WashU Launches Financial Engineering Certificate

Financial engineers create models to assess risks and help businesses make financial decisions.
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Published on April 11, 2024
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  • Washington University in St. Louis is now offering a graduate certificate in financial engineering for students in the McKelvey School of Engineering.
  • The certificate is the university's first financial engineering offering for graduate students.
  • Financial engineers create models to assess risks and help businesses make financial decisions.
  • Demand for financial engineers is growing as the financial technology (fintech) field grows rapidly.

Washington University in St. Louis is rolling out a graduate certificate in financial engineering in a collaboration between its engineering and business schools.

Financial engineers work across the financial sector to analyze markets and assess risks for a wide variety of businesses. The new WashU program — a collaboration between its McKelvey School of Engineering and Olin Business School — includes instruction in areas like data analysis and quantitative risk management to prepare students for those jobs.

Olin Professor and Chair of Finance Todd Gormley, who is also the academic director of the school's global master of finance program, said in a press release that the skills taught by the program are in high demand.

"There is strong demand from financial firms for individuals with the skill set needed to succeed in financial engineering, and this certificate is designed to help WashU students meet that need," Gormley said in the release.

"We expect many students will benefit from the new program, and Olin continues to explore ways to deepen our collaboration with McKelvey Engineering on this front."

WashU already offers a second major in financial engineering for undergraduate students, but the new certificate will be the university's first financial engineering offering for graduate students.

"It has been a successful joint project," Vladimir Kurenok, director of the undergraduate financial engineering program, said in the release. "The wish has been to expand this successful program to graduate students because many of them have expressed interest in having such a program."

What Is Financial Engineering?

Financial engineering "leverages math, statistics, data science, and programming" to generate profits and reduce financial risks, according to Carnegie Mellon University.

Demand for financial analysts is projected to grow over the next decade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of financial analysts will grow by 8% between 2022 and 2032.

The median pay for a financial analyst in 2022 was $96,220 per year, according to the BLS. But that figure can range much higher.

Financial engineering is a lucrative field for Carnegie Mellon graduates: The university said that, based on an alumni survey, the vast majority of its financial engineering graduates made at least $150,000 — even with minimal previous experience in the industry.

That job growth and higher pay come as the financial sector undergoes massive changes with the growth of financial technology (fintech). Fintech is a broad term that includes technologies that assist or automate finance for businesses and consumers — and that sector is projected to see meteoric growth over the next several years.

The Boston Consulting Group and QED Investors projected in a 2023 report that fintech revenues will grow from $245 billion to $1.5 trillion globally by 2030.

A number of business schools, including New York University, the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the Ohio State University, and others have embraced fintech in the form of degrees and certifications.