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Am I good enough for a top PhD program?

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Am I good enough for a top PhD program? [#permalink] New post 20 Dec 2010, 05:25
Hey everyone,

I am currently an undergraduate junior and I took the GMAT last winter break (12/09) and got a 700. I joined the MBA program at my school and so I will graduate with a BS in biochemistry and a MBA at the same time. My undergrad GPA is a 3.87 and my grad gpa is a 4.0. I have lots of leaderships and 2 internships. I am also female (if that helps at all :? ) and I want to join a PhD program if I get into a top 20 program - do I think I should try? Is app good enough?
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Re: Am I good enough for a top PhD program? [#permalink] New post 30 Dec 2010, 13:18
You have amazing stats, where did you go for your undergraduate if you don't mind me asking. Also, have you done any research or had anything published?
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Re: Am I good enough for a top PhD program? [#permalink] New post 31 Dec 2010, 06:53
I'm at a top 50 ranked school...but not anything amazing >_<

I have three years of science undergraduate research, and I will most probably publish something (again, in science) before I graduate.

Thanks for the reply :)

Last edited by aikomidori on 08 Jan 2011, 18:16, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Am I good enough for a top PhD program? [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2011, 04:22
I think it depends on which specialisation you choose. The finance programs are the toughest to get into.
But your stats looks really good. Gmat 700 , really high gpa. Neither your gmat nor your gpa will hurt you in most programs . Therefore you will definitely have a chance to get into a top 20 program. My advice is to apply to as many schools as possible. Another way to improve your chances is to write your thesis with a good professor who has an extensive research experience. Afterwards you can ask him for a letter of recommendation :wink: .
Wish you all the best for your further studies :-D
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Re: Am I good enough for a top PhD program? [#permalink] New post 07 Jan 2011, 04:54
Thank you so much for the advice supereco87 :D:D:D
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Re: Am I good enough for a top PhD program? [#permalink] New post 07 Jan 2011, 12:14
If I were you, I would retake the GMAT. 700 is a great score in a vacuum, but I believe the average top-20 PhD applicant is way over 700. PhD admissions percentages are very low, and you have plenty of time to execute a 750+ score, so that would be my advice!

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Re: Am I good enough for a top PhD program? [#permalink] New post 08 Jan 2011, 06:52
@ method - I was actually hoping that the other parts of my application would more than make for my gmat score. I am the following:

[removed for privacy]

So I am really hoping that I wouldn't have to retake the GMAT - do you still think so?

Last edited by aikomidori on 08 Jan 2011, 18:19, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Am I good enough for a top PhD program? [#permalink] New post 08 Jan 2011, 08:45
Do you really think that the rest of your profile is a distinct advantage against the top-20 Business PhD pool? I'm not saying you shouldn't be proud of what you've accomplished, but I would guess that what you've done is not head and shoulders above other applicants.

And you're doing a MBA, which is a professional degree, without any real work experience or industry aspirations. From my understanding, you would seem more attractive with a double major in economics instead.

Given that you're just a junior at the moment, what is the downside to taking the GMAT again? Then compare that to the upside.

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Re: Am I good enough for a top PhD program? [#permalink] New post 08 Jan 2011, 18:18
The problem with taking the gmat again is that I won't have enough time to dedicate to re-studying for it. I'm spending the summer at Goldman Sachs. I will consider it though..
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Re: Am I good enough for a top PhD program? [#permalink] New post 10 Jan 2011, 21:06
You have a great profile. However if you're only interested in attending the Top 20 schools (i.e. if you weren't admitted into those schools then you would not do a PhD) then perhaps you are not serious enough to weather the 4+ years of PhD work.
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Re: Am I good enough for a top PhD program? [#permalink] New post 11 Jan 2011, 05:11
Hmm actually I would be willing to go to a school outside of top 20, but I already think I have a chance in those places.

I do not know if I have a chance at a top 20 school, that's why I asked specifically if I have a chance at a top 20 school.
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Re: Am I good enough for a top PhD program? [#permalink] New post 17 Jan 2011, 09:35
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From what I can see of your profile, I think it *might* be good enough to get you into one of the top 20 (top 50 might be more realistic), but I definitely wouldn't bet on it.

As supereco87 mentioned, your discipline will make a big difference in admissions. Since you are interning at Goldman Sachs, I'm going to guess that you're going to be going for Finance, which as supereco87 mentioned is the toughest discipline to gain admission to. Getting into the top 20 with even an excellent profile is a crapshoot. Your profile is good overall, but if you're looking at the top 20 finance programs, it may be considered an average or below average profile (my opinion might be different if your discipline is not finance).

The top 20 programs (especially top 10) will typically have GMATs in excess of 750. To get into those programs is not like getting into an MBA. I would say that the stats necessary to get into a top 50 finance PhD program, would be the same to get into the top 10 MBA programs (although for MBA programs work experience plays a more important role while not as important for admission to a PhD). Also note that this is not like an MBA where even if your stats aren't perfect you might get in because you have an "interesting" profile, since they have a couple hundred spots to fill. For the PhD, they may be trying to fill 2 or 3 spots out of a hundred applications. All it takes is 5 people with equivalent profiles and you'll be fighting with them for those spots (and based on what I can see from what you've posted, your profile does raise questions due to the degrees, work experience, GMAT score, etc).

You also did not mention your motivation for pursuing a business PhD. It is going to be critical that you know exactly why you want to do a PhD, have a general idea of what research you're interested in, etc. You will have to communicate this very well in your SOP because looking at what you have here so far, people will question why you want to do a PhD in business. After all, you are doing your undergraduate degree in biochemistry, which is completely unrelated, and you are doing an MBA (why?). An MBA is more of a practitioner degree, and it looks like if you're going for the PhD already, you won't be practicing very much, other than some internships. Although not an application killer, schools generally prefer applicants with a few years of work experience (I know that you are interning at Goldman, but I don't know if an internship is going to be considered real work experience).. Especially when you're considering the top 20 programs, your application needs to be nearly flawless to get in.

Another thing that you didn't mention was what type of quantitative coursework you have taken. For business PhD's in general, the more the better, but I believe this is especially true for the finance PhD. The good thing is that you're a junior and you can still address any deficiencies (if you have any) by taking additional math courses.

In summary, I think your strengths are your GPA and that you have some research experience (which is something I don't think that many applicants have), although the value of your research experience may be slightly devalued due to the fact that it's in a different field. I am guessing that you will be able to obtain strong letters of recommendation from your research supervisor and other professors.

Your weaknesses are your GMAT score and lack of work experience. Also, it would be considered a major weakness if you can't explain exactly why you want to go for the PhD, but I'm guessing you might be able to spin your SOP a little to address this.

As supereco87 mentioned, your discipline will make a big difference in admissions. Since you are interning at Goldman Sachs, I'm going to guess that you're going to be going for Finance, which as supereco87 mentioned is the toughest discipline to gain admission to. Getting into the top 20 even with an excellent profile is a crapshoot. Your profile is good overall, but if you're looking at the top 20 finance programs, it may be considered an average or possibly even weak profile.

Of course the above is just my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt. Your profile is not bad, just maybe not top 20 material.. If you're serious about the PhD, you might want to have half your apps be for the top 20, and the other half in the top 50. Probably throw in a handful of safer programs outside of the top 50 as well.
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Re: Am I good enough for a top PhD program? [#permalink] New post 18 Jan 2011, 05:35
Thank you so much for the reply risys82! :D After the comments here, I plan on applying to a few outside the top 50, a few between 20 to 50 and a few in the top 20.

I had posted this before, but removed it due to privacy. I do have some finance work experience. By the time I graduate, I will have worked 1.5 years in the state insurance department as a finance intern and I have worked in a financial role for 4 years in a local consulting company. I don't know if that helps at all for work experience, but just thought I would mention that.

I am not worried about the amount of quantitative subjects I have taken since the science degree and the MBA will take care of that.

Also, I'm not just applying to a finance PhD, I am also applying for a corporate strategy PhD.

Thanks a lot!
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Re: Am I good enough for a top PhD program? [#permalink] New post 18 Jan 2011, 12:26
Yes, it would be wise to apply to several programs in each category of reach, target, and safety (although in PhD admissions sometimes there no such thing).

For a finance PhD, I am not certain how valuable your work experience will be, since I do not know a great deal about finance, but I do know that the people who you will be competing with for spots for at the top schools will generally have superb work experience, GMAT scores, grades, LORs. You could probably judge the value of your work experience better than I can. The important thing regarding your work experience as it pertains to PhD admissions is that it is relevant to your research interests (i.e. how did it contribute to your research interests and what kind of insights did you gain from it that will help you with your research?). I would make sure to thoroughly address this in your SOP if you plan on mentioning your work experience at all. Otherwise, don't waste more than a few sentences in your SOP on your finance work experience. As I mentioned, leadership and work experience probably take a backseat to other things, but for the top schools, everything generally needs to be excellent.

I assumed the same regarding your quantitative background. But just to be sure, at a minimum you should have calc 1-3, statistics and probability, linear algebra. If you can take some econometrics at the PhD level that would look good on your profile.

Also regarding applying to both finance and corporate strategy PhDs. I think there are schools out there that only allow you to apply to one program. Also, I'm not sure about this, but I think applying to more than 1 PhD program may not be looked upon favorably by adcoms, since it indicates lack of focus. You might want to ask some professors what they think about that just to make sure. Even if you will be applying to different schools, your LOR writers might wonder as well. Again, I'm not sure whether it's a big deal or not, so you might want to check with some other sources just to make sure. Also since we're on the topic of LORs, make sure all of these come from academics, not from industry, unless the person that you worked with in industry also holds a PhD.

Anyway, I am sure you are already aware of most of these things, but just thought I'd mention them just in case they are helpful to you or someone else.
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Re: Am I good enough for a top PhD program? [#permalink] New post 18 Jan 2011, 19:35
Thank you so much for the advice! I never thought of it that way (that my LORs will wonder why I have a lack of focus), I think when I apply I will only apply for corporate strategy after taking what you said into account.

Thank you so much risys82, your advice was very helpful :D
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Re: Am I good enough for a top PhD program? [#permalink] New post 25 Apr 2011, 15:02
I may be a little late in this discussion. I am actually currently in a finance phd program and went through the process of applying last year. I also had a 3.9 gpa as an undergrad and I scored 710 on the gmat. However, my degree was in finance, which is a terrible degree to enter a phd in finance with ironically. YOur biochemistry is probably much better because I am sure you have had to take advanced calculus and hopefully linear algebra. I also went to a much worse school than you (far from top 50).

Unfortunately, your mba classes probably won't be very helpful at first because generally the first year is all theoretical economics and econometrics which has little to do with mba style classes. My point is your mba may not help as much as you are hoping for admittance, a masters in math, stats, or economics is best. As far as work experience the programs actually don't care at all. Work experience doesn't really help them tell if someone can make it through the academic rigor of the first and second year classes.

I am sure you can get into a good program. I believe top 20 is lofty I would suggest applying to tier 2 and 3 schools as well. Also make sure to apply to several schools. I applied to 12 and only got in 1. Your resume is much better than mine from the looks of it, so you should have considerably more success just remember to apply to lots of schools and highlight your quantitative ability in your applications.

Best wishes

Oh and being a girl will help you out, there are few women in finance. If you are a white girl or at least american born you will have an even bigger edge. This may sound politically incorrect, but it is just the way it is. Ask a professor you are close to and they will tell you the same thing.
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Re: Am I good enough for a top PhD program? [#permalink] New post 02 Jun 2011, 03:03
aikomidori wrote:
Hey everyone,

I am currently an undergraduate junior and I took the GMAT last winter break (12/09) and got a 700. I joined the MBA program at my school and so I will graduate with a BS in biochemistry and a MBA at the same time. My undergrad GPA is a 3.87 and my grad gpa is a 4.0. I have lots of leaderships and 2 internships. I am also female (if that helps at all :? ) and I want to join a PhD program if I get into a top 20 program - do I think I should try? Is app good enough?


You seem very appropriate. Just add some research flavor to your application pack. Be a RA or coauthor or author a piece of paper. Be a TA as well

Also, though 700 can take you even to HBS and stanforsd, but retaking it to take a few tens higher pushes you higher than the risk line

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Re: Am I good enough for a top PhD program?   [#permalink] 02 Jun 2011, 03:03
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