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Thread: applying for finance PHD in 4-5 years, how to improve resume?

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    applying for finance PHD in 4-5 years, how to improve resume?

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    Hi there everyone, happy to be here

    About me:
    1. I'm a 23 years old Iranian, in the last year of my industrial engineering bachelor. GPA 3.4 will probably be 3.5 by the end of my Bs.
    2. I've been working full time while studying for the past year (as an accountant) and I also have 2 year of military experience (mandatory military service).
    3. I'm studying for the CFA level 1 in this December. and have passed the three first levels of ACCA so far.
    4. I'm also fairly competent at VBA and I've been making financial models for fun for the past year. (
    Valuations, Stock Pitches, M&A, LBO, etc.)5. took a diagnostic GMAT test last week and got a 650 (Q50, V28) I haven't started studying for GMAT AT ALL so I think it's safe to assume my score will improve dramatically
    My goals:

    1. I'm going to apply for MSc. finance or economics in December 2018 (don't have the $ right now!)
    2. my first choice is Bocconi master of finance, I'm also going to apply to RSM, SSE, st.gallen, among others. I'm not going to apply to US or UK since in all honesty, I won't be able to afford the tuition and living expenses
    3. my long term goal is to finish my masters with a high GPA and one or two papers (hopefully I can get an RA position in the second year) and then apply to the top 10 (and probably get rejected and die a sad death!)

    A research opportunity:

    So there is this Professor I know in my country, kind of a big deal in here, which outside Iran means nothing. anyway, after a meeting, he found out about my intentions and told me that he's willing to mentor me until I leave Iran. he told me that I can start a project or try to write a paper and he is going to help me with it (show me how it's done, how to send it out to journals and what not) I have 2 years for this.
    but as you know since I'm an undergrad I have nothing to write a paper about. I was thinking about doing something that shows to my MSc. professors that I'm serious about research and Ph.D. and I have the skills needed to be an RA but I don't know what project can convey this message.

    My questions:
    1. what should I do in the 2 years prior to my masters?
    2. which programming language should I learn? I was thinking Matlab or python. I know that this is subjective but right now I don't know what field of research I'd be interested in (for now I enjoy reading up on asset pricing, risk management, and time series analysis. also enjoy statistics and econometrics)
    3.should I finish my CFA? I know it won't matter in an academic setting but would it help with the admission process?
    4. if I go to Bocconi with the aforementioned research and what not do you think there is any chance of me attending a top 10 program? I know every year 7-8 people go from Bocconi to top 10 but I don't know their backgrounds.

    5.Any other affordable master programs you'd recommend for someone interested in pursuing a Ph.D.?
    6. anything else I should consider?

    many thanks
    Last edited by mazloom1994; 05-13-2017 at 07:15 PM. Reason: qualifying about gmat score

  2. #2
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    Re: applying for finance PHD in 4-5 years, how to improve resume?

    This forum is for economics PhD admissions so you might have limited responses. There is a business and finance subforum but I don't know how active it is - PhD in Business

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    Re: applying for finance PHD in 4-5 years, how to improve resume?

    Nevermind
    Last edited by Zubrus; 05-12-2017 at 03:52 PM. Reason: nevermind

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    Re: applying for finance PHD in 4-5 years, how to improve resume?

    Quote Originally Posted by tm_member View Post
    This forum is for economics Ph.D. admissions so you might have limited responses. There is a business and finance subforum but I don't know how active it is - Ph.D. in Business
    So considering your reply, is it safe to assume that the qualifications expected from a finance student are vastly different from those of an economics student?
    I always thought that the basic requirements of both PhDs are the same. only you know, economics Ph.D. is actually harder and more mathematically demanding.

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    Re: applying for finance PHD in 4-5 years, how to improve resume?

    I always hate writing these messages because it makes me seem like a debbie downer but I think it will be beneficial for the OP to obtain some realism.

    1) Econ PhDs are not "harder" and more "mathematically demanding". Especially at the top schools, they essentially the same classes in the first year. There are schools, i.e. Stanford where the finance phd is comparable, or even harder to get into than the econ program.

    2) Your profile is not in line with the top Iranian candidates that are competitive for top 20 schools. Just take a look at Iranian job market candidates that come out from the top 20 econ/finance schools and you will see what I am saying. Even if you do exceptionally well at your master's, I would still bet on a top 30 being your most likely outcome.

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    Re: applying for finance PHD in 4-5 years, how to improve resume?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zubrus View Post
    I always hate writing these messages because it makes me seem like a Debbie downer but I think it will be beneficial for the OP to obtain some realism.

    1) Econ PhDs are not "harder" and more "mathematically demanding". Especially at the top schools, they essentially the same classes in the first year. There are schools, i.e. Stanford where the finance Ph.D. is comparable, or even harder to get into than the econ program.

    2) Your profile is not in line with the top Iranian candidates that are competitive for top 20 schools. Just take a look at Iranian job market candidates that come out from the top 20 econ/finance schools and you will see what I am saying. Even if you do exceptionally well at your master's, I would still bet on a top 30 being your most likely outcome.
    Hey there Zubrus
    thank you for the reply

    there is no need to worry about being a downer. I'm not married to the top 10, I just want to go to the best program possible for me.
    just two questions if it's all right

    1. even though the top 10 is out of the question, would you mind answering my questions/ especially the programming language and the research opportunity part.
    2. what part of my resume would you say is my undoing? the fact that I'm getting my bachelor's in Iran? the GPA? or the master programs I'm thinking about are not good enough?
    3. what would you do if you was in my shoes and had five years before applying to your phd?

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    Re: applying for finance PHD in 4-5 years, how to improve resume?

    Well, I'm not sure I can really help, but I'll try since I've been asked to answer.

    1 -
    Get a really great GMAT or GRE score. And remember that dignostic tests are not very reliable.
    Research about schools and faculty. For PhD, rankings are not reliable either, and they may be much less important than you think.
    Don't get fixed on a top 10. That's stupid. Even for the greatest applicant, it's not really wise. Very few spots, lots of extremely competitive applicants. And there are lots of excellent schools below top 10.
    Talk with professors about your plans, and how it's going. You will get more advice (good and bad), more opportunities, closer ties with academics.

    2 -
    I'm from quantitative marketing, so things are probably different. But I was told that I should forget about Matlab for PhD. Python is growing, but it is still usually not the first choice. Probably SAS, R, and SPSS are the ones I heard often from people from different fields,

    3 -
    I think you should. It may help, and probably will do no harm.

    4 -
    I don't know exactly what is meant by "every year 7-8 people go from Bocconi to top 10". Top 10 schools probably accept about 20-30 new students a year for their Finance PhD programs in total (2 or 3 each one), I guess. So, it does not make sense that about a third of them are from Bocconi.

    5 - I don't know enough about masters outside Brazil, and I don't think doing a masters in Brazil is in consideration here.

    6 - Sure, there is a lot. But most things you will have to find yourself, because each applicant is different. Bt if you have some more specific qestion, we can try to help.

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    Re: applying for finance PHD in 4-5 years, how to improve resume?

    A few thoughts:

    Make sure you have sufficient math for the finance PhD. It is unclear from here how quantitative your degree is. I don't know anything about Iranian education, but the CVs that I have seen of foreign students in top finance programs tend to have some very impressive sounding quantitative credentials.

    The CFA is probably worth finishing, but it all depends. What are you not doing in order to finish the CFA?

    VBA isn't useful in itself, but it is a small introduction to programming. I am in accounting, but I think that SAS and Stata are the most common programs in finance. You could also consider playing around with Python or something like that.

    Get the GMAT as high as you possibly can. I don't think you should set your expectation as getting into the top 10. Your letter writers will matter a lot. Try to leverage connections from them. The well-respected professor that you know there can be useful. Hopefully he knows people at some schools in the US.

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    Re: applying for finance PHD in 4-5 years, how to improve resume?

    yeah I'm going to write a reply here for one more time
    so far all my replies are waiting for an approval from a mod (don't know why probably because I'm new)

    thank you all for answering my question. I'm not really married to the idea of top 10.
    I just want to go to the best place I can. I love the idea of doing meaningful research but it's not like it's top 10 (or top anything for that matter) or bust for me.

    and the universities I want to work in after my Ph.D. are really not that great, I'm talking lincoln Nebraska here! for some weird reason, i LOVE small midwestern college towns!

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    Re: applying for finance PHD in 4-5 years, how to improve resume?

    I'm also an international applicant for Finance PhD (will be attending top 30 program this fall). I just want to share my thoughts:

    1. Research the Master's program(s) carefully. Ideally you need a program that is highly quantitative. Most (but not all) MFin programs are for industry so they may not provide the level of math AdCom is looking for. For example, MSc Finance and Investment from RSM is not for PhD preparation; you better look at research (econ) masters from Tilbergen or Tilburg (just for comparison in the Netherlands).

    2. Letters are the most important thing. Make sure you make connection with the professors from the first day of your Masters. I didn't have letters from famous profs and it was my huge disadvantage.

    3. Standardized test scores are mainly as cutoff (at least at top 20 schools). People care more about research experience and potential (and letter!).

    4. CFA is useful, but mainly at lower ranked schools. I also finished CFA but no top 20-30 schools asked about it during the interviews. It can help when you are on the job market though.

    5. Adcom don't really pay attention to your professional experience (unless you are a star) so try to grab some research exposure from now. You can approach a prof at your local university and ask for RA.

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