Certificate to MS-CFRM Transition

Brian Ertley

Early in my investment career I knew that I would benefit from going back to graduate school, but I didn’t find a program that matched my interests focusing on risk, portfolio construction, and statistics.  Several years later I read about UW Applied Mathematics offering an online Certificate in Computational Finance.  UW distinguished itself from other programs by focusing on exactly on these areas of interest.  I looked carefully into the quality of the instructors and faculty and was impressed by their academics and business experience, so I signed up for the Certificate program, taking one class at a time.  My first two classes vastly exceeded my expectations for both course contents and instructor quality.  One thing that I hadn’t expected was the high quality of students in my classes, which included many industry professionals.  Based on my very positive experience in the certificate program, I applied for and was admitted to the first cohort in the online version of the new MS-degree program in Computational Finance and Risk Management.  During the MS program I studied portfolio construction under Doug Martin, financial econometrics from Eric Zivot, investment modeling from Guy Yollin, and risk management from three practitioners.  UW’s MS-CFRM program has already opened new doors for me.  I was fortunate to simultaneously have two very good buy-side job offers to choose between.  I’m currently working at a large well-known firm and every day I’m leveraging the combination of my prior professional experience and what I learned in the UW programs. I couldn’t be happier with my experience.


Brian Ertley, CFA
Senior Risk Manager

Aristides Briceno

There are many programs about finance, but I feel the M.S. Degree in Computational Finance and Risk Management in Washington University is unique and perfect in many aspects. Impressive curriculum, no better way to learn than by practicing with R, very convenient by allowing me to watch the classes at any time and review them as needed, highly qualified professors, excellent support with Teacher Assistants, share knowledge/questions/answers with other students, and finally and very important, in a prestigious university. It is a challenging program and I enjoy learning from it. Definitely, this M.S. Degree has been one of the best decisions in my life. There are no words to express my gratitude to all and in special, to my professors and Teaching Assistants.


Aristides Briceno, Senior Actuarial Analyst
MERCER, RSC Retirement, Risk & Finance Consulting

Ian Kaplan

I am a computer scientist had previously worked in finance at the Prediction Company where I learned some aspects of quantitative finance.  The University of Washington’s online M.S. degree program in Computational Finance and Risk Management, offered by the Department of Applied Mathematics, has given me a great gift: it has taught me how much I still have to learn. My professors have challenged me, supported my learning and recognized my effort. They have helped lay the foundation that I will build on for many years to come. I will always be grateful that I had the chance to be a student in this M.S. degree program.


Ian Kaplan, Class of 2013

Riyaaz Shaik

I have worked as a software engineer at Google and currently work as a research software development engineer at Microsoft Research.  I am an online part-time student in the UW Applied Mathematics Department’s Masters in Computational Finance and Risk Management.  My objective for enrolling in this program is to prepare myself for the long-term goal of pursuing a career in quantitative finance.  I am very appreciative of the excellent mode of teaching and support always given in the program.  I had taken an online course at another top university where the online student group was treated as a stepchild throughout.   In this UW online program the instruction and help are simply the best.


Riyaaz Shaik

Paul Bouchey

As managing director of research for a large quantitative asset manager, I began in the UW CompFin program with a three-quarter certificate sequence of courses during 2010-11. Based on my satisfaction with the courses and instructors I did not hesitate to continue with the MS degree in Computational Finance and Risk Management. I especially appreciated the depth of the mathematical instruction—you can't get this level of understanding through self-study, the CFA, or through on-the-job training. The MS in Computational Finance and Risk Management at the UW has the Applied Mathematics department as its home, and consequently provides a very strong foundation in the statistical and analytical concepts of quantitative finance. However, the ability to solve a partial differential equation or derive the Black-Scholes model alone won't land you a job or help you keep it. What this program does to help prepare students for a successful career in quantitative finance is create a solid link between theory and practice.  It accomplishes this through a focus on R programming, a specific course on electronic trading, and through the faculty—which are a healthy mix of academics with industry experience and leading industry professionals contributing their knowledge and experience as Affiliate Instructors.


Paul Bouchey, Managing Director – Research
Parametric Portfolio Associates

Frank Dooley

As an employee of a global banking and financial services firm seeking a highly quantitative finance program, I had the very good fortune of enrolling in the UW Computational Finance Certificate Program in 2011.  This superbly designed program of four courses taught by a most distinguished faculty turned out to be an amazingly powerful learning experience for me, providing me with tools to unlock the mathematics of current financial articles as well as exposing me to "cutting edge" coding techniques presented mostly in the context of the R programming language.  The great care taken in the design and delivery of this program became evident to me as the courses proceeded. As a person with a strong actuarial background, I really appreciated the mathematical knowledge I gained, especially as regards areas such as Expected Tail Loss, portfolio optimization and futures mathematics.  With the theoretical (which definitely includes philosophical) knowledge there was balanced a lot of practical applications through great and varied R programming exercises.
     But one of the greatest experiences for me as an online student was the very pleasant experience of working with a group of faculty, staff and students who genuinely went out of their way to offer help and discussion. Professors and teaching assistants took great time, effort and care to help students who were working through tough problems. These professors and teaching assistants were of the very highest quality I have ever seen. Special homework sessions were made available for online participants.  Students used a discussion forum to work through problems which led me personally to success on some problems that initially seemed intractable for me, which I believe falls under the rubric of "mind-stretching". 
     And that leads to me to a comment on what are often deemed the all-important but hard to define "intangibles" that make something not just good, but exemplary .  These involve a culture or "spirit" of folks working together to create a great environment for learning as well as an emphasis on ethics and integrity. Call it "good will" or whatever you'd like, the UW has it and I am very glad to be a part of it.
     Because of the quality of my experience with the Computational Finance program, I applied for and was accepted for admission as a candidate for the M.S. in Computational Finance and Risk Management. So the certificate program turned out to be a great opportunity for me to pursue the Master's degree.


Frank Dooley, Class of 2014
Subscribe to RSS - Certificate to MS-CFRM Transition