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PhD or Start Working?

Hello all,

I am about to graduate with a Masters degree in Information and Computer Engineering from a reputable university (among the world's top five). Now there are two options available to me:

1. Pursue a PhD degree in Engineering, with a focus on financial time series modelling, at the current university on a prestigious full-cost scholarship.

2. Start working in the quantitative equities group, or any other group of my choice, within an investment fund which manages more than $100b over a wide range of asset classes.

I have difficulty making up my mind because I am not sure which of the two, further education or work experience, will help me more in building a long-term successful career in quantitative portfolio management. My internship at a bulge bracket IB as a quantitative analyst seems to suggest the latter. May I have your advice please? Thanks.
 
It doesn't seem like the 5-7 years (assuming you are in the US) it'll take you to finish a PhD is very advantageous to you at this point. The opportunity cost doesn't seem worth it.

PhDs are for people who want to do research. Portfolio management is not research. Not in the sense of PhD research at least. Not to mention the fact that not all those who start a PhD finish.
 
As someone finishing a PhD, I'm going to echo the other responses. If you are focused on building a long-term successful career, then you should take the job. PhDs are research degrees, and there is a LOT that goes into earning one (classes, quals, seminars, teaching experience, dissertation). Many PhDs in the hard sciences are 6 year programs now and require extreme dedication to finish, and it makes it harder when you're sitting in year 3 of graduate school muttering to yourself about how you could already be working and earning money, etc.

If you think a PhD is something that you want, then by all means do it, but you should do it because it is something that you personally WANT, and not just so it will help you with jobs. You will honestly hate life if you try to earn a PhD for the latter reason.
 
Thank you all for your advice. They are very helpful.

I am based in the UK, where a PhD generally takes 3-4 years. I do have a strong interest in the intended area of research, so I am perfectly fine with another few years at university. On the other hand, like many of you, I feel that the time may be better spent in the industry gaining experience and networks if my end goal is a successful career. My concern is whether a lack of a PhD education and the knowledge and skills gained from it will necessarily make it more difficult for me to contribute, gain credibility and make career progressions in future given the quant space is filled with PhDs.

I look forward to your opinions. Thanks!
 
First from my limited experience, PhDs are viewed differently in the UK than in the US. While getting my masters in the UK, I had a few professors with PhDs and industry experience (one was even a fund manager by day and professor by night).

I think the main question you should be asking yourself is what kind of career you want in finance. Research? Fund manager? Trading? I would think this would be a primary driver in your decision.
 
First from my limited experience, PhDs are viewed differently in the UK than in the US. While getting my masters in the UK, I had a few professors with PhDs and industry experience (one was even a fund manager by day and professor by night).

I think the main question you should be asking yourself is what kind of career you want in finance. Research? Fund manager? Trading? I would think this would be a primary driver in your decision.
Thank you Connor. I feel the same way about the situation in the UK too. Would you advise me to pursue a PhD if I aspire to become a fund manager of a quantitatively driven fund?
 
If you can get a job in a group that does what you are interested in (assuming that the job is relevant for your chosen career path) then I would recommend that. I still read about layoffs at banks in the news, so right now being able to get an offer and get some experience is important. Once you get some work experience and network, you should be able to develop a better idea on whether a PhD is needed.

And I think that you could go back for your PhD after a few years of working if you wanted. Part-time PhDs are also an option in Europe that you don't generally see in the US.
 
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