Frequently Asked Questions

> General Program Questions
> The Pre-Program Courses
> Financing an MFE Degree
> Admissions Questions
> Application Questions
> Internship & Full Time Employment
> UC Berkeley Resources

General Program Questions

How does the Haas MFE Program distinguish itself from similar programs?

The Haas MFE Program is one of only two degree programs in financial engineering offered solely under the auspices of a business school. Most financial engineering programs are taught in mathematics, engineering or operations research departments. As a result, MFE students learn about computational finance within the context of business and economic principles, and enjoy the additional advantages of the business school's career services, corporate contacts, and orientation towards business applications. The MFE program is also the only Financial Engineering program that includes a ten-week, mid-program, winter internship as part of the curriculum.

How many people do you admit each year?

There are only 68 spots available, so we admit students until we have 68 who have committed attendance.

Are MFE courses offered online or part time for working individuals?

There are currently no courses offered online or part-time. All courses are taught on the UC Berkeley campus during the 12-month, full-time program. Due to the intensive nature of the program it is not feasible for students to work while in the program.

What is the academic calendar for the MFE?

See our academic calendar page.

Do you accept credits and transfers from other universities?

No, we do not. The MFE curriculum is designed so that each series of 8 week courses work in tandem. Finally, MFE courses are taught by the finest faculty in the UC system; we could not maintain the level of difficulty and quality of the MFE education from Haas if we allowed people to transfer in with credits. For the same reasons, we cannot allow students to "test out" of courses.

What is the difference between an MFE and other degrees?

MBA: The differences between an MFE and MBA are numerous. Some of the differences are obvious, for example the MFE program is 1 year, while an MBA typically takes 2 years. Many MBA programs can be taken part-time, while our program is full-time only. The MFE is a Master's degree in a specialized type of Finance, and an MBA is a more general, well-rounded business degree. Courses you might expect to take in an MBA program would be in Marketing, HR/Management, Accounting and Finance. In the MFE program, we only cover these topics as they relate to the specific field of Financial Engineering. Most MBA programs do not require the high level of math, analytic ability, or computer programming experience required by the MFE program. The combination of skills obtained by MFE graduates (understanding of complex financial strategies, financial modeling ability and computational proficiency) are difficult for employers to find in graduates of standard MBA or Engineering programs.

PhD: A PhD can take 5 to 6 years and is recommended for students who want to pursue a career in academia. To some extent, the MFE may be seen as an attractive alternative to a doctoral program in finance for those interested in commercial rather than academic careers.

CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst): Many people in the Finance Industry get their CFA in addition to advanced degrees in Finance. The main difference is that a CFA is an independent certification process, not an academic distinction. For some jobs it is desirable to have both, but they are not interchangeable by definition.

I am interested in a Ph.D. at Haas. Does the MFE lead to a Ph.D.?

The MFE And the Ph.D. are separate degrees and therefore the MFE does not "lead to" a Ph.D. If you are interested in a Ph.D., you should contact the Ph.D program directly to learn about their admissions requirements.

That said, a few of our students have pursued Ph.D. degrees after completing the MFE and have been successful in doing so. To pursue the Ph.D. at Haas, you must apply separately after you have completed the MFE. For more information about admission requirements for the Ph.D. program, please see the Haas Ph.D. program website

The Pre-Program Courses

When will the pre-program courses be offered?

We offer courses in Math, C++, and Statistics. Currently, the courses are taught in the months before the program begins. The next program begins in January 2015.

Are grades in the pre-program courses used in admissions decisions?

Yes. We would like to know the grades of any courses you take to prepare for the MFE, and we will look at grades you get in our pre-program courses as well.

Do you have to be a UC Berkeley student to take the pre-program courses?

No, the pre-program courses are open to everyone. They are open enrollment courses, so you do not need to fill out any applications with the University. Because they are not part of the MFE degree program, you cannot get financial aid, student housing, or student visas related to your attendance in the course. They are strictly courses to prepare you for the MFE program. You will receive grades and certificates of completion, but they will not be part of your UC Berkeley transcript.

How much do they cost?

  • Math Foundations for Financial Engineers: While fees have not yet been set for the 2015 program, the course fee for the 2014 program was $1,795, with a $300 discount for students who have been admitted to the MFE Program.
  • C++ Programming for Financial Engineers: While fees have not yet been set for the 2015 program, the course fee for the 2014 program was, $1,795, with a $300 discount for students who have been admitted to the MFE Program.
  • Statistics for Financial Engineers: While fees have not yet been set for the 2015 program, the course fee for the 2014 program was $1,795, with a $300 discount for students who have been admitted to the MFE Program.
  • VBA for Business Applications: While fees have not yet been set for the 2015 program, the course fee for the 2014 program was $395, with a $100 discount for students who have been admitted to the MFE Program.

If I have applied to the MFE Program and am on the waitlist or hold status, am I entitled to the MFE student discount?

No, however, if you are offered admission after you have registered for the preprogram courses, we will refund the difference between the student rate and the regular rate.

Financing an MFE Degree

What is the tuition and fee schedule for the MFE?

The tuition is estimated to be $58,895 for the MFE 2013-14 school year exclusive of living expenses and health insurance fees. Students are expected to pay in 4 installments on December 15, May 15, August 15, and January 15.

What financial aid is available for domestic students?

The MFE Program does not offer scholarships or grants. All assistance is in the form of loans which must be repaid after graduation or dropping below 6 units. Federal financial aid in the form of loans is available for students who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States. International students can apply for private loans either with or without a cosigner. More information on the loan programs is listed on our financial aid page.

To apply for need-based and non-need-based federal loans, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The data will be electronically transmitted to Berkeley's Financial Aid Office. The UC Berkeley educational code for the FAFSA is 001312. You must be officially admitted to the MFE program before financial aid can be processed. Due to the nontraditional academic calendar of the MFE Program, two FAFSAs (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) must be filed per MFE year.

What financial aid is available for international students?

The MFE Program does not offer scholarships or grants. All assistance is in the form of loans which must be repaid after graduation or dropping below 6 units. International students can only apply for private loans. For more details, refer to the financial aid section of the MFE website or contact the Haas Financial Aid Office, at 510-643-0183, or by email finaid@haas.berkeley.edu.

Should I apply for financial aid before or after I am admitted to the Berkeley MFE program?

If you are indeed admitted to the Berkeley MFE program, you must wait until after you are formally admitted by the graduate division to apply for aid.

Are fellowships or assistantships available?

Currently there are no fellowships or assistantships associated with the MFE Program. View information about UC Berkeley Graduate Division awards and fellowships.

Admissions Questions

What type of students do you look?

The MFE program looks for candidates with a background in finance, economics, statistics, mathematics, engineering, computer science or other similar quantitative fields.

What are the admission requirements?

Graduate Division Admissions Requirements:
Valid degree from an accredited institution, comparable to the 4-year Bachelor's Degree from Berkeley. Sufficient training to undertake graduate study in the chosen field. A satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum of 3.0 in upper division work. International applicants: refer to the application packet for full requirements.

MFE Admissions Requirements:
Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) General Test. A strong quantitative background including linear algebra, multivariate calculus, differential equations, numerical analysis and advanced statistics and probability. Prior experience in computer programming (C, C++) and familiarity with computers as a computational and management tool. Excellent writing, speaking and presentation skills (in English).

MFE Admissions Recommendations:
Experience with statistical and econometric applications. (Examples: Sas, Gauss, RATS, S-Plus, and Garch.) Experience with mathematical tools. (Examples: MatLab, Mathematica, or MathCad.)

In some cases, applicants may be admitted conditional on the successful completion of one or more recommended courses before enrollment in the program.

Prerequisite Course List

Is work experience required?

No, but work experience is recommended. It is also a key component to finding a full time job after graduation from the MFE. Our 2011-2012 class has an average of almost 3.5 years of work experience.

Do you require an undergraduate degree in finance or business?

Formal training in economics and finance is not required, but preferred. Though there is no specific degree requirement, most students will have undergraduate or graduate degrees in finance, economics, statistics, mathematics, engineering, computer science or other similar quantitative fields. The common requirement for all students in the program is that they enter it with a high level of intellectual curiosity and a strong interest in finance. Please see our Prerequisite Course List for further information on preparation for the MFE.

My GPA does not meet the minimum required for admission. In this case, should I still apply to the Berkeley MFE program?

Because our admissions process is comprehensive, and we review all of the aspects of a candidate's background, including professional skills, test scores, coursework completed, recommendation letters, essays, interview results, etc., it is impossible to tell a candidate whether she or he will be successful without seeing the full application. That said, although we typically select students who have impressive academic backgrounds, we also look for people with great professional skills and have, at times, and in certain circumstances, admitted candidates with lower GPAs, but with valuable experience. Please note, however, that our process is extremely competitive.

Do you recommend preparatory math classes?

For students who have not taken a math course in more than 5 years, we do recommend some type of refresher course in order to excel in the program. If you are required to take a math course as part of conditional acceptance to the program, we will accept the grades from any accredited college or university. There are some high quality courses offered online through the following programs (please note that these are the ones that we are familiar with and that courses can be taken at any accredited institution):

We also offer the 30-hour foundation math course at Haas, which can be taken in the classroom or online.

For people who have taken the prerequisite courses some years ago, self-study is advised in addition to the foundation math course. One very good resource for self-study guidelines is offered through MIT's Open Courseware Program.

Please also see our Prerequisite Course List for a list of the courses you should have taken before beginning the Berkeley MFE.

Do you recommend preparatory finance courses or certifications?

Preference will be given to candidates with a finance background. We recommend that you take coursework in corporate finance, macroeconomics, and similar topics and strongly recommend that you begin preparation for the CFA exam and/or the FRM exam.

What if I have not completed all of the prerequisite courses? Can I still apply?

Students who have completed most, but not all of the prerequisite courses are encouraged to apply as long as they have a plan in place to complete the courses prior to the start of the MFE program to which they are applying. In fact, there is a question in the application that asks which courses the applicant plans to take prior to the MFE; this would be an appropriate place to list the plan of study.

What is your minimum TOEFL requirement?

The Berkeley campus requires a score of at least 570 for the paper-and-pencil version of the TOEFL, at least 230 for the computer-based TOEFL, and at least 68 for the internet based TOEFL. The test scores may not be more than 2 years old (for the 2015-16 application, scores may not be older than June 1, 2012).

Can I waive the TOEFL requirement?

You may waive the TOEFL if you have been studying for more than one year toward a degree at an accredited institution in the United States or hold a degree from a country where the primary language is English, such as the UK, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Canada (except Quebec, although students from McGill and Concordia Universities do not need to take the TOEFL), and some African countries; students from Hong Kong who have attended the City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist College, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and the University of Hong Kong do not need to take the TOEFL.

What is your minimum GMAT/GRE requirement?

We anticipate that the most successful applicants will have GMAT or GRE Quantitative scores in the 90th percentile. Verbal and Analytical scores should also be strong. The test scores may not be more than 5 years old, counted from the date of entry to the program. For the class beginning in 2014, the test needs to have been taken after April 1, 2010.

Can I waive the GMAT/GRE requirement?

The results of these tests, particularly your quantitative score, are essential to our evaluation of your application. They may not be waived. The only exception to this rule is that PhD holders may waive the GRE or GMAT requirement, provided that the PhD degree will have been granted before December 31, 2013 for students applying to the program beginning in 2014.

Can I submit my GRE/GMAT scores, transcripts, recommendation letters, or other materials after I have submitted my application?

Yes, however, please note that your file will not be complete until you have submitted these documents and we will not begin to review your file until it is complete.

My GRE or GMAT scores are lower than the average scores of the admitted students. Can I still be considered for admission?

Yes. Our admissions process is comprehensive and we consider a number of factors when reviewing candidates for admission. That said, if your scores fall significantly lower than our averages, we strongly suggest that you retake the exams to try for higher scores.

How can I order my official test score reports?

When ordering GRE Score reports, applicants should use institution code 4833 and department code 4399. For GMAT, use institution code N2V-PT-87. For TOEFL, use institution code 4833 and department code 82.

Can I come in for an interview?

You will be contacted by the MFE office if an interview is needed to make a decision on your application. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, we encourage you to come to one of our information sessions, which are held on the first Tuesday of every month at Haas from 12:00-1:00. Please check the schedule on our website for location and registration info. For those who are not able to join one of our on-campus sessions, we hold online sessions biweekly on Wednesdays. Please check the schedule on our website for registration info

Who should write recommendation letters?

Recommendation letters should be written by someone in a position to evaluate you either professionally or academically. A supervisor, project leader, or instructor/professor would make a good reference. It is imperative to have a reference from someone who knows you well enough to make specific comments about you. Form letters and stock letters are to be avoided. Please note that letters from friends, colleagues, family friends, etc. are inadmissible.

If I am admitted, can I defer enrollment?

If for some reason you cannot attend, you may reapply to the program. We will keep your supplemental application materials, such as test scores, transcripts, recommendation letters, etc. for one year and can add them to your new application so that you do not need to submit them again. However, we do not defer acceptances, so we cannot guarantee that if you are admitted one year that you will be admitted the next. We evaluate all available students each year for the next class.

Do you have a waitlist?

Yes, however there is no official ranking of students on the waitlist. Once a spot is available, the admissions committee meets and decides which candidate on the waitlist will be offered admission. The number of students on the waiting list is not released, but the list is short. Since we keep admissions open until the program begins in March, you could receive an updated status at any time between the time you re placed on the waitlist and the time the program begins. Of course, we will always notify you on the website with any status change as soon as it is available.

Do I need to take all of the courses listed in the prerequisite course chart to be considered "eligible" for the MFE program?

You will need to have taken, or have a plan in place to take, the courses listed in the prerequisite course chart before the program you are applying to is scheduled to begin. You should also plan to take all of the pre-program courses in addition to the prerequisites as they will help to fill in any "gaps" you may have and to reinforce your understanding of the basic concepts. All courses should be taken for a grade and grades should be "B" or higher.

You do not necessarily need to complete all of the coursework prior to submitting your application, but you do need to have a clear plan in place to complete the coursework between the time of application and the time the program begins.

Can you please evaluate my resume to see if my background is good enough for the MFE program?

We evaluate resumes and provide advice on how to prepare for the program during our information sessions, which are held on campus, in various locations around the world, and online. Our online information sessions are accessible and toll free from any location in the world. You need only a telephone and computer to join.

Am I eligible to apply if I have an MBA degree?

Yes. The MBA and MFE are considered to be different, and not duplicate degrees and therefore there is no restriction against applying to the MFE if you hold an MBA. There are usually a handful of former MBAs in each MFE class.

Am I eligible to apply to the MFE program if I received a bachelor's degree from India?

Minimum academic requirements for international applicants are a 4-year bachelor's degree or a master's degree (2 years after your bachelor's degree). Recognized basic or first degrees from India include B. Engineering (in Engineering only), B.Sc in Engineering, B. Tech, B. Architecture, B. Veterinary Medicine, B. Agriculture, B. Pharmacy or a Master's degree in a non-engineering field. Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Institute of Cost Works Accountants, Associate of Business Management, and Associate of Institute of Engineers are NOT acceptable as substitutes for a four-year degree. You are ineligible to apply with only a 3-year bachelor's degree; therefore, you would need to complete a master's degree (2 years after your bachelor's degree) in order to apply. A Postgraduate Diploma (PGDM) awarded by the Indian Institutes of Management at Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, and Lucknow (2 years beyond bachelor's) can be counted towards the 4-year requirement for a basic or first degree. For specific details, contact the UC Berkeley Graduate Division at gradadm@berkeley.edu.

My status is "Hold." What exactly is a "Hold" status?

A "hold" status means that we are unable to make a decision on your file at this time and would like to re-review your file at a later point. We will re-review all of the hold files periodically through the admissions cycle and will provide updated statuses when they are available. Since we keep admissions open until the program begins in March, you could receive an updated status at any time between now and then. Of course, we will always notify you on the website with any status change as soon as it is available.

What is the difference between a Hold and a Waitlist status?

A "hold" status means that we are unable to make a decision on your file at this time and would like to re-review your file at a later point. The Waitlist is opened toward the end of, or after the end of, the admissions cycle, when there are few spots left in the program. We ask those on the waitlist to begin preparation for the MFE in the event that we are able to offer them admission. Please contact the MFE office if you have any further questions regarding your status.

If I am on the hold status, is it necessary for me to complete all the conditions I was given for my application to be considered further, or, for example, if I only complete one item, would that be sufficient to be reconsidered?

We will continue to consider all applications in the hold status throughout the year. Progress is important, though, so do keep us abreast of any progress toward completing your conditions.

Does the hold status imply that if I can meet the specified criteria that I would then be accepted into the program?

No, if you are on the hold status, there is no guarantee of admission if you complete the items we have asked you to complete. We will simply be better able to determine whether you can be admitted once those items are complete.

I do not have a background in C++. What course could I take prior to entering the MFE Program?

We recommend that you take the MFE Pre-program course, "C++ Programming for Financial Engineers."

You can register for the course here.

For more information, see the course description.

Application Questions

What is the application fee?

The fee is $275 and is non-refundable.

Can I pay the application fee by credit card?

The MFE Program accepts both credit card and check, though using a credit card is strongly encouraged.

What is a rolling deadline?

A rolling deadline means that we accept students year-round, as the applications come in. Spots fill up as the year progresses and each application deadline passes.

What are the application deadlines?

For the application deadlines, click here.

Some applicants may be offered a conditional admittance with the requirement that they successfully complete a prescribed course of study at a fully accredited educational institution prior to enrollment.

Once you submit your application, you will receive an immediate electronic notification that your application has been received. All appropriate documents will then be matched to your online submission. If your application is incomplete, you will be notified by email within 3-5 weeks after you have submitted your application online. Please do not contact the MFE admissions office about the status of your application unless the above time frames have passed and you have not received notification.

You can also check the status of your application by logging on to the application website with your user name and password.

How soon can I get a decision on my application?

The applications are processed thoroughly. If no items are missing from your file, you will be able to get an answer within the time frames listed below. If you need to find out the current status of your application, log on to the application website with your user name and password. Please do not contact the MFE admissions office about the status of your application unless the time frames below have passed and you have not received notification. Please note that we accept late applications through November 14, 2013, although these may be reviewed on a space-available basis only. Late applications should be allowed up to 6 weeks to process from the date they are marked "complete". Please note that applications that are incomplete or unsubmitted as of December 15, 2013, will be purged from our system.

Deadlines for the academic year beginning in March 2013:

Round: Online application submitted by: Application will be reviewed by:
One January 14, 2013 March 15, 2013
Two March 27, 2013 May 31, 2013
Three June 20, 2013 August 23, 2013
Four October 15, 2013 December 15, 2013

*Slots are held open until applications from the October 15, 2013 deadline are considered and processed. Late applications will be accepted through November 14, 2013. Late applications will take 4-6 weeks to process from the day that they are marked "complete". Applications that are incomplete by December 15, 2013 will not be considered for admission for the 2014-15 term.

How do I make a change or addition to my application once it has been submitted?

Please be careful and check your application before submitting it online. If you find an error or want to make an addition, you can notify us of the changes or additions in one of two ways:

Via Email: indicate your first and last name in the title of the email and send it to mfe@haas.berkeley.edu.

Mail the change/addition to:
Admissions
Master of Financial Engineering Program
University of California, Berkeley
S545 Haas School of Business, #1900
Berkeley, CA 94720-1900

Can I change or add recommenders after I have submitted my application?

If you wish to change or add a recommender after you have submitted your application, please send that person our recommendation form (available within the application instructions) and have that person fill it out and send it to us via mail or email.

My recommender has not received the email instructing her/him how to log in and submit my recommendation. What can we do?

First, please make sure the recommender has checked her or his spam folder or junk email box. It is likely that our email was sent there. If this is not the case, then we are happy to resend the email to the recommender.

It is nearing the admissions deadline and I do not think my recommender has been able to submit her or his letter supporting my application yet. Will my application still be considered?

Yes, although we will not be able to review your file until we have received two recommendation letters.

When scanning my transcripts, must I scan the official transcripts or can I send scans of unofficial transcripts that I have downloaded from my school's portal?

Please send scans of official transcripts only. In addition, we need to have you scan the back of each page, as it often contains information that is important to us.

If I submitted scanned copies of my transcripts, when will I need to submit the originals?

When we have offered you admission or offered you a place on our waitlist, we ask that you send official copies of your transcripts and degree certificates (where necessary) ASAP. The Graduate Division will not be able to finalize your admission until these documents have been received.

I will complete my basic (i.e. Bachelor's) degree before the start of the MFE program, but not before the admissions deadline. Can I still apply?

Yes, as long as the degree will be complete before the start of the MFE program, you can apply. Simply send the most recent copy of your transcripts that is available and we will use that for review.

When reporting my TOEFL scores, which codes should I use?

When ordering TOEFL reports use institution code 4833, select "Graduate School" (not "Graduate School of Management") and department code 82.

When reporting my GRE or GMAT scores, which codes should I use?

We require either the GMAT or GRE. All GMAT and GRE scores are valid for five years from the start date of the program to which you are applying and should not be older than April 1, 2010 for Spring 2015 entry. When ordering GRE scores, use institution code 4833 and department code 4399. For GMAT scores, use program code N2V-PT-87. Applicants who will hold a PhD degree before December 31, 2014 can waive the GRE requirement.

Can I start an application or submit materials for a future application year?

If you start an application and do not submit it, then we will purge your application at the end of our admissions cycle. Therefore, we advise that you do not submit information pertaining to a future application to us through our website until we have opened the application for that term.

You can, however, submit paper documents to us (paper recommendations and transcripts) up to one year in advance of the application cycle for the term to which you wish to apply and we will keep them on file for you. Please note that we request, as always, that you do not send us documents that you wish to have returned to you until such time as we request them.

I would like to reapply to the MFE program. What is the reapplication procedure?

If you would like to reapply to the MFE program, we will keep your file for up to one year after your most recent application. You will need to open a new application account and fill out the information pages. When you come to the essay section, click on the "Reapplicant" button. You will only be required to submit the fifth essay question although you may submit any of the other essays if you feel that you want to inform the admissions committee of any aspect of your profile that might have changed. You will also be required to submit the application fee.

We will keep test scores (as long as they are valid), recommendation letters, transcripts, and other materials from your previous application. There is no need to resubmit these unless you would like to update your information or provide us with additional information unless we specifically ask you to do so.

Internship & Full Time Employment

How many students were able to get internships?

Please see our career placement statistics page for the most current internship and full time placement statistics.

Are the internships guaranteed?

Each student is expected to be actively involved with the MFE staff in obtaining an internship that assists her/him to gain exposure to the real world application of their degree. Although it is not possible to guarantee each student an internship, every effort is made to help you secure an internship. All students must complete an internship or an on-site project approved by the MFE program in order to graduate.

What is the employment data for MFE graduates?

Job employment data can be found on the Placement Reports page.

What was the average salary for MFE graduates?

Salary data can be found on the Placement Reports page.

Which careers would a Master of Financial Engineering feed into?

Our graduates are offered positions as risk managers, investment bankers, derivative traders, designers of specialized securities, and financial engineers. Employers include investment banks, commercial banks, financial consultants, financial and database software suppliers, financial regulators, and exchanges.

Can you assist individuals who are not part of the MFE Program in finding internships and/or full-time positions?

Unfortunately, we are unable to assist individuals who are not registered students or alumni of the MFE Program with their search for internships or full-time positions. Our career placement resources are available only to MFE students.

UC Berkeley Resources

Where do I get help as an international student?

For help and information about immigration matters, financial aid, work permission, and advice, visit the International Office Website at http://internationaloffice.berkeley.edu/. [Note: The Berkeley International Office cannot assist with admissions questions. The International Office only works with students who have already been admitted to UC Berkeley.]

The Berkeley International Office
2299 Piedmont Avenue (at the International House)
UC Berkeley
Berkeley CA 94720-2321
(510) 642-2818
(510) 643-7289 (fax)

What Career resources are available to MFE students?

MFE students have access to a dedicated career services office. In addition, MFE students also have access the same Haas Career Center facilities as MBA students and to the UC Berkeley Career Services office, which serves all UC Berkeley students. In addition to programs offered by the Career Center, the MFE office schedules mock-interviewing and résumé workshops, dedicated 1:1 career advising and resume and cover letter writing assistance, as well as MFE-specific recruiting events.

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