UNC Economics began a new experiment in advanced undergraduate education in 2016. With the financial support of the Nasdaq Educational Foundation, we created the Credential in Quantitative Financial Economics (QFE). This is a three-course sequence that provides students with the theoretical basis for the outcomes of financial markets and also with practical applications of these outcomes in real-world activities. The first course, Econ 425, is the Introduction to Financial Economics. The second and third courses, Econ 525 (Advanced Financial Economics) and Econ 493 (Practicum in QFE), are designed to work hand in hand: students take the two courses in the same semester and the practical applications of Econ 493 and tailored to provide empirical depth to the theoretical insights of Econ 525.
This has been a wildly popular credential in the last two academic years: 25 students completed the three-course sequence in 2016-2017, and 28 students did so in 2017-2018. This year we are doubling the size of the initiative so that even more of our students can benefit from this real-world learning opportunity.
Professor Michael Aguilar is the Director of the Credential. Here are a few questions we put to him, and his answers:
What makes the credential unique among our offerings in Economics? More so than any other course I’ve taught at Carolina, this course sequence has at its heart a marriage of practice and theory.
What do students tell you is the most rewarding part of the QFE credential? I stay in regular contact with graduates of the QFE. They all remark on the range of employable skills they have acquired. From asset pricing, to programming, to data analysis, their prospective employers always find something useful on their resumes.
What sorts of jobs do the graduates go on to do? The beautiful thing about the program is that we are NOT training “Wall Street quants”, as the name of the Credential might suggest. Every field in modern finance needs a deep understanding of quantitative analysis. As such, our graduates are able to acquire and succeed in a range of finance-related careers.
Our picture includes Professor Michael Aguilar (fifth from left, front row) and most of the Credential recipients for 2017-2018. We’ll need a bigger screen for this year’s group!