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The Ph.D "Statement of Purpose" (Former Harvard Admissions)

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The Ph.D "Statement of Purpose" (Former Harvard Admissions)  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Jun 2018, 11:46
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Wanted to say that I often work with students applying to a Ph.D program in Business / Econ at the top Bschools. The focus is very different, in terms of your SOP for a competitive Ph.D program, than what needs to be highlighted in your essays for a regular MBA.

Happy to field questions on this thread, if you're looking for more advice, or maybe undecided about which path (MBA or Ph.D) to pursue.

You can also check out my blog at: http://www.MBAIvyLeague.com

So, ask away!

Jillian
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I'm a former Harvard admissions interviewer and Harvard grad, and currently run the award-winning MBA & EMBA admission firm and blog: http://www.MBAIvyLeague.com. Check out the blog and contact me for a free consultation today!

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Re: The Ph.D "Statement of Purpose" (Former Harvard Admissions)  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Sep 2018, 17:56
Hi,
I'm interested in applying to Harvard for admissions into their DBA - Marketing program.
I have a unique profile, so I'm not sure if it's worth the bother (especially to my references, who already wrote letters to another school).
My reason for doubting my chances is that I failed out of college a few times in my teens/early twenties, and went back to school as a mature student. I graduated from the lowest ranked school in Canada with an online BBA, and I'm currently taking an AACSB MBA and have been able to get Beta Gamma Sigma status (top 20%). I did some research with a professor, and they were impressed with me and tried to recruit me into the school's Msc program. I think my references are strong, and my grades are very strong. I only managed a 680 on my GMAT however.
Given my weaknesses (history and GMAT), do you think it's worth getting my references to write letters to Harvard? I do have some strengths, but not sure if they are good enough to warrant an application.
Thanks
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Re: The Ph.D "Statement of Purpose" (Former Harvard Admissions)  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Sep 2018, 00:35
Not much information here to tell. You wrote about things that probably will have almost no effect (like the Beta Gamma Sigma status in your MBA), but wrote very little about the things that really matter.

1 - What do you mean by "some research"? Research experience is one of the things that can make an application stand out. Do you have conference presentations, papers published, things like that?

2 - What do you mean by "my references are strong"? Are your recommendations from professors with a very good reputation in Marketing research, like the editor of a top journal, for example? Recommendations like that carry a lot of weight.

3 - How good is the research fit with Harvard? Applying to a program with bad research fit is usually a bad idea, but if you fit extremely well, it may be worth trying.

4 - Are you able to show that you have the knowledge and skills needed for the kind of program you're applying to? For example, if you are applying to Quantitative Marketing, schools like to see extremely good grades in courses related to Calculus and Linear Algebra, and experience coding in statistical software (SPSS, SAS, R, Python, etc.).

Of course your chances are very low. But, then, chances for any top school are low, even for very strong applicants.

I don't know how many schools you applied to, but for doctoral level programs we usually apply to a lot of schools (I guess the average is around 15 schools from what I've seen). Asking for one more letter should be no trouble.
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Re: The Ph.D "Statement of Purpose" (Former Harvard Admissions)  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Sep 2018, 16:25
Hi,
thanks for the reply.
My research experience involves an independent research course I took, 1 on 1 with a marketing professor during my MBA. I created an annotated bibliography and, in his words, a 'substantial literary review'. He is one of my references, another is the head of graduate research at my school, who tried to recruit me into their Msc program when he read and approved my reports for the course. My third reference is an operations professor who can attest that I can handle math.

I know some Python, but I'm self taught. I created a little program from scratch that converts temperature from F to C, very very basic but I understand how coding works and could learn more. I will also have taken some MBA courses in business analytics and database management and will have a basic SAS certification by graduation.

I'd like to spend time learning more computer related skills, like programming in R, but I do best in a structured environment and would need to take a serious program to do so. I would rather jump straight into a PhD, even if it means I can't go somewhere prestigious.

Based on the above, do you think I should bother applying anywhere decent? Do you have any recommendations?
I will apply to McGill, since I'm fluent in French ( a requirement) and that provides a bit of a competitive moat that many can't easily overcome.

Let me know if you think it's worth applying to US schools.
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Re: The Ph.D "Statement of Purpose" (Former Harvard Admissions)  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Sep 2018, 17:10
Well, it's some research experience, but it doesn't look like something that would be considered impressive by a top school.

At least your references are from professors, but again I have no idea about their reputation. Do they often publish in A-journals like Journal of Marketing Research, or Marketing Science, for example? One of my references was from a professor in a similar position (head of graduate research), but even then I wouldn't say the recommendation was strong because of that. He is a big shot in Brazil, but probably unknown in the US, and certainly not enough to impress Harvard.

Your programming skills sound good, but that by itself will not make such a big difference.

If you do best in a structured environment, a doctoral program may be one of the worst alternatives for you.

From what I see here, I think that aiming at a top 20 school like Harvard is too ambitious. I aimed top 50 when I applied, and it seems to me your profile is weaker than mine was. Of course I also applied to some dream schools, but top 20 is usually only for extremely strong applicants.

I think it is worth applying to any schools that:
- are a good fit for you;
- you'd have good chances of being admitted.
I guess at least some US schools should fit that criteria. But probably schools between top 50-top 100, and there are amazing schools in that range too. I don't know which ones. Research fit is one of the most important things to take into consideration (maybe the most important), and I don't know enough about you and each school to judge the quality of research fit in each case.
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Re: The Ph.D "Statement of Purpose" (Former Harvard Admissions)  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Sep 2018, 18:32
Makes sense, top schools probably want people who have proven their worth, not necessarily people who have potential.
Thanks for the tips, it helps narrow down the search.
Cheers
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Re: The Ph.D "Statement of Purpose" (Former Harvard Admissions)  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Sep 2018, 19:30
Doctoral programs in Marketing have very few new students every year. Something like 1 for consumer behavior and 1 for quantitative marketing is pretty common. And schools like Harvard get a lot of strong applications from every corner of the planet.

So, the competition is extremely tough. If there are only 1 or 2 spots available, it's hard to convince them to take into consideration an applicant with a GMAT of 680 when they have several applicants with scores around 750. You would need something amazing to overcome that, but then at least some of those applicants also have amazing research experience and recommendations.

My blog is not up to date, but at least it has a lot of information I posted about my application experience. Check it out, I think it can also help you.
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