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please evaluate my profile as a phd finance applicant

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please evaluate my profile as a phd finance applicant [#permalink] New post 14 Nov 2013, 16:10
undergraduate degree in mathematics from top 3 UK university - GPA approx. 3.7
9 years work experience at big 4 - audit and advisory (including corporate finance and transaction services)
ACA qualified (equivalent to CPA)
passed all 3 levels of CFA
last 3 years self-employed - managing personal investment portfolio, verifiable track record of successful returns
good letters of recommendation but all professional as opposed to academic and also +3 years old
no research experience
730 GMAT
I am mid 30's. Places to apply - ucla, Irvine, san diego, Columbia, Amherst, emory.

Also, reluctant to do so, but would I stand a much better chance by undertaking a masters first? (probably in economics). This would primarily be to get more recent academic recommendation letters and also a bit of research experience.
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Re: please evaluate my profile as a phd finance applicant [#permalink] New post 29 Dec 2013, 08:30
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It's possible that some schools would like to see the MS degree first, since it would show interest in academic career and also get you some research experience. It's this part of your profile which is weakest. Having said that, there are many schools who are in need of good PhD candidates, so if you do some research on your schools and how many apply vs. get in you might find your profile characteristics are better, certainly your GMAT. One thing you might do is relate your professional experience to your research interests. Even though you don't have research experience, if you can intellectually tie your experience to how it will dovetail well with your area of research interests, especially if that coordinates well with a particular faculty member's area of interest, you will have an advantage. See if you can get some exploratory meetings with faculty to discuss.
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