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Thread: Any Advice on improving profile for OB / Decision Sciences PhD application?

  1. #1
    Trying to make mom and pop proud
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    May 2020
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    Any Advice on improving profile for OB / Decision Sciences PhD application?

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    I would deeply appreciate any advice on how a person with my profile could become a competitive PhD applicant in the OB/ Decision Sciences field?
    I intend to apply for September 2022.

    Test Scores: GMAT: 730, GRE: Q165, V161, AWA:4.0
    Undegrad GPA
    : 9.75/10, Integrated Master in Mechanical Engineering, unknown European Uni
    Graduate GPA:
    Accepted for September 2020 in some of the best MSc in Business Analytics programmes in Europe
    and in some good Master's in Management, still deciding which to attend
    Research Experience:
    Only my thesis in the undergrad, research on structural analysis project, peer reviewed conference
    Teaching Experience:
    Work Experience:
    3 years, 2 as a junior engineer in an international software engineering company, the role included research in a math/engineering field and programming.
    Programming skills: Python, C++

    Schools: Not sure yet; I am interested in research that is conducted by faculty members in dream US schools but also in some schools within the top 20-40. Moreover I am considering LBS, INSEAD, Cambridge Judge and RSM in Europe.
    Not in all schools the department is characterized as OB but my research interest remains the same
    Research interests:
    - unconscious bias and discrimination in decision making, especially gender related
    - helping people making better decisions in their everyday life or in a business environment

    Usually these research interests fit with the OB department and require a psychology background.
    I try to figure out what would be the best way for me to improve my chances as a PhD applicant for these research fields since I have no social sciences related knowledge.
    I am open to all kind of suggestions e.g. pursuing a 2nd MSc after Business Analytics.
    Moreover, if you believe that my chances would be really slim and it would be better for me to find another field for research feel free to share these thoughts too.

    I would be excited to read your responses and thank you for the time you have dedicated to reading my post.

  2. #2
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    Sep 2017
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    Re: Any Advice on improving profile for OB / Decision Sciences PhD application?

    Hi tsot,

    Your numbers are good. By that I mean that you are not likely to be desk-rejected by any school you apply to (i.e., you will pass the automatic bar for having your profile read by someone in admin). Before I continue, just know that very broadly, the lower the program tier, the more congruent your profile and the "classic" profile for a department you will be. That is, top programs are sometimes more difficult to predict. At least in my experience. That being said, business is not a core discipline, but more of a mish-mash of others. OB is oft sociology and psychology, Micro OB is sometimes also behavioral econ. Strategy will often be econ/psych, Marketing is psych (in my school), Business economics is, well, econ. Your profile is very mathy. It is not impossible to switch to a psych-oriented program, but you will need to do some heavy-lifting in your SOP to show (as in show, don't tell) how your life experience have led you to pursue psych interests.

    Programs, especially top programs, and uber-especially in this COVID climate in which budgets are smaller, are very risk-averse. That means that they want as many signals that an applicant can (a) properly handle the coursework and load (you have got that checked), (b) that you plan on staying in the academia (many programs will reject you if you do not plan this), (c) that you know what you are getting into. Lest talk a bit about (c). The best way to show this is by having (a) previous research experience in the field, (b) a publication in said field, (c) education in the field, (d) LOR writers in the field. Since you do not seem to have any of those, you may be in a bit of a problem. A fairly simple solution is to get a master's degree in something related (e.g., not Business Analytics) - and do as much RA work as you can take on yourself --> this will get you research experience (note - do a thesis), LOR, and a track record = reduce risk, and give you the ability to gogogo when you get to the program.

    I am an OB macro student. The difference between us the the micro folks is massive. Most of the macro peeps have no sociology experience, but a very large proportion of the micro peeps have been lab managers, RAs for professors in good programs, and/or have pubs. I don't mean to be harsh, just give you the best advice I can. Another thing to do (keeping in mind that research experience is very important) is to apply to Strategy or Marketing programs. Your mathematical prowess will be more appreciated there than in Micro OB (generally psych people are lousy with math, and they use experiments to control away all of the things that make for complicated statistical models for the rest of us - only half joking ) since they will do coursework with econ peeps. But both will give you access to psych faculty and types of work.

    Look at current PhD students in programs you are interested in and look at their backgrounds. If someone is semi-similar to you - reach out and ask the hard questions - it truly helps.

  3. #3
    Trying to make mom and pop proud
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    Re: Any Advice on improving profile for OB / Decision Sciences PhD application?

    Dear Granps,

    Thank you very much for the feedback!

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