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Thread: How do business PhD admissions view non-academic research and writing?

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    How do business PhD admissions view non-academic research and writing?

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    After I graduated with my bachelors, I have now worked for a few years doing research and writing outside of academia. I wrote a bestselling book on a niche industry, but most of my work has been published as white papers or in major media outlets.


    I'm trying to get a few journal papers published in time for PhD applications. My GRE scores are 165 V, 168 Q and I can get very positive LORs from my academic colleagues. I have a GPA of 3.8 with a psychology degree from a top-tier liberal arts college. However, I know my background is quite unconventional, and I didn't do anything remarkable during my undergraduate studies other than some volunteer RA work in psychology.


    What would a b-school think of this unorthodox background for a management/strategy/OB program? Is it important that I do something like an RA position with a b-school professor to improve my academic credentials?

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    Re: How do business PhD admissions view non-academic research and writing?

    Well, I have met people with such a wide variety of backgrounds during my PhD, that I don't know if there is something that might be really considered orthodox. So, "unorthodox background" is not a problem by itself.

    But I think there is VERY important piece of information missing here: are you applying to what area of research?

    For example, I'm a Marketing PhD student. For Marketing Strategy research, your experience, knowledge, and connections outside of academia can be considered a valuable thing. After all, Marketing Strategy research typically focus on real-world problems, of real-world companies, etc. On the other hand, Consumer Behavior research typically is more focused on theoretical contributions. Of course real-world problems are still important, and the importance has been growing, but the weight is different from Marketing Strategy.

    Other types of PhD, like Finance or MIS, will also have something like that probably.

    So, it depends a lot on your research interests, the exact area of PhD you plan to apply to, and how you spin your story to make a convincing case for yourself.

    Regardless of all that, knowing how to write and how to do research, even if it's outside of academia, should be positive. At least it shows you like this kind of thing, and you have some skills to show. But you gotta understand that writing and researching in academia is different from what you have done, don't try to sell that you know how to write an academic paper because of that, for example.

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    Re: How do business PhD admissions view non-academic research and writing?

    Quote Originally Posted by BrazilianPhD View Post
    Well, I have met people with such a wide variety of backgrounds during my PhD, that I don't know if there is something that might be really considered orthodox. So, "unorthodox background" is not a problem by itself.

    But I think there is VERY important piece of information missing here: are you applying to what area of research?

    For example, I'm a Marketing PhD student. For Marketing Strategy research, your experience, knowledge, and connections outside of academia can be considered a valuable thing. After all, Marketing Strategy research typically focus on real-world problems, of real-world companies, etc. On the other hand, Consumer Behavior research typically is more focused on theoretical contributions. Of course real-world problems are still important, and the importance has been growing, but the weight is different from Marketing Strategy.

    Other types of PhD, like Finance or MIS, will also have something like that probably.

    So, it depends a lot on your research interests, the exact area of PhD you plan to apply to, and how you spin your story to make a convincing case for yourself.

    Regardless of all that, knowing how to write and how to do research, even if it's outside of academia, should be positive. At least it shows you like this kind of thing, and you have some skills to show. But you gotta understand that writing and researching in academia is different from what you have done, don't try to sell that you know how to write an academic paper because of that, for example.
    That helps a lot. My general question was whether the unorthodox background is a problem in itself, and it sounds like business schools are substantially more so than, for example, economics departments, where my impression is LORs from economists are essentially a requirement.

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    Re: How do business PhD admissions view non-academic research and writing?

    Quote Originally Posted by instajar View Post
    That helps a lot. My general question was whether the unorthodox background is a problem in itself, and it sounds like business schools are substantially more so than, for example, economics departments, where my impression is LORs from economists are essentially a requirement.
    Just to give you a small sample, the Marketing PhD students in my department have backgrounds in chemistry, sociology, information systems, architecture, physics, philosophy, among other areas. Of course, it's not always like that (I suppose Accounting PhD students often have a background in Accounting), but business schools are open to different backgrounds, if you are able to convince them of your value.

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    Re: How do business PhD admissions view non-academic research and writing?

    That background would probably be viewed as beneficial or neutral. It would in no way hurt you.

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