Master of Financial Engineering Program to Celebrate 10 Years

The Berkeley Master of Financial Engineering (MFE) Program will celebrate its ten-year anniversary March 18 with the graduation of its tenth class of students.

Since its inception, 608 students have graduated from the program, representing 21 countries. Alumni have been hired by 134 U.S. and international employers, and the program boasts a 100 percent placement rate of graduates since 2005.

The first such program in the United States to be run out of a business school–not an economics or mathematics department–the Berkeley MFE is unique in teaching students about the impact of their models and products by framing courses within the context of economics.

“We stand out in our ability to help students understand how models work in the real world, where people are not always the rational actors of economists’ dreams,” says Adjunct Professor John O’Brien, who helped develop the program with Executive Director Linda Kreitzman and Professor Emeritus David Pyle. “And we’ve done more than any other school to look beyond capital markets at broader issues such as how financial engineering can be applied to home finance, retirement planning, social security, income inequality, and international diversification.”

Indeed, despite the lurching of global markets in recent years, the Berkeley MFE Program continues to serve as a pragmatic and sophisticated training ground for students seeking careers in financial markets and management.

The program has responded adroitly to the changing economic landscape. O’Brien started teaching a Success and Failure in Financial Engineering course to give students insight into the challenges that might confront them in future careers. With systemic risk resulting from the misuse of derivatives now “the single most important issue” in global finance today, he notes, the program has also augmented the study of risk management in its courses.

“We go beyond the analysis of individual- and firm-level risk to consider how risk affects countries and the entire market system,” O’Brien says.

Given the failure of regulations to stop the unbridled use of risky derivatives, the program is developing a course on regulation that will run in 2012. In February 2012, the program also will host a conference specifically focused on ethics–a topic that already is included as an integral part of MFE courses. And in another sign of changing times, the program is placing graduates in jobs at the Securities and Exchange Commission for the first time this year.

Kreitzman dedicates substantial time to placing students in internships and full-time positions. “The approach we've been adopting is to work with the students one on one to optimize their best opportunity,” says Kreitzman. “At the same time, we let firms handpick directly those they feel best fit their needs.” As a result, despite the recession, the program is still placing 100 percent of its students in jobs.

To learn more about the MFE anniversary celebration, visit

The Berkeley Master of Financial Engineering Program celebrates its ten-year anniversary in March. Pictured here are Pete Chromiak, MFE 09; Rhett Brewer, MFE 11; Linda Krietzman, executive director; John O’Brien, faculty director; John, Chase Slater, MFE 11; Himani Trivedi, MFE 04; and Ariel Pavlicevich, MFE 08.