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Need advice for PhD program in Financial Engineering

Hi all,

I have been admitted to PhD program in Financial Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. The school hasn't provided me any kind of financial aid or funding for my program. I am facing a dilemma of whether I should spend 4 more years in school and pile up a huge debt for a not a highly reputed or an Ivy League school. I intend to work in the industry and have no plans of becoming a professor.

My Profile: Undergrad in Civil Engineering, MBA from a state university and recently appeared for CFA level 2 in June. I haven't been successful in finding a finance job since I graduated and hence I am contemplating on this opportunity.

I would appreciate any kind of inputs provided by the members.

Thanks all.
 

alain

Older and Wiser
I don't want to discourage you but.. what makes you believe you are going to be in a better position in 4 years in comparison to now?
 
Thanks Alain for replying. I feel that the degree itself is going to get me a better chance of landing up in the industry, but I might be wrong. I am still not sure if PhD from such a school is really going to be a big value addition to my career.
 
What else would you suggest for people who don't want to/can't spend 100k on a masters degree?

I think PhD is a viable choice, as long you can get out in 2-3 years and network like crazy in the meantime.

Actually I don't really understand why people don't advice PhD over Masters for the career path (ignoring the time involved). PhD is a higher degree and you get respect not only in academia, but in industry as well. There is huge demand for PhD quants as well. So doing PhD not only makes sense (again if time is irrelevant) but is better suite for career goals since you are gaining higher degree. But the thing in this thread is that, if PhD requires you to pay, that is expected to be not that valuable program or school.
 
Actually I don't really understand why people don't advice PhD over Masters for the career path (ignoring the time involved).
It's an advice based on collective experience of headhunters, job seekers, employers. You can't ignore time as it's the most precious but limited resource one can have. You will hate yourself A LOT after 5-6 years invested in a PhD program that does not significantly improve your job prospect because the world of finance has moved on since you started.
PhD is a higher degree and you get respect not only in academia, but in industry as well. There is huge demand for PhD quants as well.
I'm not sure which world you live in but why do you expect "respect" because you simply have some kind of degree? What can you contribute to society or make money for your employer? If you have only the PhD to show, you should not expect special treatment. Not in today's world.
And what huge demand for PhD quants? From where? What is your source? If you draw conclusion from the age of Derman's My life as a Quant, you will be very disappointed.
So doing PhD not only makes sense (again if time is irrelevant) but is better suite for career goals since you are gaining higher degree. But the thing in this thread is that, if PhD requires you to pay, that is expected to be not that valuable program or school.
Again, time is not irrelevant. Regardless of one pays for PhD or not, that investment of time and money should not be taken lightly. Do you know what would be in demand when one finishes a PhD 6 years from now?

People should rid themselves of the notion that "PhD" is a magical word that will open every door and increase their job prospect and pay several folds. It is not. One needs not look far, just reading several discussions on Quantnet will reveal people with hard PhD and bleak career outlook.

It is then clear to people that a PhD is not the deciding factor.
 
Actually I don't really understand why people don't advice PhD over Masters for the career path (ignoring the time involved). PhD is a higher degree and you get respect not only in academia, but in industry as well. There is huge demand for PhD quants as well. So doing PhD not only makes sense (again if time is irrelevant) but is better suite for career goals since you are gaining higher degree. But the thing in this thread is that, if PhD requires you to pay, that is expected to be not that valuable program or school.
Is this an opinion out of experience? It is contrary to everyone I know working in the industry.
 

alain

Older and Wiser
PhD is a higher degree and you get respect not only in academia, but in industry as well.
Maybe you are talking about a different industry but in finance respect is usually earned on the trenches.

There is huge demand for PhD quants as well.

And you know this because you are hiring, right? Or maybe because you work as a recruiter and you have seen this demand first hand, right? If not, you are just blowing smoke.
 
I totally agree with Andy , Ph.D is usually overrated by those who were never close to achieving one.
But most people in the academia and industry knows that 99% of the time it means nothing more than the fact you have been earning shitty pay for 5 years while trying to show how smart you are.

Unless you want to work at EXACTLY what you research in your Ph.D and/or have a HUGE breakthrough in your Ph.D, most of the time it won't be a good investment, at least not without experience, getting back to get a Ph.D after you have proved yourself in the industry is something different.
 
The above extract indicates that supply for PhDs have significantly dropped over the last 2 decades you can view the trends in any field not only quantitative.

All you're doing is further depleting your dwindling reserve of credibility. A google search turns this up a propos physics PhDs:

Note that while there was a small drop-off in enrollment in 2009, the numbers have been fairly consistently around 2,800 for most of the past decade after a big dip in the late 90's thanks to the dot-com boom, which siphoned away a lot of potential grad students.

Now look at the number of PhD's granted over a much longer time period, although let's focus on the last ~15 years:
Here again there is evidence of the late 90's dot-com boom, delayed by about the average length of a PhD program, but note that the average is somewhere in the ballpark of 1,300, or roughly half of those entering grad school.

And you go on to write:

And if we look properly at the upward trend for the PhD jobs created over the last 2 decades (or slightly more) we see that demand is not fully balanced (not taking some crisis years into account). So above, I'm not talking about wasting time for PhD while masters fits the bill. I have read Derman's My Life as Quant second times and I'm not sure @Andy which part you are talking about. He talks quite a lot about PhDs.

Derman's book was published in 2004. As far as we're concerned, that's the Jurassic period. Since 2008 all bets have been off. As Alain wrote earlier, it's not clear there will be quants ten years from now. Trying to make a long-term career plan based on getting a PhD simply has no meaning today as things are changing so fast.
 
In PhD jobs I mean research jobs. Specific areas of course. Clearly, PhD is too abstract in nature.

Research job is too vague , research in engineering fields is completely different than research in the physics field etc.
Same goes for different companies of different fields , my point is that in the bottom line, companies need people that have proven to be capable of getting the job done. In 99% of the times, the Ph.D alone will not provide you 10% of the actual needed skills, at best it can provide some knowledge.

Remember that many of the biggest scientists ever made their largest contributions before they had Ph.D, and most of the people who make this world go around have a Bachelor degree at best so I guess you can do without the fancy title :).
 
Amid this discussion about merit of doing a PhD, please keep in mind the original question by OP

I am facing a dilemma of whether I should spend 4 more years in school and pile up a huge debt for a not a highly reputed or an Ivy League school. I intend to work in the industry and have no plans of becoming a professor.
So many of the comments are approriate for this question, not for someone who wants to do PhD for intellectual curiosity, or any other reason.

Just to put it out there before we go off-topic and hijack the OP's thread.
 
Thank you all for your wonderful insights. I think I will defer my admission to next year and check out my options till then. If nothing works out, as a last resort I will join the program next year.
 
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