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Thread: Profile Evaluation Ė Ph.D. or MPhil in Finance (Low Profile from an Emerging Country)

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Profile Evaluation Ė Ph.D. or MPhil in Finance (Low Profile from an Emerging Country)

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    Hello Urch,
    I want to apply for a Ph.D. program this year, but I have a lot of concerns regarding my chances due to my low profile. At the beginning of this year, I finished my master degree, and I was very excited to get a Ph.D. But after I read several profiles evaluation topics on this forum, I'm concluding that it would be almost impossible to get into any Ph.D. in the US or Europe. But I really want to get some opinions to move forward (to apply, to take another way or to give up).

    My Profile:
    Type of Undergrad: Public Federal University in South America in Business Administration. But, unfortunately, my university is almost unknown outside my country. In the positive side, the public federal universities are the best Unis in my country.
    Test Scores (GMAT/GRE): Planning to take the GRE in July 2019.
    Undergrad GPA: 3,12 (7,8/10 in my country).
    Type of Grad: Master at the same university in Business Administration (Corporate Finance Track).
    Graduate GPA: 3,4 (8,5/10 in my country).
    Research Experience: My MSc in Business was research oriented. So I have almost seven research papers/working papers: A paper published in a peer review national accounting journal; A paper published in the most recognized national business congress. Two papers in the most recognized national accounting congress. Two papers in the best finance congress and one working papers that I have to finish. They are all in my SSRN.com page.
    I think I can submit two of them to an international journal at the end of this semester.
    Teaching Experience: A semester as a teacher assistant (Corporate Finance class).
    Work Experience: Internship in a public audit office.
    Finance courses (Undergrad-level): Financial Management I and II, Financial Mathematics;
    Finance courses (Grad-level): Strategic Planning and Control, Asset Valuation and Corporate Finance.
    Econ Courses (Undergrad-level): Business Economics
    Math/Statistics (Undergrad-level): Introduction to calculus; Applied Quantitative and Qualitative Methods; Statistics for Business Research;
    Math/ Statistics (Grad-level): Quantitative Research I and II (Those classes covered subjects such as exploratory analysis, univariate and multivariate hypothesis tests, cross-sections and panel data analysis).
    I did a lot of accounting classes, but I donít see how these classes will help me in FinanceÖ
    LOR: I have 3 letters of recommendation, but all of these letters are from professors in my country: A LOR from my master supervisor (he is a decent researcher in my country), other LOR from the professor who accepted me as a teacher assistant and another LOR from a professor who is the chief of my university applied social science department.

    My question is: Sincethe GRE and the research papers are the only variables that I can improve right now, letís suppose I can get a good GRE (>90% for Q and V), what do you recommend?

    Should I apply for a Ph.D. or a MPhil? I know that I have a bad GPA, a poor econ-related number of classes, a bad work experience, and that Iím from an unknown university/ country. But I have a decent research background and my plan is to work with empirical corporate finance research Also, due to the exchange rate conversion, I canít apply for dozens of programs, so I have to choose carefully (10 or 12 programs) and I have to get financial aid too, since Iím not rich (all my savings are divided by 5 due to exchange rate conversion). I was thinking about the programs in Europe, because the majority of them offer financial aid: UC3M, HDHEC, ESSEC, IESE, ESSAD, HEC Lausanne (Lťman, Lugano or Zurich), St. Gallen, CBS, Mannheim, and Frankfurt, or in Canada: Alberta, Queens, Toronto or McGill. Iím accepting more suggestions since some of those universities are the ones that I find because they have professors who publish papers that I used to read.
    So, I really need some advice to move forward. Because, if I donít have any chances to get a Ph.D. or MPhil, I will not expend my time (Iím studying 4-6 hours a day to take the GRE) and savings trying to do something impossible or something that I canít pay for.

    Any help will be appreciated!

  2. #2
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    Re: Profile Evaluation Ė Ph.D. or MPhil in Finance (Low Profile from an Emerging Coun

    Well, I'm not in Finance, but as you can see from my username, I'm from South America, maybe the same country. So, some concerns I had were similar to yours.

    Some things to think about:
    - A lot of universities in the world might be considered "unknown" here in the US, but still a lot of students are accepted into PhD programs. And at least a few professors may know a lot more than you expect to. I'm in Marketing, and I have been surprised sometimes when a professor shows knowledge about Brazilian brands, for example.
    - Even if your university is unknown, universities often would be able to know more about them if they want to. For example, a top professor here at my department worked with a famous Brazilian professor in the past, and I know that they talked about me. I don't know if they talked to each other before accepting me or not, but at least it would be easy for them to check with a Brazilian about the reputation of my alma mater in Brazil.
    - GPA is hard to convert, and they know it. Sometimes, schools may ask questions about the grading system of your school, or additional information. For example, your 7.8/10 would be equivalent to what? Top 10% of your class? My GPA is worse than yours, where I studied it's impossible to achieve a grade that would be close to a 4.0 GPA, not even the top student in the class was able to do that.
    - I believe a high GMAT/GRE is essential in cases like this. At least, that was my strategy when I applied. It would hard to impress them with my GPA, or the university I came from. I focused on showing some research experience (and you have a lot more to show for that than I do) and killing on the GMAT score.
    - There may be strong interest in South America in the Finance and Economics departments. I have taken classes with the guys from those departments, and generally speaking, the reaction is very positive. They know Brazil can be a powerhouse in Economics and Finance, given the complexities for those topics in Brazil. And I've met students from other South American countries too, like Peru and Chile.
    - My LORs were also similar to yours. Since I did my masters in Brazil, it's only natural that the letters of recommendations would be from Brazilians too. I think it's just expected that your LORs are from professors in your country.
    - Since you wrote you have an interest in corporate finance, I suggest you take a look into Accounting PhDs too. My background is in Corporate Finance, and I get the feeling that the guys from Accounting are closer to many topics of corporate finance than the guys from Finance.

    I recommend you do a good job at finding the schools and programs that would be a good fit for you, and apply widely for a PhD, not MPhil. A master level does not seem to make sense, given your profile.

    I'm not rich either, I had to save money for a long time in order to apply to many universities. Even for US applicants, it's very hard to make a list of only 10 programs that would be the best. For a foreigner, it's even harder.

    About financial aid, at least in the US I don't think that would be really a big concern. PhD students get a financial aid package with the offer, if they are accepted, with tuition waiver, stipend, fellowships, etc.

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