A hedge funder is offering a free masters degree in a field that's integral to Wall Street's future.
Igor Tulchinsky, the founder of WorldQuant, a New York-based quantitative hedge fund, founded WorldQuant University last year.
The program offers students a tuition-free two-year education in financial engineering.
“It went live about a year ago, and now we have 600 students who have enrolled from all over the world,” Daphne Kis, CEO of WorldQuant University, told Business Insider.
Financial engineering draws from a number of fields including computer science, economics and mathematics. As such, the program's course load, according to the program's site, covers economic theory, statistics, and provides students the opportunity to work with tools such as Python, Matlab, and Websim.
Tulchinsky founded WorldQuant LLC, a private institutional investment management firm, in 2007. He told Business Insider that the idea for WorldQuant University came to fruition while he was developing WorldQuant LLC.
"As I was developing my primary business, which has 23 offices around the world, it became quite obvious that talent is distributed very uniformly around the world, while opportunity is not,"Tulchinsky said. "The most valuable, long-lasting asset you can give an individual is an education."
As the digitization of Wall Street continues unabated, more firms will require talent with coding and technical skills. Hedge funds have been hiring tech experts from Silicon Valley at a clip in recent years, and a degree in financial engineering is a valuable asset on Wall Street.
Currently, financial engineering professionals are among the highest-paid workers on the Street. The average national salary for a financial engineer is a whopping $102,020 per year, according to job search platform Glassdoor.
Fannie Mae, Citadel, and PIMCO all have postings on Glassdoor for financial engineers with salaries as high as $134,745 per year.
The faculty includes a number of former Wall Street quants, and is licensed by the Board of Regents of the State of Louisiana. Tulchinsky hopes to ramp up the number of students in the program over time.
“There are many smart, educated people all over the world," he said. "We're designing WQU to be scalable. We want to reach a lot of students."