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Need guidance for applying to PhD (finance / strategy)...

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Joined: 07 Oct 2010
Posts: 7
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Need guidance for applying to PhD (finance / strategy)... [#permalink] New post 02 Nov 2010, 23:27

I am looking at doing a PhD (either in Finance or Strategy) from one of the top universities. Country wise I have no preference (US or Europe are equally good) but before deciding that I would like to have your views on my profile and suggest whether it is worth applying?

I am 24 yrs old.

I have done my engineering in computer science from an average university in India. I have excelled in my acads through out my life. ( I was the top ranker in my college - 81%, max being 100%).

After engineering I immediately did my MBA from a reputed institute (though not an IIM ) My specialization is finance and currently I am working with an IB (though not in finance, recession blues.. ) I was among the top students in my MBA too..

My ECs are not outstanding.. Though I have always been a keen and active participant but have never excelled on this front. I have volunteered for each and every culture event in my college and was in the core committee of a few events. I support one of the NGOs for animals. But that is pretty much it.

I have read that the average GMAT score for admission in PhD in a good school is 760 and this is what worries me. Moreover, I have no research background whatsoever.

I would be sincerely grateful if you could provide your valuable opinions on whether or not I stand a good chance of getting in a good school for Phd (by good I mean Insead, Stanford, NUS).

I can get strong LoR from my profs.. Also i am yet to start my SOP (any tips on the same will be really helpful)..

Also, please do tell me (and you can be brutally honest about it) how bad is 710 (49Q, 38V)

Please do give feedback as I my application process will, to a very large extent, depend on the answers I get.
I would be truly and sincerely grateful for your opinion.
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Joined: 02 Apr 2010
Posts: 103
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Re: Need guidance for applying to PhD (finance / strategy)... [#permalink] New post 03 Nov 2010, 08:39
For full disclosure, I'm not exactly an expert on phd admission so take everything I'm going to say with a grain of salt. I know some people in top finance/econ phd programs in the US though, so I have a rough idea about the calibre of students that gets admitted there.

I think you should probably first clarify in what you're more interested, strategy or finance. Those are obviously very different fields. If you look at admission profiles of phd students at top finance schools you'll see that most of them majored in a quantitative subject (not necessarily finance but rather engineering, physics, maths, etc.). Finance is becoming more and more quantitative (especially in academics) so the universities want to make sure that you can handle hard core math. From your major it appears to me that you'd probably fulfill this criterion. Strategy is less quantitative and I could imagine that there are a lot of business majors in these programs.

For your GMAT score, I think it's too low for admission to top finance phd programs in the US (I don't know how difficult it is to gain admission to top strategy programs), particularly the quant score. Just have a look at the average quant scores for the mfin programs of princeton and MIT. If I remember correctly they are both higher than 49. Bear in mind that admission to top phd programs is more fierce and scores correspondingly higher. Off the top of my head I'd say that admission rate for the finance phd program at stanford (which you mentioned in your post) is approx. 2%.

Also, a lot of programs only accept GRE scores so I'd actually advise you to take this test instead of GMAT. You should aim to score 800 on the quant section.

I think that your ECs are weak is not decisive, after all its academia not business school.

In conclusion, if you're set on the top programs I'd first take GRE and then take it from there. Otherwise you might also want to apply to a lower ranked programs. From what you've written I think you have a good profile for a finance phd (good grades, quantitative major, programming skills) but it's not (as of yet) good enough for a top program.
Re: Need guidance for applying to PhD (finance / strategy)...   [#permalink] 03 Nov 2010, 08:39
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Need guidance for applying to PhD (finance / strategy)...

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