Career Guide


Quantitative Finance is offered as a major at JMU through the Department of Finance and Business Law within the College of BusinessAs a quantitative finance major (QFIN), your course of study will result in a B.S. degree with minors in economics and math (or a double major with math) rather than a B.B.A. QFIN’s classification as a STEM program has been approved by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). 

Learn more about this major by watching the JMU Quantitative Finance promotional video.

Admission and Progression Standards

Visit the Quantitative Finance Major site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.

Description of Major

The Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Quantitative Finance offers a strong foundation in mathematics, statistics, finance, and economics. The quantitative finance major is designed to prepare students for careers in financial risk management and analysis, structured finance, financial modeling, financial strategy, financial engineering, and graduate study. The required major courses provide quantitative finance majors with the foundation and tools for a variety of financial situations and problem solving. Electives permit the student to emphasize economics, mathematics, statistics, or finance.

The quantitative finance major is an interdisciplinary major. Students are strongly encouraged to meet with an adviser in their first year to plan the course of study. Students must begin their mathematics courses in their freshman year in order to progress through the major in a timely manner.

Because of the uniqueness of the quantitative finance interdisciplinary curriculum, students will be exposed to many other colleges on campus. This major is a highly structured program requiring minors in both mathematics and economics. Frequently, the quantitative finance faculty participates in joint courses with the applied mathematics and applied science departments. This allows students to share ideas with students from other quantitative disciplines at JMU.

More About the Field 

The recent explosive growth in quantitative finance has led mathematics, physics, computer science and engineering students of all levels to wonder whether a career or an advanced degree in quantitative finance is right for them. With the rapid increase in sophisticated quantitative and computational techniques employed in financial firms there has been increasing demand for students with highly quantitative backgrounds to work in the financial field and an increase in advanced degree programs covering these topics. The following quote by John Finnerty best captures the essence of quantitative finance and financial engineering: "Financial Engineering (quantitative finance) involves the design, the development, and the implementation of innovative financial instruments and processes, and the formulation of creative solutions to problems in finance." The core of this definition is captured by the words innovative and creative. Sometimes this innovation and creativity represents a quantum leap in our thinking. For example, innovation and creativity were involved when revolutionary new products such as the first swap, mortgage-backed product, zero coupon bonds, or high-yield bonds to finance leveraged buy-outs were introduced. At others times, it involves a novel twist to an old idea. This is the kind of innovation and creativity involved in the extension of futures trading to a commodity or a financial instrument not previously traded in a futures pit, the introduction of a swap variant, or the creation of a mutual fund with a new focus. At still other times, it involves the piecing together of existing products and processes to fit a particular set of circumstances. This latter dimension is often overlooked in discussions of financial engineering, but it is of at least equal importance. Examples include the use of existing products to reduce a firm's financial risks, to reduce the cost of a firm's financing, to gain some accounting or tax benefit, or to exploit a market inefficiency.

Complementary Majors and Minors 

Mathematics and economics are common combinations. Some other possibilities could include Business Analytics, Computer Information Systems, Statistics, Computer Science or Engineering.

Characteristics of Successful Students

Knowledge of and familiarity with computers is essential. Students who are able to think independently and creatively are not afraid of hard work. Internships and/or other experiential learning are helpful in gaining permanent employment in quantitative finance. An aptitude for solving problems, working with figures, analyzing, comparing and interpreting facts and data, and strong communications skills are also important.


Many graduates choose quantitative career tracks in the financial service industry associated with this major. However, some graduates choose careers outside of the financial industry that utilize skills and experiences developed during their years in college. The listing below offers examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.

  • Actuary
  • Business Analyst
  • Commodities Analyst
  • Emerging Markets Derivatives Trader
  • Financial Analyst
  • Financial Engineer
  • Financial Product Designer
  • Financial Risk Manager
  • Investment Analyst
  • Liquidity Risk Manager
  • Mutual Fund Manager
  • Pension Fund Manager
  • Portfolio Analyst
  • Portfolio Manager
  • Pricing and Cost Analyst
  • Research Analyst
  • Risk Consultant
  • Securities Analyst
  • Securities Trader
  • Underwriter

Who Employs Graduates?

Employers of finance professionals encompass many sectors of the economy, including manufacturers, financial service firms, and government employers.  Examples include:

  • Accounting firms
  • Brokerage firms
  • Commercial banks
  • Consulting firms
  • Corporations
  • Financial service firms
  • Foundations
  • Government agencies
  • Hedge funds
  • Insurance companies
  • Investment banks
  • Mutual funds
  • Pension funds
  • Pension management companies
  • Private equity firms
  • Ratings companies
  • Research firms
  • Securities and commodities
  • Trust companies

Internships and Experiential Opportunities 

Internship and practicum experiences can be investigated by consulting with the faculty coordinator. Students might also consider involvement in one of the student organizations in the College of Business, such as the Financial Management Association and particularly the Madison Investment Fund. Involvement in these organizations offers professional activities such as speakers, visits to companies, and workshops, all of which assist students in enhancing their leadership, communication and personal relationship skills.

View our list of internship coordinators for each major.

Career Profiles 


Financial Analysts 

Financial Examiners 

Financial Managers 

Insurance Underwriters

Securities, Commodities and Financial Sales Agents

Additional Resources to Research Careers
  • Handshake: view new internships and jobs that employers are looking to hire JMU students from your major 
  • Career Outcomes: see where alumni worked or studied right after graduating.
  • GoinGlobal: learn more about employment opportunities overseas as well as H1B visa information for international Dukes pursuing jobs in the U.S.
  • O*NET: browse occupational profiles to learn about thousands of different careers, pulling data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 
  • CareerOneStop: explore thousands of different careers by looking at career profiles 
  • Utilize the LinkedIn Alumni tool to see what others have done with their majors and what their career paths look like. Reach out to alumni via LinkedIn and conduct an informational interview.

© University Career Center, James Madison University

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from the JMU University Career Center. Content for each major has been written/reviewed by faculty in the respective department and is revised each year. Requests to update content can be submitted to

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