Frequently Asked Questions

 

About

When was this Program established and recognized by the University of Southern California? The Master of Science in Mathematical Finance at the University of Southern California started in 1999.

What are the main features of the Mathematical Finance Master’s program? Our program focuses on quantitative skills, especially those knowledge that have been emphasized in the world of "quants".

The Master of Science Mathematical Finance program will have a rigorous training on Math-based finance/economic subjects; it would be suitable for those with a solid background in math. In particular, some good courses in Mathematical Analysis, Linear Algebra, Probability Theory, and Differential Equations are extremely desirable.

Those who have good background in programming (e.g., C, C++, C#, SQL, SAS) will benefit a lot from our program, as these skills, together with the quantitative knowledge they obtain through the course works, will make them highly marketable in the future job market.

What courses do you suggest that I should take to strengthen my qualifications for admission in your Program? The best preparation for the Mathematical Program is to strengthen your Math. Specifically, we highly recommend a strong background in probability theory, stochastic processes, real analysis, linear algebra, and differential equations. In addition, a good basic background in statistics and econometrics is well advised.

How long is the program? Ideally, the program is structured for 18 months. 

Admissions and Application Info

What is the Institutional Code? The Institutional Code is 4-8-5-2.

What is the GRE Code? The GRE Code is 0-7-0-2. (*Note: Scores from the GRE that are more than five years old at the time of application will not be accepted.)

What is the TOEFL Code? The TOEFL Code is 7-2.  Effective Fall 2013, all international graduate applicants must demonstrate English-language proficiency by submitting either TOEFL or IELTS scores.  More information may be found by visiting http://www.usc.edu/admission/graduate/international/application.html  and /ali.

What is the GMAT Code? There is not a reporting code for your GMAT scores because we prefer to receive GRE scores.  However, if you have taken the GMAT, you are required to send a sealed official paper copy with your supplemental supporting documents to the Office of Graduate Admissions, University of Southern California, Admission Center, 615 Childs Way, Los Angeles, California 90089-0911.

What are the Application deadlines? Deadline for Spring admission is October 15th.
Deadline for Fall admission is February 15th. There is no Summer admission deadline because we only admit students for the Spring and Fall semesters.

What is the average quantitative GRE score of your admitted students? The average quantitative has been steadily 790-800.

What is the average GPA of admitted students? The average GPA of students admitted is 3.5 and above.

How many applications do you receive per academic year?We receive 300-350 completed applications per year.

What percentage of the applications do you admit? About 10-15%; it varies.

Can students enter into the program on a part time basis? Only Domestic students may enroll into the program part time. 

Are evening classes offered? Evening classes are not offered.

My educational background meets all the requirements for the Program. Do you think I will be admitted? We receive a large amount of qualified applicants than we can admit into the Program. It is not guaranteed that every qualified candidate will be admitted into the program. Not being admitted should not reflect negatively on your educational background.

What are the minimum qualifications you look for in a potential candidate? Most admitted students have GRE Verbal scores higher than 450 (150 and up on new scale) and the GRE Quantitative scores are higher than 750 (159 and up on new scale).  Additionally, we have a minimum requirement for GPA 3.2 and TOEFL score of 100.

What are the required supporting documents that should be mailed?  You are required to electronically upload all required supporting documents (Transcript(s), GRE/TOEFL/IELTS scores, Statement of Purpose, Financial Statement (if applicable), Resume and Recommendation Letters). Official GRE scores sent by ETS and one (1) official transcript (must be sealed) for each college or university you have attended to the Office of Graduate Admissions. *Transcripts from international universities must be submitted in the original language as well as in English. It is not necessary to send a copy of your high school transcript.

What is a Statement of Purpose?  As part of your application for admission to the USC Master of Science of Mathematical Finance program, please submit a Statement of Purpose that encapsulates your motivation in seeking an MS degree. Your statement should demonstrate an ability to synthesize your professional/personal experiences and desire to enter the field of Mathematical Finance. Use the following questions as a guide for topics to address within the statement and not a format for your statement. Please limit your statement to five double-spaced pages (1500 words) written in English. This statement will be used to assess your creativity, critical thinking, self-awareness and writing skills.

  • Describe your understanding of the Mathematic Finance profession and its current trends.

  • What significant relationships and life experiences have you had in giving or receiving help that have motivated you to enter the field of Mathematical Finance?

  • What personal qualities equip you for the Mathematical Finance profession? Discuss your experiences and feelings about working with in this industry (if applicable).

  • Discuss your undergraduate/graduate academic experience and include a description of your academic strengths and weaknesses. Please explain any grade deficiencies and what you have done to improve them.

This material is considered confidential and will be used for the purposes of rendering an admission decision and directing your educational experience.

 Where do I send the supporting documents?
Do not send supporting documents to the Mathematical Finance Department. All documents must be sent to the

Office of Graduate Admissions
University of Southern California
Admission Center
615 Childs Way
Los Angeles, California 90089-0911

It is strongly suggested that you include your USC student ID number on all supporting documents. You will receive this number once your application has been accepted on the on-line system.

Should I wait until an offer has been extended to send my supporting documents?

All supporting documents are required for admission consideration. Even though these documents are not required for your application to be reviewed, we strongly recommend that you submit them as soon as possible to be processed into your file before an admission decision is made. That way, if you are admitted, we can issue your official admission package and I20 without delay for your visa procedures. 

Your financial statement of support must indicate proof of funding dated within nine months of your intended first day of classes. Your passport verification must be a copy of the first two pages of your passport. You may send these documents as an email attachment in PDF or JPEG format (10 MB limit) to usci20@usc.edu OR as a fax to (213) 821-3725. Your 10-digit USC ID must be clearly written on all documents. For more information, please visit the USC Graduate Admission Financial Support website at http://www.usc.edu/admission/graduate/international/financialsupport.html . Refer to the "Guidelines for Submitting Proof of Financial Support" included on that page.

What is a complete application?

USC Application, Application fee, GRE and TOEFL scores, Financial Statement, Official Transcript(s), Resume, Recommendation Letters and Statement of Purpose. Failure to provide any of these documents will delay processing your application. They are required to be sent in before the review process. In the event you have submitted your documents and noticed an error in your documentation, do not send supporting documents to the Mathematical Finance Department. All documents must be sent to the

Office of Graduate Admissions
University of Southern California
Admission Center
615 Childs Way
Los Angeles, California 90089-0911

Note: Due to the high number of applicants, an application status or supporting documents check will not be done.

My country uses a 100-point grading scale (not 4.0 GPA). Do I need to convert to a U.S. GPA (grade point average)? You may leave the GPA section blank. Our Office of Graduate & International Admission will evaluate your transcripts and determine the appropriate conversion.

I completed my undergraduate degree in an another country and I am now in the U.S. for a graduate degree. Do I need to take the TOEFL again? If your TOEFL score is more than 2 years old from the start date of the intended term, you must re-take the test. The requirement will only be waived if your bachelor’s degree is from a country where English is the primary language.
 
My recommender doesn’t feel comfortable using the online method. Can he or she mail a paper recommendation letter? Although we prefer the online recommendation letter, we realize circumstances may prevent a recommender from submitting via the online application. If paper letters are being sent, the letters must be on an official company or university letterhead and sealed. Please mail the document to the address provided on the Admissions section of our website – the same address where official transcripts should be sent.

I’ve paid my $85.00 application fee and it’s showing up on my credit/bank statement.  However, the online application is still indicating un-submitted and it is requesting that I pay the $85.00 again?  What should I do? One possible reason is that you might have applied to the incorrect program. You must contact gradadm@usc.edu to resolve this issue. Their contact number is 213-740-1111.

Financial Aid and Cost

What financial aid is offered to attend the University of Southern California? Domestic students are eligible for Financial Aid.  International students are ineligible for certain types of financial aid. However, other sources of aid are available. Additional information may be obtained by visiting USC Financial Aid Office (click link for more information). 

I am an international student.  When may I send you my Financial Support documentation? Upon receiving the news of being “ADMITTED” (via e-mail and an official letter from the Office of Graduate Admissions) into the MSMF program, U.S. government requires that all international applicants provide proof of ability to pay tuition and living expenses for themselves and their dependents (if applicable) before an I-20 or DS-2019 Eligibility Certificate can be issued. Submission of original financial support documents is required. (Click here for more information on Financial Support Documentation for International Students.)

Types of financial support that are normally accepted:

  • Savings deposits, checking accounts or deposit certificates
  • "Approved" educational loans
  • General bank letters or solvency certificates from a bank
  • Time/fixed/term deposits or government bonds only if document states that the funds mature by the beginning of your first term or shortly thereafter or are able to be withdrawn at any time
  • Employer and government sponsorships/scholarships
  • Provident funds only if document states that the funds are able to be withdrawn at any time

Types of financial support that are not accepted:

  • Mutual funds, investments or stocks, securities
  • Retirement funds, pensions, life insurance policies
  • Tax returns
  • Salary/payroll statements
  • Statements of assets or property, such as Demat accounts, mortgages, jewelry, residences, automobiles, etc.
  • "Pending" educational loans
  • Accountant portfolio

What is the cost of tuition at USC? The USC estimated cost of attendance is an average figure used to determine your financial aid eligibility. It includes average amounts for standard expenses, such as tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, board and other living expenses. (Keep in mind that your actual costs may differ. Additionally, estimated budgets for students in some programs may be higher because of longer enrollment periods, special laboratory or studio supply fees, or other additional costs incurred by all students in the program. Tuition is the same for in-state and out-of-state residents.) (Click here to view the current estimated costs for Graduate students.)

After Submitting Application

When are applications reviewed? Applications are carefully reviewed approximately 6-8 weeks into the semester by the MSMF Admissions Committee.

Should I notify you that I’ve sent my application/supporting documents online, snail mail or courier (FedEx, UPS, etc.)? You do not need to contact us to inform us of your application is in route. If you’ve followed the process in detail, we will receive your information.

When and how will I be notified of the decision of whether I’ve been admitted or denied? You will receive an e-mail from the Office of Graduate Admissions followed by a hard copy letter indicating the MSMF Admission Committee’s decision.  Please do not contact the Mathematical Finance Office inquiring about the decision. 

I am disappointed not to be admitted. Could you please tell me the reasons? There may be nothing wrong with your application. Competition is intense, and we simply cannot admit everyone.

Assuming I was admitted into the Program, but decided to postpone joining for a year or so, do I need to repeat the admission process all over again? Although USC does not defer offers of admission, students may "update" their applications to be considered for a future term that begins within one year (two semesters) of the original application. Updated applications do not require a new fee or letters of recommendation; however, any additional academic work completed must be reported, and transcripts of this work are required.

Applicants who were denied admission may not updated; they must reapply. Individuals who are granted admission and then updated are not guaranteed admission to a future term.

Internship

Is an internship a required part of this Program? All students are expected to complete an internship/directed research, but note, that since it is completed off campus it does not count towards the 30 required units of coursework.

How do students find internships? The program has contacts and faculty provides suggestions, but most students see the opportunity of finding an internship as their first exercise in networking and in many cases find their internships based on their own initiative and contacts.  Only currently enrolled Master of Science Mathematical Finanace student will have access to the internship list.  Please visit https://uscdornsife.usc.edu/secure/msmf/

Now, we cannot guarantee the internship placements. We are establishing a joint effort with local financial institutions and anticipate extending network opportunities to our current students. Students are strongly encouraged to seek summer internship as a good way of making connections. However, we will help as much as we can.

 

  • University of Southern California
  • Dana and David College of Letters, Arts & Sciences
  • Department of Mathematics
  • 3620 S. Vermont Ave, KAP 108
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-2532