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Thread: Profile evaluation - PhD Finance 2018

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    Profile evaluation - PhD Finance 2018

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    Hi everyone, I知 a 32 years old international applicant from South East Asia. I知 preparing to apply for a Ph.D. in Finance/Financial Economics in Fall 2018. My profile is given below. Could you please evaluate my profile? I understand that evaluating an international applicant is quite difficult. Any help would be appreciated.

    Undergrad: B.S. in Corporate Finance from top economics university in my country South East Asia. GPA: 8.53 /10, graduate with excellence, top 5 in my class and top 1% of all students graduated (approximate 3,000 students)

    Graduate 1: M.S. in Finance from a U.S. university (private, unranked). GPA: 3.97, with high honors, an outstanding student of the finance department, rank number 1.

    Graduate 2: M.A. in Economics from a U.S. university (overall ranking 23, economics department ranking 22). GPA (until now): 3.67 (overall), 4.0 Economics courses

    Test Scores (GRE): 166Q (92%) / 152V (54%) / 4.5 AWA (56%). Toefl Score: 101

    Awards and scholarships:
    - Winner of the outstanding student awards of the year 2012 from the Dean of the university.
    - Certificate of Merit for excellent students, class of 2007, for top 1 percent of all students from the Dean of the University.
    - Academic scholarships for excellent students in 4 continuous years: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007.

    Math courses:Advanced Math I (10/10), Advanced Math II (9/10), Theories of Probability and Statistics (7/10), Principles of Statistics (9/10), Corporate Statistics (8.8/10), Mathematics Methods (7.2/10), Financial Mathematics (9.7/10), Regression Analysis (A), Mathematics for economists (A), Real Analysis (B-), Probability and Statistics for Economists (Ph.D. level, will take in Fall).

    Finance courses:
    - Undergrad level: Financial accounting, Public finance, corporate finance, financial analysis, financial and monetary theories, international finance.
    - Graduate level: Derivative markets, M&A, Working Capital Management, Capital budgeting, Financial strategies, Financial modeling, International corporate finance, Financial reporting analysis, Financial markets and institutions, Investment, Corporate finance. (All A and A+)

    Economics courses:
    - Undergrad level: Macro, Micro, Econometrics, Development Econ, History of Economics theories,
    - Graduate level: Micro (A), Applied Econometrics (A), Macro (will take in Fall).

    Research Experience: 1 semester for an Econ Professor (top 5% ideas list), will be 10 months at the time I apply. We're doing a research regarding the Bond market.

    Teaching Experience: None

    Programming: STATA, MATLAB, R, Python, Advanced Excel.

    LOR:
    - 1 from the Professor I知 RAing (Yale Ph.D.top 5% IDEAS lists), should be strong as my Professor encouraged me to apply for a Ph.D.
    - 1 from the Microeconomics Professor (UCLA Ph.D., not many publications), should be standard.
    - 1 more I haven稚 decided yet. All 3 Professors should be from my MA Econ program.

    Work Experience: 9 years, mostly in finance positions (CFO, finance manager, project manager)

    Concentration Applying to: Corporate finance, and financial econometrics (I知 very interested in econometrics course I took at grad school)

    Number of programs planned to apply to: about 20

    Dream Schools: I will apply to almost T30-T75 and I値l be happy for any admission. For Ph.D. Finance, I'm thinking about UT Austin, ASU, UC Irvine, Texas A&M, George Washington University, Washing State University, Indiana University, U of Colorado, U of Connecticut, U of Oregon, UT Dallas. I also apply to 5-10 Ph.D. Economics programs that are pretty strong in financial economics and rank widely from 20-75 (UTAustin, USC, UCI, UCSC, UCSB, Texas A&M, etc).

    What made you want to pursue a Ph.D.? First and most important, I love teaching and sharing knowledge with everybody. My dream job is to be a Professor in Finance. Second, I love doing researches or any research related jobs. Third but not too much related, my family has a studying tradition with many Masters and Ph.D. holders, thus makes a Ph.D. my dream since I was a high school student. I understand that my decision to quit my current job to chase my Ph.D. dream will cost me a lot, but following my dream is the happiest feeling I致e ever had.

    Questions or concerns you have about your profile? Low GRE quant score, I will retake in Summer, my target is to get 168Q. Don稚 have a strong math background, lacking advanced math courses such as cal III or multivariate analysis. I only got B- for the Real Analysis I took in my MA program. The reason is clear, I left the academic environment for almost 10 years and failed with the first half of the course but I catch up pretty quick in the second half and become near the average of my class, which had almost senior math major students. No publications. My undergrad GPA will be low if it is converted to the U.S. scale, but in my country, it痴 tough to get near perfect GPA and my GPA is in top 5 of class and top 1% of all students. 9 years working experience would be a disadvantage to my profile as I知 quite older than other applicants and haven稚 done too much academic research related jobs in that time.

    Thank you so much.

    Best!

  2. #2
    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
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    Re: Profile evaluation - PhD Finance 2018

    You aren't that old. It probably won't be as negative as you are thinking. I am in accounting, but the finance program here is ranked better than 30 and we have taken several applicants with a decent amount of work experience.

    You seem like you are preparing well, but you have to understand that a PhD is about research. I wouldn't mention teaching much at all. Definitely not the first thing even if it is true.

    I would consider a letter from your MS finance program if there is someone that knows you well there. If not, consider trying to get a letter from the business school. Take an advanced finance course, a PhD finance course, or attend finance seminars and try to get to know a professor in finance. If your econ professors would be known by finance profs, then you are good, but it is nice to get someone that has more connections to finance academia.

    Overall, you seem like you are preparing well and you should have some good resources at your school to help you. Where have they placed students before?

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    Re: Profile evaluation - PhD Finance 2018

    Thank you so much, YaSvoboden. Your suggestions really help. I didn't think about taking advanced Finance courses and asking Finance Professors for a letter. Currently, two Professors are willing to write letters for me are all econ Professors, but one of them are well known in international finance (Professor who I'm RAing). I agree with you that a letter from an active Finance Professor would be better.

    As far as I know, my department placed several students into T50 Finance Ph.D. program in the last couple of years. Actually, those students who were admitted got letters from the Professor who I'm RAing now. That makes me a bit more comfortable, but as I mentioned I will apply mostly in T30-T75 programs and hope to get into somewhere.

    I have more questions. (1) courses that I will take in Fall (Prob & Stat) will not help anything as they will be in progress at the time I submit my application? (2) the average GRE quantitative cut-off is 168 in almost every school? Does verbal part matter? I only got 152 in verbal part.

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    Re: Profile evaluation - PhD Finance 2018

    Thank you so much. Your suggestion really helps. I didn't think about asking Finance Professors. I'm wondering that whether it's unconventional to ask a Professor for a letter while the course is not finished? My department usually sends MA students to Econ Ph.D., but in the last couple of years, they placed some students to T50 Finance program. Actually, my Professor who I'm RAing wrote them (those who got in Finance Ph.D.) letters. It makes me a bit comfortable, but I will apply almost to T30-75 as my profile is just standard, nothing special. Do you think 168Q will help me get into better programs? Moreover, should you get a letter from an Econ Prof who knows you very well or that from a Finance Prof who just knows you for a couple of months? I'm deciding the 3rd Professor for my letter of recommendation. Best!

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    Re: Profile evaluation - PhD Finance 2018

    You have a good profile. I can answer on the GRE part, which applies specifically to your profile. I think given your maths and programming skills, and the grades in your advanced mathematics courses, I feel you are selling yourself short by aiming 168Q GRE. If I were you - I would prepare for a 170 Q GRE and have no doubts in securing it. Given your maths and finance background I am fairly confident that if you work on improving your GRE score - it won't be that hard. All the best!

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    Re: Profile evaluation - PhD Finance 2018

    Thank you so much for your advice. Compare to other Finance PhD applicants, my GRE quant seems to be low. I agree with you that we should aim for 170. My experience shows that if we targeted to 168Q, we would not get that score. I'm planning to practice GRE in 2.5 months in summer as I took GRE 1.5 years ago. Best!

    Quote Originally Posted by finphdind View Post
    You have a good profile. I can answer on the GRE part, which applies specifically to your profile. I think given your maths and programming skills, and the grades in your advanced mathematics courses, I feel you are selling yourself short by aiming 168Q GRE. If I were you - I would prepare for a 170 Q GRE and have no doubts in securing it. Given your maths and finance background I am fairly confident that if you work on improving your GRE score - it won't be that hard. All the best!

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    Re: Profile evaluation - PhD Finance 2018

    Quote Originally Posted by pqhai View Post
    Thank you so much. Your suggestion really helps. I didn't think about asking Finance Professors. I'm wondering that whether it's unconventional to ask a Professor for a letter while the course is not finished? My department usually sends MA students to Econ Ph.D., but in the last couple of years, they placed some students to T50 Finance program. Actually, my Professor who I'm RAing wrote them (those who got in Finance Ph.D.) letters. It makes me a bit comfortable, but I will apply almost to T30-75 as my profile is just standard, nothing special. Do you think 168Q will help me get into better programs? Moreover, should you get a letter from an Econ Prof who knows you very well or that from a Finance Prof who just knows you for a couple of months? I'm deciding the 3rd Professor for my letter of recommendation. Best!
    I asked for letters before courses were done. I did a Master's at a much better school than my undergrad, so I hadn't known any of my letter writers for very long. In retrospect, it may have been better to have one longer relationship in there, even if it was a less prestigious professor. I really don't know the right answer to this question. A significantly higher weight is given if the adcom knows the recommender, but better information matters. So you have to weigh those things. If the finance prof is a full prof and well respected, I probably go with that no matter what, but if it is an AP vs. a well established econ professor that has seen people get through doctoral programs, I will probably go with the econ prof.

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    Re: Profile evaluation - PhD Finance 2018

    Thank you so much, YaSvoboden. Those Professors are both full Profs and very well known in their fields (Finance and Econometrics). The Econometrics Professor knows me for one semester in which I got an A and we still keep good relationship. I'll take another course with him (Prob and Stat) in Fall. So his letter should have more details. But I still think the letter would be standard as I don't do RA for him. As you said, it's important whether the Adcom knows letter writers and in this case the Finance Prof seems to be a bit better if I do good in his course. I'll take one finance grad course with the Finance Prof in Fall and see how well I'm going to perform and decide the 3rd Prof for a letter. Best!

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