Ph.D. advice?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by RAM, Jul 27, 2009.

  1. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Does anyone here have a Ph.D.? I'm kind of in an exploratory phase, considering getting a Ph.D. in economics - which area, I'm not quite sure yet. I have an MBA, which I earned while working full-time, so I understand there's a major commitment at stake. I also know there are some math classes I'd need to take. I should also say that between undergrad and grad schools, I excelled in math and my economics classes (I've taken enough econ classes between the two degrees to have majored in it in undergrad).

    Anyway, I'm seeking advice, such as what to expect, what to look for in an econ program, career outlook, etc. I've looked at numerous websites and have gotten a little information, and have an appointment with the econ dept. chairman from my grad school.

    Thoughts or advice?
  2. If you have the ambition and desire, then I say go for it.

    I'm starting mine come october. Been an interesting progression; BSc (hons) Biochemistry, MSc Nanotechnology & Microsystems, PhD in Biophotonics (physics).

    I think now is a good time to take one on. If you stick at it, and it is funded, then you have 3-4 years where you have money coming in and you are working on your education. Hopefully a good way to ride out part of this credit crisis.
  3. PaulNYC


    Apr 2, 2009
    New York, NY
    i got paid for a gig once.
    You'll only finish a Ph.D. when you've had enough of all the nonsense. I recommend getting aggravated early ;)

    Ph.D. Mech Eng
  4. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Is your school there in Chicago? I know the U of Chicago has a good reputation for conservative economics. I don't know about Northwestern or the U of IL Chicago or DePaul. My main question is will they give you any funding? It is very late in the academic year to get an assistantship or fellowship. If you are a good student, you should be able to get an aid package for school if you apply early enough. If it is too late in the game for that, just enroll part time to see how you can handle graudate level courses. Check with your advisor to avoid taking classes out of sequence or getting into a class that need prerequisites for you to be most effective.
  5. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    That almost sounds like what they say about law school:

    Year 1: Scare you to death
    Year 2: Work you to death
    Year 3: Bore you to death
  6. Just a quick question, whats the difference between a PhD in Mech Eng and an Eng.D ?

    (any engineering based doctoral studies I've seen over here have been Eng.D)

    Or are they just the same thing?
  7. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I'm thinking with the math prerequisites I may still need to take, this school year could potentially be out of the question...I'll know a little more on Wednesday after meeting with the dept. chair at DePaul. DePaul, in itself, does not have a Ph.D. program in economics. I went for both my BSC and MBA programs there, and they have a number of well-educated Ph.D.s, which is why I'm talking to them: they won't try to sell me on that school, but will instead help me formulate which programs might be best for me. Hopefully I'll also gain insight into how much more math I need to take before undertaking such a program, and perhaps even insight into fellowships, TA positions, etc. Obviously, there's the opportunity cost of foregoing my fairly lucrative career in IT consulting, but my current career isn't necessarily the passion I have with economics.

    Two schools I know of here in Chicago that are highly respected are Northwestern and U of C. Since they're so incredibly competitive given the incredible discipline foreign students had prior to gaining entrance to them, I'm unsure of whether or not I'd even get in, but that's something I'd only know after I take the GRE and then apply, right?

    Nonetheless, your advice is exactly the type of insight I'm looking for, so thanks so much!
  8. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    You should take a good hard look at U of I Champainge/Urbana. It is less than two hours from Chicago, and is truly world class. It should also be much cheaper than NU or U of C.
  9. Chipsonfire


    Jul 20, 2007
    Socorro, NM
    I've never heard of an Eng.D and nearly all my profs in Mech Eng were Ph.Ds. Wiki it?
  10. I plan on starting a Dr. of Counseling program in the near future (I was hoping for Spring '10, but I'm too late for that). I'll most likely be doing it at the school where I earned my Master's Degree in Counseling, as I really liked the school and faculty, and feel I learned a great deal while there.

    Basically, I have no real advice to offer, but wanted to subscribe. :p
  11. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    No difference, except which side of the Atlantic you are on, in terms of education. There may be some differences in professional licensing that I don't know about.
  12. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
  13. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I got a PhD in physics in 1993. It's been good for me. But I also have friends who have struggled with the degree, some to the point of wishing they could give it back. There are two general issues to be aware of:

    1. You need to research the job market carefully, and not rely on the word of a handful of professors, because their opinions are clouded by "survivor bias." For at least the past couple of decades, there has been a glut of PhD's relative to the number of available jobs that require the degree, with the possible exception of clinical PhD's such as counseling. As a result, I think that most PhD's who are gainfully employed, have either forged non-standard career paths, or are entrepreneurs.

    2. The degree carries the expectation that you want to work at a fairly high level, for instance in research leadership or management, and that you have the interpersonal skills to thrive in those areas. Many science PhD's got their degrees because they just want to work in a lab, and then discover to their dismay that they are considered overqualified for the work that they enjoy.

    The criterion for getting the degree should be: Are you so madly in love with the field that you can't live without knowing more about it? And, if you have a family, are they willing to make the sacrifices with you?
  14. To the OP: I cannot comment specifically about your intended discipline, but one thing I found crucial in the application process is to find potential supervisors whose work you respect and whom you might like to work with (work for, ha) and contact them. Email, call, and if possible, arrange to meet and talk with them personally. Read their publications as well as checking out the school's program.

    Your supervisor will likely be the most prominent person in your academic and professional development. Also in making sure you get funding etc. At least early on, you will be tied to his/her work/research. So make sure that you can get along personally as well as professionally.

    The previous posters have given some sound advice based on their experiences, as well.

    Getting Ph.D is a long haul and sometimes frustrating, but can be rewarding. Great feeling when you pass your defense and turn in the FINAL draft of your dissertation. :bassist:

    Cheers and Good luck.

  15. wazzel


    Dec 27, 2007
    Cypress, TX
    I am of the opinion that you should not spend more time getting degrees than is necessary to get the job you want. As a working stiff engineer an advanced degree would have been a waste of my time and money. A MS would have taken most of my career to recoup, a PhD would have never paid for itself. From what I have seen only special areas benefit from the advanced degree. I'll add the disclaimer of what I have seen in the industries I have worked in for the past 12 years. Your career path may be different.
  16. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    One of the most important things to consider when applying to a doctoral program is fit. Do you fit with the program? Do the faculty members have the same interests as you? You're expected to have a pretty good of idea of who you are, professionally speaking, when you apply to a doctorate program. For example, if you want to apply to a doctorate program in psychology, you don't say, "I have an interest in industrial and organizational psychology." You say, "I have an interest in how transformational leaders instrinsically motivate employees along with how organizational fit moderates this relationship; I want to come to program X because Dr. Y is an expert in this field." Not all doctorate programs are that narrow. I'm planning on applying to a cohort Ph.D program that's full of people from various walks of life and their dissertation topics are pretty diverse. But a doctorate program is going to be more specific than a Master's program.
  17. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    I definitely agree with this. When I was looking at graduate school, I wanted to apply to all of these Ph.D programs. When my girlfriend, who has a doctorate, asked why, I said, "So I can be Dr. LiquidMidnight." She told me to "Get what I need to get what I want." There's a lot of merit in that. In many professions, there's not much of a discrepancy between people with a Master's and people with a doctorate. On the other hand, I told my Master's department chair that I was considering an MBA to compliment the MA I'm almost done with. She made a good point: I'd be moving sideways. If I go for more schooling, a doctorate would open up a lot of opportunities, such as teaching as the university level. That's not to downplay an MBA, but if I'm going to spend more time on a degree, it might as well be the big kahuna. But going back to what my girlfriend originally said, I'm kind of going in a direction in which a doctorate may very well be an asset.
  18. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    This is key, and something I really did not understand when I started working on my Ph.D. By all means seek out people you want to work for, who do what you want to do. If not, they won't be interested in you or help you very much in school or after school.:oops:

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    Ph.D = Endurance ! I get fatigued hearing those three letters put together as I am trying to stay alive through my M.A.
  20. Fair game, thought that may have been the case :)