Suggested Background Work and Self-Assessment

Suggested Mathematical Background

Listed below is an outline of mathematical background that we think is desirable to have in order to be successful in the most challenging of courses in the program.

Linear algebra: Basic topics, including: matrix/vector notation, operations on matrices and vectors, determinants, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, quadratic forms, systems of linear equations. 

Calculus: Multivariable differentiation and integration, series expansions, function approximation and maximization. 

ProbabilitySample spaces and random variables, common distributions and densities, moments of distributions, conditional probability and Bayes’ theorem, law of large numbers, central limit theorem, joint distributions, covariance, correlation, stochastic independence.

Stochastic Processes: Random walks, Bernoulli trials, Markov processes, basic properties of linear time series models, continuous-time processes, Ito’s lemma.

Statistics/EconometricsParameter estimation, confidence intervals, hypothesis tests, linear regression models, ordinary least squares, likelihood principle. 

Computer literacy: Basic programming experience and readiness to learn new tools and features; for example, familiarity with programming in Matlab, Python, Java, or C++.  Basic experience with Microsoft Office business tools, especially use of Excel for data analysis and presentation.

Self-Assessment

To assess the adequacy of your mathematical background, please use the following self-assessment test. If you experience difficulties in any particular area, we strongly recommend that you strengthen your skills through self-study or formal coursework prior to enrolling in the MFin program.

Sample Test

Solutions

Students without this background will enroll in 15.S24 - Fundamentals of Financial Mathematics, which provides an overview of fundamental mathematics essential for the study of modern finance: linear algebra, probability, stochastic processes, statistics, optimization, and programming in Matlab.

Self-study resources

MIT OpenCourseWare provides access to many resources that may be helpful, including lecture videos, lecture notes, problem sets, exams, and solutions.

  • 18.02: Multivariable Calculus (as taught in Fall 2007)*
    • Lectures 1-4: some vector and matrix properties.
    • Lectures 8-13: partial derivatives, Lagrange multipliers 
    • http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mathematics/18-02-multivariable-calculus-fall-2007
  • 18.05: Introduction to Probability and Statistics
    • http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mathematics/18-05-introduction-to-probability-and-statistics-spring-2014/
  • 18.06: Linear Algebra (as taught in 2010)*
    • http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mathematics/18-06-linear-algebra-spring-2010/
  • 6.041: Probabilistic Systems Analysis and Applied Probability (as taught in 2010)*
    • http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/electrical-engineering-and-computer-science/6-041-probabilistic-systems-analysis-and-applied-probability-fall-2010/
  • 6.041x: Introduction to Probability - The Science of Uncertainty
    • https://www.edx.org/course/mitx/mitx-6-041x-introduction-probability-1296
G-LAB: WARMBATHS HOSPITAL, SOUTH AFRICA Improving staffing at a maternity ward

“The assistant to the CEO was like our host mom while we were there. She arranged our housing for us, she took us out to her friend’s game farm, and we got driven around in 4x4s. She was just wonderful to meet, and we developed a personal as well as professional relationship with her.”

Kelsey McCarty
MBA
MIT LEADERSHIP CENTER Changing views of leadership

“We are very much an action-learning environment. The way to learn leadership is not only through reading cases, not only through learning theory — in fact we don’t want people to regurgitate the theory. We want people to take theory and to live it, use it.”

Deborah Ancona
Faculty Director, MIT Leadership Center
INDIA LAB: BANGALORE Working toward market expansion

“[The India Lab] program is one of the reasons I came to Sloan. ... The hands-on learning that MIT offers was a huge differentiator.”

Katie Baron
MBA
CENTER FOR INFORMATION SYSTEMS RESEARCH Bringing people and machines together

 “For 35 years, we’ve been studying how companies get value from information. … We try to help organizations take a more holistic view of what they are trying to do.”

Jeanne W. Ross
Director and Principal Research Scientist, CISR
S-LAB: JAKARTA WATERSHED Combating a clean water crisis

“You could talk about watershed management and conservation of energy all you want. But until you put numbers to it and financial analysis to it, you’re not going to get much done. I came to business school to speak that language, speak with people in terms of numbers, financial numbers so that I can get projects done.”

Ian Lavery
MBA
G-LAB, RAS RESORT, INDIA Marketing in Mumbai
"The network of alumni was helpful because our team had a lot of experience in consulting, but not in private equity."
Gerardo Guzman
MBA
SLOAN FELLOW Getting serious about going global
"I had interviews and visited other business schools, and it’s nothing like the environment that we have here at MIT Sloan."
Abner Oliviera
SF
COURAGE AND STRENGTH Supporting a student with breast cancer
"The Sloan community really rallied around me in a way that I totally didn’t anticipate. … It was just really nice to be a part of a community that I was totally comfortable in and felt completely supported by."
Kyle Maner
MBA
RETAIL AND CONSUMER GOODS Luxury beauty and the multicultural consumer
"The goal of the Retail and Consumer Goods Club is to provide networking opportunities for students at MIT Sloan, and to educate students about different functions within the retail and CPG space. We bring in executive-level speakers to educate our community on this topic."
Nga Phan
MBA, co-president of Retail and Consumer Goods Club
G-LAB: NAM MEE BOOKS, THAILAND Helping a book publisher mature

“It was really rewarding that they wanted to know what we thought. We left there being fairly certain that they will do some of the things that we suggested.”

Lia Cavalcante
MBA
SLOAN FELLOW Merging disciplines for climate change
"I needed to get a better understanding of the interaction of management and technology. And I think MIT is an obvious place for that. There’s probably no better place in the world [for learning] how technology and management interact."
Pascal Marmier
SF
$100K 2010 WINNERS: C-CRETE TECHNOLOGIES Reducing the environmental impact of concrete

“One of the reasons I came to Sloan was because I wanted to be at a top MBA institution worldwide. But I also wanted access to working with the latest innovations and the highest technology that was coming out of the MIT labs.”

Natanel Barookhian
MBA
MFIN STUDENT TAKE Collective Brainpower

"The classroom itself is filled with so much collective brain power . . . it's obvious that I'm caught up in a room full of 124 of the brightest, most curious people from around the world."

Tiffany Wetherell
MFin
G-LAB: MERCY CORPS, INDONESIA Using business principles to address malnutrition

“The conditions in the neighborhoods we were visiting were different than what we realized before getting there. Beyond that, what was surprising was that there weren’t surprises!”

Libby Putman
MBA
G-LAB, KUALA LUMPUR Assessing the future of the Smart Card
"You have to manage what you can deliver for the company and what the company is expecting. The bottom line is that the CEOs of those companies want results. Even though we have to work five months in a row with the project, we have to deliver. This experience is more pragmatic than academic. It's a good opportunity to match those two worlds."
Camilo Syllos
MBA
SWITZER FELLOWSHIP WINNER JASON JAY Focusing on environmental research and leadership

 “I love being in a place that is such a nexus of people and ideas — people coming to learn something new and to define themselves. Being a part of that process is a real honor and a real gift.”

Jason Jay
Lecturer, Sustainability, MIT Sloan
INSTITUTE FOR WORK AND EMPLOYMENT RESEARCH Adapting to the changing nature of work

“We’re very interdisciplinary. Among the faculty in the group are an economist, a political scientist, a sociologist, and an industrial relations specialist. We’ve always made a big effort to be open to a variety of perspectives, but also to go beyond being open to them, to want to bring them in, because it makes for a richer environment.”

Thomas Kochan
Co-director, IWER
G-LAB: AIDS IN TANZANIA Striving for economic empowerment

“Because of the diversity of our backgrounds, when we hit the ground in Tanzania it almost was a natural play where different people assume different roles.”

Krishna Venugopalan
SF
G-LAB: PRIVATE HEALTH CARE IN AFRICA Defining growth at a for-profit clinic

“At MIT Sloan you have a lot of opportunities to explore entrepreneurship. Especially in a place like Kampala where you have a lot of development, entrepreneurship can be very exciting.”

Anne Reilly
MBA
LEADERS FOR GLOBAL OPERATIONS Connecting management and technology
“We are preparing leaders to run the world’s operations companies. And those leaders are at the cutting edge of both management and technology.”
Don Rosenfield
Senior lecturer and director of the Leaders for Global Operations
INDIA LAB: EDUCATIONAL ENHANCEMENT Creating employable workers to boost the economy

“I knew about American business, but not enough about what’s really become a global economy. … You can read about it all you want, but there’s no substitute for being there and seeing the context and seeing how completely different these [other countries] are.”

Ted Chan
MBA
MSTIR MIT Sloan Teaching Innovations Resources
"MIT is not only a first-class institution in studying entrepreneurship, but in creating it and fostering it. A huge number of companies have emerged from MIT, not just MIT’s science and engineering schools, but also from collaborative projects between the science and engineering and the Sloan school."
John D. Sterman
Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management
G-LAB: INTERGRUPO, COLOMBIA Growing a business by cultivating relationships

"The relationships that we forged helped us to turn out a better project. We were able to test our hypotheses with the people that we spoke with every single day. And really, I think the friendships that you develop really propel the work that you’re doing."

Ramy Hakim
MBA

“Another plus is the international breadth of its student body. The students share their direct experiences and this greatly contributes to our understanding of various economic issues.”

- Kristin J. Forbes
Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Professor of Management