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I am currently studying for GMAT to get into a grad school. I have done my undergrad studies at Fisher (OSU) in information systems and risk management & insurance. My GPA was about 3.1 - 3.2. I have a 3 year work experience in corporate setting but not in the fields of my undergrad degrees. I'm now 26 years old.
My ultimate goal is to get a PhD and become a researcher (professor) in the field of information systems. I took the GMAT 5 years ago and scored 680. I'm taking it again next week. I believe I can get above 700 based on my performance in practice tests... But I've gathered from reading people's comments on this forum and elsewhere on the web that LOR from academic sources is crucial to PhD admission. Unfortunately at this point I don't believe I will be able to get strong LOR from my undergrad professors.
My plan is to first get into a masters program in order to 1) get myself reacquainted with faculty (hopefully faculty in IS) and 2) further explore the field of IS as well as those of other fields (keeping my options open). Both MACC and MBA programs seem to have some information systems oriented courses. I do not which one will be better for me. What do you guys think?
Given your situation, I agree with your course of action. However, do you have a general idea of what sort of topic (or at least subject) within IS you would like to research? If you do, it may be prudent to consider Masters programs outside of business schools in disciplines related to IS/the specific topic you wish to study. Generally speaking, you will find that most of these programs (this is especially true in Europe) provide a more academically oriented approach to study. For example, compulsory courses in research methods and methodology are the norm, in which case there will be a dissertation requirement. If you plan your dissertation carefully (e.g. going beyond a literature review and adding a fieldwork component) you could use this as an avenue to publish your work, the benefits of which are clearly apparent.
You could also look at a couple of Canadian business schools (Sauder and Queen's), where their MSc programs are effectively bridges to doctoral programs. In this case, you could immediately specialize in MIS (rather than a related discipline), with the benefit of simultaneously engaging with business scholars and developing your own research skills.
Pursuing a more practical course such as an MBA or MAcc has its advantages as well, especially if you can get into a top school and get those letters you need from recognized faculty. I can't say which is better for you as it depends on (amongst other things) the school and curriculum, but stripped of context I'd say they're more or less equal qualifications in the eyes of an admissions committee. In doctoral programs focusing on applied research, an MBA/MAcc coupled with your work experience could prove beneficial as well. As you said, you'll also gain a broader perspective on other business fields. However, what you gain in breadth you may lose in depth. If you can supplement your study with some research experience, that will be extremely useful.
My advice is to decide on how you want to set yourself up for admission. Also if you can, narrow down your research path now at the very least to scholarly or applied research, which will in turn help you choose schools which suit you best. If you want to highlight your scholarly potential, you may wish to consider a specialized Master. If you're going for a more practical approach to research, go for the MBA/MAcc and do whatever you can to get research experience along the way.
Buttermaker, thanks for sharing your insight. My undergrad MIS professor asked me the same thing as you. At first I was leaning toward conceptual side of IS rather than applied/technical side as I did not have much hands-on real world IS experiences. Those MSc programs you mentioned very intriguing... Their academic focus seems to be a great preparatory step to PhD. Are there any US schools that offer MSc in MIS that you would recommend? I've looked at a couple of them in the US (University of Florida, etc) but do not know which program would be a good fit for me.
I'm also open to doing applied side of IS research but do not know if I have the qualifications... Do you need to have lots of technical skills (programming, relational algebra, etc?) or corporate IT experiences?
I'm afraid I'm not familiar with any MIS programs with such a focus in the US. I'm more familiar with postgraduate education in Commonwealth/continental European countries. Your undergraduate professor should have a few suggestions.
Apart from some strategy/management programs, applied research need not necessarily call for formal qualifications or experience (don't forget, you'll only be starting your research after a couple of years in the program). The benefit of work experience essentially is that you've been in the trenches, you know what works, what doesn't, and what problems need solutions. You may have picked up a useful skill or two but generally speaking, the real gain comes from having a practitioner's perspective. What will determine whether you succeed rests on how you reconcile an academic approach to practical problems. This is just my general advice. I am not well versed with the intricacies of MIS research to offer much beyond that. I would assume knowledge of some mathematics, statistics and programming is virtually a must for such a field, whichever route your research takes. Once again, I suggest you consider programs in cognate disciplines as well.
Last edited by Buttermaker on 01 Sep 2009, 03:31, edited 1 time in total.
If you wanted to go for a masters in information systems, I heard of a program started at Brigham Young University to prepare people for doctoral programs. They have a similar, more well-known masters program to prepare accounting students for phd programs.
Re: MACC or MBA before PhD?
04 Nov 2009, 16:54