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Thread: Profile evaluation for PhD in Finance or Financial Economics in 2018

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    Profile evaluation for PhD in Finance or Financial Economics in 2018

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    Hi, thanks for taking the time to check out my profile and giving me some honest feedback.

    Undergrad: BSc (hons) Mathematics, mid-ranking university in the UK overall with a small but highly respected mathematics department that includes some major prize winners and fellows of the AMS. In the 450-500 range for overall world ranking by QS and Shanghai. Graduated with first class honours. Studied the standard mathematics undergraduate curriculum of calc 1-3, linear algebra, ODE's, intro to PDE's, mechanics with mathematical modelling and numerical methods, intro to statistics, complex analysis, advanced abstract algebra, advanced real analysis, algorithms and combinatorics and classical number theory of both algebraic and analytical flavours.

    Masters: MSc Financial Mathematics, top 5 university in the Nordics, program was taught as a 50/50 split between the mathematics department (top 100-150 in the world by Shanghai ranking) and the business & economics department (top 150-200 by Shanghai, top 100 economics department by Tillburg ranking, top 50 world business schools rankings as of Feb 2017 by IDEAS). Thesis is on market microstructure and stochastic optimal control and is being supervised by a well published (in top journals like JOF) full professor. Courses taken include measure theory, advanced stochastic calculus and numerical methods, pure stochastic analysis and PDE's, advanced option pricing, risk management, time series analysis and high frequency data modelling, microeconomic theory, portfolio optimization, classical investments course focusing on asset pricing and portfolio's, advanced corporate finance. Expected to graduate top 10% of the class, I have taken the most difficult courses possible so perhaps I shot myself in the foot a bit instead of playing it safe?

    Letters of recommendation: Expected to have 3 strong letters of recommendation, 1 math full professor and 2 finance full professors. Math prof is a well known probabilist, 1 finance prof is a well known and well published microstructure guy and the other finance prof is decently published but probably not as well known.

    Test scores: GRE 168Q 165V

    Research experience: Masters thesis on market microstructure and stochastic optimal control.

    Teaching experience: None

    Work experience: This is where things get interesting. Ten years in the hospitality and nightclub industry in two different countries starting initially as a bartender at 18 and working my way up to general bar manager of a large nightclub by my late 20's. Not really sure how to play this on applications as it's not really finance research related in anyway but shows a maturity perhaps and the ability to start at the bottom and get to the top so to speak?

    Concentration applying to: Finance & Financial Economics PhD programmes with a focus on market microstructure.

    Number of programs planned to apply to: As many as it takes.

    Dream schools:
    Chicago for sure.

    Other Questions:

    What made you want to pursue a PhD?

    In High School I was in the IB programme and it was basically expected that all of the cohort would continue directly onto University but for me I had a burning desire to just get out and see the world. I spent most of my early 20's gallivanting around the globe in search of fun and adventure while working as a nightclub bartender to fund my travels when at home. In my mid 20's I met a young lady while abroad and ended up moving back to her home country in the Nordics to settle down and get married. I worked a few more years in nightclubs and ended up running one of the larger ones in said country. With a nice stream of money coming in I started teaching myself to invest by initially reading the basic pop-finance stuff but hand to god was absolutely hooked on finance within a matter of months. I started devouring any book I could get my hands on and one day I read market wizards and got my first look at Soros and his background in economics at LSE. It was then I really decided this is what I wanted in life.

    At first, it was a strong desire to be a hedge fund guy so I decided to go back to university and study mathematics as the most common advice to get into the new era of hedge funds is to come in from a strong maths background. I really came to love mathematics over the course of my undergrad but also continued to read widely in more classical areas of finance and in my final year of undergrad decided what I really want to accomplish in this sphere is more in the realm of academic finance research, although very applicable to industry I really would love to find a university to settle into and call home for the rest of my life where I can work on my research, give back to the community and help the next up and comers to see the beauty of financial economics as I have grown to. The only way to accomplish this dream of mine is to pursue a PhD.

    Questions or concerns you have about your profile?

    I went to a relatively weak undergrad university, I know it, but I scored a first and made a huge jump to a much stronger masters programme but yet still not in the top tier of schools. I have done the most difficult coursework possible to make a point but am I going to lose any chance of getting into somewhere like Chicago due to my weaker education profile? I feel like I have a more nontraditional background due to being mid 30's and only going back to school at 30 but I have a strong passion and am hoping this will come across (it's genuinely not even about the money, I really love finance research and would do it for half the salary), is there schools in particular that might be more OK with my background? My plan is to apply widely to top schools in both Europe and the US, which rankings should I be looking at as strong possibilities within the US? Any advice? Lastly, should I retake the GRE to get a 170Q if possible?

    Thank you very much for your time.














    Last edited by trinity; 04-04-2017 at 02:36 PM.

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    Re: Profile evaluation for PhD in Finance or Financial Economics in 2018

    Well, I'm Marketing applicant, but with a background in Finance.

    It seems you had a good coursework during undergrad and masters. You may have shot yourself in the foot, as you implied, if you got bad grades in important courses.

    Of course 168Q is a great score. But since you are applying to Finance and aiming for top schools, schools probably can find several applicants with 170Q. So, if you think you can achieve 170Q if you retake the GRE, I recommend doing it.

    Your work experience is interesting from a general perspective, but I don't think people will find it interesting for Finance PhD application. Of course you include that experience in your resume, but I don't think you should emphasize it in any way. Work experience in general is not so important for PhD, and even less if it's something not related to your studies.

    Some schools give the applicants the opportunity to write a second letter of a more personal note (not the statement of purpose). In those cases, you might write more about that experience.

    No teaching experience and it seems that very little research experience. If your research experience is just your thesis, then any applicant with a masters will also have it. Not a good way to show you're a top applicant.

    And I really don't see a strong explanation about why a PhD. It still looks to me that, if given the opportunity, you'd go to industry instead of academia. Of course I know a lot of PhDs do that, but that's not what schools want to see in an application. When you say you want to help the next up and comers, it seems you're talking about teaching. Which is also another possibility for a PhD, but again, not what they usually want to see. Typically, they want to be convinced that you are commited to academic research, and need to understand why. "Love to settle" is also something that may suggest you are not willing to change, evolve, take risks, work hard, which are some values several schools hold dear.

    You may notice that being mid 30's may not be as nontraditional as you expect. Several applicants here are in that range. If you are nontraditional in mid 30's, what would you call me, a 44-years old? Going back to school recently may work in your favor. At least, it did for me. During an interview, I was able to show that I was still sharp academically because I had recently concluded my masters with great results. If you had studied a long time ago, it might look worse.

    You can apply to Chicago, but remember that the odds aren't great. You know you have weaknesses in you profile, and top schools get a lot of near perfect profiles. I can't say really say which rank would suit your profile, I hope other people can help you.

    You could also check my blog (link below) to see if anything can help you.

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    Re: Profile evaluation for PhD in Finance or Financial Economics in 2018

    Managing a bar shows you can handle stress well, work with different people who have different backgrounds, are self-motivated, and driven to be successful. It may not be related to Finance as you want to study it per se, but these are all personality traits that are important for a successful completion of any PhD I think.

    I am with Brazilian on the age thing. I am also in my 40s and didn't find age to be a problem. It may be at some schools, but it will not be a complete road block if everything else looks great on your application.






    Quote Originally Posted by trinity View Post
    Hi, thanks for taking the time to check out my profile and giving me some honest feedback.

    Undergrad: BSc (hons) Mathematics, mid-ranking university in the UK overall with a small but highly respected mathematics department that includes some major prize winners and fellows of the AMS. In the 450-500 range for overall world ranking by QS and Shanghai. Graduated with first class honours. Studied the standard mathematics undergraduate curriculum of calc 1-3, linear algebra, ODE's, intro to PDE's, mechanics with mathematical modelling and numerical methods, intro to statistics, complex analysis, advanced abstract algebra, advanced real analysis, algorithms and combinatorics and classical number theory of both algebraic and analytical flavours.

    Masters: MSc Financial Mathematics, top 5 university in the Nordics, program was taught as a 50/50 split between the mathematics department (top 100-150 in the world by Shanghai ranking) and the business & economics department (top 150-200 by Shanghai, top 100 economics department by Tillburg ranking, top 50 world business schools rankings as of Feb 2017 by IDEAS). Thesis is on market microstructure and stochastic optimal control and is being supervised by a well published (in top journals like JOF) full professor. Courses taken include measure theory, advanced stochastic calculus and numerical methods, pure stochastic analysis and PDE's, advanced option pricing, risk management, time series analysis and high frequency data modelling, microeconomic theory, portfolio optimization, classical investments course focusing on asset pricing and portfolio's, advanced corporate finance. Expected to graduate top 10% of the class, I have taken the most difficult courses possible so perhaps I shot myself in the foot a bit instead of playing it safe?

    Letters of recommendation: Expected to have 3 strong letters of recommendation, 1 math full professor and 2 finance full professors. Math prof is a well known probabilist, 1 finance prof is a well known and well published microstructure guy and the other finance prof is decently published but probably not as well known.

    Test scores: GRE 168Q 165V

    Research experience: Masters thesis on market microstructure and stochastic optimal control.

    Teaching experience: None

    Work experience: This is where things get interesting. Ten years in the hospitality and nightclub industry in two different countries starting initially as a bartender at 18 and working my way up to general bar manager of a large nightclub by my late 20's. Not really sure how to play this on applications as it's not really finance research related in anyway but shows a maturity perhaps and the ability to start at the bottom and get to the top so to speak?

    Concentration applying to: Finance & Financial Economics PhD programmes with a focus on market microstructure.

    Number of programs planned to apply to: As many as it takes.

    Dream schools:
    Chicago for sure.

    Other Questions:

    What made you want to pursue a PhD?

    In High School I was in the IB programme and it was basically expected that all of the cohort would continue directly onto University but for me I had a burning desire to just get out and see the world. I spent most of my early 20's gallivanting around the globe in search of fun and adventure while working as a nightclub bartender to fund my travels when at home. In my mid 20's I met a young lady while abroad and ended up moving back to her home country in the Nordics to settle down and get married. I worked a few more years in nightclubs and ended up running one of the larger ones in said country. With a nice stream of money coming in I started teaching myself to invest by initially reading the basic pop-finance stuff but hand to god was absolutely hooked on finance within a matter of months. I started devouring any book I could get my hands on and one day I read market wizards and got my first look at Soros and his background in economics at LSE. It was then I really decided this is what I wanted in life.

    At first, it was a strong desire to be a hedge fund guy so I decided to go back to university and study mathematics as the most common advice to get into the new era of hedge funds is to come in from a strong maths background. I really came to love mathematics over the course of my undergrad but also continued to read widely in more classical areas of finance and in my final year of undergrad decided what I really want to accomplish in this sphere is more in the realm of academic finance research, although very applicable to industry I really would love to find a university to settle into and call home for the rest of my life where I can work on my research, give back to the community and help the next up and comers to see the beauty of financial economics as I have grown to. The only way to accomplish this dream of mine is to pursue a PhD.

    Questions or concerns you have about your profile?

    I went to a relatively weak undergrad university, I know it, but I scored a first and made a huge jump to a much stronger masters programme but yet still not in the top tier of schools. I have done the most difficult coursework possible to make a point but am I going to lose any chance of getting into somewhere like Chicago due to my weaker education profile? I feel like I have a more nontraditional background due to being mid 30's and only going back to school at 30 but I have a strong passion and am hoping this will come across (it's genuinely not even about the money, I really love finance research and would do it for half the salary), is there schools in particular that might be more OK with my background? My plan is to apply widely to top schools in both Europe and the US, which rankings should I be looking at as strong possibilities within the US? Any advice? Lastly, should I retake the GRE to get a 170Q if possible?

    Thank you very much for your time.














    Applied: 14, Interviews: 11, Accepted: 6, Waitlisted: 1, Rejected: 7

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    Re: Profile evaluation for PhD in Finance or Financial Economics in 2018

    I am not in finance, so please take my views with a pinch of salt.

    I am in my late thirties and starting my PhD at a top UK business school this year. So age shouldn't be a concern.

    From what I understand Nordic programmes are well respected in academia, so graduating top 10% in your class is good. Your GRE score and recommendations sound good too. Not sure about the relevance of work experience in a research career, but for an MBA, it would have been very interesting. I know an investment banker from my alma matter with a similar background.

    In my view, you are ticking many of the boxes. To be honest, you never know what may click at a top school, so would definitely apply to a few top schools. Imagine you get a good response at the next tier and end up wondering What-If I have tried for my dream schools as well.

    HEC Paris, Erasmus and Stockholm School of Economics have good finance programmes, not sure of alignment (as I am not from finance) with your specific research interests though.

    Quote Originally Posted by trinity View Post
    Hi, thanks for taking the time to check out my profile and giving me some honest feedback.

    Undergrad: BSc (hons) Mathematics, mid-ranking university in the UK overall with a small but highly respected mathematics department that includes some major prize winners and fellows of the AMS. In the 450-500 range for overall world ranking by QS and Shanghai. Graduated with first class honours. Studied the standard mathematics undergraduate curriculum of calc 1-3, linear algebra, ODE's, intro to PDE's, mechanics with mathematical modelling and numerical methods, intro to statistics, complex analysis, advanced abstract algebra, advanced real analysis, algorithms and combinatorics and classical number theory of both algebraic and analytical flavours.

    Masters: MSc Financial Mathematics, top 5 university in the Nordics, program was taught as a 50/50 split between the mathematics department (top 100-150 in the world by Shanghai ranking) and the business & economics department (top 150-200 by Shanghai, top 100 economics department by Tillburg ranking, top 50 world business schools rankings as of Feb 2017 by IDEAS). Thesis is on market microstructure and stochastic optimal control and is being supervised by a well published (in top journals like JOF) full professor. Courses taken include measure theory, advanced stochastic calculus and numerical methods, pure stochastic analysis and PDE's, advanced option pricing, risk management, time series analysis and high frequency data modelling, microeconomic theory, portfolio optimization, classical investments course focusing on asset pricing and portfolio's, advanced corporate finance. Expected to graduate top 10% of the class, I have taken the most difficult courses possible so perhaps I shot myself in the foot a bit instead of playing it safe?

    Letters of recommendation: Expected to have 3 strong letters of recommendation, 1 math full professor and 2 finance full professors. Math prof is a well known probabilist, 1 finance prof is a well known and well published microstructure guy and the other finance prof is decently published but probably not as well known.

    Test scores: GRE 168Q 165V

    Research experience: Masters thesis on market microstructure and stochastic optimal control.

    Teaching experience: None

    Work experience: This is where things get interesting. Ten years in the hospitality and nightclub industry in two different countries starting initially as a bartender at 18 and working my way up to general bar manager of a large nightclub by my late 20's. Not really sure how to play this on applications as it's not really finance research related in anyway but shows a maturity perhaps and the ability to start at the bottom and get to the top so to speak?

    Concentration applying to: Finance & Financial Economics PhD programmes with a focus on market microstructure.

    Number of programs planned to apply to: As many as it takes.

    Dream schools:
    Chicago for sure.

    Other Questions:

    What made you want to pursue a PhD?

    In High School I was in the IB programme and it was basically expected that all of the cohort would continue directly onto University but for me I had a burning desire to just get out and see the world. I spent most of my early 20's gallivanting around the globe in search of fun and adventure while working as a nightclub bartender to fund my travels when at home. In my mid 20's I met a young lady while abroad and ended up moving back to her home country in the Nordics to settle down and get married. I worked a few more years in nightclubs and ended up running one of the larger ones in said country. With a nice stream of money coming in I started teaching myself to invest by initially reading the basic pop-finance stuff but hand to god was absolutely hooked on finance within a matter of months. I started devouring any book I could get my hands on and one day I read market wizards and got my first look at Soros and his background in economics at LSE. It was then I really decided this is what I wanted in life.

    At first, it was a strong desire to be a hedge fund guy so I decided to go back to university and study mathematics as the most common advice to get into the new era of hedge funds is to come in from a strong maths background. I really came to love mathematics over the course of my undergrad but also continued to read widely in more classical areas of finance and in my final year of undergrad decided what I really want to accomplish in this sphere is more in the realm of academic finance research, although very applicable to industry I really would love to find a university to settle into and call home for the rest of my life where I can work on my research, give back to the community and help the next up and comers to see the beauty of financial economics as I have grown to. The only way to accomplish this dream of mine is to pursue a PhD.

    Questions or concerns you have about your profile?

    I went to a relatively weak undergrad university, I know it, but I scored a first and made a huge jump to a much stronger masters programme but yet still not in the top tier of schools. I have done the most difficult coursework possible to make a point but am I going to lose any chance of getting into somewhere like Chicago due to my weaker education profile? I feel like I have a more nontraditional background due to being mid 30's and only going back to school at 30 but I have a strong passion and am hoping this will come across (it's genuinely not even about the money, I really love finance research and would do it for half the salary), is there schools in particular that might be more OK with my background? My plan is to apply widely to top schools in both Europe and the US, which rankings should I be looking at as strong possibilities within the US? Any advice? Lastly, should I retake the GRE to get a 170Q if possible?

    Thank you very much for your time.















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    Re: Profile evaluation for PhD in Finance or Financial Economics in 2018

    Apply broadly throughout the top 30. I would take a shot at chicago, NYU, etc. But expect to end up more in a top 20 type school.

    I think your profile is a little less impressive than this one
    http://www.urch.com/forums/phd-busin...ml#post1005204
    I think they ended up posting the range of schools that they interviewed at and got admitted to. If I remember right they got into top 10 but not top 5. Look for similar stuff from prior years.

    A 170 on the GRE is good if it doesn't take a ton of effort. You are better off getting more acquainted with finance research over spending a ton of time pulling it up to 170.

    Also, I'm not an expert here, but my guess is that market microstructure has more people that have some industry experience. If you can clearly say why you want to do it from a research perspectve, then you are fine writing that in your statement. Otherwise I would keep it a little broader or caveat that you are interested in learning more about current research.

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    Re: Profile evaluation for PhD in Finance or Financial Economics in 2018

    Quote Originally Posted by YaSvoboden View Post
    I think your profile is a little less impressive than this one
    http://www.urch.com/forums/phd-busin...ml#post1005204
    I think they ended up posting the range of schools that they interviewed at and got admitted to. If I remember right they got into top 10 but not top 5. Look for similar stuff from prior years.
    Fom what I've read, it seems that user got an interview with a top 5 but, in the end, the offer he/she accepted is from another school, in Europe.

    I don't know which school in Europe, and I also don't know which ranking was considered. But if, for example, you take the UTD ranking with Economics, Accounting and Finance journals, all top 10 schools are in the US (Chicago is number 1). And there is only 1 European school among the top 30 (University of London).

    I think that helps to show how strong is the competition for PhD and that there are a lot of excellent schools below the dreamed top 10. Apply widely and don't focus too much on the top10.

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    Re: Profile evaluation for PhD in Finance or Financial Economics in 2018

    Even I don't know which school and am not trying to guess with my response below.

    In Europe there is London School of Economics to consider as well. It isn't shown in top UTD rankings as it is not always listed as a business school. But, If you use the search by university option and calculate the research output, LSE is around top 10 for finance. It has a great reputation to match too.

    Also, in some cases UTD rankings have multiple names for the same business school leading to a lower rank for that school. For example, in my area of specialisation, the school I am joining is actually shown as two schools, one in top 30 and another way down the list. If you add those two it comes in top 20.

    LSE is also shown as two schools along with not being listed in business school rankings.

    Quote Originally Posted by BrazilianPhD View Post
    I don't know which school in Europe, and I also don't know which ranking was considered. But if, for example, you take the UTD ranking with Economics, Accounting and Finance journals, all top 10 schools are in the US (Chicago is number 1). And there is only 1 European school among the top 30 (University of London).

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    Re: Profile evaluation for PhD in Finance or Financial Economics in 2018

    Yeah, rankings are always problematic. And that's troubling when we say top30 or anything like that. If we are not careful, someone may not even see a great university like LSE if looking only at the top 30.

    I was also told I was a fit for top 30, when I first posted my profile here. But I applied to some great schools ranked 70th or even 100th. In that range, for marketing journals, you find universities like Berkeley, Oxford, HEC, University of Virginia... For me, it makes no sense to not look at those schools, despite the ranking.

    LSE is ranked at UTD, if you make a ranking with journals. It's well below, maybe because it's listed as two school as you mentioned. I know LSE has a great reputaton, but I really don't see it shoulder to shoulder with top 10 universities like Chicago, Upenn, Harvard, Columbia, NYU, and MIT.

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    Re: Profile evaluation for PhD in Finance or Financial Economics in 2018

    Sorry for hijacking your thread Trinity. But this is an important topic for future applicants, hence getting into details on your thread about profile evaluation.

    What is taken into account in UTD rankings is only journals that are classified as published by the business school of universities. It even states on the ranking page of UTD rankings by journal page. Hence the rank in 200s for LSE. If you use the Search by University option and choose London School of Economics and London School of Politics and Economics, it actually shows three schools, one classified as a business school and two which are not. The combined output takes to the top 10 to 15 range. The two non business schools (though same department) won't be shown in the ranking though they have published more papers.

    As you have mentioned, rankings are problematic. And if one just goes by them they may miss applying to some fantastic schools that match the research interest.

    Quote Originally Posted by BrazilianPhD View Post

    LSE is ranked at UTD, if you make a ranking with journals. It's well below, maybe because it's listed as two school as you mentioned.

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    Re: Profile evaluation for PhD in Finance or Financial Economics in 2018

    Quote Originally Posted by BrazilianPhD View Post
    But I applied to some great schools ranked 70th or even 100th. In that range, for marketing journals, you find universities like Berkeley, Oxford, HEC, University of Virginia...
    I never trust/look at the rankings since I believe that they are inaccurate. But..., Berkeley being ranked 70th - 100th ??!! Do you remember the year & journal selected to produce that ranking? That's not inaccurate - it's funny, or, is it even legal ?

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