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Phd after MBA – Who should take it?

Although MBAs will vehemently dismiss the need for PHDs in a teaching Job, most professors in top Business Schools have a PHD. So if your goal is to be part of a prestigious institute like Harvard, Wharton or any other Ivey league schools, doing a PHD after Executive or Full-time MBA would be a good move. Mind you, if your goal is to be part of 2nd tier Business Schools, PHDs are not a requirement. If you are an MBA and have considerable number of years of experience and achievement to show, you will be valuable for top Business Schools. So understanding the teaching qualification of your target schools is necessary.

Your career goal will play a major factor in making this decision. Answer the following questions: Why you want to pursue a Ph.D?

After you have thought about your motivation, read about the following scenarios.

a) Teaching Jobs

Although MBAs will vehemently dismiss the need for Ph.Ds in a teaching Job, most professors in top Business Schools have a Ph.D. So if your goal is to be part of a prestigious institute like Harvard, Wharton or any other Ivy League Schools, doing a Ph.D after Executive or Full-time MBA would be a good move. Mind you, if your goal is to be part of 2nd tier Business Schools, Ph.Ds are not a requirement. If you are an MBA and have considerable number of years of experience and achievement to show, you will be valuable for top Business Schools. So understanding the teaching qualification of your target schools is necessary.

b) Research Jobs

Although teaching is a logical step for Ph.Ds, the primary motivating factor is the ability to research about cutting-edge developments in your chosen field. MBAs might just not understand this. But there are individuals who want to excel in their chosen field by understanding in depth about every aspect of the subject and not just the peripheral to get things done. But understanding just enough will help Managers and Entrepreneurs to get things done. If you are a managerial or Entrepreneurial personality, a Ph.D would be the worst choice for you. Ph.Ds are data driven. They play a major role in providing valuable data for decision making. If you genuinely love interpreting complex data and would like to contribute with in-depth research, a Ph.D after MBA would be immensely useful.

c) Consulting Firms

Most top professors own consulting firms. The research that they do for private companies is often presented as case studies. If you have entrepreneurial aspirations, as well as a desire to be an expert in your chosen field, a Ph.D after MBA would fit well for you.

The Experience

Ph.D is a tedious experience. The academic requirement to pass your MBA or Executive MBA cannot be compared to the rigor that you need for a Ph.D. The journey will initially be a struggle, no matter how good you are. The first step would be to establish your reputation in the academic community. For that, you have to partner with known professors with very little appreciation shown your way, during the initial papers. But once your name gets the attention of the community, slowly you will earn their respect. After that, the journey is fun.

Tenure

Tenure is the permanent job offer that professors receive after probationary – tenure track appointments.  Unlike, a regular job, where probation ranges between 6 months and 1 year, probationary period for professors is between 6-8 years.  

What is the basic requirement for tenure?

Most professors would have earned the highest possible academic degree in their chosen field (Ph.D. or M.F.A). An essential conclusion of a Ph.D. is the dissertation – an extensive independent study of a topic in your chosen field. You do this while juggling – teaching, personal life and managing your expenses.

How is tenure determined?

Tenure is determined by the quality of the teaching, academic publications and contribution to student’s career and departmental growth.  The ability to attract funds for the research projects also plays a big role in top universities.

Can you handle the comparison?


Let’s face it – by the time you get your tenure, you would be in your late 30s or early 40s. Your peers in Exec. MBA or Full-time MBA would have amassed a considerable wealth, while you might have barely started seeing signs of positive returns.

If you can’t handle being compared to your former colleagues, don’t take a Ph.D

If you think that getting tenure is easy, don’t take a Ph.D

If your primary motivation is wealth generation and not intellectual stimulation, don’t take a Ph.D

If you think that getting a Ph.D is a guarantee for job security, don’t take a Ph.D. (Every year, many Ph.Ds. don’t meet the basic requirement and are often fired)

If you don’t have the stamina to pursue the long and treacherous path of meeting the requirements of the highest degree, don’t take a Ph.D. (The most common reason for leaving a Ph.D. program is burn out)

If you can’t live frugally
, don’t take a Ph.D.

If you have reached this far, even after reading through an array of discouragements, you are a Ph.D. personality

Join the Ph.D. program for the rewarding learning experience. If you drop out of the Ph.D. program, apart from any other reason other than burn out, you would have found your true calling. So in the end, things are not that bad, even if you don’t complete your Ph.D.

Next Steps

1) Talk to Professors with Ph.D.

2) Talk to Current Ph.Ds.

3) Research about the Job Growth for Ph.Ds. for the past 25 years (this is your first assignment as an aspiring Ph.D)

4) For any help, feel free to send us a message. Good Luck!

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