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A successful researcher from Africa. Statement of Purpose (Business Administration, PhD)

Escha 1 / -  
Dec 3, 2017   #1
Any help will be highly appreciated: editing, restructuring, etc

PhD in business administration (finance)

Growing up in [country], one of Africa's poorest countries, I experienced poverty and abject inequalities beyond any textbook's description. These experiences have humbled me to seek answers to the root causes of economic disparities between developed and under-developed countries; especially when these disparities could be minimized by simple financial reforms and an access to a liberalized credit market. Hence, my reason for wanting to specialize in financial markets and asset pricing. I am also interested in other subfields of finance: real estate finance and fixed income. Specifically, I am attracted by Professor [name] research topics in asset pricing.

I was initially drawn to economics. However, during my undergraduate, I observed that most of the models had underlying assumptions that were somewhat unrealistic and overly theoretical, so I drew more to finance. My interest in finance led me to do an independent study in financial mathematics. I observed that the underlying assumptions in financial models were more realistic and less theoretical. For example, the CAPM assumes that investors care about mean and variance, which is a reasonable assumption in an efficient capital market. After this experience, I knew I wanted a research career in finance.

Being born and raised in Liberia, a country afflicted by 14 years of civil crisis, came with its own disadvantages. Some of these disadvantages range from economic to educational. Persistent civil war affected I and many students from obtaining a quality education. The aftermath of the war was a complete breakdown of the educational sector via the lack of infrastructures, qualified administrators and teachers. When I migrated to the United States, I knew my high school education was inadequate to begin college. To compensate for this deficiency, I applied to North Hennepin Community College. I was placed in Intermediate Algebra. Despite the low placement, I remained resolute in my pursuit for a college education. Subsequently, I transferred to the University of [name], where I earned a BA in Economics (magna cum laude) and a BSc in Mathematics (magna cum laude). Thus, summing my total years in college to five straight years.

Attending college as a new immigrant and nontraditional student also came with financial challenges. These financial challenges came in the form of remittances I had to send home to my mom and siblings. I had no other option but to take up a fulltime job, and at times, a fulltime and a part time job. Working long hours came with a high price -- I could not undertake initiatives like honor's program or research assistantship, which could have put me in a favorable position for admission to a graduate program.

Nevertheless, I undertook some interesting projects while in college. For example, I did a research project with Dr. [name] (a professor of mathematics at name) as a requirement for a "Linear Models" class. I statistically tested the belief that American cars on average consumed more fuel than some foreign cars. In this project, I created a correlation matrix of variables to determine their functional relationships, followed by stepwise variables selection procedure. I constrained the selection process to include some important variables (e.g., dummy variables for American, Japanese, and European cars). I proposed three models, and each model had its own strengths and weaknesses. However, one model was statistically better than the other models. It had higher R-square, statistically significant and stable coefficients, normal residue plot, and passed collinearity test as indicated by a number regression diagnostic tests (e.g., dffits, dfbetas, eigenvalue and VIF, et cetera). My residue plots had discernible patterns and some curvatures. I did some transformations to capture non-linear effects. Interestingly, my result showed that the difference in fuel consumption between American cars and other foreign cars was statistically not zero.

During my undergraduate programs in Economics and Mathematics, I took graduate classes in statistics and economics so as to better prepared me for the rigor of graduate level finance. Since my graduation, I have been self-study and taking many classes in finance and other related disciplines on coursera (an online educational platform). I recently received a certificate of specialization in investment and portfolio management from [University]. Those graduate classes and my self-study initiatives have been fundamental in cementing my passion and drive for financial research, and these are valuable skills needed to succeed in graduate school.

My choosing of the University of [name] is a result of my admiration for the rigor of the PhD program and the diverse academic backgrounds of the faculty members. I am also intrigued by the small size of the program which facilitates high interaction with faculties. Most importantly, the program's commitment to providing student with the tools needed to publish research in top-tier journals. Thus, my reason for wanting to pursue a PhD in business administration (finance) at University of [name].

My academic goal is to become a successful researcher and professor at a research university. I also hope to work in [country], especially in a financial research capacity. I understand that generating new ideas or thinking about a problem in new ways requires perseverance, hard work, passion and the ability to work with minimum aid. Given my life experiences, combined with the hurdles I overcame to obtain a college education, I am very confident that I have these characteristics.

Holt  Educational Consultant - / 10,297 3340  
Dec 3, 2017   #2
Kweweli , since you are applying to be admitted to a PhD program without the prerequisite MS degree, you must focus less on your backstory regarding your country because that is meant for a personal statement. Instead, your SOP should prove that you have the strong non-academic foundation for a PhD degree. Revise the essay to discuss the highlights of your college education instead.

You have to impress the reviewer with your ability to excel with little to no formal academic training. So the focus on college research accomplishments, and any published work that you can mention will be of extreme importance in the overall consideration of your application. If you can get your college professors with whom you collaborated on research work, to write letters of recommendation for you, that will further strengthen your application. Remove the reference to your being an immigrant student with financial difficulties. This is not a scholarship application therefore that presentation is irrelevant.

When you mention that you took graduate classes as a college student, mention your GPA in the classes. You need to make sure that these subjects are highlighted in this presentation in a manner that proves you have a stronger foundation for the PhD class than the average PhD student with an MS degree.

I am not impressed by your academic goals. I want to learn more about how you will be using the PhD information you will be gaining in a professional setting. Discuss your future professional plans instead of your academic goals.

The reason you chose the university does not prove that you are familiar with the demands of the course and how you plan to utilize the benefits the university provides. You could have been discussing just any university with that description. Be more curriculum descriptive in interest and make sure to mention how you plan to use the facilities in the university to your benefit.

Your current essay is not informative in the correct manner. It is too long without an actual focus on a discussion development. You do not really sell yourself very well in this essay. Hopefully, you can put together a more usable draft using the advice above.

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