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Question for MBAs and PhDs

Discussion in 'Other Off Topic Forum' started by bkaird1, Nov 23, 2003.

  1. bkaird1

    bkaird1 Karting

    Nov 7, 2003
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    Brad
    I'm currently in a PhD program right now and have the opportunity to obtain a MBA while I'm here. I was curious if anyone here has both or knows someone who does. Since I'm already here on scholarship, I'm under the impression that it will be free and they allow current grad students to get away with fewer hours (40 v 60 I think) to complete the MBA. I'm 99.99% sure that I'm going to do it but just wanted to see if anyone here has done the same.
     
  2. Texas Forever

    Texas Forever Three Time F1 World Champ
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    Well, it depends (and I'm not talking about diapers here). I'm assuming that your Ph.D. is not in bidness, yes/no/maybe? Because if it is, then the MBA means nothing. (Remember, a Ph.D. a union card for academia only. It has very little value in the real world. Don't ask me how I know this.)

    Generally, unless your MBA is from a top 25 school, it will have very little real world value. Indeed, the MBA combo makes the most sense with a JD. I'm not sure what good a Ph.D. in compartive Lit and a MBA will be, for example. Don't mean to throw cold water on your plan. But, having made the commitment to get a Ph.D., your best bet is to concentrate on stunning the world with the brilliance of your dissertation than fooling around with another grad degree.

    Good luck, DrTax
     
  3. bkaird1

    bkaird1 Karting

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    Yes, the PhD is not in business... it's in Biomedical Engineering. The Dupree Business School (GT) is ranked 29th in Forbes.
     
  4. becker

    becker Formula Junior

    Feb 20, 2001
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    Becker Cuéllar
    It sounds like you have the funding covered and just checking if somebody has done the same.

    Anyway I can just tell what happened to a buddy of mine: we finish the MSEE together and went out to the real world after a couple of years I went to set up my little business but he decided to get an MBA to a good school , went to Berkeley(Haas something), went thru it and paid out his pocket but although it helped him a bit I don't think it is what he was expecting moneywise and these days he feels nervous about his job being there (He's with Sun now)

    Cheers
     
  5. Texas Forever

    Texas Forever Three Time F1 World Champ
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    Okay, what I'm about to say is from a bidness prof viewpoint. There are some geek Ph.D.s on this board and they might have a different take.

    In the business area, the only thing a Ph.D. is good for is academia, period. (Yeah, I know that Ken Lay at Enron had a Ph.D. in Econ, but look at what happened to him.)

    Here's how the game is played --

    Technically, you have 7 years (6 really) to get tenure. At most of the "A" schools this means that you will have to publish the equivalent of 3 articles in "A" rated journals. To give you an idea, generally, it takes 12 articles in "C" journals to equal one "A" article. It takes 3 articles in "B" journals to equal one "A."

    Because, as a rule of thumb, it takes 3 to 4 years to get an article published in an "A" journal, this means that you have to hit the ground running once you get your doctorate. In other words, it is very important for you to get at least one "A" article out of your dissertation. If you have to start cold after getting your degree, you will have an uphill climb.

    Thus, my advice is to concentrate on your dissertation versus another grad degree if you plan on going into academia. Said another way, I doubt that your tenure committee will give a hoot that you have a MBA if you haven't published enough.

    Now, if you are planning to go out into the real world, a MBA can prove to be very useful, provided that it is from a great program and not one of the state run diploma mills. You need to understand that the real purpose of a MBA program is to offer a business degree to liberal arts grads. For example, if you have an undergraduate degree in business from one of the top rated schools, a MBA will pretty much be a waste of time unless you go to Tuck or Harvard or so forth and so on.

    I hope that this does not seem too cynical. At least once a month, somebody asks me about becoming a professor. From the outside looking in, the grass does look greener. Indeed, every now and then, even I get twinges about going back. Unfortunately, though, the reality is much different from the vision.

    However, don't let me deter you from your dreams. You obviously have some goals in mind, and I say go fer it! I just wish that someone would have spelled things out for me before I went your way 20 years ago.

    Good Luck! Dale
     
  6. mlambert890

    mlambert890 Formula Junior

    Apr 2, 2002
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    If you can handle the courseload, certainly take the opportunity. The sciences are all becoming extremely tough due to increasing foreign competition. Lots of high paid analysts feel the answer is for American students to be "less lazy", work harder, and earn more PhDs, but I think it's a specious argument. The foreign students will earn the same level of degree and work for 1/10th of the price. What American students really need in order to succeed is a differentiator. An MBA is a nice differentiator.

    With a PhD in bio-medical engineering and an MBA, you'd have quite a nice foundation to get you started on a path to a leadership role in a pharmaceutical or bio-tech firm.
     
  7. bkaird1

    bkaird1 Karting

    Nov 7, 2003
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    Brad
    Thanks everyone for the responses. As far as cost, yes, it would be free so I wouldn't have to worry about being in the hole financially. Also, the PhD program I am in is designed so that we finish our classes within the first 2-2.5 years so I'll have about 2-3 years where all I'll be doing is lab work.

    Dale, I have no plans to enter academia so I don't need to worry about all that and luckily my professor is very well recoginized in his field (published in Science numerous times) and his students have no problem getting published in major journals. Also, the work we'll be doing is really some amazing stuff and hopefully will make some big strides in disease diagnosis and treatment (something that I'm sure companies might be interested in). And no, you don't sound cynical. I like honest responses and I was hoping to get all sides of the issue. I'm glad you gave me your insight. The MBA program here isn't Harvard, but there have been many successful students go on to be CEOs of major corporations (I think the CEO of Sears graduated from here but I could be wrong). It's also well connected in the technology and engineering fields, which is what I want to do.

    mlambert, that was my thought process and as it won't hurt me from a financial or time aspect I think I'll do it. I'd like to either be in a leadership role in bio/parm company or maybe start my own company. We'll see. Either way, I figure the MBA will set me apart from others in the field and would be beneficial (having some good contacts not to mention that a great product doesn't do much good if you can't keep a business afloat to make it).

    Anyway thanks again for the responses. Anyone else here with a view on the matter?
     
  8. zjpj

    zjpj F1 Veteran

    Nov 4, 2003
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    Again, my sense from talking to professors in liberal arts and those in business is that the phd is for academics only, but that obviously doesn't apply to the science field. So, basically, you are set on the phd and wonder if an MBA would be appropriate for your heading some sort of biotech company. Of course it would! You're goal is an executive position, then of course you are going to benefit from some sort of business and executive training.

    That being said, most people I talk to with MBAs say that their schooling was basically useless aside from the contacts that they made, and that business school will give you more in terms of the people that you meet than what you actually learn. Another friend of mine who is going to get JD-phd in econ says that the business school economic models that are used today are all outdated relative to the applicable economic theory.

    That being said: look, we all know how much names and distinctions matter. If you're going into business, there can be nothing better than saying, "Oh, by the way, I have an MBA AND A PHD." So, I say definitely go for it.
     
  9. kenny

    kenny Formula Junior

    Nov 9, 2003
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    I think a PhD in biomedical engineering with an MBA can be very useful...

    Some of the employment possibilities include: working at a VC firm that focuses on Bio-tech investments. Working as an analyst on wall street as a bio-tech analyst, or working at a buy side money management firm or private equity firm specializing in healthcare, or even working in management at a pharmaceutical or healthcare company...
     
  10. GuardsRed

    GuardsRed Karting

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    Earning an MBA from a top 25 school does not translate into stellar real world performance absolutely. Generally yes, but not absolutely. I have an undergraduate from a state run diploma mill (who lost this weekend in a rivalry game...) and an MBA from a small private university but can run circles around hot shots from T25 schools who have zero common sense, substantial experience or even decent analytical skills. It just depends I guess.

    With respect to the combination you are suggesting, I think that is excellent. An understanding of both fields will provide you with a nice comparitive advantage over other folks.

    Have fun! Let us know when you get your first patent (using Oblon, Spivak as your patent attorneys of course).
     
  11. Dom

    Dom F1 Veteran
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    Nov 5, 2002
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    I have a biomed Ph.D (Toxicology) and work in industry (pharmaceutical company), so perhaps I can give you another perspective.

    I agree with Drtax 100% about academia.

    However, In my field (Drug development, or Drug Safety, R&D) you absolutely must have a Ph.D. to get anywhere. On the other hand, having a Ph.D., will also limit you on the business end of things. I can probably climb no higher than a VP at a pharmaceutical company. If you want to be the CEO, or get into the business end (finance, HR, etc), then you will probably need an MBA.

    The key is, you need to know what you want to do. If you are happy in R&D, then I would say the MBA won't help you. If you want to get out of R&D and work on the business end of things, then you will probably find the MBA useful.

    I'm pretty happy in R&D, this is what I like to do. The field is very specialized however. The problem people who are in grad school have is that they don't really know what they want to do. They see the degree as the end-point, though it really isn't. But, just having a Ph.D. won't get you the job you want (and I assume the same thing applies for the MBA). When I've had to hire people, I get tons of applicants from academia with Ph.D.'s that want to break into industry (i.e., make more money, are tired of academia, etc.), but just don't have the right qualifications. There's no way I would hire one of these people. I need someone with the right experience and qualifications, not just a Ph.D.

    If I stay in R&D, an MBA will not help me. But outside of R&D, I think a Ph.D. is pretty much considered worthless.

    Hope this helps.

    Dom
     
  12. Dom

    Dom F1 Veteran
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    And one other thing.

    I would make sure school will cover MBA expenses, or even allow you to enter the program.

    When I was in grad school, you were supposed to devote 100% of your time to your studies (that meant no outside job either), to get your stipend. We took classes for the first 2 years, then research until you complete your dissertation.

    When you finished your classes, you are expected to devote 100% of your time to research. If you have time to take MBA classes, then you aren't spending enough time in the lab.

    Any outside activity was frowned upon...

    Dom
     
  13. bkaird1

    bkaird1 Karting

    Nov 7, 2003
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    zjpj, Kenny, GuardsRed, DOM, thanks for the posts. I just received an email from the assistant director of the program and will schedule a meeting with her soon (hopefully before Thanksgiving but we'll have to see).

    Dom:
    Georgia Tech's MBA school has a special program specifically for those who are already enrolled in the graduate school so I feel pretty sure it'll be OK(I'll make sure at the meeting and make sure there is no extra cost). Also, it's mostly true for biomedical engineering as well; we pretty much need a PhD to really do something in the field. Glad to know you are in drug development (my research will partly focus on drug delivery). Not 100% sure I know what I want to be involved in more (business side or R&D) as I find them both very interesting. I figure with both degrees I'd be covered both ways.

    I'll be sure to let you all how it goes.
     
  14. jasono

    jasono Rookie

    Nov 22, 2003
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    GuardsRed-

    I, for one, am extremely happy your school lost that rivalry game! And, if you can handle living in Pullman, you can probably handle pretty much anything in life!

    -Jason <==UW student and silent observer of this board...
     
  15. GuardsRed

    GuardsRed Karting

    Nov 4, 2003
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    Sam
    As you should be!!
     
  16. BWS550

    BWS550 Wants to be a mod

    Apr 1, 2002
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    BRUCE WELLINGTON
    I AGREE WITH DOM 100%

    I HAVE A BS DEGREE IN MARKETING, AND A MASTERS IN BUSINESS PSY.AND BETTER TO GET A MASTERS DEGREE IN THE BUSINESS END OF YOUR FIELD TO GET THE BETTER BUCK..NOT SAYING A PHD IS BAD, BUT THERE ARE LEVELS TO OBTAIN, AND WHEN OBTAINED, THERES NO HIGHER....

    AT LEAST A MASTERS WILL GET YOU IN THE VP OR PRES STATUS WHEN YOUR CHOIVE ARRIVES...

    20 YRS LATER FROM GRADUATING COLLEGE, I OWN MY OWN COMPANY, AND BECAME AN HONORARY VP OF ENERGIZER BATTERY CO.


    GOOD LUCK,
    BRUCE
     
  17. BigDog

    BigDog Formula 3

    Nov 1, 2003
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    way out left field in this thread but.... kinda funny how both ex-coaches of the 2 big wash. schools are embroiled :p
     
  18. mw575

    mw575 F1 Rookie

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    Dr.Tax-
    I wholeheartedly agree with your advice,however,how come in your profile under "occupation" you answer "NOT SURE" ?? Seems the antithesis to your erudite advice.
     
  19. Texas Forever

    Texas Forever Three Time F1 World Champ
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    LOL, well that's because sometimes I wonder. It has been over 13 years since I left academia. Basically, what I do is, uh, special project tax planning under the guise of DrTax. In practice, I'm a one-man band that plays to many different groups. In fact, even my 80-year old mother keeps asking me when I'm gonna get a real job!

    BTW, my hat is off to you. I notice that you are a retired Oncologist. I could never in a million years do what you did. I have worked with a lot of doctor clients over the years and, in general, have developed a great respect for what is, all too often, a thankless job. But dealing with cancer day in and day out. You sir are a far better man than I ever will be. I went to MD Anderson once to visit. Never again. PLease don't misunderstand me. I certaintly appreciate you guys and gals doing what you do, because I there is no way that I could do it. So enjoy your 575. You have earned it.

    Dale
     
  20. mw575

    mw575 F1 Rookie

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    Dr. Tax--thanks.
     
  21. sherpa23

    sherpa23 F1 Veteran
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    I suppose the biggest question is why do you want an MBA. I got mine simply because I thought it would help me to gain skills that I would be able to use in business. I did not get it because it looks good on a resume, I did not get it because I would get a promotion, I did not get it to "make more money," and I did not get it because chicks dig it. I got it because I thought that I would learn the skills necessary to build and run a successful business. That's exactly what happened. I have friends who got theirs for some of the reasons listed above (not the chicks dig it part, that was humour) and for the most part, they are in the same place that they were when they started career-wise. Some of them say it's great because they have an MBA now, some say it was a waste since they are in the same place. All I can say is that I have some serious skills and versatility that allows me to run a sucessful business and enjoy that process for what it is. Without my MBA, I would not be in the financial position that I am now without and I would not be able to conduct business with the people that I do and with the manner of professionalism and competence with which I do.
     
  22. sherpa23

    sherpa23 F1 Veteran
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    BTW, I went to a top 40 business school and passed up a top 3 school because I felt that the courses that the school I chose suited me better. Do I ever regret it? Not one little sliver. Ever. Rankings are overrated, skills are not.
     
  23. bkaird1

    bkaird1 Karting

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    sherpa:

    There are a lot of reasons that I want to get the MBA. I'd like to go into the business world and, since I come from a pure engineering/life science background, I think business classes will give me some skills that others in my position don't have and to sort of break away from the rut some PhDs get in in the business world (like DrTax mentioned). Also, I might like to start my own business one day and thought it would be a good thing to have and it would be nice to have contacts in the business world.

    Besides all that, I'm already in graduate school and there is a program set up for grad students to get an MBA while here. I'm under the impression that it won't be an extra cost and I can do it while finishing my graduate work (I'm meeting with the assistant director of the program tomorrow to make sure and to get more info). Any, I've never been one to slack and try to skate by doing the minimal amount of work and figured while I'm here on scholarship I should get the most value for my time and I think it will be something that I'm glad I did.
     
  24. sherpa23

    sherpa23 F1 Veteran
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    Bkaird,
    it sounds to me like you would be able to get a lot out of the MBA classes. I found it so worthwhile. I tell my wife at least once a week that I would like to go back to sit in on some of the higher lever accounting classes as a refresher. The skills I learned were invaluable.
     
  25. bkaird1

    bkaird1 Karting

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    Yes, I think I will get a lot out of it too.

    I actually just got back from a meeting with the assistant director and am VERY excited about the program. It will be 100% free (they will even waive the $50 application fee) and they are very accommodating about the course work. I take 31 hours of "core couses" and 9 hours of electives and can pretty much take them whenever I want (as long as they're offered) and spread them out so I can still get my research work done.
     

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