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Thread: Accounting/Finance PhD Profile Evaluation

  1. #1
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    Accounting/Finance PhD Profile Evaluation

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    Accounting / Finance PhD Profile Evaluation

    Profile Evaluation (Accounting / Finance PhD)

    Hi, I am planning to apply for accounting and finance PhD for coming fall 2020. I would really appreciate it if you share some thoughts of what school range I should target.

    Education:

    - Undergraduate: East Asia, well-reputed university, major: Business, double major: Mathematics; GPA: 3.7
    - Graduate: US Private, Operations Research: GPA:3.6
    - Econ classes (Undergraduate): Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Game Theory
    - Math (Undergrad + Grad): Calculus, Linear Algebra, Mathematical Probability and Statistics, ODE, PDE, Mathematical Finance, Optimization, Real Analysis, Abstract Algebra, Topology
    - Programming: Algorithms, Data Structure, Simulation - Python, R, MATLAB

    Test score:

    - GRE: V161/Q170/AW4.0
    - TOEFL R28/L30/S23/W24

    Research experience:

    - Graduate research assistant - Writing a Python code for an option pricing model
    - Research assistant while preparing for PhD application - spreadsheet data cleaning and data support for a structural systemic risk for the credit markets

    Work experience:

    - Consulting Internship
    - Full time quantitative research analyst for an asset management company - implementing investment strategies from replication papers from academia (2 years)

    Letter:

    - Professor from undergraduate b-school professor (Research Dean, previous research together, maybe good letter)
    - Professor from graduate statistics professor (Did very well in the class, but no research together, good to mediocre letter)
    - Co-worker at the company (Developed investment model together; yet not a PhD, maybe good letter)

    Others:
    - FRM(I & II), CFA I - I don't think this will affect anyway in the PhD applications though

    Questions or concerns you have about your profile?

    - While in the graduate program, I cross-registered MBA Finance course and I did pretty bad. Will this fact somehow affect my PhD application either in Accounting or Finance?
    - Compared to students coming from solid business school background, I lack research experience with US b-school professors. Does it significantly lower my chance to get into Top 30 Finance program?
    - Even though I do not have much academic research experience with b-school professors, my job is highly related with replicating models introduced in academic/practitioner's papers. Can this fact supplement the lack of academic research experience?
    - I plan to get a letter from my co-worker who does not hold a PhD but can support in the aspects of data handling, programming and details about research at the company. However, I can also think of getting another letter from the professor who is well-reputed in his area (quantitative finance) who I had a short research with but am not very confident about the relationship (as I didn't take his classes). It seems pretty unpredictable what the professor is going to write in the letter if I ask. Maybe "I did a short-term research with him and he supported in writing a code, that's all I know about this candidate" would be the best that he can say and if this is the case, is it worth taking the risk to get the letter from the professor?
    - I am targeting Top 20 Accounting and Top 30-50 Finance PhD programs and is it reasonable to think of this range?


    I really appreciate your time reading my post. Please share any thoughts of my profile!
    Thank you very much ahead!
    Last edited by urfphd; 11-30-2019 at 05:35 AM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Accounting/Finance PhD Profile Evaluation

    It is hard to get a good feel for your application.

    Since you have a US MS in OR, your undergrad university matters less than it often does for foreign students. However, you don't say anything about where you got your MS in OR. Don't give any names since we do try to keep things anonymous, but roughly what tier university and what tier OR department is it? Also, does this OR department send students to OR or Business PhD programs with any frequency? Do any of the OR faculty publish in finance journals? If yes, would they write and LOR for you? (An industry LOR from a non-PhD will probably go straight into the garbage).

    Doing poorly in one MBA finance class will probably not hurt much, especially if you did well in the mathematical finance class that you took. PhD finance courses and MBA finance courses have almost nothing in common.

    It might also be a good idea for you to look at OR phd programs based out of B-schools, where they are often doing finance research. Some E-school OR departments also have people doing finance research so you might want to look there.

    If you provide a little more information, I could help more.

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    Re: Accounting/Finance PhD Profile Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by zshfryoh1 View Post
    It is hard to get a good feel for your application.

    Since you have a US MS in OR, your undergrad university matters less than it often does for foreign students. However, you don't say anything about where you got your MS in OR. Don't give any names since we do try to keep things anonymous, but roughly what tier university and what tier OR department is it? Also, does this OR department send students to OR or Business PhD programs with any frequency? Do any of the OR faculty publish in finance journals? If yes, would they write and LOR for you? (An industry LOR from a non-PhD will probably go straight into the garbage).

    Doing poorly in one MBA finance class will probably not hurt much, especially if you did well in the mathematical finance class that you took. PhD finance courses and MBA finance courses have almost nothing in common.

    It might also be a good idea for you to look at OR phd programs based out of B-schools, where they are often doing finance research. Some E-school OR departments also have people doing finance research so you might want to look there.

    If you provide a little more information, I could help more.
    Thank you very much for your help! I received my master's degree from Cornell, Chicago, CMU, Columbia type of school where they also run quantitative finance programs. A few professors publish in finance journals, but I plan to receive a letter from statistics professor where I did very well in his class. Some students go to PhD programs in OR and Business but most students out of the program directly go to industry.

    The biggest reason that I am not targeting OR department in B-School is because the nature of research in OR is very theory-based. However, I found interests in empirical research while in the company and would like to explore more about the topic and think Business school finance major is better fit for me.

    I appreciate any inputs, thank you!

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    Re: Accounting/Finance PhD Profile Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by urfphd View Post
    Thank you very much for your help! I received my master's degree from Cornell, Chicago, CMU, Columbia type of school where they also run quantitative finance programs. A few professors publish in finance journals, but I plan to receive a letter from statistics professor where I did very well in his class. Some students go to PhD programs in OR and Business but most students out of the program directly go to industry.

    The biggest reason that I am not targeting OR department in B-School is because the nature of research in OR is very theory-based. However, I found interests in empirical research while in the company and would like to explore more about the topic and think Business school finance major is better fit for me.

    I appreciate any inputs, thank you!
    I understand why you prefer finance/accounting over OR.

    Having a masters degree in OR from a school of that tier is pretty good even though they do tend to be industry focused. I would suggest talking to any OR professors you took who are likely to be recognizable to finance adcoms to write a letter for you. The quant finance prof you worked with would be a good option. Talk to him and ask him what he thinks about you going for a PhD and if he would write you a good letter. The research you did for him, even if it was only short term is good. Most non PhD RA's are just doing coding and data organization, so what you did is no different.

    I have seen people with similar backgrounds to yours get into top 20 finance programs and sometimes even top 10's, though they probably had better LOR's and possibly better grades. However, I would not count out getting into a top 20, especially if the quant finance prof you worked for writes a stellar letter. I think you would be very competitive for top 50 finance PhD programs, especially of you can get a decent LOR from that quant finance prof.

    And once again, a non-phd industry LOR is generally worthless.

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    Re: Accounting/Finance PhD Profile Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by zshfryoh1 View Post
    I understand why you prefer finance/accounting over OR.

    Having a masters degree in OR from a school of that tier is pretty good even though they do tend to be industry focused. I would suggest talking to any OR professors you took who are likely to be recognizable to finance adcoms to write a letter for you. The quant finance prof you worked with would be a good option. Talk to him and ask him what he thinks about you going for a PhD and if he would write you a good letter. The research you did for him, even if it was only short term is good. Most non PhD RA's are just doing coding and data organization, so what you did is no different.

    I have seen people with similar backgrounds to yours get into top 20 finance programs and sometimes even top 10's, though they probably had better LOR's and possibly better grades. However, I would not count out getting into a top 20, especially if the quant finance prof you worked for writes a stellar letter. I think you would be very competitive for top 50 finance PhD programs, especially of you can get a decent LOR from that quant finance prof.

    And once again, a non-phd industry LOR is generally worthless.
    Thank you very much for sharing your wisdom in PhD applications. Although, I have heard the importance of good recommendation letters from well-known professors, I was a bit hesitant to ask to the professor about the letter because I thought the work I have done was too mundane. However, as you pointed out that other non PhDs works are not that different to mine, I am much more confidence in asking the letter. Thank you very much for your inputs!

    Still, I am not over confident about my applications and stay conservative within the range of T30-T50. However, I will try to apply T20-T30 schools with the quant professor's recommendation letter.

    I really appreciate your time checking my profile and giving me great advice! Your advice was really helpful!

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