Is Mathematical Finance Valuable for Math Students?

By Rafael C | Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Studying mathematics, whether on Schoolhouse, at school, or at home, can be a fun and rewarding experience just for the sake of learning. But numerous hours on a task usually leads to one questioning the value of all their hard work. During one’s early journey in mathematics, they are bound to come across the question: when will my learning be applied to the real world? Thankfully, there are myriad applications to mathematics. Mathematics ties closely to physics, biology, chemistry, engineering, computer science and even finance. In particular, the applications of mathematics in finance are connected very closely to the major of mathematical finance/financial engineering. This degree is one of the most sought out majors due to its advancement towards lucrative professions and fulfilling opportunities.

So is Mathematical Finance a good way for math enthusiasts to spend their time at University? A deep dive into this major bestows many of the myriad pros and cons of this STEM pathway. In this article, we will explore some of the best and worst features of Mathematical Finance/Financial Engineering to determine whether it is a valuable major to pursue.

Career Opportunities

After becoming proficient in math, many students turn to mathematical finance because of its incorporation of statistics, risk management, and economic theory. In particular, majoring in Mathematical Finance can typically form a pathway towards becoming a data scientist, quantitative analyst, and Market Risk Analyst. These professions are among the most lucrative careers in STEM, with data scientists making $100,000 a year on average and quantitative analysts making $106,000 a year on average. The problem with this argument in favor of Mathematical Finance is that there are many other math majors providing the same career opportunities, if not better. For instance, though a computer science major may not seem like the best pathway into finance, its utility, usual ness, and proven effectiveness leads it to most industries, including finance. This is partially because of the growing need for digital technology in an increasing number of fields but also because most corporations, regardless of type, require some sort of technological utility to scale and become more efficient. The same can be said about applied mathematics majors, which are more common than mathematical finance majors and provide similar yet more extensive career opportunities. Thus, regarding career opportunities, most math careers provide a similar edge in opportunities, and more common and established majors are increasingly likely to provide better job opportunities by default. Nevertheless, a financial engineering major could be an attractive option for students at top universities, such as the University of California, Berkeley and NYU, which both have programs that are well-established and connected to many corporations.

Overall Experience

One of the most important elements of a college major, besides career opportunities, is the overall experience and fulfillment it provides. A large factor to consider in the overall experience of a college major is the content contained in the curriculum of the degree. Usually, mathematical finance will involve a large amount of pure mathematics, with connections to Stochastic Calculus, Probability Theory, and Functional Analysis. This means a firm grasp on mathematical skills up to Calculus are pre-requisite to best succeed in mathematical finance(get free peer tutoring at Schoolhouse to bolster your math skills). Another factor to consider is the average number of hours a typical Mathematical Finance scholar spends every week on coursework. A look into the Master of Financial Engineering Program at the Berkeley Haas School of Business reveals that 28 units of coursework (15 class hours / unit) are required to successfully graduate. This means that mathematical finance majors can expect a lot of work coming into their degree, especially at higher ranked universities that tend to provide more coursework than normal. Another factor to consider is one’s university. In some schools, financial engineering programs are well known and offer many opportunities. In contrast, in other schools, even well-instituted universities, like Harvard, financial engineering/mathematical finance is not as common and instead other majors are of greater importance. This demonstrates how crucial one’s school is in deciding what major to pursue.


Hopefully this blog post gave you a better idea of whether financial engineering/mathematical finance is something you want to study in the future. Though there are many advantages to this major, there are also a similar number of disadvantages, meaning the best college major is the one that best works for you. Your university-type, math knowledge, and tolerance for quantitative work are all elements to consider when deciding what math major will be most valuable to you. For more information on financial engineering programs, check out this link. In the meantime, toning one’s mathematical skills will best prepare them for a bright mathematical future. Check out Schoolhouse for free peer-to-peer math, science, and experimental tutoring today, so you can enhance your knowledge in these topics!

Thank you Hafsah M for editing this article!

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