Finance: an extraordinary success story
If the success of a program is measured in the success of its students, the finance program at UWA is extraordinary. In its infancy, the finance program was founded by Dr. Adam Cai and his wife, Dr. Anna Cai, in 2011.
“I was finishing my Ph.D. in economics at the University of Alabama,” Adam Cai says. “I was teaching at a community college and working as a graduate assistant at UA, when I was offered a position at UWA to help launch the finance program.”
Working with Dr. Ken Tucker, now president of UWA, Cai knew that to create a program distinct from those at other universities they would have to demand more from their students. The result is Quantitative Finance and Econometrics.
The finance program emphasizes fundamental concepts in the context of developing solid analytical and decision-making skills. It gives students significant hands-on portfolio investment experience and the finance lab is equipped to complement each students’ skills.
“Our program puts more emphasis on quantitative math than most. We knew from the beginning that the math would be rigorous, that we would challenge our students more than any other program in Alabama. Our program requires an extraordinary amount of work, but our graduates are receiving offers from the most elite graduate programs in the country.”
One aspect of UWA’s finance program is the relationship it shares with the Guangdong University of Finance in China. UWA and GUF share a 2 + 2 Program, where students at Guangdong University spend their first two years in China and their final two years at UWA. Consequently, UWA’s finance program has a strong international flavor.
“The international students are very ambitious. There is inherently a competitive atmosphere in the program, but it’s a good, health competition. Everyone is at once pushing each other, but also helping one another.” The results are undeniable.
““In our original class, 23 of the 25 students went on to graduate school,” Cai says. “We’ve had five classes come through since we began the program; we average about 20 students per class. Of those, 10 have been accepted to graduate programs ranked in the top 10 in the nation. Three have been accepted into programs ranked in the top 5, places like Columbia and Johns Hopkins. For those students who choose to begin their careers at graduation, we have 100% job placement record.”
Xi Chen (Tony), a student from Guangdong University points out that the most important aspect of the program is the professors. “When I came to UWA, I found out there was so much to learn, so much that I did not know before. But your professors here, they guide you. They show you what your future could look like, and then they help you plan how to get there. As a student, they make you work hard, but they also show you the rewards for your work.”