PhD dilemma - suggestions/insights please


Hello ladies and gentlemen,

I am in a kind of dilemma and hoping to get some good advices in this forum.


MA from a developing country university (one of the top 3 graduates), MPA from an Ivy league school (3.3 GPA), GRE 84% percentile ( in quantitative and verbal), now a PhD student in the business school of a university (USA) which is the second best in the state, 3 years of professional work experience.

My dilemma:

The department I am in now has been ranked one of top 26 (ranging from 10 to 26 in various ranks) consistently for past three years and the business school ranks within top 100. The overall university ranking is much lower (not in top 100) and the PhD is young to appear in any rankings, the first cohort of the program is now in the job market. Of course the school of business boasts this as one of the best PhD programs in the world in that area. The best part of the program is that some of the authority figures in that field are in this school and we have external faculties who are regarded as the field's founding scholars. It's been a month. The coursework is very rigorous (although it's a different level, I can confirm that in no way it is less demanding than my previous school). I like the place except that I can see some faculty politics going around. The field interest is a match and their financial support is good, say in upper 25% of the business research programs. I landed up in this school for I missed the deadlines to apply in some top-notch programs and I needed to start in 2008. Some of them have highly encouraged me to apply in 2009. As you all know, the encouragement means you are just in that big-big pool. My friends are suggesting me to apply in those programs. They suggest although your specific program is great, the university brand matters, particularly if you are considering academia (research one institutions) as your goal. Even with more than average publication record, they tell me, it will be hard to sell the credentials to such institutions. Some, including my professors for sure, disagree. Since I will have to put a lot of effort, especially amidst the demand of the current program, I am not sure if it is worth to apply in those schools. What do you suggest? Will the liability of newness and the university brand militate against my goal and affect my career throughout?

Thank you, I will really appreciate your insights.


In theory the name doesn't matter although I think ACADEMIC employers will look more favourably on someone from an established, high performance institution in comparison to the newer ones. That being said, it should not detract from the quality of work you are doing. Ultimately, how good your PhD is, and a list of contacts as long as your arm will determine your future employment status.


Instead of writing a lenghty essay on this so-called "problem", I think you should stop wasting your time and complete your PhD at the institution you are at. If you are so concerned about your future academic career, try to produce some more-than-above-average publications first, before you wonder whether that will be enough.

Overall, in a nutshell: Shut up and get on with your work.

Any future career cannot be planned to the detail, in any way, as it is dependent on too many variables. Brand recognition and university prestige is just one of maybe a 100!


I agree with the below.


Me too. I agree with Jouri and H, in fact if I start listing people who've made it big from god forsaken places, from academics to entrepreneurs to what nots, the list wouldnt end.

Individual above institution. Period. get on with good work.


I agree with the previous posters too. To me, it seems quite a pointless and rather abstract thing to be agonising over.


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You're also going to get far more answers to your questions if you can keep said questions under 300 words! Reading such monologues is a turn-off from the get-go. I personally gave up at line 10.


soo soorrrry but am going to sound a bit ruthless- Am utterly surprised that you have so much time and energy to put up such a lengthy thread! I agree with what others have been saying in response - no need to get obsessed about the brand. if you as as good, in due course you will to be prove yourself. I hate to say this, but you remind me of vain colleague of mine you left our department for another at a different university on the basis of stupid league tables, only to discover that all that glitters isn't gold. Forget it and get on with your work: -s