Master's Degree Essay Requirement
Our program has no comprehensive exam or thesis requirements, but the
Graduate School-New Brunswick requires candidates to complete
a master's degree essay. In order to graduate, a candidate's essay must be
approved by a committee of three (3) faculty members appointed by Mathematical Finance Program
Archive of Master's Degree Essays
For a list of master's degree essays completed by students in our program, please visit our archive
The market for job-seekers in the financial industry
is competitive. A well-crafted essay, based on a carefully
designed project, can be listed in the student's résumé
and serves to distinguish the applicant. A good project integrates (a)
mathematical finance theory, (b) computer programming with C++,
Excel/VBA, MATLAB, Python or other approved programming languages, and (c) analysis
and processing of empirical financial market data. Most industry careers
involve extensive report and presentation writing for both technical
and non-technical audiences. A facility for rapid preparation of good
reports or presentations is a requirement in most industry careers.
The essay can originate from one of the following sources:
A final project assigned by
the instructor of Math
16:642:623 Computational Finance, or
- A final project assigned by
the instructor of
16:642:624 Credit Derivative Modeling, or
Math 16:642:628 Topics in Mathematical Finance – Portfolio Theory and Applications, or
- A pre-approved quantitative financial industry internship
- A pre-approved project supervised by a faculty
member affiliated with the Mathematical Finance Program.
For Options (1) and (2), the final project report will normally be
accepted as a master's degree essay provided the final course grade is
at least B; borderline cases will be reviewed and decided by the
Mathematical Finance Program Director.
While Options (3) and (4) are permitted, a student selecting one of these options must
- Obtain approval for the essay topic from the Master's Essay Coordinator,
- Be responsible for selecting a project supervisor
and obtaining final essay draft approval, and
- Understand that graduation may be delayed if an essay is not approved.
For these reasons, we strongly
that students select Options (1) or (2), where the preceding steps have been
Essay Topic Pre-Approval
Topics selected under Options (1) or (2) do not require pre-approval; students are offered a choice
of suitable projects.
For Options (3) or (4), the essay topic must be pre-approved by the
Master's Essay Coordinator prior to committing to the
project. Students considering Option (3) should be aware that
internship projects may not provide suitable essay topics and that
firms often do not permit disclosure of internal technical reports,
market data, or computer code. Students considering Option (4) are
responsible for contacting a faculty member affiliated with the
Mathematical Finance Program prior to the semester the student expects
to graduate. Please consult the master's
before writing the essay and consult the master's
for examples of suitable topics.
Essay Project Supervision
Essay projects selected under Options (1) and (2) are supervised by the
Essay projects selected under Options (3) or (4) are
supervised by the course instructor, industry internship or faculty
supervisor. The Master's Essay Coordinator checks that the project report satisfies
our master's degree essay guidelines. We strongly recommend
that students regularly consult the Master's Essay Coordinator
from the start of the project and while preparing the essay draft.
Please consult the essay
guidelines for examples of suitable topics and essay
formats. A full-time student taking 3 or 4 courses, with no
other commitments (such as off-campus part-time employment),
should allow three (3)
months to complete the essay. Most essays will
be approximately 20-30 pages in length (excluding any computer code),
contain a literature review with references,
and focus on one topic in mathematical finance. A typical essay would
discuss the mathematical theory of a derivative pricing model, describe
and document its implementation and calibration with C++, Excel/VBA, MATLAB, or Python, make
use of empirical financial market data, and include a
comparison of model and market prices and hedge ratios. Essays must be
typed using LaTeX (preferred) or Word and the final electronic PDF copy
must include all figures. See this
for one Rutgers guide to LaTeX document preparation.
Essay Submission and Deadlines
For Options (1) or (2), the essay
must be submitted by the final exam date. Both a
printed and emailed (PDF) copy must be provided
. For Options (3) and (4),
the essay must be submitted four
prior to the Graduate School-New Brunswick
for submission of the
Application for the Degree of Master of Science form
For Option (3), the essay should be accompanied by a letter
from the student's industry supervisor providing his or her
- Assessment of the project
- Permission to use the internship report as the basis
for the master's degree essay.
Essay Review and Approval
Essay projects are reviewed by a committee comprising the Master's Essay
Coordinator, the Mathematical Finance Program Director, and one of the following:
- Option (1) or (2): Course instructor.
- Option (3): Another faculty member affiliated
with the Mathematical Finance Program.
- Option (4): The faculty member who agreed to
supervise the essay.
Essay approval is recorded on the Application for the
Degree of Master of Science
form; the student is responsible for obtaining the necessary signatures, noting that faculty members may not be available outside of the regular Fall or Spring semesters.