Admissions

The MAFN program attracts students whose academic background is in quantitative areas such as mathematics, statistics, physics, economics, computer science, or engineering. Most have previous work experience or internship experience in finance.

Apply to the MAFN Program

You apply for admission to the program through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). For general rules and procedures, see the GSAS webpage and also the GSAS page about admission to the MAFN program.

The following additional rules are in effect for applications to the Mathematics of Finance MA Program (MAFN Program).

Program Starting Date and Application Deadline

The MAFN program takes in new students only at the beginning of the Fall semester. There is no admission for the Spring semester.

The application deadline for Fall 2023 admission is May 4, 2023. This is also the deadline for supporting materials. This may differ from the general GSAS policy: Supporting Materials.

Deferrals

Starting with the admission cycle for Fall 2023, the MAFN Program will no longer allow the students to defer their admission. There will be no exceptions to this rule. Students who wish to delay their studies by a year would have to reapply to the program in the following year.

Prerequisites

Applicants should have a very good working knowledge of calculus, linear algebra, elementary differential equations, probability and statistics, and a programming language.

Exposure to advanced calculus and mathematical analysis, including measure theory, is desirable but not required.

Texts recommended for self-study:
Ross: “A First Course in Probability”
Mood, Graybill & Boes: “Introduction to the Theory of Statistics”
Rudin: “Principles of Mathematical Analysis”

Statement of Academic Purpose

Please use your statement of academic purpose to address the following:

Why do you want to study the mathematics of finance, and why do you want to do it in Columbia University’s Mathematics of Finance program?

How have your activities since finishing high school prepared you to study the mathematics of finance?

How have you satisfied the mathematics, statistics, and programming prerequisites listed above? We often spend an inordinate amount of time sifting through the application to figure this out. List mathematics, statistics, computer science, and programming courses you have taken, and list projects and activities where you have used these skills. If you have acquired some of this knowledge by self-study, then you may ask one or more of the people who write reference letters for you to comment on it.

Letters of Recommendation

You need at least two academic letters of recommendation. Beyond that, depending on your work or internship experience or and the length of time since graduation, letters of recommendation from employers or colleagues may also be helpful.

Work Experience

If you have previous work experience related to finance, then please make sure to mention it on your resume. It is a valuable part of your background for the purpose of admission to the MAFN program.

Test Scores

For information about the TOEFL/IELTS requirement for international students, see Information for International Students.

MAFN applicants for September 2023 admissions are encouraged but not required to submit GRE (general) scores or GMAT scores. GRE scores are preferred.

For information about estimated tuition, fees, and other expenses, see the webpage Cost of Attendance, which is maintained by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Be aware that estimates for future semesters may not be known yet.

Full-time students who contemplate extending the program beyond two semesters need to be aware that this entails additional costs including, tuition and fees.

Tuition for the MAFN program (and for most of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences) is determined according to the residence unit system. Tuition is generally not paid per class or per point/credit.

See the GSAS webpage Residence Unit and Other Registration Categories.

Your Registration Category, rather than registration for individual courses, provides the basis for tuition charges.

For further information about which Registration Category to choose, see the page Registration.

Students are not expected to register for the summer session. This applies also to international students on F-1 or J-1 visas. The primary course offerings are in the Fall and Spring. Not many relevant courses are offered during the summer session.

Some students receive financial aid from their employers or from national or governmental agencies. There is no financial aid offered by Columbia University for students in Mathematics of Finance.

Timing of Admissions Decisions

Decisions will be made between mid-January and mid-June. Decisions are made on a rolling basis.

The application deadline for Fall 2023 admission is May 4, 2023. This is also the deadline for supporting materials. Applications and supporting materials submitted more than a week after this deadline will not be accepted. This may differ from the general GSAS policy: Supporting Materials.

Many applicants will receive an early accept, reject, or waitlist decision.

If you have not received a decision from us yet, it is usually because no decision has been made on your application. Decisions are communicated to you by GSAS a few days after they are made. Decisions are made on a rolling basis until a few weeks after the application deadline.

If it takes a long time for you to receive a final decision, then the reason usually is that we do not (yet) have a sufficiently large pool of applications to compare with. It is not the case that we take an inordinately long time to read your application and think about it.

NEW: Starting with the admissions cycle for the Fall 2023 intake, the MAFN will no longer grant deferrals. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Contacting the MAFN Office

We get over a thousand applications, and the number of people who consider applying is even higher. For this reason, the MAFN Office does not generally answer inquiries about specific applications or give advice or direction to applicants before they are admitted.

Inquiries about whether your application is complete should be directed to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). Complete applications will be reviewed, and decisions will be communicated in due course.

Application materials or updates need to be submitted through the GSAS admissions online portal. Application materials and updates sent to the faculty will not be viewed or considered.

Applicants should contact GSAS Admissions with any questions or requests for assistance regarding the online application process and/or submission of materials.

Interviews

Since we cannot interview everybody, we generally do not conduct interviews because that would bias us unfairly towards those few that we interview. The director meets with applicants only by appointment and only if they have been offered admission to the program.