It certainly won't help.
Would an online MBA negatively impact admissions into an Econ PhD program? I want to learn the intersection of business, economics, and government, and think that an online MBA would be a great asset for me. I've just heard that it's not good for Econ PhD admissions. Is this true?
My guess is that different folks will read it differently. Some may well be negative.
(1) Very few online MBA programs have much academic credibility. Taking one may suggest you don't care about high academic standards.
(2) PhD programs train specialists. Taking an online MBA suggests you want to be a generalist. In which case, you don't belong in an MBA program.
Others may differ.
Iím planning to get one slowly over the course of 4 years or so at the #3 best online mba program per the financial times... I see it as a supplement and complement to my specializations in economics. Iím also personally interested in having business competency. But I understand what you are saying in both (1) and (2), thank you for your insights!
If your goal is business competency or complement to economics, and you are going to be studying at University of Hawaii for your MA, just take courses at the business school (Shidler), it's a pretty good school from what I see. Top-20 in international business.
But yes, as Startz has mentioned, an MBA has a different focus and purpose than does a PhD in Business than does a PhD in Economics.
I'm looking specifically at UMass Amherst's Isenberg online MBA program because of it's quality, flexibility (Shidler doesn't have this as much as Isenberg, and is actually more expensive), and cross country "experience" (Massachusetts is geographically far from Hawaii but the online component with the same faculty bridge the gap and gives me something new and useful).
And I suppose I have traits toward completionarism (if that's a word) so I wouldn't feel accomplished not getting a degree out of the on campus courses, particularly because business is multifarious (many subfields and lots to learn) and there's more to it than "MBA 101," although I found a really cool Amazon Prime video series called "An Entire MBA in 1 Course" which is free and has 49 episodes... I've watched the Episode 1 so far and am looking forward to watching more over the next two days because today was my "Friday" at work!
IMO, an online MBA from UMass Amherst is not a good signal for admissions to a top 50 econ PhD program. As others have noted, it suggests lack of focus or understanding of the demands and objectives of a PhD in economics. Moreover, UMass Amherst's online MBA is not well respected by most economists. Depending on your educational background, it seems likely that it can only lower the average quality of your previous academic preparation.
Some unsolicited advice from someone who's seen a lot of students apply to graduate school: take things one step at a time. You've said that you are about to begin a master's degree in economics. Focus on that. Get outstanding grades, fill in any missing math classes, and develop constructive relationships with the faculty in your program. Seek out opportunities to do research with economists who are actively publishing in well-regarded journals. Take the advice of the people who know you and your academic background in real life. Realize that for the majority of students, the well-trod path to an economics PhD is indeed the most likely one, and looking for unusual add-ons like the MBA you propose is likely to be less productive than excelling along the standard dimensions.
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