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MBA? What are some other graduate school options?

PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2016 3:35 am
by LYC
I have a B.S. in Biochemistry and have been working in clinical/regulatory since graduation mainly as an assistant type of position.

I currently work as a reg. ops. associate but mainly deals with the manual compilation and submission of documents to the FDA. My company currently only has 1 product in trial and my department cleans up and submits the information that's delivered to us; i.e. I have no experience with strategy or CMC. However, I have studied and obtained RAC(US) offered by the RAPS society.

My career, from my standpoint, would be pretty smooth, as I had stepped my foot into regulatory and obtained some experience, If I could continue to legally work in the U.S. This aspect of my problem is out of the scope of this forum but is what led me to consider applying to graduate programs. My main goal right now is to go back to school and hopefully be able to find a job in the US afterwards and settle down for good.

I am not sure what programs out there would be suitable for my situation as I am kind of out of touch with the science stuff. Most masters in regulatory affairs seem like upgraded version of certificate programs and from my personal experience, those online courses consists of information that can be found on the FDA website.

One of the programs I found online was Johns Hopkin's Dual MBA/MS in Biotechnology. It seems like a good fit for my situation but I am not sure what sort of jobs I could find with it. It sure sounds good on the resume but would it add actual value? Do companies look for candidates with this kind of background?

Thanks in advance for reading the long post and for any insight!

Re: MBA? What are some other graduate school options?

PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2016 3:22 am
by D.X.
Hi LYC,

To summarize your push to examine advanced education is driven by your want to have a Job in the US. However, you have not stated what career direction you want or Jobs you would possibly want in the future.

I think you Need to figure that out before investing time in any form of advanced education, for what ever underlying purpose. The consequence of not figuring that out is that you may be right back in your current Situation post-MBA or whatever degree.

In General, I'm not a big fan of doing a MBA for the sake of doing a MBA for some undetermined Job in the future. On the other Hand if it part of a greater plan then Ok. As I read from your post, I dont' see a greater plan. Had you said something like, I'm interested in more Business aspects of drug commercialization and would like to get a Job in say.. Portfoio Strategy...or what ever, then you set the plaform for a more meaningful advice, where that MBA discussion could have been more relevant.

My recommendation is to sit down and figure out what you want. Do some informational interviewing in to Areas where you may have interest and when you have some more solid insights into what you want, then come back and ask more targeted and relavent questions to your more established interests and direction.

Good luck,

DX

Re: MBA? What are some other graduate school options?

PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2016 9:23 am
by Dave Jensen
DX posts some good advice here (as always). I would agree that adding an MBA does NOT make you more marketable. In fact, it makes your job search much more specific and you lose the opportunities on the technical or scientific side. A hiring manager for a position in bench research would often hesitate to interview a candidate with an MBA . . . "What does this say about the person, are they short timers for this job?" and so on.

Those "Professional Masters" degrees that look like an MBA but they also have a MS in a science area are cash cows for Universities. They love to sell them. I doubt they are worth the money, but if others disagree, I'd love to be proved wrong.

Regards
Dave

Re: MBA? What are some other graduate school options?

PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2016 11:00 am
by LYC
Thank you, D.X. and Dave for your responses.

I guess the root of my question over here comes down to that, if I could continue with my current position, I would not have interest in getting an advanced degree. But I am looking to stay in the states and school is the most viable option. As Dave has pointed out, these programs seem like money down the drain but I am hoping to find a program that could add the most value to my career in RA, and most importantly help me land a job.

I have also been suggested to switch to biostatistics by some colleagues because those programs are more rigorous. However, I have no experience in statistics and not many courses on advanced math....

Sorry if my questions are unspecific as I am pretty lost in what to do.

On the value of MBAs

PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2016 4:28 pm
by Dave Walker
Dave Jensen wrote:DX posts some good advice here (as always). I would agree that adding an MBA does NOT make you more marketable. In fact, it makes your job search much more specific and you lose the opportunities on the technical or scientific side. A hiring manager for a position in bench research would often hesitate to interview a candidate with an MBA . . . "What does this say about the person, are they short timers for this job?" and so on.

Those "Professional Masters" degrees that look like an MBA but they also have a MS in a science area are cash cows for Universities. They love to sell them. I doubt they are worth the money, but if others disagree, I'd love to be proved wrong.

Regards
Dave


From my interactions with fellow graduate students, I think Dave is right here. Especially in the life sciences, an MBA does not really have a benefit for the entry-level job seeker. The "cash cow" aspect cannot be understated -- business schools are very profitable, which is why every school under the sun has opened one in the last 10 years. There isn't really evidence to back up having an MBA or "dual MS/MBA" is an advantage for those with similar backgrounds...certainly not when you factor in the cost, both tuition and opportunity cost.

In other realms, particularly finance, the right business school degree is a key that opens many doors. I think applying this to other industries is a little disingenuous, and have created some seriously questionable programs.

Re: MBA? What are some other graduate school options?

PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2016 4:36 pm
by Dave Walker
LYC wrote:Thank you, D.X. and Dave for your responses.

I guess the root of my question over here comes down to that, if I could continue with my current position, I would not have interest in getting an advanced degree. But I am looking to stay in the states and school is the most viable option. As Dave has pointed out, these programs seem like money down the drain but I am hoping to find a program that could add the most value to my career in RA, and most importantly help me land a job.

I have also been suggested to switch to biostatistics by some colleagues because those programs are more rigorous. However, I have no experience in statistics and not many courses on advanced math....

Sorry if my questions are unspecific as I am pretty lost in what to do.


Hi LYC,

To directly answer your question, your last sentence is the most telling o fall -- you need to start asking (and answering) specific questions.

- What kind of career do you want to have? What do you like doing?
- Do you know what kind of jobs will set you on the path in that direction? If not, ask around.
- Talk to several people with that career path. This is informational interviewing: http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/ca ... t.a0900039

If you make it that far, you will have asked many questions and learned a good deal; you should know a little more about yourself, too. It will be easier, then, to see what kind of job is a good fit or not. And then you can begin a targeted job search that gets results.

Plenty of information on this forum about all this and in the Tooling Up section: http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/ca ... t.a1400269

Re: MBA? What are some other graduate school options?

PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2016 4:40 pm
by Dave Walker
I also missed the part about you staying in the states. That situation is probably very specific to you (certain kinds of visa? Home country's allowances? Green Card application? etc). There is also a good deal of information on this forum about these circumstances.

Of course I don't know all the details, but I don't think going to school for another degree will increase the chances of your being hired by a US firm...it sounds like it could come back to being a problem in just a few years' time.

(Sorry for the triple post!)

Re: MBA? What are some other graduate school options?

PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2016 9:59 pm
by LYC
Thanks for your responses.

Perhaps I missed mentioning in my post that I do enjoy working in RA, and if I could I would love to keep doing what I do.

I am looking to learn more about about different aspects of RA (CMC, strategy...etc.) since right now I only have exposure to the operational side. It's just that, my option in getting this experience is limited to going through an advanced degree, which would give me another year to work on student visa afterwards and hopefully give me a shot to work visa (My company did apply for H1B for me last year but my name was not drawn in the lottery process).

Because these programs don't seem very useful is the reason why I am considering going into other fields, which I may or may not enjoy... I also need to weigh in on whether doing what I like/know can allow me to live where I want to live. Having lived in the states for the past decade, going home somehow became a scary thing.

Thanks again!