PhDs

hollywood9826

Hall of Fame
It depends on what its in and what the reason for it is.

If you are getting it make serious money, I guess you have to weigh the cost of the degree vs the increase in salary.

If you doing for the love of Knowledge then you cant lose and its most definitly worth pursuing.
 

spacediver

Hall of Fame
I would only recommend it if you are genuinely interested in its intrinsic value. In other words, doing it as a means to an end is misguided, imo.
 

pabletion

Hall of Fame
Well... most chicks would say that its not the size that matters but how they use it so............................ to each its own
 

The Wreck

Semi-Pro
I think the practicality of a degree in the real world goes down, the higher the degree is. Not to say a master's or doctorate isn't important or even required in many fields. Just that beyond the bachelor's level, you're often setting yourself up for a career in academia or public service (government). Obviously not always the case, but that's just my perspective.

If it's what you truly love though, I don't think there's any doubt you should go for it. But if you think it's gonna be a salary booster one day, it may, but it's probably not worth the time lost and money spent.
 

DCaicedo

Rookie
I'm in my 4th year of doctoral studies in social psychology, and I'm doing it mostly for the career mobility- both in salary increase and having a greater array of positions I can choose from.
At the same time, I enjoy it- I love the process of learning, I love the opportunities it's given me to teach at the collegiate level, to travel to interesting conferences to explain what new research "I'm bringing to the table", and the chance to meet people I've read about in books and/or articles.

I think I've written this assessment so that it applies to all disciplines- but as others have written, it depends on the field, the cost of the degree, the number of years it'll take you, the school itself, etc.
 

jaggy

Talk Tennis Guru
I defend my dissertation next week after an 11 year struggle (I quit for 3 years). I work in education and it cannot do me any harm but I wouldnt recommend it unless you are sure it is what you want to do, much more difficut than a masters.
 

krz

Professional
Is it a PhD in Math, Physics, Comp Sci Engineering.

Come to wall street work as a quant and make serious bank.
 

DCaicedo

Rookie
I defend my dissertation next week after an 11 year struggle (I quit for 3 years). I work in education and it cannot do me any harm but I wouldnt recommend it unless you are sure it is what you want to do, much more difficut than a masters.
Congrats Jaggy- I'm sure you're happy it's finally done
complete agreement with your post.

A masters can be used to "test the waters"- see if this is really what you want to do. That's what I did- and I changed my mind as to the discipline.

But even doing a masters doesn't compare with the amount of work needed for the PhD- you gotta love to read, and you gotta love to write.
 

krz

Professional
I've considered it. :)

I have a buddy on Wall St that makes serious dough without any advanced degrees.
True. There's plenty of sales/trading guys where I work with that make 7 figures with a 4-year.

But, to make serious money as a quant or even get a job as a quant you'll need a PhD in something with complex math and programming from an ivy. In iBanking you'll need at least a MBA to get to the associate level.

But that's a little off topic. I just wanted to give the OP some examples of where you can actually make a lot of money with a PhD. Assuming of course that money makes things worthwhile which is debatable.
 
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Polaris

Hall of Fame
is it a worthwhile pursuit?
Depends. If you like to learn new things, want to contribute something genuinely novel to the chosen field, and want to devote a significant chunk of your life to understanding and thinking rationally and critically, or want to increase your "hireability" in some professions, then "Yes".
 

Eph

Professional
Is it a PhD in Math, Physics, Comp Sci Engineering.

Come to wall street work as a quant and make serious bank.
My friend turned that down and he's kicking himself. He is doing his first postdoc making $400 USD per month in India. He could have been working at a bank in Zürich.
 

Eph

Professional
is it a worthwhile pursuit?
Pursuit for what?

Some of my friends say "no", some say "yes". (Most of the ones that say "no" are in the humanities/social sciences)

I'm generally happy in academia so I don't mind it. However, I'm not interested in making 100k+ when I graduate.


Where are you right now? What do you want to do? Where do you want to be? Why are you considering a PhD?

Answer these questions and I'll try to help.
 
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pushing_wins

Hall of Fame
True. There's plenty of sales/trading guys where I work with that make 7 figures with a 4-year.

But, to make serious money as a quant or even get a job as a quant you'll need a PhD in something with complex math and programming from an ivy. In iBanking you'll need at least a MBA to get to the associate level.

But that's a little off topic. I just wanted to give the OP some examples of where you can actually make a lot of money with a PhD. Assuming of course that money makes things worthwhile which is debatable.
i thought ibanks prefer fast flexible unblemished brains. a bachelor eco from an ivy would be ideal.

PhDs minds tend to be narrowly focused, slow and inflexible.

at least thats what i have been told
 
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rovex

Legend
Irony is most who've obtained a Phd in order to obtain a better career end up teaching in Uni's and schools. There's no problem with that of course if you enjoy it.

From my perspective you need more than a degree to become succesful. Other qualities such as this aptitude in knowing exactly how to do the job effectively. Strong communication skills, Speaking multiple languages is a prerequisite in order to have the opportunity to work for large businesses.
 

krz

Professional
i thought ibanks prefer fast flexible unblemished brains. a bachelor eco from an ivy would be ideal.

PhDs minds tend to be narrowly focused, slow and inflexible.
Generalizing on most of the bulge bracket analyst programs this is true. The models in banking are frankly not that complicated. I've seen all majors get into the analyst programs anybody with intelligence can easily learn it. They look for intelligent/hard working people so they can mold their "unblemished brains" into their typical banker. But, when I said MBA this is also true. Typically bulge brackets hire bachelors for analyst programs and after that typically hire top10 MBA's for their associate programs.

I would say ibanks look for people who they can mold to be brilliant and places like google/facebook hire people who are already brilliant.

On the other hand quants are a completely different animal. I used to think I was good at math until I met a couple quants. They do very complex math and programming and are very specialized. Things that an ivy league grad from any bachelors program just won't be able to do. It's very difficult to get a position as a quant at a hedgefund/ibank without a PhD from an elite school.

For the record. I'm not a quant nor do I have an advanced degree. I'm a 2nd year analyst at a bulge bracket. These are just my observations having worked in this business for 2 years.
 
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Kobble

Hall of Fame
I've known PhD's who have gone into business for themselves after trying to make it in the biosciences industry. Some say you barely make enough money to justify the degree.

PhD is not a meal ticket. It just buys you the opportunity to take on even more responsibility. If you don't want to dedicate your life to a narrow focus, it probably isn't going to be as enjoyable. If there is any other place you would rather be than crunching numbers and stressing over details, it is going to be tough. Like anything, you better want it badly.
 

pushing_wins

Hall of Fame
Generalizing on most of the bulge bracket analyst programs this is true. The models in banking are frankly not that complicated. I've seen all majors get into the analyst programs anybody with intelligence can easily learn it. They look for intelligent/hard working people so they can mold their "unblemished brains" into their typical banker. But, when I said MBA this is also true. Typically bulge brackets hire bachelors for analyst programs and after that typically hire top10 MBA's for their associate programs.

I would say ibanks look for people who they can mold to be brilliant and places like google/facebook hire people who are already brilliant.

On the other hand quants are a completely different animal. I used to think I was good at math until I met a couple quants. They do very complex math and programming and are very specialized. Things that an ivy league grad from any bachelors program just won't be able to do. It's very difficult to get a position as a quant at a hedgefund/ibank without a PhD from an elite school.

For the record. I'm not a quant nor do I have an advanced degree. I'm a 2nd year analyst at a bulge bracket. These are just my observations having worked in this business for 2 years.
quants builds the models?

analyst feeds in inputs?


sorry for my ignorance
 
In many fields--the sciences particularly--it's a necessity for a good job. A Master's degree and $3.50 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks, but not a research position or even a teaching post. There are thousands of people with MAs, MSs, and even PhDs who can't get any sort of work in the field of the major because the jobs just aren't there. A PhD isn't a guarantee, but it's a lot closer than a Master's is.
 

ninman

Hall of Fame
So many people do PhD's these days who aren't really cut out for it. A PhD is all about research, and to do research you need to have the ability to come up with original idea's, something which in my experience is a pretty rare gift. If you love the subject, and have some genuinely original ideas then go for it, otherwise you're not cut out for it.
 

krz

Professional
quants builds the models?

analyst feeds in inputs?


sorry for my ignorance
Quant is a fairly general term. Depends on what group/desk you are in.

For example a quant developer may be asked to work on high frequency trading algorithms or asked to design models to price derivatives, predict market movements. Lots of C++, statistical analysis. Most likely they will get a base salary and percentage of profits from trades made using their models. Very lucrative and it's not like you are creating a new model all that often. They'll be paid best working at hedge funds.

An analyst is an even more general term. It really depends on what desk/group you are in. Speaking for myself I work G10 FX strategies which is mostly fundamental analysis not math heavy at all. Basically I support the FX traders. There are analyst who work back office and basically do financial reporting(super boring) just using excel to compile a days data together in a neat way.

In IBD(investment banking division) the valuation models are HS math, build pitchbooks and sell. I mean speaking for myself and the other analyst at different banks I know, we are just excel monkeys.

I wouldn't be sorry for asking these questions. It's not like they are general knowledge and banks love someone who thirst to learn something new and gain knowledge.

But lets not get it twisted these jobs are very difficult to obtain. A PhD from an Ivy/MIT/Stanford will only get them to glance at your resume.

That being said. Like I previously stated I'm a second year analyst out of school so I'm surely not an authority on any of this and I'll probably be out of this business very soon.
 
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pushing_wins

Hall of Fame
Quant is a fairly general term. Depends on what group/desk you are in.

For example a quant developer may be asked to work on high frequency trading algorithms or asked to design models to price derivatives, predict market movements. Lots of C++, statistical analysis. Most likely they will get a base salary and percentage of profits from trades made using their models. Very lucrative and it's not like you are creating a new model all that often. They'll be paid best working at hedge funds.

An analyst is an even more general term. It really depends on what desk/group you are in. Speaking for myself I work G10 FX strategies which is mostly fundamental analysis not math heavy at all. Basically I support the FX traders. There are analyst who work back office and basically do financial reporting(super boring) just using excel to compile a days data together in a neat way.

In IBD(investment banking division) the valuation models are HS math, build pitchbooks and sell. I mean speaking for myself and the other analyst at different banks I know, we are just excel monkeys.

I wouldn't be sorry for asking these questions. It's not like they are general knowledge and banks love someone who thirst to learn something new and gain knowledge.

But lets not get it twisted these jobs are very difficult to obtain. A PhD from an Ivy/MIT/Stanford will only get them to glance at your resume.

That being said. Like I previously stated I'm a second year analyst out of school so I'm surely not an authority on any of this and I'll probably be out of this business very soon.
which jobs are you referring to?
 
+1, especially about the science fields. Without this terminal degree, you are not eligible to apply as the principal investigator for government grants.

In many fields--the sciences particularly--it's a necessity for a good job. A Master's degree and $3.50 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks, but not a research position or even a teaching post. There are thousands of people with MAs, MSs, and even PhDs who can't get any sort of work in the field of the major because the jobs just aren't there. A PhD isn't a guarantee, but it's a lot closer than a Master's is.
 
"PhDs minds tend to be narrowly focused, slow and inflexible" the OP writes. Making sweeping generalizations is seldom useful, but this one is downright embarassing.
 

PimpMyGame

Hall of Fame
I think you have to push yourself to limits in order to gain real satisfaction. I didn't even go to uni to do a degree which now is my one regret in life. I have a professional qualification and a good job, but feel that I could have achieved much more if I pushed myself when younger.

In life, I think you only really regret the things you don't do.
 

pushing_wins

Hall of Fame
"PhDs minds tend to be narrowly focused, slow and inflexible" the OP writes. Making sweeping generalizations is seldom useful, but this one is downright embarassing.
working on one idea for a lifetime.

you have to be a flip-flopper if you want success in an ibank. jmho.

if 51% of the population has a trait, would that still be a sweeping generalization?

every decision is based on some degree of generalization.
 
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DCaicedo

Rookie
working on one idea for a lifetime.

you have to be a flip-flopper if you want success in an ibank. jmho.

if 51% of the population has a trait, would that still be a sweeping generalization?

every decision is based on some degree of generalization.
This reminds me of the joke that says that undergrads know very little about a lot of things, but PhDs know a lot about very few things.

Let's clarify "one idea" and "lifetime". The Distinguished Faculty that I know in my Department, which is not Finance but rather Social Sciences, had a mid-career "idea-switch"- or some iteration of it. You have to keep your mind and your ideas fresh- can't do that if you're stuck on just one thing.

Yes- it would still be a sweeping generalization because we, the public, would need more information on the population you're referring to. For example, that statement might work for the nuclear physicists (sorry my brothers) but not the sociologists I know.
 

Elina

Rookie
I finished my PhD (in ecology, biology) two years ago and I have always known that a career as a researcher is the thing I want. The pay check may not be the best but this is the work I love. :)
 

pushing_wins

Hall of Fame
This reminds me of the joke that says that undergrads know very little about a lot of things, but PhDs know a lot about very few things.

Let's clarify "one idea" and "lifetime". The Distinguished Faculty that I know in my Department, which is not Finance but rather Social Sciences, had a mid-career "idea-switch"- or some iteration of it. You have to keep your mind and your ideas fresh- can't do that if you're stuck on just one thing.

Yes- it would still be a sweeping generalization because we, the public, would need more information on the population you're referring to. For example, that statement might work for the nuclear physicists (sorry my brothers) but not the sociologists I know.
el diablo's statement is more sweeping than my original statement. jmho


didnt eistein waste the last 20 yrs cause he couldnt let go
 
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krz

Professional
which group has the most clout?
Don't know how to answer that. I'm not a quant nor do I aspire to be one so my knowledge on what exactly a quant does in each specific area is limited. The quantnet.com guys can answer your questions in more depth I'm sure.

As for ibanks liking flipfloppers. If you mean they like people who have a wide range of knowledge I would agree but, they are still going to expect you to have significant technical knowledge for the interviews. Many of the 2 year analyst programs are rotational. It gives you a chance to a. gain knowledge in different divisions of the bank and b. most analyst don't really know what exactly they want to get into yet.

Are you currently in school now? If so where if you don't mind me asking? You seem fairly interested in working on the street.
 
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snoopy

Professional
Google the term "education bubble."

Just like the real estate bubble burst, the education bubble is bound to burst soon.

Tuition is too high, too many students with fancy degrees that can't get jobs, too many silly degree programs, etc.
 
My father got one and worked real hard to "defend his thesis". He did so much hard work and excellent research and as a kid, I admired his dedication and smarts and still do. He got a PhD in Nuclear Physics. I thought ok, time to hit the books.
 

Eph

Professional
which group has the most clout?
"Renegade physicists" are loved as quants in iBanking. If I need to, that is what I will do. I hope I don't need to go that route but we will see what research positions, viz. postdocs are available when I finish.
 

CyBorg

Legend
In humanities-type fields, a phd is necessary if you want to be hired as an academic at a level above adjunct or assistant prof. Maybe, at most, you'll get associate if you have some incredible intangibles.

A phd thesis is also kind of like writing a book, which is a good segue into a long-term academic career.

In this field, it is really only worth it if one decides that this is what one wants to do. The percentages are not good for most candidates - that is, the ratio of phd students to the number of people who actually end up tenured profs.

Phd programs is where dreams go to die.
 

vkartikv

Hall of Fame
It's pretty much a requirement for pure science majors, unless they want to pursue a career in medicine. As an engineer, I'll tell you that it limits your options to academia and the research industry when you're done. I got it purely because it is a requirement to be in academia.
 

max

Legend
. . . given the vast amounts of ******** that goes on, it's best to avoid academia, and get into business, where people are more serious.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
It's pretty much a requirement for pure science majors, unless they want to pursue a career in medicine. As an engineer, I'll tell you that it limits your options to academia and the research industry when you're done. I got it purely because it is a requirement to be in academia.
No you didn't. You also enjoyed it. Don't be so modest.
 

pushing_wins

Hall of Fame
"Renegade physicists" are loved as quants in iBanking. If I need to, that is what I will do. I hope I don't need to go that route but we will see what research positions, viz. postdocs are available when I finish.

what i meant was ...........within the ibank, which group has the most power? from which group is the CEO most likely to come from?



for example, at a paper company like dunder mifflin, sales is king
 

pushing_wins

Hall of Fame
Don't know how to answer that. I'm not a quant nor do I aspire to be one so my knowledge on what exactly a quant does in each specific area is limited. The quantnet.com guys can answer your questions in more depth I'm sure.

As for ibanks liking flipfloppers. If you mean they like people who have a wide range of knowledge I would agree but, they are still going to expect you to have significant technical knowledge for the interviews. Many of the 2 year analyst programs are rotational. It gives you a chance to a. gain knowledge in different divisions of the bank and b. most analyst don't really know what exactly they want to get into yet.

Are you currently in school now? If so where if you don't mind me asking? You seem fairly interested in working on the street.
i feel flip floppers generally do better in the markets. the biggest mistake for anyone is to fall in love with a position. jmho.


i went to school in canada. i breezed thru undergrad finance and CFA, but have never worked in ibanking. however, i am fairly experienced in generating report and filling in forms.
 

krz

Professional
what i meant was ...........within the ibank, which group has the most power? from which group is the CEO most likely to come from?



for example, at a paper company like dunder mifflin, sales is king
Not sure where most CEO's come from but in terms of the most difficult rotations to get and what is held in the highest regard/"sexiest" for lack of a better term rotation IMO M&A is king.

If you have completed any levels of the CFA that's a big plus it's got a reputation and should definitely get some looks from banks.

I haven't looked at the material but my roomate passed level I after 2 months of studying which is pretty damn good, he said the material was tough. I only have my series 7 which took me a week and series 63 took me 2 days but it's no comparison to the CFA.

As for your exp. I downplay our jobs but there's way more to it than filling in forms even for the backoffice guys! haha
 
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pushing_wins

Hall of Fame
Not sure where most CEO's come from but in terms of the most difficult rotations to get and what is held in the highest regard/"sexiest" for lack of a better term rotation IMO M&A is king.

If you have completed any levels of the CFA that's a big plus it's got a reputation and should definitely get some looks from banks.

I haven't looked at the material but my roomate passed level I after 2 months of studying which is pretty damn good, he said the material was tough. I only have my series 7 which took me a week and series 63 took me 2 days but it's no comparison to the CFA.

As for your exp. I downplay our jobs but there's way more to it than filling in forms even for the backoffice guys! haha

really. from what i have been told, M&A has the longest hours and most tedious work - months on end of regulatory filings. i still think traders are king of wall street, like the ones in liar poker.


level 1 is only hard because of the accounting. if u have a business degree, it shouldnt be a problem. 2 is hard. 3 is a formality.

i was only kidding about the form filling.

quants and analysts are mid office?
 

ProgressoR

Hall of Fame
for an ibank, the best way to progress is to make money. M and A makes money (of course its cyclical) and is one of the toughest areas to get into but its the most demanding, you work like a donkey for several years, very very long hours but if you stick it, the progress can be good and the money too.

Trading and sales also can make good money, the more exotic the product the better, but they are cylical, the flow products are less sexy but also more steady through cycles.

Structuring (including quants, ie maths and phys specialists) can do well but its very specialised, the last European ibank I was at had a v good structured products team and had some NASA guys on it.

The closer you are to the deals which make money the better, ie originating and coverage, sales and trading, next best is supporting these guys, then "down" to operations and back office etc

If you are not in ibanking to make money, then its not worth doing it, there are more satisfying jobs out there, in my view
 
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