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Comments (21)

Apr 28, 2021 - 3:59am

Get the MBA. If you want qualitative analytical skills, get a JD/MBA. Don't do a history PhD unless you're hoping to become a professor.

Any degree will help develop you in some way and if you're a generally development-minded person, it's easy to talk yourself into these things. The PhD is less relevant, has worse job prospects, costs more, and is less quantitative than the real alternative, which is MBA + a few years consulting. And if you're interested in politics down the road, the management skills, practical experience, and network you'd get from the MBA + consulting are much more valuable than any PhD. (Politicians are general managers and most of them know almost nothing about policy analysis lol)

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Apr 28, 2021 - 11:32am

Most of what you've said is true, but the PhD will absolutely not cost more. It will be free, and he may even get a small stipend. That being said, the choice here is solely predicated on if he wants to do academia or business. That's the only decision. 

Apr 28, 2021 - 3:36pm

Compared to MBA + consulting, it absolutely costs more. You're missing out on at least 5 years of income at a high-paying job for a 30k TA stipend, versus 2 years for the MBA. The 3+ year difference in forgone salary is easily worth more than MBA tuition.

Apr 28, 2021 - 4:08am

Sorry to be blunt here but a HISTORY PHD is not developing any 'quant' analysis skills whatsoever. For a career it is absolutely worthless imo.

If your passion is History and you do not care for a corporate career then take the PhD, but if you want to earn a lot and have a varied career, then the Harvard MBA is the way to go, no question.

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Apr 28, 2021 - 4:42am

Even top level phd programs with the best placements are going to be uphill battles to obtain a tenure track position. When you don't get one, the alternatives (consulting, quant positions etc) are less likely. Don't do it. 

Apr 28, 2021 - 7:37am

Just to offer a different perspective here, I think the comments above make some valid points but may be discounting the value of the PhD a bit too much. The way I generally make decisions like this is thinking about 10 maybe 15+ years down the road. Commenters on this site are generally biased with prestige and what is hot right now, so that's how they'll assess the market value of a PhD vs. an MBA (or here maybe even the market value of an MBA 5 years ago). It's no secret MBAs are being valued less by the year, cause, you know, it's value relies on the stamp of approval and too many kids from Silicon Valley or even some corporate / finance folks have been doing great things without it so the value drops. Then they create great businesses that dismiss the value of the MBA and hire people without it, so the stamp of approval drops more. On the PhD the story is very different, getting that from Yale is more of a long-term investment. I have no idea how you're thinking about the next 15 years of your life but you would see very different responses than the above come that time. Either way- congratulations on having this issue and you cant go wrong. 

Apr 28, 2021 - 7:47am

The key part is this is a history PhD. Even in the most quantitative sub fields, he will lack the skills and resume to obtain the positions he is thinking of. To see the placements of history and humanities PhDs, post in GradCafe.  They will know more.  Also PoliSci Rumors. 

Apr 28, 2021 - 8:11am

You could be right here - I haven't done diligence on History PhDs specifically. What I do know is that it probably won't fare well for the "cookie cutter" shops like Blackstone or Citadel that have a very structured process. But (and this is my personal bias) the best shops are very open minded about these things as long as the program is excellent, it comes from an excellent institution, your grades are excellent,  and you have a great story. Peter Thiel's fund may give a look to someone with this profile (and >than MBA) or Altimeter whose returns besides the blockbuster headlines speak for itself. My take is the number of unique boutiques like these  are not only a much better place to build a career, but will also increase in number exponentially going forward, which will help answer the OP's question. I'm looking at this from a very personal and long-term perspective so this might not be the right answer for him/her, and again I'm not an expert on History concentration in particular. I think the most useful comment in this whole thread might be those links you posted from grad-focused forums, they will know more. 

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