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going to grad school....have a few questions


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7 replies to this topic

#1 of 8 OFFLINE   JordanS

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Posted December 02 2003 - 10:29 AM

Hello friends:

I am a senior at a state university and I have some questions for people who are in graduate school or have graduated already.

At the bare minimum, I am going to get a Masters Degree, probably a MBA with a specialization toward Finance. I am strongly considering pursuing a PhD in the Business field as well.

Generally speaking, what is different about graduate school from Undergrad? I consider myself reasonably smart; how difficult is it to obtain a PhD?

To get a PhD is my ultimate goal. I definitely could see myself wanting to teach at a community college or a university. Generally speaking within the field, are your opportunities somewhat unlimited with a PhD? I am aware of course you can't do anything you want, but I would like to be able to do different things in my field.


Thanks for reading. Posted Image
Tell me what you regard as your greatest strength, so I will know how best to undermine you; tell me of your greatest fear, so I will know which I must force you to face; tell me what you cherish most, so I will know what to take from you; and tell me what you crave, so that I might deny you.

-Darth....

#2 of 8 OFFLINE   Lew Crippen

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Posted December 02 2003 - 10:36 AM

There is nothing necessarily wrong in having both a MBA and a PhD. But you should be aware that an MBA, unlike most other Masters degrees, is a terminal degree and most MBA programs won’t necessarily lead to a PhD.

In general you will find it much easier to pursue an MBA after a few years of experience in the business world. Most programs won’t take you without practical experience. I would hazard a guess that this will be true of all of the prestigious MBA schools.

However it is not at all unreasonable to continue on in school, getting a Masters in some form of business (not an MBA). Then perhaps a PhD.
¡Time is not my master!

#3 of 8 OFFLINE   Greg_R

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Posted December 02 2003 - 11:19 AM

Quote:
I would hazard a guess that this will be true of all of the prestigious MBA schools.
Exactly. Previous work experience is required at many schools.

In terms of intelligence, I don't feel that a MS or PhD requires any more than an undergrad degree. You are just becoming more specialized in your field. These higher degrees will require less class study and more personal research. If you want to teach, a PhD is a great degree. However, be aware that it could limit your consideration for other job placements (too specialized a degree, etc.).

#4 of 8 OFFLINE   Bill Williams

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Posted December 03 2003 - 01:03 AM

I know that when I went for my Master's degree, I had to push myself every day for hours at a time in the library, reading, researching, even when I didn't have class that day, even when I didn't feel like it. My B.A. was one thing. My M.A. was for all the marbles and required a different approach to it. I even spent a year working on my thesis - six months researching and another six months writing it out. And I wound up completing all of my Master's work in 16 months. Now that's hard work right there for you.

As for going for my doctorate, I made the comment to myself going into my master's program, "Never again." When I finished, I found myself saying, "Well, maybe once more unto the breach." But if it doesn't happen, that's fine, too.
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#5 of 8 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted December 03 2003 - 02:38 AM

Getting a Ph.D. is, generally, a very different thing than getting a B.S. (speaking from experience in science). Unlike a B.S., where many people are there to just get a degree to get a job, Ph.D. candidates tend to be specifically interested in the field, in research, and have a bigger goal than just "get the diploma".

In a good program, you will be studying and working with top students. These are people culled from the tops of their classes, all with specific interest in the field. Even the slackers are really sharp.

Some programs have a reputation for being very cut-throat. Classmates won't work together for fear of helping someone getting ahead of them. Other programs are very cooperative and easy-going.

Getting a Ph.D. is as much determination to stay the course as it is intelligence. It has exciting moments, but it has some extremely frustrating and difficult times too.

Having a Ph.D. tends to open up new opportunities that are hard or impossible to get without the degree, but I wouldn't call them unlimited. And sometimes it closes doors ("over-qualified"). It can also provide excellent networking opportunities, particularly in a small field.

The financial down-side is you sacrifice "real money" for several years getting your degree. Some people argue it pays for itself quickly. It depends on the field.

Hope that helps.

#6 of 8 OFFLINE   Andy Hardin

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Posted December 03 2003 - 05:17 AM

I got my MBA rather untraditionally, as I continued straight from undergrad, but I did have some good experience (including working overseas, that helped).

First off (this is all my own opinion of course) is that the only reason you would want to get an PhD after an MBA is to teach. The business world won't really reward you for it. Not that it is a bad thing, but figure out your life goals and find out what you need to accomplish them. But, to be a good educator in business, you need real world experience. This can be more powerful than a PhD, again, its all about your goals

How hard is it? Pretty subjective question. Take what you did in undergrad, and compress it. You will be learning much more material much more quickly. So there is more work. There is more reading and studying, and, of course, more group projects. Almost everything is done in groups, as that is how business is. It is much more competitive. Everyone is there to do well, but not everyone can. Get used to it.

If you want to get your MBA right after undergrad (and there can be some very good reasons for this), you aren't going to get accepted to a top tier school. Look at the secondary level of programs, or specialized programs. There was a school in FL I looked at (forget the name off the top of my head) that offered an E-MBA, an accelerated MBA specifically designed for people right out of undergrad.

Best bet? talk to people that have experienced it. They are your best source of info.

#7 of 8 OFFLINE   JordanS

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Posted December 03 2003 - 08:03 AM

I sincerely appreciate all the advice. Thank you very much indeed.
Tell me what you regard as your greatest strength, so I will know how best to undermine you; tell me of your greatest fear, so I will know which I must force you to face; tell me what you cherish most, so I will know what to take from you; and tell me what you crave, so that I might deny you.

-Darth....

#8 of 8 OFFLINE   Anthony F.

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Posted December 03 2003 - 11:09 PM

I would agree with Dave F. above. For the Ph.D. intelligence helps, but persistence may be more useful. You also need to be practical in your approach so that you don't lose years of your life to frustration. If you pursue a doctorate, have an idea of what you want to do with it. Don't go in to "learn" in broad terms or it'll take forever--it's largely unstructured time. Try and have an exit strategy. Do some research on the programs and faculty in the departments you're looking at to find out--among other things--whether there will be faculty and financial support. It may do you no good to try and work with a famous faculty member who's a year away from retirement--you may get stranded. Also very good programs in a particular field may be hidden away in less glamorous universities, so don't just look at big name places. It really pays to do your homework ahead of time.

Practicality aside, it can be a wonderful experience, as you'll basically own a piece of knowledge that others can build on in the future.