Ph.D. Prep – Introduction

In these first few posts, I want to discuss what goes into preparing for Ph.D. studies.  After I started my MBA, my preparation path went something like this:

  1. Consider investment banking vs. academia
  2. Decide on an academic career and sign up for math/econ courses
  3. Work as a research assistant
  4. Read academic research
  5. Apply to schools
  6. Learn to program

I-banking prep basically meant networking and studying valuation techniques 2-3 hours/day for about three months and traveling to New York and San Francisco, on top of 17.5 credits of first-year required classes.  Around December of my first year, I determined that a Ph.D. was still definitely attainable with enough effort, and that’s all I’ve worked on since.

The biggest attraction to an academic career for me is the intellectual freedom.  Sure, you have to work really hard and publish, but you don’t have an Associate, Vice President, Managing Director or Partner always looking over your shoulder to make sure your ideas are “right.”  Professors aren’t required to be at the office (unless they’re teaching a class), and they aren’t forced to stay up all night working on somebody else’s project.  It’s not only a very stimulating career; it’s also incredibly entrepreneurial–success means coming up with your own unique ideas, communicating them well, and getting peers around the world to “buy in.”  The pay can also be very good, unlike in many other academic fields.

For more information on getting a Ph.D. in Finance, check out this link that one of my future classmates put together before he started his Ph.D.: http://www.byubusinessphd.net/Programs/finance/

Next post:  Ph.D. Prep – Got Math?