In just four years, Lehigh’s M.S. program in analytical finance has earned a solid international reputation.

For the 2007–08 academic year, the program received 108 applications and admitted 36 students. For the 2008–09 academic year, applications skyrocketed to more than 250.

Two-thirds of the program’s current students hail from developing countries with growing economies.

“We have applications from students in the top schools in China and India,” says Vladimir Dobric, professor of mathematics and one of three program codirectors. “Students who come here are informing other students about the program.”

The analytical finance program is a collaboration among the departments of economics, finance, mathematics, and industrial and systems engineering. It blends concepts in financial theory, mathematical finance and engineering decision-making to train students to create and implement solutions to complex financial issues. Students complete an industry project that prepares them for careers as financial analysts, hedge fund managers and consultants.

The program was the first graduate program to receive a grant from Wall Street West, a nonprofit partnership in Pennsylvania that funds financial institutions outside of New York City to act as a backup in case of a disaster.

Students work in Lehigh’s state-of-the-art Financial Services Lab, which offers access to the real-time data used by firms on Wall Street.

“Analytical finance is a very rigorous program,” says Robert Storer, program codirector and professor of industrial and systems engineering. “It is very focused on financial mathematics and is deeper than other interdisciplinary programs.”

Richard Kish, professor of finance and the program’s third codirector, says analytical finance not only grooms students for jobs on Wall Street but also prepares them to “fill the niche between the front and back offices of banks and financial institutions.

“In the back office they do mathematics, and in the front office they sell products. There’s a need for people who understand both that can act as a go-between."