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Profile evaluation for fall 13 - suggestions / ideas


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Hello, am new to the forum but I spent the past couple of weeks reading up posts and profiles.

I'd like to receive a couple of ideas/suggestions about mine: am new to the 'PhD application' field, hence any advice will certainly help :)!


I am an MBA student in the US, originally from Europe and I am looking to apply for fall 13 intake.

I understand that time is limited, but any suggestion on how to improve my profile, correctly select the target schools and hone my application would surely be very helpful, particularly from you.


About me: male, European, 29


Undergrad: Economics, well recognized business university in Europe

Undergrad GPA: (translated in 4.0 scale) 3.9 / top 5%

Grad 1: Economics, well recognized business university in Europe (same as undergrad)

Grad 1 GPA: (translated in 4.0 scale) 3.9 / top 5%

Grad 1 academic prize: 30,000 Eur scholarship for academic merits (top 2.5% of the class)

Grad 1 research: 6-months financial econometrics research on asset betas in infrastructure investments (using eviews), culminated with honor thesis (same topic) and graduation magna cum laude

Grad 2: MBA program, Wharton @ Upenn

Grad 2 GPA: 3.8

Grad 2 research: nil so far, apart from independent study with Professor on application of new technologies for queuing systems (do ISPs count?)

Work experience: 4 years - 2 years in banking (BB) and 2 years in consulting (McK)


GMAT: 760 (but Q=49) - looking to get GRE to address Q part

Math Courses: Mathematics (year-long math course that encompasses calc 1-2-3 syllabi and linear/multivariate/matrix) A, Quantitative Methods for Finance (grad-level) A

Econometrics/stat Courses:econometrics A+, statistics A-, financial econometrics (grad) A+, thesis (grad) rewarded with final honors (laude)

Econ/Finance Courses: micro, macro, finance, entrepreneurship... - A or A+ in all finance classes (incl. Wharton)

LORs: can get 2 strong LORs from Wharton professors (finance and op.s), but I am not sure about where to get third one (work / undergrad professor / other wharton professor)

Research Experience: as per above, 6-months research with financial econometrics prof. culminated with honor thesis, although not formalized as a US RA position

Teaching Experience: TA position (as part of the grad 1 scholarship) in undegrad classes, although not formalized; volounteer teacher in a primary school in London (underpriviledged students)

Research Interests: intersection between private and public markets in financing energy new technologies, especially renewable energy

SOP: main focus on my research interest and steps taken towards it - i.e. research experience in infrastructure financing/ work experience in energy


- different math courses format vs. US (one class encompassing large syllabus)

- lack of formal RA/TA -ships, although extensive informal econometrics research

- general profile more geared towards private employment than research


Questions/ potential improvements to profile:

1- Which schools should I target? Can I aim at top-10 US business programs or cast wider net? would love to get in Stanford, the big H or MIT, but is it worth spending the time of the application?

2- Which department would fit best my research interest (financing energy new tech / renewables) - BE, Strategy, Finance, or pure Econ? Is my research topic too specific for a SOP?

3- How can I best communicate that my year-long math course in undergrad encompassed what is covered by 3-4 classes in a US program? should I get in touch with the universities? any other international applicant...

4- Who should I choose as third recommender: another prof. from Wharton or somebody from maybe my summer work experience (I will be researching within a private company on fund-raising for renewable energy investing) or an undergrad prof.?

5- I have the opportunity to work as RA with Wh prof. next semester (just before the application) - will this be perceived as 'last-minute fishy enhancement' :), or could be positively evaluated by AdCom ?


Hope I did not bore you too much! Thanks for reading all of it!! :)

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1. If those are your target schools, of course it's worth spending time to complete the application.


2. My guess is that your interests fall between finance and economics. Your best bet is to identify professors currently researching the topic to see where they teach and under which umbrella.


3. Express the breadth of your math prep in your statement of purpose.


4. I'd suggest getting a LOR from your thesis advisor since your thesis is the product of your most extensive research experience.


5. I see no down-side to obtaining additional research experience with a Wharton professor.

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Great profile, you will do well!


1. T10 + a mix of T20 and T30

2. Probably something in Fin/Econ domain. I wouldn't focus on the specific "renewable energy" aspect of it - sounds somewhat managerial

3. Address in SOP

4. Whoever the next best academic who can comment on your potential as a doctoral student is.

5. definitely pursue that opportunity

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You would have got admission into a Top 20 Finance PhD program even without the Wharton MBA. The Wharton MBA makes things a bit dicey. With Wharton references, you are definitely looking at Top 10 Finance PhD program. But people are going to question why someone would give up over a million bucks of lost income over 5-6 years to do a Finance PhD. They may have legitimate fears that you will become disillusioned with the rigor of the PhD program and the lifestyle of the PhD students and drop out after a year or two.
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