Q. 
In
looking for a job in mathematics, I am seeing a
variety of
opportunities in financial math. Is that similar
to being an actuary,
or how do they relate? 
A. 
The
word "finance" is used in describing a wide range
of activities,
including a large part of what business school is
about (covering
topics such as balance sheet management and
financial reporting). The
role of mathematics in finance is primarily in
three areas of
increasing complexity:
Basic Finance  This is the
mathematics of determining the value of known cash
flows using known
interest rates, such as pricing mortgages, loans,
and bonds. This is
the mathematics associated with accounting, and
can begin to be
understood even with only high school mathematics.
Actuarial
Mathematics  To the basic financial mathematics,
one adds uncertainty
and risk to the calculations, in order to deal
with products such as
insurance. This mathematics blends basic finance
with a great deal of
probability theory, and so is accessible only in
later years of an
undergraduate university education. Becoming a
full actuary involves
writing a sequence of exams offered by the
professional actuarial
associations (SOA and CAS), many of which will be
written after
beginning a career with an insurance company.
McMaster University
offers a sequence of courses that parallel the
first four actuary exams.
Financial
Mathematics  Modern financial mathematics is a
rich and challenging
area that addresses issues such as pricing,
hedging, risk measurement
and management. The elements being modelled and
assessed arise from
uncertainty in stock markets, interest rates,
foreign exchange,
commodities, and the possible default of a company
or person. The
mathematical tools used include stochastic
calculus and partial
differential equations. As such, it requires an
undergraduate degree in
a mathematicallyoriented field in order to tackle
the topics at a
graduate school such as ours at McMaster
University. We offer a one
year Masters in Financial Mathematics at McMaster
("MPhiMac" for
short) that provides a thorough and practical
grounding in the tools
and techniques currently being used and developed
in banking
internationally.



Q. 
Do I have to have a math
degree to enter MPhiMac? What kind of
undergraduate courses do I need? 
A. 
In
general, we accept students without a math degree
provided they have
taken enough upper level math courses to be able
to follow the intense
pace of the program. As general guidelines, the
following courses
(based on the McMaster
course list) would be desirable:
Math 3A03  Real Analysis I
Math 3FF03  Partial Differential Equations I
Stats 3D03  Mathematical Statistics I
Math 4K03  Mathematics of Finance
Math 4Q03  Numerical Methods for Partial
Differential Equations
Stats 4D03  Intermediate Probability
Note
that you do NOT need to take all of these course,
but have to
demonstrate that you are comfortable with a
substantial part of the
material covered in them.



Q. 
What kind of grades do I
need to enter the program? 
A. 
Successful
applicants will have a minimum B+ average across
their level 3 and 4
undergraduate courses, or the equivalent standard
from their
university. Beyond academic achievement, other key
indicators of
potential success in the program are analytical
expertise, excellent
communication skills and computer programming
capability. 


Q. 
I have missed the
February deadline, can I still apply? 
A. 
We
do consider applications beyond the February
deadline, but please get
your application in as soon as possible to ensure
consideration for a
seat in the fall. 


Q. 
Can I begin the program
in January? 
A. 
No.
The MPhiMac program is an intense and structured
programme that begins
with a new cohort of students each September. The
students work through
the 8 month of coursework as a team, developing
valuable interpersonal
skills and relationships, before being introduced to
the industry by
the beginning of May. 


Q. 
Is there financial
support available? Are there TA positions
available? 
A. 
We're
afraid not. In order to deliver the course
requirements of a Masters
degree in Financial Mathematics in only 8 months,
the Mphimac program
has a very intense schedule which does not provide
the opportunity to
do the additional work necessary to meet commitments
for those avenues
of funding. 


Q. 
Is an internship a part
of the program? 
A. 
The
program concludes with an industrial project during
the summer. The
project could be completed while a student is
working full time or as
an intern based on their professional work, or as a
project mentored by
an industry partner. Contacts and opportunities are
provided to
students so they can arrange for the most suitable
approach for
completing this requirement, based upon
availability. 


Q. 
Is there assistance in
finding a job? 
A. 
Yes.
We provide students in the MPhiMac program with a
comprehensive and
uptodate list of direct contacts in banks and
other financial
institutions in the Toronto area. We also run
interview and resume
preparation sessions. Throughout the year, we
receive several inquires
and job announcements from our contacts in Toronto,
and pass them along
to the students together with specific advice
regarding the positions,
based on each student's individual strengths and
interests. We create
opportunities for students to meet potential
employers, and we provide
mentoring and references for their job search. 


Q. 
Why is your program less
expensive than some others? 
A. 
The
MPhiMac program is still a young program. As such,
we are keeping our
fees low while the program becomes better known
among the Universities
from which students will come. The price is expected
to increase
significantly in the near future as our graduates
continue to earn
notable success in the industry. 


Q. 
How many students are
accepted into the program? 
A. 
We are currently accepting
between 10 and 15 students each year. 


Q. 
What success have
students had in finding jobs? 
A. 
At
this time of posting, the third cohort of students
has recently
finished the program. From the three cohorts, 90%
have gone on to work
in financial mathematics. Three quarters of
graduates work in one of
the 5 large Canadian banks. Those that have not
taken a career with the
banks are working in supporting areas such as the
banking regulator,
financial software firms, and academia. 