Jump to content

Atypical Background - Finance


Recommended Posts

So I'm starting to think about applying for a PhD in English/Lit, and I have what I assume is a very non traditional background - Wall Street. I did my undergrad in Finance with an English minor, and have been working for 3 years. Does anyone have any insight into how this plays into the admissions process? Is anyone here, or has anyone here met anyone with a similar background at their programs/what are the stories?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"My undergraduate degree is not in English? Does that matter?

While the majority of our degree candidates have an undergraduate degree in English, we have admitted students from other disciplines, such as Art History, Philosophy and even Astrophysics! However, these students had taken an exceptional number of undergraduate courses in English and were extremely well-prepared for a doctoral program in English." -Stanford

"
Must I have been an English major to get in to the Ph.D. program?

No.

Must I have earned 15 hours of upper-division English credit by the time of my application?

Yes – unless you are concentrating your research in Rhetoric or Digital Literacies and have earned 15 hours of field-relevant, upper-division course work." -UT Austin

 

Then, there are other departments which require a Master's before starting their program.

"Do I need to have a masters degree in English in order to be admitted to the doctoral program? 

All students entering the doctoral program must have a masters degree in English literature. In exceptional cases, students whose masters degree is in another field may be asked to undertake additional study in consultation with the graduate director."

Overall though, your application will be judged with the entire application pool. Some schools separate their applicants with MA's from their applicants with BA's.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 hours ago, vitabrevis said:

So I'm starting to think about applying for a PhD in English/Lit, and I have what I assume is a very non traditional background - Wall Street. I did my undergrad in Finance with an English minor, and have been working for 3 years. Does anyone have any insight into how this plays into the admissions process? Is anyone here, or has anyone here met anyone with a similar background at their programs/what are the stories?

I don't know anyone who switched from finance to literature, but I know people who made similarly extreme changes. In terms of the admissions process, it doesn't really. The expectations are exactly the same, and few professors are going to care how you meet them, or that it was harder for you to meet them because you didn't major in English. It's not uncommon for people to take time off to work in an unrelated field before going back to school, but that's really for your own edification rather than for any effect on your application to a PhD.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@vitabrevis we are similar....yet different! I was studying philosophy when I left to become a floor trader (where I was for a decade)...getting into my current MS Environmental Science program I used that as an element to make me more competitive--if only to set me apart from other applicants. I hope to do the same thing as I pitch myself to PhD programs...

While Michael Lewis may not be the type of Lit you are looking at I would point out that you can probably find ways to work your background into your application materials as an asset to your point of view/approach/or whatever. I dont know how English programs work, if they will offer you MA admission if you are denied to the PhD. If they don't typically do this you might want to apply to a couple MA programs to hedge your bet.

Edited by Quickmick
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, 

I used to work in finance: equity research, m&a, and recently corporate access within a middle market bank you've heard of. I am applying to several Near/Middle Eastern Studies masters programs with the hope of doing an English/Comp Lit/NES PhD depending on how my interest in postcolonial theory and Arab language and literature evolves. I would say there are distinct challenges that we face coming from Wall Street. (Although one caveat - I had a single major in Middle Eastern Studies, and I only took stats and fin acct in college). The first is one of dedication. A PhD is a long and grueling process and takes a huge amount of stamina and dedication in your very niche subject. Do you have an intellectual fire that will sustain you through those very financially modest years? I'm sorry to say that a single minor in English might not qualify you for the PhD, and I think a masters in English or in another subject within the humanities will help prove that you're dedicated. It will also help you narrow down your interests and help you realize whether the PhD is something you want to do after all. A lot of people go into a masters thinking that they will all go into a PhD program, but you would be surprised how many end up in the working world instead. It's sort of how everyone applies to law school saying they want to change the world and work in Public Interest, but then they end up in Corporate. (Okay kinda bad example but I wrote it and now it's too late).

Anyways, I can empathize with you. My personality has matured over the years (well, er....I hope that's what it is), and I have realized that I can't work a desk job in a hierarchical environment anymore. I want to produce my own ideas, write my novel, teach, explore, travel, repeat. It might not be the most lucrative way to live my life, especially compared to finance. I'm only 24 now, but I believe that by the time I finish a prospective PhD, I'll be 32, and that's without a post-doc of any kind. Most of my current friends in finance will have mortgages, diversified investments, children. I might not have any of that, but I know my mind will be a more interesting place than it is now, and I'm planning on heading to the table this fall to role the dice. 

If you have any other questions, feel free to PM me! 

 

Edited by ThirdSpace
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks for the responses everyone. I'm still very much early in this process (if I commit to it it would be for the Fall 2018 application cycle) but it's heartening to hear it's not some completely outrageous notion.

@ThirdSpace Thank you very much, if I go for it I'll likely take up your offer and shoot some questions your way.

My major concern right now is I guess the same LOR concern a lot of people who have fallen out of touch with their professors have. I'd say mine is probably exacerbated by the fact that I only took a handful of English/literature related courses for the minor, and have even more limited options. Are there any other options beyond simply reaching out to the handful of professors I've had in the field?

Edited by vitabrevis
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.