Debunking Myths about the Berkeley Master of Financial Engineering (MFE) Program


We strive to make our admissions process extremely transparent, but we continue to hear some concerns from prospective applicants that just aren’t true.  So we’re setting the record straight:

Myth #1: Candidates MUST have (full-time) work experience in order to be competitive for the Berkeley MFE.

FALSE – Perhaps this misconception stems from the requirements you hear about for MBA programs.

For the Berkeley MFE, the ultimate consideration is whether you have the requisite skill sets to be successful in the program, regardless of how you acquire them.  “Experience” isn’t just “full-time work” within industry – it can come from the classroom, through lab research, part-time / volunteer work, or self-study.  We value your preparation for our program and work closely with candidates throughout the process to set you up for success.

Of course, we always have students with some years of full-time work experience (from various industries – not only finance), but alongside them in the same classroom are some newly minted bachelor graduates who have no more than a few months of internship experience (check out the profiles below!).  There are also PhDs who are part of our diverse class, so you will undoubtedly learn from your classmates as well as our outstanding faculty.


Myth #2: It’s harder for me to get a job in New York / outside of California if I go to Berkeley as compared to other programs on the East Coast.

FALSE – In short, we place students everywhere and anywhere the right opportunities are!

Take a look at our placement reports – we’ve posted every year, and you’ll notice that we have a large contingency of students and alumni who indeed end up in New York for their Fall internships and full-time after the Berkeley MFE.  As a Financial Engineering master’s program, we recognize the importance of growing and maintaining strong relationships with Wall Street and have continued doing so for the past eighteen years! (Our program was developed in 2000.) Top firms work with us to source excellent quant talent, and our employer and alumni network truly is a global one.

Now some students certainly do stay in the Bay Area, not just to enjoy the beautiful weather but also to pursue great opportunities in finance and data science with coveted employers like BlackRock and Google.

The right opportunity for you isn’t defined just by location – rather, we encourage you to consider where it can lead you.

Myth #3: I need to have ALL of the prerequisites done before I can submit my application – yikes!

FALSE – ALL prerequisites must be completed by the START of our program in March, not by the time of your application.  

Our online application includes a prerequisite list as a benchmark that allows you to note what you’ve completed, and you can also add courses / skill sets you plan to acquire before the start of our program.  The Admissions Committee takes a holistic approach in reviewing applications and considers preparation “in progress” as well.

Consider for example, those who apply for our Round One deadline: that’s over a year before you would start the Berkeley MFE – certainly we don’t expect you to have everything done already.

We won’t deny that our bar for admissions is high, but like our Executive Director, Linda Kreitzman always says: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!”  Let’s talk about your preparation plan and how we can help you become a stronger candidate – both for the Berkeley MFE and for your next career move.

There you have it – in writing!  Heard other rumors about us? Have questions or want us to clarify something else?  Get real answers straight from the source – simply email us at anytime.

Schedule a chat with us!For more about the Berkeley MFE Program and how we can help you launch or advance your career, go to our website or join an information session.

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