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Thread: Second PhD???

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    Second PhD???

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    So this may be an odd question, but I figure I may as well go for it. So I am currently in a PhD program at a 50-70 school (I was waitlisted at two Top 40-50 schools, but didn't get in). I am wondering if it is realistic to get into a PhD program for business, public policy, statistics, or applied math upon the completion of my current Econ PhD program in order to get a job at a research school? How likely to a Top ~20 program accept someone with a Econ PhD (especially for business or policy)? Or would I be better off doing a postdoc instead?

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    Re: Second PhD???

    Iím no expert, but I have heard it is almost always a waste of time to do a second PhD, as the purpose of a PhD is to learn to do good research. If you REALLY want to learn another field in depth, then maybe a masters would make some sense, as you could theoretically hit the ground running with research. That being said, it sounds like you want to remain in the field of your PhD, so why would you seek education in another? Personally, I could understand wanting a masters in some highly technical field that would be too difficult to self teach after an Econ PhD (like physics or math), but even this would have minimal career benefits as far as I can tell, and would be mostly for self actualization. My guess would be that doing a masters now would actually cause great harm to your career prospects, unless you are publishing consistently in economics all the while. For, why would any prospective employer take you seriously when you appear to be merely a credential seeker? Do the post doc if you are set on academia, or head into the private sector would be my advice. Take that with a grain of salt though, I only have a BA so you are ahead of me in experience and likely years.

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    Re: Second PhD???

    How far along are you in your PhD program? Why do you think that you can't get a position at a research school from where you are? And why do you think that a credential in another field would help? I'm not clear on the thinking behind your question.

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    Re: Second PhD???

    There are some people who has done it but I do not know why. Also I do not get your reasoning either.

    http://www.princeton.edu/~kiyotaki/papers/vita912.pdf
    IGIER - Universita' Bocconi
    https://smith.queensu.ca/faculty_and...CVs/hou-yu.pdf
    https://smith.queensu.ca/faculty_and...s/wang-wei.pdf

    Maybe ask them if any of their career interests you.

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    Re: Second PhD???

    Quote Originally Posted by ahududu View Post
    There are some people who has done it but I do not know why. Also I do not get your reasoning either.

    http://www.princeton.edu/~kiyotaki/papers/vita912.pdf
    IGIER - Universita' Bocconi
    https://smith.queensu.ca/faculty_and...CVs/hou-yu.pdf
    https://smith.queensu.ca/faculty_and...s/wang-wei.pdf

    Maybe ask them if any of their career interests you.
    Only two of those -Pavoni and Hou- actually have multiple PhD's (and I agree with you, I have no idea why they did it). The others started PhD's at one university then moved to higher ranked university after the 2nd or 3rd year, which usually entails restarting the program, and is not a move that I would recommend without an advisor at the current program specifically advising a student to do so.

    To answer the OP's original question, I have come across a number of people with multiple PhD's in finance or other business fields, but it is almost always someone who did a PhD in a STEM field (most often physics or engineering) but at a lower ranked university, ended up doing business or econ related work and decided to use their newly developed business interests as a way to get into academia by doing a business PhD.

    To build on what startz commented, if you only got into a 50-70 econ PhD program, why would a significantly higher ranked business, stats, math or policy PhD program take you? And if it were an equivalent or lower ranked program, what would you gain? If anything the academic job market is much tougher in math and stats and tacking on a low ranked math or stats PhD will not help you on the econ job market. And most business or policy PhD programs will not take someone who already has an econ PhD because it is considered too close a field.

    If you really truly have interests in business or policy and don't only want to do business or policy because you think the academic job market is easier (and for most business PhD's it definitely is) then maybe you should think seriously about your interests now and consider re-applying to business or policy PhD programs this cycle so you can switch over to those fields before you have spent too much time on your econ PhD. But this only makes sense if you truly feel you have interests in those areas not just because of an easier job market.

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    Re: Second PhD???

    In response to startz

    Right now I’m in my first year (I know, I have a bad habit of thinking too much about the future…)



    I am afraid about not getting an academic/research position because almost all the placements for my program are non-academic. I have done independent research in undergrad and my master’s program and loved it. Part of the reason why I am asking about a second PhD is that I want to maximize my chances at getting a career in research (and frankly, the majority of a PhD program is itself research).


    The reason I would actually take interest in another field is that I have two fields that I would especially like to study. The school I’m at is strongest at macro, which is what I plan to focus on here. The other field that I have become increasingly interested in is poverty (which no one at my school seems to have any experience in). I have been looking a RePEc and have found that many Public Policy Schools (and top Business Schools) produce a lot of research on poverty and economic policy. So it’s partly to build a stronger skillset for doing research, being able to specialize in both fields, and have a degree from a school with a stronger reputation and network.


    The major weak part of my application was my undergraduate grades, which I’m guessing would count a lot less against after successfully completing a PhD program.

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    Re: Second PhD???

    That's a very helpful response.

    Since you are only in your first year, you should consider moving to another program rather than doing two PhDs. The argument that your current department does not cover a field you are interested in is one of the few cases in which transferring programs makes sense. Doing it this way will save you 3~5 years of your life.

    But if you want to do this, you need to really ace the work where you are and you will probably need the support of faculty where you are.

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    Re: Second PhD???

    So I signed up just to respond to your question. I basically checked this site out of curiosity. I am a graduate from a program from a Ph.D. program ranked lower than yours. I transferred programs, because I did not having first year funding. What you are asking about is a complete waste of time and a negative signal if you go on the job market. Here is why:

    1. Getting a Ph.D. at a top 20 program is overrated. The reason is the top programs graduate and matriculate more students than low ranked programs. When you go on the market, you'll realize that forty percent of the market has a Ph.D. from a top 20 place. This is because Harvard graduates 25-35 students a year, while a place like University of Alabama graduates 4. As a a result, there are more students walking around with top 15 programs, than there are students from the bottom 50. So if you are not a star, you can expect to be competing with just about everyone for jobs. My own experience on the market, is that I was competing actively with students from top 15 programs. This especially is the case if you end up applying to non-academic (government, econ specific industry).

    2. If your program isn't placing people into academia, it may not be a function of ranking. It can be the students or lack of support from professor or preferences. I have connections to four programs that are ranked outside of top 50 on USWNR and all of them have successfully placed students in academia. Generally its one or two students a year, who had good job market papers. Some of them had direct paths and others didn't. I even know some people who placed upwards, they of course had a stellar job market paper (it went into a top 10 journal).

    3. Transferring is usually three lost years. One year to reapply. One year to repeat course work (they rarely transfer). By the time you are in your second year, your current cohort will be on the market. When I graduated, the people I did M.A. with were up for tenure.

    4. Its very hard to transfer upwards. I actually was very successful in the sense that I actually got some admissions from better programs, when I transferred. None of the better programs gave me funding. However, the only reason I was successful, was that my original department strongly supported my transfer and I had a good reason. The administration had denied any more T.A positions for economics department and so I would have had to pay completely out of pocket. Had I not had that going for me, I don't think I would have been accepted at other departments. The reason is what I wrote above. Ranking does not matter as much as people think, and transferring makes it look like you don't know what your doing. A top 20 school knows that the bottom half of their students are unlikely to do much better than a typical student from a top 100 program. They also know that at least a few students from programs ranked between 30 and 50, will outplace their median student. That means for any upwards transfer, they need strong evidence, you are some how better than their median student. That is a tough hill to climb if you are already at a program worse than their own.

    The only other way I know students have successfully transferred is that their current program was an extremely bad fit. I.E They wanted to do macro, but their program had no active researchers in macro. Even then most of the time people moved laterally.

    5. Here is JEP verifying what I am saying. It says research productivity by ranking is basically only matters if you are the top student The Research Productivity of New PhDs in Economics: The Surprisingly High Non-success of the Successful - American Economic Association.

    6. The opportunity cost of your time is higher than your realize. Once you have an M.A., if your not dependent on a visa, you basically could find a job that pays 80-120k a year. This means that netting the value of tuition and T.A package, you are probably giving up about 50k a year of income. By the time I graduated, the people I knew from my M.A. program had 100k stop portfolios and are buying 500k$ houses. Obviously if you do a Ph.D., money is not a motivator, but you should put a value on time.



    So how to be successful at low ranked program?

    7. Find an advisor who actually will give you attention and actually try to develop you into a researcher. The basic conclusion, I came across is that the main benefit of a better Ph.D. program, boils down to faculty and less the name of school. Top schools have more top researchers, and your more likely to have a researcher that closely aligns with your research interest. At lower ranked departments, you basically have to do what the department is good at and find advisors who will invest to you. Your advisors personal network effects your job market, so you are more likely to get connections. So for low ranked schools, you generally need to find the one or two faculty (usually the senior faculty who are actively publishing) who care about producing researchers and are willing to support their students. That might mean changing your research interests etc.
    Good advisor doesn't mean famous. It is someone who is invested into making you a researcher. Often the famous advisor is actually never at the department.

    8. If your interested is development economics, that can be done from anywhere that is good at applied micro and has a couple of macro researchers interested in growth.
    Last edited by songbirdaoe; 12-04-2020 at 07:40 AM.

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    Re: Second PhD???

    Quote Originally Posted by ahududu View Post
    There are some people who has done it but I do not know why. Also I do not get your reasoning either.

    http://www.princeton.edu/~kiyotaki/papers/vita912.pdf
    IGIER - Universita' Bocconi
    https://smith.queensu.ca/faculty_and...CVs/hou-yu.pdf
    https://smith.queensu.ca/faculty_and...s/wang-wei.pdf

    Maybe ask them if any of their career interests you.
    1. Kiyotaki's is decades ago.
    2. Asian Ph.D. has little value on American market, so there are good reason for someone in Asia to do a Ph.D. in America. Especially in Economics where majority of the top 150 programs are in North America.
    3. The third guy doesn't look like he finished the Econ Ph.D., He looks like he transferred from Econ to Finance. The resume says Ph.D program in Economics, not a Ph.D in Economics.

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    Re: Second PhD???

    So, I have one particular school in mind (Tulane). How would you recommend I go about this? Also, do you know how often/realistic it is to learn enough to do research in poverty if I were to simply concentrate in macro/public/monetary at my current school?

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