Suggestions – Academic Programs for Computer Engineering – Algo. Trading Directed – Chicagoland?

(Last Updated On: September 20, 2011)

Suggestions – Academic Programs for Computer Engineering – Algo. Trading Directed – Chicagoland?

I am a recent Economics BA graduate looking for an academic program in computer engineering directed at eventually being used for algo. trading. Looking for advice on the most applicable program of study and/or specific suggestions for Chicagoland area.
Info on VALUE OF PROGRAMS. Is there a big difference between State School, Private School, Community College or IT School?


Do a Master’s program in Computer Science. University of Chicago has the longest-standing program offering professional Master’s in CS (I went through it and recommend highly), but Northwestern, DePaul, Loyola, and IIT all offer programs now too. Each will provide more than enough opportunity to learn the things that will get you ahead.

Community college offerings will not be as in-depth, specific, or wide-ranging, nor will they be taught by as qualified a staff as you get in a true university faculty. I took a CS class once at a CC, and had a great experience, but you just have to realize that the standards are completely different.

From a career standpoint, a degree from a university will be much more useful than a certificate from a CC or tech school. There may be an element of snobbery there, but that snobbery has a basis in fact. The degrees are just not the same.


I truly appreciate the advice as I don’t actually know anyone in the industry and am haplessly trying to find my way. You have now reassured me in my initial strategy, and will most likely attend a more rigorous program. My haste was most likely due to the fact that I am still unemployed since graduating (actually applied to both Wolverine and Allston recently) and was daunted by the thought of incurring more tuition costs without a job. I will most likely wait until I am game-fully employed or until I can convince the parents that some sacrifice now will pay off in the future like all great investments:-) The CS program at U of Chicago sounds very appealing, but may still be out of my price range for now. That is where I hope to get my Graduate in Economics so maybe I can work some magic with the higher ups.

Thank you again for the timely response, you’ve helped me to establish a little more direction for my mission. If you have any other advice on insightful texts or on current entry level employment opportunities in the industry, I would be forever grateful.


School is a means to an end if you expect to leave the academic environment. I am sure you have figured this out. Instead of limiting the answer to school, I suggest that you focus your question on where you want to be 5 years from now. My answer to that question would be In a high paying job with upward mobility and above entry level subordinates. If you agree, then the question you asked is the wrong question. I suggest you find a potential employer or two, and within those organizations develop a mentor that will be willing to guide you to your goal. It may well be they do offer you a path that involves an academic program, and if so I am sure they will enlighten you on which program they would look most favorably on. The key is have a 5 year plan and develop mentors with experience to guide you in preparing for that goal.


I also believe that real world experience would be the most valuable education, especially in such a dynamic and competitive industry. So far I have done everything I can think of to get my foot in the door. I’ve applied to every prop. desk and hedge fund in chicago. I’ve tried delivering numerous resumes in person unsuccessfully, I’ve chatted with cigarette smokers outside the board of trade (pretending to inhale), I’ve tried to contact employers though Facebook, I’ve contacted every friend and connection I have in the industry and still haven’t even gotten a nibble. For now I’ve given up trying to get into the industry, as my resume is currently lees than spectacular. I’ll most likely end up as a bank teller or selling insurance for now, while working on another degree. Im sure that if I’m persistent and motivated I will eventually get where I want to be. Thank you for your input Collin. I think that having a structured, long term approach will help me stay on the right track. If you or anyone else has any advice on firms in Chicago or on getting a job in general I would really appreciate it.



NOTE I now post my TRADING ALERTS into my personal FACEBOOK ACCOUNT and TWITTER. Don't worry as I don't post stupid cat videos or what I eat!

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