How to get to speed in mathematics for a phd?
July 21, 2008 12:43 PM   Subscribe

Looking for programs or study options to fulfill math, statistics and economics prerequisites ahead of applying to grad school?

I'm planning ahead for applying to a doctoral program in business and want to keep options open that would require stronger math background than I have. I'm aware of the predoctoral program at NYU and am looking for other ways to fulfill this kind of coursework. I would consider non-degree as well as degree options. The ideal programs would be like the post-bacs that are designed for people applying to medical school who didn't take required classes in college.
posted by tonci to Education (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you be more specific about what field inside of business and how much background you already have? My experience as a PhD student in management suggests the math/econ/statistics requirements vary substantially from field to field within business schools and you may already know as much as most people do coming in.
posted by eisenkr at 1:19 PM on July 21, 2008

Response by poster: My background is the equivalent of a year of college calculus more than ten years ago, basic micro/macro economics, intermediate microeconomics, no probability/statistics. I'm interested in strategy, organizational theory and a field I think only exists at MIT system dynamics. I'm a corporate lawyer with a masters and b.a. in philosophy.
posted by tonci at 1:30 PM on July 21, 2008

Make sure you think outside the box of doing a 'program'. Unless the program gives you a recommendation service, the best bet is do this:

-Figure out what classes you need to take
-Find the best schools out there (many schools will allow you to be non-degree and just take classes on a ad hoc basis). Even top tier schools allow this. But honestly, a community college might be just as good for intro stat. (and hell lot cheaper)
-Take the classes, do well and get recs from those teachers

-Why doctoral in business? What do you want to do outside of an MBA? (an MBA doesn't require those, but will require you to know the subject before you start classes)
posted by sandmanwv at 3:09 PM on July 21, 2008

Your background is fairly similar to what mine was when I applied to doctoral programs. However, I did have some statistics. As a professor at a school that actually admits PhD applicants, I will tell you that in my experience we do not look that closely at your transcripts. What we look for are very strong scores on the quantitative portion of the GMAT. As eisenkr mentions, if you were applying to programs in Finance or Accounting, I think it would be different, but because you are interested in Management, I think you will be fine. Just ace the quantitative portion of the GMAT and you will be fine.

On the other hand, if you want to take classes to help you be better prepared for starting, then you should focus exclusively on statistics. Feel free to MeMail me if you have more questions.
posted by bove at 3:39 PM on July 21, 2008

Thanks for providing some extra information about your background. I agree with bove that acing the GMAT (or GRE) would be enough for organizational theory and strategy, but you may want to do some prep work before starting a system dynamics PhD at MIT. The coursework for the system dynamics PhD is very quant heavy and includes a lot of hard-core calculus and economics. That said, the system dynamics program is awesome and I can't say enough wonderful things about John Sterman and Nelson Repenning, the two professors who run the program.

Like with bove, feel free to MeMail me if there are any questions an almost done doctoral student can help answer.
posted by eisenkr at 3:53 PM on July 21, 2008

Look for schools in your area that offer the classes you want, and some universities may offer the classes online. As sandmanwv said you could take the classes as a non degree student, but check and see if you meet the requirements.
posted by amery2008 at 8:35 PM on July 21, 2008

Response by poster: Awesome feedback, thank you all
posted by tonci at 6:40 AM on July 22, 2008

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