equation and real analysis.

NeFall
02-10-2008, 04:52 AM
I would like to go to a top school and be the best that I can and at least give it a shot. I am just overwhelmed being that I am 24 and I have always wanted to do this but now with the support and the guts I have tried to tackle this head on.

I believe my hope that math is not needed stems from the simple fact that I am scared that I feel that I will never know the math necessary, and that is the honest truth.

On my desk sits: Simmons, "Pre-Calculus Mathematics in a Nutshell"; Schaum's Outline, "Pre-Calculus"; Stewart, Redlin, and Watson, "Pre-Calculus" (5th Ed.); Kelley, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Calculus"; Schaum's Outline, "Calculus"; and Larson, Hosteetler, and Edwards, "Calculus".

I have no idea where to begin and what I need to cover. I do not want to cover too much or too little. That is why I wondered that when you pass Calculus I-III (A's) do you need any math learned before this level? Also, what is needed to start Calculus? If I briefly read Simmons and then the chapter in Larson about the math before Calculus can I embark on it while using Kelley and Schaum for practice and for clarification?

I know this is a lot to ask but it would really help someone out who is throwing it out there for a bone.

bauble
02-10-2008, 05:07 AM
In econ and finance, you have to clear a bar of economics knowledge to be credible, and that requires a certain level of mathematical sophistication. But things look a lot scarier peeking in. There is a decent book "Mathematics for Economists," by Blume and someone else. Well, I've never used it, but I hear it is decent. Anyhow, it will give you some idea on what types of math might be handy.

Andronicus
02-10-2008, 05:14 AM
To start calc I you need to know basically the freshman algebra stuff (polynomials, exponentials, logarithms, etc.), plus some trig (sine, cosine, tangent, and their inverses). Precalculus is basically freshman college algebra plus trig.

If you've taken one year of calculus (differentiation and integration) you should be fine to take calc III (multivariable calculus) as well as linear algebra. You could probably also take ordinary differential equations. Once you get through those you could take real analysis (might be called advanced calculus at your school).

the_asker
02-10-2008, 05:15 AM
Hi NeFall.

You must know by now that Finance PhDs are on average much more mathematically inclined that Economics PhDs, but not liking math definitely bars you from being successful in either field.

There is really not much you need before calculus aside from algebra and trigonometry, which by and by you can pick up from the calculus classes anyway. But I think you would be better served by actually taking Calculus I and II rather than studying these yourself in preparation for Calculus III.

You might be surprised to know that you actually don't need Calculus I-III to take Real Analysis, although familiarity with the concepts would definitely be a plus. There is a distinction between math classes where you memorize formulas and apply them and math classes where you learn definitions and prove theorems. Graduate schools look for both of these in prospective PhDs.

All in all, I would say your thoughts on the relationship between math and economics/finance are somewhat off the mark. Certainly polar coordinates (but not the Pythagorean Theorem) are useless in economics. The point is that to be successful in economics one must be comfortable enough with math (both theoretical and applied) to learn these and much more challenging concepts instantly or with little difficulty.

By the way you describe your mathematical training you will probably need two years of math classes full time, with at least B+'s, to get into a good school. To get into a top school make that 2-3 years of A's and add in incredible contacts.

polkaparty
02-10-2008, 05:26 AM
First, I don’t know what your definition of a top school is (top 5, top 15, top 30, top 50?), but admissions are extremely competitive. Real world experience counts for essentially zero. You will be competing with people who did undergraduate degrees in mathematics and who have master’s degrees and have completed substantial academic research. So if you want to compete with these people, be prepared to invest a substantial amount of time to bringing yourself to their level.

Math is far more than just formulas and calculations. It is an entire way of thinking and communicating. There are tremendous differences between higher math (i.e., real math that mathematicians do) and math as it is known to the general public. Now, economists aren’t expected to be mathematical geniuses, but if you don’t at least have a good working knowledge of the tools and know a little bit about the more abstract things, then you will not make it. The days of Levitt’s “I only took calc 1” or whatever are over. The applicant pool is just far too strong.

You asked “If I learn a Calculus text book, which covers I-III, cover to cover (figuratively and literally) will I be then good to go to learn LA, DFE, RA, etc?” Diff Eq, yes. This course is usually considered a continuation of the calc sequence. Linear algebra & Real Analysis, maybe. These courses are usually proof based. Some schools offer them as a “first” proof based course, others will expect you to know what to do coming in. Many schools offer a transition to higher math course. This is perhaps one of the most valuable math courses you will ever take.

Also note that there are a lot of things you learn in typical undergrad math courses that are not very useful, geometry, polar coordinates, etc. [although these could be on the GRE which you’ll need to ace.]



On my desk sits: Simmons, "Pre-Calculus Mathematics in a Nutshell"; Schaum's Outline, "Pre-Calculus"; Stewart, Redlin, and Watson, "Pre-Calculus" (5th Ed.); Kelley, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Calculus"; Schaum's Outline, "Calculus"; and Larson, Hosteetler, and Edwards, "Calculus".

I have no idea where to begin and what I need to cover. I do not want to cover too much or too little. That is why I wondered that when you pass Calculus I-III (A's) do you need any math learned before this level? Also, what is needed to start Calculus? If I briefly read Simmons and then the chapter in Larson about the math before Calculus can I embark on it while using Kelley and Schaum for practice and for clarification?

I’m not sure what they usually teach in pre-calc classes…. You need to know basic algebra for sure: what is a rational function, factoring, exponents, logarithms, etc.

From the way you describe yourself as quite hopelessly lost with these texts, I think you should avoid self study. If you are really serious about doing this, enroll in a community college or university nearby and take the necessary math courses. They will guide you through the material you need to progress, and there will be someone to ask questions when you have them.

If you take courses nonstop then you should be able to complete at least 3 courses a year.

Finally, I know I have been very pessimistic, but I am generally an optimist and I believe that if you have the will, you can succeed. It’ll be a long road—math is a sequence and you have to take the classes in order, but you can do it if you have the will. It certainly helps to have the support of your friends and family as well.

NeFall
02-10-2008, 05:30 AM
Did not realize so many people responded.

the_asker
02-10-2008, 05:35 AM
Worried about getting ready for Calc? Exactly what math do you have under your belt so far? If you view Calc I as a major challenge I would say you are in big trouble. By now it should seem like a piece of cake, especially since you already have the textbooks.

NeFall
02-10-2008, 05:46 AM
For finance, econ, and calc I have taken:

Finance:
Corporate Finance (Intro and Advanced)
Money and Banking
Investments
Investment Banking
Security Analysis
Portfolio Management
Financial Markets and Institutions (Risk Management)
Seminar in Advanced Financial Topics

Econ:
Intro

Math:
Stats
Calc I
Calc II

I am not scared of Calculus I am scared of the prospect of either not being prepared to take Calc III or over studying and wasting time. Over the next 2-3 years I am looking to do what it takes to be a serious candidate for a top 25 program.

I know I have a lot of ground to cover but I am looking to do what I need to start this "road" until fall 2008 when I hope to start taking the classes needed.

So I guess my question is what can I do in the next few months to get ready and then for the next 2-3 years what are the essentials that I will need to get in (from all aspects: econ, math, finance).

I know I have a lot of work ahead and I welcome it. I just want to do it right and as efficient and quick as possible.

Andronicus
02-10-2008, 06:17 AM
If you have calc I and II, you should be fine for calc III. Beyond that you should definitely take:

Linear Algebra
Probability and Mathematical Statistics (calc III should be prerequisite)
Real Analysis / Advanced Calculus

Also helpful, but perhaps less essential:

Ordinary Differential Equations
Partial Differential Equations
Stochastic Calculus
Numerical Analysis
Intermediate Microeconomics & Intermediate Macroeconomics (usually required for econ PhD, not sure about finance PhD)

NeFall
02-10-2008, 06:43 AM
I just feel like it has been 4 years since I took calc will calc III be a hit the ground running situation or will I be able to ease into it and do well?

NeFall
02-10-2008, 06:52 AM
Things like this confuse me because it is not that much:

"All students are required to have, or to obtain during their first year, mathematical skill at the level of one year of calculus and one course each in linear algebra and matrix theory, theory of probability, and statistical inference."

Also, my biggest worry is doing what it takes to be 100% ready for calc III. I do not want to waste my time pouring over precalc stuff if it is a waste of time.

And I still wonder when you pass through calculus do you ever have to look back or is the future math just building blocks?

sunny58
02-10-2008, 06:55 AM
Hi nefall,

I can sympathize with your situation as the time between my first calculus class and my second was 5 years. I would say that the learning curve was extremely steep for me personally, so it took a lot of time and effort on my part to make sure I got an A in the course. Once you have learned something it isn't that difficult to pick it up again...or at least I think so. At the very least, you should remember 'buzz' words like antiderivatives and the like, and it'll all fall back into place.

That being said, I'm sure that since it has also been a while for you too, calc III will surely be difficult to jump back into but it is something I'm sure you or anyone can do if you are committed to it! Don't get too intimidated and if you are committed and sure that this is the path that you want to take, I would recommend that you jump back in and hit the ground running.

Best of luck!

the_asker
02-10-2008, 06:57 AM
Where did you get that quote from? I feel that graduate school websites often understate what is needed to be a competitive applicant.

I don't understand why you're so worried about Calc III. It could not have been that long since you took up Calc II, as long as you know how to differentiate and integrate then you should be fine! Everything will come back into place the first two or three weeks of classes.

And yes, you will need to look back once in a while.

constrainedoptimizer
02-10-2008, 07:22 AM
For finance, econ, and calc I have taken:

Finance:
Corporate Finance (Intro and Advanced)
Money and Banking
Investments
Investment Banking
Security Analysis
Portfolio Management
Financial Markets and Institutions (Risk Management)
Seminar in Advanced Financial Topics

Econ:
Intro

Math:
Stats
Calc I
Calc II

I am not scared of Calculus I am scared of the prospect of either not being prepared to take Calc III or over studying and wasting time. Over the next 2-3 years I am looking to do what it takes to be a serious candidate for a top 25 program.

I know I have a lot of ground to cover but I am looking to do what I need to start this "road" until fall 2008 when I hope to start taking the classes needed.

So I guess my question is what can I do in the next few months to get ready and then for the next 2-3 years what are the essentials that I will need to get in (from all aspects: econ, math, finance).

I know I have a lot of work ahead and I welcome it. I just want to do it right and as efficient and quick as possible.


Interesting...your profile and grammar remind me of this guy's:

\begin{profile}
Profile for: PhD Finance/PhD Business Econ I am looking to obtain a business econ or finance phd to do a lot of empirical research on the equity market and things such as M&A, LBO, Asset Pricing, etc. I plan to spend 2-3 years beefing up my math and taking courses I would need to help my chances.

Should I retake my GRE?
What math should I take for a business school PhD?
Should I take more econ than intermediate and econometrics?
Should I take more finance?
Is a LOR from a non-business professor worth it? Even if he has a PhD from a top 5 school and thinks the absolute world of you?
What kind of job should I get to help me in my pursuit, and will allow me to take a lot of classes?

Any other help is greatly appreciated.

Gre: 770 Q, 650 V, 6.0 A
Type of Undergrad: a liberal arts college; good but not elite
GPA: Overall: 3.75, Finance: 3.8
Classes:
Math: Calc I through II (A-'s), Probability & Statistics I (A)
Finance:Corporate Finance (B), Advanced Corporate Finance (A), Investments (A-), Money and Banking (A-), Seminar (B+)
**Not that it matters but the B and B+ was the same prof. who hated me**
Econ: Intro (A)
Research Experience: Full year research project my junior year
Teaching Experience: Lots of tutoring in finance and 1 semester of TA
LORs: One from a finance prof (Ph.D. from Mich) one from another finance(Ph.D. Toronto) one from either a grad teacher or a undergrad teacher. All of them are very high on me and know me well, but they are not well-known or well-published.

Other: American citizen, 6 months out of college
\end {profile}


Maybe you can contact him and exchange stories.

polkaparty
02-10-2008, 07:28 AM
Where did you get that quote from? I feel that graduate school websites often understate what is needed to be a competitive applicant.

Agreed. It sounds like it's from Berkeley. It just says "All students are required to have" that knowledge. It doesn't say "all students with these courses will be competitive applicants."

I definitely agree with the_asker: few grad schools give you a good idea at just how difficult it is to get in. The first thing they could do was tell us the # of applications receieved and # of admits given. Beyond that they should give more average stats like % having had 1 year, 2 year, 3 years, etc of research experience. % published, % with famous sounding last names, etc.

But is it in the graduate school's interest to reduce demand for their program? Surely they must profit from the marginal application (since the marginal application is going to be rejected).

BTW I want to give props to UC-Davis: They are the only school I can think of that does list # of applications received and # of admits given. They give 2 years worth of data I think.

Another thing: The OP mentioned top 25, given the background he or she has given us, I think the OP should expand the range of programs to top 50 for sure. Target the top 25 but cast a wide net, when you get there.

When it comes time for the OP to apply, things will have become even more competitive than they are today. There are awesome schools outside of the top 25, for instance Davis as I just mentioned.

mysherona
02-10-2008, 07:53 AM
Interesting...your profile and grammar remind me of this guy's:

Grammar? Really? What are you driving at? ;)

polkaparty: There are actually a few more departments that give admits/applications numbers. Off the top of my head I remember seeing those in Chicago, Harvard, UCLA, Duke and LSE. I am sure there are quite a few more. Of course, they still stop short of describing the ideal applicant, which UPenn at least tries to do.

the_asker
02-10-2008, 07:58 AM
Oops. Ditto on everything mysherona said. Including that grammar bit.

macroeconomicus
02-10-2008, 12:24 PM
If you want to take the absolute minimum of math, just take multivariate calculus, elementary linear algebra, and a calculus based course(s) in probability and statistics. Assuming you have good grades in these courses and overall you might get into some good mid-ranked or lower ranked PhD programs. Yes, in my opinion sometimes it is indeed the case that to write a good paper you need to ask the right questions and find or derive a data set that no one else had worked with before. Assuming there already exists a good theoretical and econometric frameworks that fit your circumstances, you might just get away by applying these methods to your questions. Being aware of modern econometric methods is certainly important, but you don't need to understand how they work in order to use them. That's what a lot of applied micro people do.

TruDog
02-10-2008, 01:18 PM
In econ and finance, you have to clear a bar of economics knowledge to be credible, and that requires a certain level of mathematical sophistication. But things look a lot scarier peeking in. There is a decent book "Mathematics for Economists," by Blume and someone else. Well, I've never used it, but I hear it is decent. Anyhow, it will give you some idea on what types of math might be handy.

The other author of Mathematics for Economists is Simon. I highly recommend this book for those of us who don't have a background in analysis.

NeFall
02-10-2008, 05:36 PM
The responses have been great, and I thank you all. I think I will just look over the basics of Calc I and II and then jump right into Calc III.

I do not know where there is definitive ranking but I am looking for a top 50, I will widen my range, in New England. Where can I find these schools?

Also, I started reading Mathematics for Economics and Finance by Martin Anthony and Norman Biggs.

pdesmmhh
02-10-2008, 05:44 PM
I wouldn't underestimate the importance of learning this material (again in your case) in the classroom. I found it extremely beneficial to be able to attend a lecture and have the prof point out common errors and be able to answer questions. Also being evaluated is important as it makes sure you really are learning the material. Also, it is awfully nice to have office hours for when you get stuck, which you will. I feel your pain, I had a 6 yr hiatus between HS and UG. But taking the classes over will be most beneficial. Also I know the Hostetler text and the only things you need to know from Algebra/Trig are in the front cover and the first chapter.

Andronicus
02-10-2008, 06:34 PM
I do not know where there is definitive ranking but I am looking for a top 50, I will widen my range, in New England. Where can I find these schools?

There really isn't one definitive ranking, but a good place to start is econphd.net (http://www.econphd.net). New England schools in the top-50 would include the Harvard, MIT, and Yale (of course), plus BU and BC. Maybe I am forgetting some.

buckykatt
02-11-2008, 03:22 AM
I just feel like it has been 4 years since I took calc will calc III be a hit the ground running situation or will I be able to ease into it and do well?

Depends on your school of course, but let me put it this way...

I took Calc II (and earned an A) last spring. Not quite a year later I'm taking Calc III and the first couple of weeks I've had to dig deep into my memory for some of the integration techniques I had down cold not even a year ago. For me, at least, the knowledge of specific techniques (especially trig) depreciates pretty rapidly.

Likewise, it had been a decade since I actively used my calculus knowledge when I took Calc II. So, the month before, I worked through the Calc I material in a textbook, reading all the proofs and working through a good sample of the problems. If I hadn't done that, the first few weeks would have been painful...

buckykatt
02-11-2008, 03:40 AM
But is it in the graduate school's interest to reduce demand for their program? Surely they must profit from the marginal application (since the marginal application is going to be rejected).


I'd be willing to bet that most, if not all, of the money we pay in application fees doesn't even make it to the econ department itself. Even if it did, no adcom in its right mind would want to encourage applications from students who would never get admitted just to get the $50-$100 fee.

Here are two ideas about what's going on:

1. Like the lines outside restaurants in Becker's classic paper, a high ratio of rejects to acceptances signals quality to potential applicants. I.e., every program wants to call itself "highly selective". So, yes, this might give a program an incentive to understate their requirements in order to keep up appearances. I'm skeptical, though, that a higher ratio is any better as a signal than simply saying something like "a competitive applicant will have completed a semester of real analysis and a calculus-based math stats course".

2. Raising the stated requirements would discourage applications from those who have little chance of acceptance, but it might also discourage some strong but risk-averse candidates who would otherwise apply and be accepted. Keeping the stated requirements low might be necessary to cast a wide enough net. Put another way, the "marginal application" *won't* necessarily be rejected.

Luckykid
02-11-2008, 04:43 AM
Could you take math econ courses? We have two semesters at my school and its basically Logic, Calc III, and Linear algebra rolled together covering the econ topics, good stuff!


Roy

KGkhan23
02-11-2008, 06:53 PM
The math question is something I was struggling with recently, so I decided to email Professor Levitt at Chicago. Here is what he said, minus a bit about a book signing:

I didn't know math when I got to grad school, but I
had to learn it. Grad school has become even more
mathematically focused today than it was 15 years ago.

I would say that if you aren't interested in/good at
math, you should apply economics in your career, but
not try to get an econ phd. Maybe try business for a
few years and see how it suits you. That is what I did.
when I realized I really wanted to be an academic,
it gave me the fire in the belly to work hard to excel.

Steve

I know the person who started this topic is looking at finance, but it is essentially the same when it comes to math.

So yeah, it does seem like learning math is necessary. Sucks.

buckykatt
02-11-2008, 07:08 PM
I tend to think that if you're not the sort of person who naturally cares about the Pythagorean Theorem, or doesn't recall fondly your first exposure to the Dirichlet Function, you're unlikely to make it at a top econ program regardless how much fire is in your belly.

snappythecrab
02-11-2008, 08:12 PM
Hi NeFall.Finance PhDs are on average much more mathematically inclined that Economics PhDs

Yeah, I'll agree with that. The one finance oriented class I took was pretty heavy...lots of stochastic calc, etc.

NeFall. You may want to email some finance profs at schools that are at the level that you're interested in. See what level of mathematical sophistication that they really recommend - not for you to just get in to a program, but do well in. Take a look at PhD-level class notes to get an idea of what really goes in finance courses, for example, John Cochrane's notes on Portfolio Theory (http://faculty.chicagogsb.edu/john.cochrane/research/Papers/portfolio_text.pdf). His notes are a good example about what you'd be exposed to. Take a look at his notes for other courses (http://faculty.chicagogsb.edu/john.cochrane/teaching/)too. This stuff is pretty heavy and really requires a fair mastery of a lot of different areas. It really would require I would say, two to three years of full time math the get there....at least.


My impression and honest opinion is that what you're looking for, you won't find in a finance PhD program. Ideas and concepts like "investment thesis, the fundamental analysis, the pros and cons of CEO pay disclosure, FED policy, the pricing of volatility, the effect of news on the market, why the market has crashed, etc" really won't be what you'll be looking at. The above notes provide a good example.

If you don't really love math, I honestly don't see you even being able to complete the courses that you would need to get in, much less succeed in a finance PhD program. You'll be doing nothing but crazy mathematics all day long for 4-6 years. And add to that another two to three years just for prep.

I think you want an MBA.

NeFall
02-11-2008, 11:54 PM
I do not want an MBA I would like to prepare myself to conduct original research. It is just odd that I spoke with students at some of the country's top Finance PhD programs int he world and got this response, "Yes, the more math the better but I have never taken stochastic calculus or anything of the sort. I had completed 3 semesters of Calculus and Linear Algebra. I plan to take Real Analysis while I am here and pick it up as I go along."

snappythecrab
02-12-2008, 12:22 AM
You say that...but given your posts, I'm quite sure you don't really know what a finance PhD program is about. You claim that you've "always wanted to do this," but you clearly don't even know what "this" is. Seems odd. Your aversion does not bode well for you.

And yes, there are people in programs, top programs, that haven't taken every course necessary. But those people are becoming fewer and increasingly far between in the discipline. Doing your best to prepare is generally the best policy. You're going up against some of the best and brightest in the world when it comes to applying, vying for funding, time, etc. It pays to be prepared. Don't take this the wrong way, but I think you really should start doing some research about what you'd potentially be getting yourself into, because honestly, I don't think you've got a clue.

GymShorts
02-12-2008, 03:04 AM
In my opinion, it sounds like a PhD program in Business Management, Strategy, or Organizational Behavior would be ideal for you.

NeFall
02-12-2008, 04:08 AM
do people teach with those degrees?

AstralTraveller
02-12-2008, 04:10 AM
In my opinion, it sounds like a PhD program in Business Management, Strategy, or Organizational Behavior would be ideal for you.

Add to it getting your degree from a math-averse business school like IESE. Great in management, but not solid in quantitative subjects. (Sounds like what you are looking for, NeFall)


do people teach with those degrees?

Yes. People from B-schools do lots of teaching.

Also, PhDs with degrees in Strategy from places like Kellogg, NYU, Harvard and UCLA, just to name a few, are fundamentally researchers. It's mostly down to where you get your degree at.

pdesmmhh
02-12-2008, 01:44 PM
I do not want an MBA I would like to prepare myself to conduct original research. It is just odd that I spoke with students at some of the country's top Finance PhD programs int he world and got this response, "Yes, the more math the better but I have never taken stochastic calculus or anything of the sort. I had completed 3 semesters of Calculus and Linear Algebra. I plan to take Real Analysis while I am here and pick it up as I go along."

I don't know why you would want to error on the side catastrophe rather than caution, but don't take a lot of math before you go if that is what you want to do. I have taken a course in Stochastic Calc, and it is not easy, I have also taken a Grad Level PDE course, which you will need if you want to do asset priceing, and it is really hard, especially if you don't have the proper background and a certain degree of mathematical maturity. Understand that the mathematics is going to be the hardest part of what you want to do. Math is technical and requires proof, not just a convincing argument or a good idea. Thus, why you wouldn't want to alleviate some of that difficulty beforehand is beyond me. And, since it is a signal to admission's committees that you have the requisite ability in the area (read: one less thing that will prevent you from being succesful), why not just do it now so you can improve your chances and focus on what it is you really want to learn?