PhD/MBA, school matter?

Welcome to the newly redesigned Science Careers Forum. Please bookmark this site now for future reference. If you've previously posted to the forum, your current username and password will remain the same in the new system. If you've never posted or are new to the forum, you will need to create a new account.

The new forum is designed with some features to improve the user experience. Upgrades include:
- easy-to-read, threaded discussions
- ability to follow discussions and receive notifications of updates
- private messaging to other SC Forum members
- fully searchable database of posts
- ability to quote in your response
- basic HTML formatting available

Moderator: Dave Jensen
Advisors:   Ana, PG, Rich Lemert, Dick Woodward, Dave Walker
Meet the Moderator/Advisors

PhD/MBA, school matter?

Postby Mark » Mon Dec 20, 2004 7:32 pm

I am currently studying to optain my PhD in a life science related field and am considering taking night classes for a MBA. I have read that when getting an MBA you should only get one from a top 5 school. Does the business school you graduate from really matter if you have a PhD? I would like to get into business development for biotech companies and eventually try to break into venture capital.

PhD/MBA, school matter?

Postby Don » Tue Dec 21, 2004 11:03 am


The B-school you attend absolutely matters, especially in VC. Dont take my word for it though. Go to the web sites of the big bio-vc funds and check out the biographies of the people on the team (most of the web-sites have a "team" section that contains the bios). You will find a very high proportion of people in those firms have attended top schools. In addition, you will find that most of the people have a lot of experience in real companies as well.

My advice, forget the night MBA, finish your PhD and get a job in industry, work your way into BD, then go to B-school at one of the top schools - who knows, you company might pay for it. An alternative might be to go to a start-up where you will have the opportunity to wear many hats (i.e. some BD and management experience) early. In that case, you may be able to pass by B-school. There are a number of people in VC who have gone that way. Please note however, that route has high risk.



PhD/MBA, school matter?

Postby Val » Tue Dec 21, 2004 6:34 pm

Don wrote:

> I am currently studying to optain my PhD in a life science related
> field and am considering taking night classes for a MBA.

If you are really serious about your PhD, you would not have energy for anything else. If you still take MBA night classes, you will get lousy both PhD and MBA. If you are not good at any one thing, you will have a tough time in the job market trying to convince anyone to hire you. Get one thing right, and then build up another thing on that.

User avatar
Posts: 535
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

PhD/MBA, school matter?

Postby Andrew » Tue Dec 21, 2004 7:07 pm

Getting an MBA in this way almost will negate the value of your PhD. What entry level job do you think you will be qualified for after? You'll never be hired as a bench scientist and you have no experience so senior level business positions are out too. You ought to get a job in science first and get your MBA later. After you've proven yourself in industry, you can then make a transition to the business side.
Posts: 979
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

PhD/MBA, school matter?

Postby DWG » Mon Jan 17, 2005 4:56 pm

FYI, you ay be interested in this link -
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:30 pm

PhD/MBA, school matter?

Postby M » Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:45 pm

Do you learn how to make budgets, assess markets, make hiring decisions, manage employees, write a business plan, etc. in business school?

These are very useful skills! I wish I had bothered to learn some of these things when I was a student. Now I have to pick it up "on the fly" as a new assistant professor. Lucky for me, there is some-one in my department - our department "business manager" - who has an MBA and knows how to do these things!

I'm betting that some-one with a PhD *and* an MBA would not have too much trouble finding a job, even at a university. Some-one who understands the science and the business aspects would be welcome in many organizations, including academia.


PhD/MBA, school matter?

Postby Anna Wheatley » Wed Jan 19, 2005 9:14 am

Hey guys:
I've just been contacted by an old friend who is heading up a new one-year MBA for scientist only at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. I am trying to get a feel for the subject. What are you looking for in an MBA program? Do you think there is an advantage of mixing traditional buisness students with scientists or is the scientist only approach attractive to you? I would appreciate the feedback. Thanks,
Anna Wheatley

PhD/MBA, school matter?

Postby Don » Wed Jan 19, 2005 10:16 am

Truth be told, there is a lot of an MBA that is "ticket punching". As a scientist who eventually went on to an MBA, I did learn a considerable amount, but not more than I learned in an actual company.

A good MBA should teach you the basics of business (finance, econ, accounting, marketing, etc.) and give you lots of chances to practice business problem solving (i.e. cases).

A very good MBA should also give you lots of exposure to other high achieving students so that you can learn from them.

A great MBA gives you all of that, plus a marketable name on your resume. Just like many institutions are looking for first author pubs in Cell, Science, and Nature, many companies are looking for school names like Havard, Kellogg, and Stanford.


PhD/MBA, school matter?

Postby Brian » Fri Jan 21, 2005 11:23 am

I think it boils down to what your career focus is. As a current MBA student, I had the option of the traditional or scientist route. I decided to go through the traditional route. The advantages are a better mix of views (you learn as much from your classmates as you would from your prof), an opportunity to pursue an internship before graduation (traditional 2 year program; internships will help if you are seeking a career switch in job functions) and the option of more "specialization" during the second year (marketing, strategy, etc.). Usually in more specialized MBAs such as the ones for scientists, the MBA is typically a general management "major" though this varies from school to school. On the other hand, the advantages of being in an all-scientist class are the network you can form almost immediately and the relevance of curriculum and case studies (probably on biopharma companies). I would suggest looking at Alabama's curriculum and then deciding if it offers what you want in an MBA.
To add on to what has already been said about the brand name of MBA degrees, the location of the school also matters. If you are looking to get into industry, the closer you are to the biopharma clusters, the better your chances of getting jobs there.

Return to Science Careers Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Teresa and 14 guests