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PhD program in business

Ariel12Ariel12 Registered User Posts: 15 Junior Member
Do I have a chance of getting into a PhD program in business? I'm 48, MBA - 3.9 gpa, another master degree -- magna cu, laud, Gmat score is low.

Replies to: PhD program in business

  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,651 Senior Member
    You have asked this question a bunch of times on some other (now closed) threads, and imo it has been asked and answered. The big question isn't whether you can get into a program but what you want to get from it. If your objective is to get a FT job in academia, I would say the odds are long: there are very, very few FT/tenure track positions going- anywhere. Even adjunct positions are harder to get then you might think -even if the pay and conditions of being an adjunct appeal to you.

    Like you, I started with an MBA and elementary-school aged children (those kids are now in college and grad school). I got pretty decent stipend for the first two years, with no TA requirement, but when that project ended there was no further funding unless I TA'd. When I finished I got a pretty prestigious 1 year post-doc, and after that contract teaching jobs within the same university. Not adjunct, but not permanent, b/c there were none going in the mid-size city we were living in.

    Since then we have moved 2x times, once to a bigger city, and more recently to a mid-sized college town. In both places it has been hard to find substantial work, despite good recs, v strong teaching reviews, and good publications / research. Your husband being in academia may help- contacts matter a *lot*, but even business schools are running tight these days.

    Your level of genuine interest in research also matters. If you love doing research, and you really are interested in your subject area, the whole process is a lot more fun.Your supervisor is critical as well (arguably the most important external success factor in a PhD).
  • MandalorianMandalorian Registered User Posts: 1,754 Senior Member
    The big question is what you plan on getting out of it. If it's just another degree for your collection or "something to do" odds are not good. These programs typically aim to produce graduates with lengthy research careers ahead of them.
  • SlynnxSlynnx Registered User Posts: 23 Junior Member
    Your post is entirely too vague, but I will share my insights. In a past thread, you mention an interest in marketing or OB. I am in one of those PhD programs currently, and have classes with students in the other department of interest. There is a lot of overlap in behavioral methods and theory, but the research topics and target samples, of course, are different. If you are still undecided, you need to make a decision on which path you want to pursue. You cannot apply to both programs at the same school, and it will make you seem uncertain of your goals if faculty find out you're applying to both types of programs.

    I've seen many marketing and OB students with both MBA and MA or MS degrees (I see this most often from international students who may have come to the US for one of those degrees). So that isn't really a problem. But no, you should not pursue a PhD just to add to a collection, or for the prestige of the degree, or reasons like that. It is a huge commitment of time, loss of income, and can be quite stressful. You really need to appreciate the research process and have some kind of passion for the type of research you want to do. Do you have research experience? Do you know what area of interest you'd like to pursue? This may change after taking some courses and gaining experience, but you need to demonstrate that you've put some thought into the type of work you want to do and why.

    In my program, many students are in their 30's and early-mid 40's. I've known other students in their late 40's and even 50's getting into programs, but I do suspect that some faculty will not be favorable of those applicants. With a low GMAT, that may restrict some of the programs you apply to anyway (unless there are other stellar aspects to your application, such as research experience or publications, or if you have a recommendation writer with a contact at a targeted program). Based on my observations, lower tier programs might be less discriminatory, but again, it really comes down to specific faculty attitudes and what you bring to the table. A stellar applicant with great fit is still a great applicant for any program, regardless of age or tier.

    As for the job market, business is one field where tenure-track is still a reasonable option. It may vary by department, but every former student in my program has been placed in a tenure-track position at a school they are happy working at (and I am not at a top tier research university). I'm sure things will change in the future, but for now, the job placements are one of the primary reasons I chose a business program instead of a social science program. I've never known a business PhD student (in my field, anyway), having to do a post-doc, and the starting salary is much higher than in other fields. The thing is, you have to have flexibility to move where the jobs are when you hit the market. If you are restricted to your current area, both for grad school and a job afterward, you will have a very difficult time making it work. In my program, faculty specifically ask students what kind of relocation preferences they have to determine their fit; if you can only work in New York City, for example, and there are no tenure-track job openings when you are on the market...well, you're not going to get a tenure-track job. Look at or ask about the program's recent job placements. If students aren't placing well, or at the types of schools you'd be happy working at, then it might not be the right place for you.

    Your advisor is crucial not only for your own development, but take into consideration their network (which may become your network). Sometimes lower tier schools have great placements due to a highly-published and well-connected faculty advisor. Though research fit is important, personality fit can be more important. You might love your advisor's research, but if you two constantly clash on ideas or they don't take an interest in your development, you won't get much from the experience.

    I also advise: Don't apply to a program just because it's in the right area, and then try to make your interests match faculty interests. The PhD process is rough enough without forcing yourself to work on something that doesn't excite you, or which you don't think is very important or impactful. However, also don't apply to a great program in an area you know you'd hate living (such as a really hot, or really cold year-round climate). You still need to live and be well during that time.

    So clearly, there's a lot of balance that needs to be found in the right program: the right advisor fit, research fit, financial fit, has good placements, and is located in an area you can tolerate living.
  • Ariel12Ariel12 Registered User Posts: 15 Junior Member
    edited January 12
    Thank you for your reply.
    A few clarifications: I was thinking on a PhD in OB with the purpose of working in academia (not as an adjunct).
    A few questions:
    Even if I will be admitted to a program, who will hire me as an assistant professor at 55-6 and will I be tenured at 61? Assuming that I don't want to work until I'm 70, does it make sense to put 6 years of investment to work max 10 years?

    How much an assistant professor in OB make? I'm trying to see what the opportunity cost is. Am I better off if I advance my current career and climb the corporate ladder?

    How many hours a week do you put in working on your PhD (including classes, assignments, preparation, TA etc'). I have a family and 2 children that will start middle/high school.

    Another factor is that I can't relocate to everywhere in the country, due to my husband's job. I can apply only to 2-4 programs - 2 of them are highly competitive and the other 2 will require relocating the city where the university is.
  • SlynnxSlynnx Registered User Posts: 23 Junior Member
    What are your motivations for pursuing a PhD? The answer to that question will direct the answer to your other questions. Wanting to become a business professor is vague; is it the lifestyle, desire to teach, a particular research interest, etc.?

    Honestly, no one can answer the question, "who will hire me?" It strongly depends on the program. A top research university will likely not want to bring on a faculty member who is only interested in working 5-10 years, or who will retire just after gaining tenure. It can take years just to publish a paper (the average tends to be 2-3 years in OB, but I've known many faculty who took 5-6+ years to publish a paper in a top journal in the field). So think about how productive you can be in those 5-10 years. Yes, many faculty members have several projects going at once, so they're publishing more than once every 2-3 years, but it still takes quite a bit of time and work to establish yourself in the field.

    However, smaller universities, those without graduate programs, and LACs (some do have business programs) may be more favorable for someone in your position. Especially if they are known to value teaching quality as much or more than research productivity. But keep in mind that you'd still be competing for those jobs with many other individuals. That's why having a strong network is so important.

    Salary can vary widely as well, but in general, business professors make $100K+/year at research universities. LACs and universities that do not have graduate programs (particularly MBA) may earn less, perhaps $70-80k. And then there might be some community colleges or other institutions ranging in the low $50-60k range. These are estimates for tenure-track positions, not visiting professor/adjunct/clinical positions. Business schools tend to be well-funded due to their MBA or masters programs, although some faculty do obtain outside funding as well. This practice may become more common in the future. No one can speak to the job market in 6-8 years when you would graduate.

    As for whether you're better off staying where you are...that depends, again, on why you want to pursue a PhD and what your current circumstances are. As a PhD student (still taking classes, not a candidate), I put in about 45-55 hours a week; sometimes more, sometimes a little less. That includes class time, reading, and other assignments. I do not TA, but that can be even more time consuming during the first few years as you're taking classes yourself. It depends also on your advisor and your skills. Some students get much more RA work than others, and some take longer to read/finish assignments than others do. The first year is difficult, as you adjust to everything and learn how to balance your time. Most of my peers are married with children, and although it is tough, they make it work.

    Again, if you are restricted in where you can apply, and especially where you can work after graduating, the investment might not be worth the outcome. What if you take a pay cut, earning $20-25k/year for 4-6 years, only to not have any job opportunities in your current city? How limited is your husband's job? And might that change in the next few years, putting you in a different position at graduation (which you probably can't know right now, but something to think about).
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,550 Super Moderator
    Even if I will be admitted to a program, who will hire me as an assistant professor at 55-6 and will I be tenured at 61? Assuming that I don't want to work until I'm 70, does it make sense to put 6 years of investment to work max 10 years?

    The blunt and unfortunate answer is that there's no way to answer this question; there is no way to tell up front who will hire you and who might discriminate against you because of your age. Whether the investment makes sense when you know you're going to want to retire before age 70 also depends: how passionate are you about academia and research? Some people might rather toil for 4-6 years so they have the opportunity to do academia even for just 10 years. (Ten years is still a pretty long time to do something.) Others would not. It's a personal decision.

    I would say as a new assistant professor in business, you should probably expect to earn somewhere between $60K and $90K to begin.

    Lots of PhD students have children. It's all about time management. You can successfully complete a PhD with children if you plan well, set boundaries, and manage your time.

    Your limited geographic mobility limits the number of programs you can apply to, thus lowering your odds of getting into a program at all - especially if half of the closest ones are very competitive. But it will also severely limit your ability to find a tenure-track job in 4-6 years. Will you still have this problem in about five years? Is your husband going to be willing to change jobs for you and follow you to where you get a position, even in a small town without the best opportunities in his field? Are you willing to live apart from him to be a professor? Because if those two universities nearby you are highly competitive business programs, chance that you will get an academic job at one of them are quite small.

    This is something to factor into your opportunity cost - if you know that you are not going to be able to move at the end of your PhD program and you are unable or unwilling to live apart from your husband (and possibly your children), that means that your chances of getting a tenure-track job as an academic become VERY slim. Is it worth it to you to spend the time doing a PhD when you can't make the moves necessary to pursue the career?

    You've asked most of these questions multiple times over the course of about 2 years, and you've been getting pretty similar answers each time. I'm curious - what do you think is going to change or become different about people's answers each time you ask them?
  • Ariel12Ariel12 Registered User Posts: 15 Junior Member
    Two programs in my area offer PhD, however there are a few schools in the area that teaches busines and can potentially offer tenure track positions.
  • Ariel12Ariel12 Registered User Posts: 15 Junior Member
    How long do you think it will take to finish an OB Phd program? If I'll graduate when i'm in mid 50s, do I have a chance to compete with graduates who are 20 years younger?
    There are schools in my area that can hire for tenure track, and there are others that are within 2 hours commute.
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,550 Super Moderator
    How long a doctoral program takes depends partially on the student. Most programs have a certain length of time that they expect the program to take, and some of them list it on the program's website. A lot don't because if they have students coming in with different levels of preparation (e.g., master's degrees vs. bachelor's degrees) and speed/efficiency they may vary a lot. Most OB programs are designed to take around 5 years, maybe 4 if you have a master's and exempt out of the coursework.

    If you call the department and ask for the average time to degree, they'll tell you (although keep in mind that that's just an average. My department's average time to degree when I called was 7.5 years, but when I did some digging I found that part of the long timing was a lot of students in the department were anthropologists who needed to do a year of fieldwork before they graduated, and I did not.) But I think it's safe to assume that you'll probably be in the department about 5 years, and that you'd be in your early to mid-50s when you finish. At the shortest, it'll take 4, which is still early 50s.

    Taking a bet on being able to get a tenure-track job in your immediate area is a risk. Most of the people I have known with doctoral degrees who looked only for tenure-track jobs in their immediate city took far longer to find a job than others who could look more nationally, and some of them never did (they chose to leave academia instead so they could continue living where they were). And this was in a large city with lots of colleges. In any given year, only a few or maybe none of those programs may be looking for a business professor, and they may be looking for someone outside of your specialty area. And if you're in a desirable city they're going to have their pick of applicants.
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,651 Senior Member
    ^^ this.

    That was exactly my challenge- I was tied to a small geographic radius. During the 4 years that I lived in one metropolitan area 2 of the 3 of the area universities that I was interested in hired *one* tenure track person in the relevant department (and both were already well known to the university), and the third didn't hire any.
  • Ariel12Ariel12 Registered User Posts: 15 Junior Member
    Got you. I see that it's very risky to be restricted to a certain geographic area. I will not be able to take a position out of the state I live in or even to parts of it that are very far from the mid-size city I live. My husband is in academia too and jobs in his area are tight even nationaly, and he commutes two hours each way for his work. On the programs website I saw one program that lasts 5 years and one that is 6 years, and ofcourse that can take longer. Wonder if that make sense to invest 6-7 years just to work max 10 years? Am I better off in keeeping my job?
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,550 Super Moderator
    Yeah, if you are unable to move and/or your husband is unwilling or unable to do the two-body problem dance, then your options are very limited.

    Do you have any interest in actually doing research and scholarship? Most people who go get a PhD are motivated by a desire to do research in a specific field. Sure, they want to be professors, but that is in large part because that job entails doing research in an area that they are passionate about. In other words, why do you want to go into academia? What is motivating you to consider a PhD now, particularly as a career changer?

    Only you can decide whether or not it's worth it or whether you'd be better off keeping your job. But as others have already told you, academia is an extremely competitive field and getting tenure-track positions is difficult. Business is less competitive than some other fields, but still pretty competitive.

    If you are pretty adamant about not working beyond age 65 (which many professors do - some teach well into their 70s and 80s), and you are risk-averse enough that the idea of studying something for 6 years without a sure path to a job is unappealing to you, you will probably find that it is not worth it for you.
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