Can anyone share some advice/insights please?
This week is the last week for making decisions, and it will be one of the most important decisions I make in my 20's at least.
I have recently been accepted to the CUNY graduate center with tuition + stipend.
Although the overall ranking and reputation of the program at CUNY is not the best, I applied there and am considering it because of its focus on finance and its availability of a huge group professors whose main focus is in financial economics. I couldn't find any program that had that many professors in financial economics.
On the other hand, I also have a competitive offer from UC Irvine. Although UCI is not known for financial economics, there are professors who I can definitely work with, and their focus on data science is really attractive.
I would have to say that I am happy with landing a good industry job as both places are not the optimal places to go to for academic positions anyway. With that being said, I think CUNY's advantage is its huge faculty (and courses) in financial economics and location. But I do not know interactive the faculty is with the grad students. UCI has slightly better reputation and offers a MS in Statistics and one of their labs focuses on deep learning which I can definitely take advantage of and utilize in so many fields including finance, tech, etc. In other words, I feel like I will learn more technical stuff there.
Anyways, can any of you provide any insights/advises on which one I might be better off choosing?
CUNY's faculty size is not quite as impressive as it looks at first. While you can in theory work with any of the faculty, in reality only about 20-25 work with or advise grad students on any regular basis. That said, those who do frequently work with grad students tend to be their best faculty.
When you asked for advice back in November you mentioned that your interests were in Macro and Game Theory. If you had said you were interested in finance I would have advised you to apply to finance PhD programs. While the finance group at CUNY Econ is strong, and their students who concentrate in finance have their best academic job placements (health and labor place better in industry/govt) the best finance faculty are based at Baruch and tend to concentrate on the CUNY-Baruch Finance PhD students who place far better than the econ PhD students. (All CUNY schools contribute faculty to their PhD programs at the Graduate Center but Baruch which has the only MBA granting B-school in the system and houses the Business PhD program has the strongest finance group by far). Even so, the finance group is strong for an econ PhD program.
A big advantage for CUNY is the NY area Inter-University Doctoral Consortium which allows doctoral students in any member institution (including CUNY GC, NYU GSAS, Columbia GSAS, and Princeton) to take classes at any other school in the consortium starting in their second year. This allows you access to courses and faculty at other local schools. Plus there are always seminars in the NY area at all the schools as well as the NBER and people (mostly faculty) from one school often attend seminars at other schools.
If you are really interested in finance, I don't think Irvine is much of an option since the econ department has no top finance people to my recollection and the B-school and econ department are very separate, while most Baruch's finance faculty are also part of the CUNY GC faculty
I think you are definitely right on that just considering finance, Irvine is not much of an option. However, what really made me consider Irvine is their focus on statistics and machine learning which are essential tools in finance nowadays and will be in the future. I just wasn't so sure if I could experience similar exposure to technical materials at CUNY. Do you have any insights on that? Also, the placement for students who concentrate finance is not stellar at CUNY for industry jobs which was really surprising.
I think having not visited CUNY really made me worry maybe more than I should.
Thank you again for you advise!
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B-school finance students take some core classes from the econ department and the econ students taking finance field classes from the finance department. Nearly all programs let an econ student have a B-school committee member. In fact some programs require an "outside" committee member and often B-school faculty, even doing research on related topics count. However at most universities the departments don't share faculty and do not allow a dissertation chair or co-chair for an econ PhD student to come from the B-school. As such, an econ student concentrating in finance, especially if you are not at a top 20 department will have much more limited access to the B-school finance job market. Irvine is to my understanding typical in this regard.
At CUNY most of the best finance faculty are the same faculty who make up the finance department at Baruch which is a top 50ish finance department itself. And so academic placements for CUNY econ students concentrating in finance end up being roughly comparable to a lower tier (top 100ish) B-school finance PhD program.
As far as industry placements in finance, a new assistant professor in finance at a solid liberal arts college with an AACSB acredited undergrad B-school and a 3-2 teaching requirement and little in the way of research requirements can easily be making125k and often more. And a full professor at such a school can get 200k+ so the draw of industry is not as strong. Plus the best PhD jobs on Wall Street are going to the Math, Stats and OR students from top 20 departments in those fields.
The starting salary range for CUNY econ PhD's concentrating in finance who got placed in B-school jobs is about 100k-150k. No bonus but better quality of life and often lower cost of living. Full professors of finance at those B-schools get 150k-200k. And many finance professors make extra money doing consulting, but that varies. So there is not a significant advantage of going to industry unless you either hate teaching (since placements are mostly at teaching oriented schools) or really want to go into the management side where the really big money is or value slightly higher salary more than quality of life. For an econ PhD from a mid or lower tier program without the ability to place students in the B-school job market, those wall street jobs make more sense since if they go to academia, starting salaries will probably be in the 65k-85k range (and full professors for those types of placements get 100k-125k). For math or stats PhDs this is even stronger since those fields usually require a couple of years of post-doc work before getting a TT job.
As far as machine learning, a lot of the econ and finance PhD programs have started incorporating some machine learning into their training, usually as some sort of elective, but you should probably ask them to find out if they are doing that. The CS department at CUNY has a bunch of ML people and you could probably take courses there. Via the Doctoral Consortium you could probably get permission to take ML classes at NYU CDS, but it would be a good idea to find out if this is the case.
Last edited by zshfryoh1; 04-11-2019 at 01:23 AM. Reason: clarifying unclear sentence
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