Public Policy Phd

Bain BCG MBB McKinsey
New answer on Jul 06, 2020
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jul 03, 2020

Dear Community,

My background (college) is engineering. Currently, I am planning to do phd in Public policy. I am wondering will a phd holder in public policy be attractive to management consultant as it is not STEM degree ?

Note: Since my college degree is in engineering (and my work experience) so I am comfortable with data and calculation. I also plan to make my phd research is more data centric rather than qualitative analysis only. Thank you

Additional Note: I dont do phd in public policy just for phd. So, it will be easier to answer with assuming that I already have the degree . Thanks

(edited)

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Udayan
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updated an answer on Jul 03, 2020
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I have a genuine question for you - why spend 5-7 years on a PhD just to go into consulting? The PhD students I met during my time at McKinsey ended up there because they did not enjoy their time in academia or decided at some point that they did not or could not pursue a career in it. To go into a PhD to get into consulting seems like a very convoluted route to take. Why not just do an MBA or MPA which are much shorter programs? Or just try to get in right now based on your work experience

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Natasha replied on Jul 03, 2020

Hi anonymous,

I don't recommend the path you're suggesting here. As well, I wouldn't act as though you already have the degree for three reasons:

1) 50% of people drop out of their PhD, so you may not get the PhD

2) you are *planning* to do a PhD, but it does not sound like you have applied or received an offer yet

3) your outlook may change from now until the end of the PhD, especially as they can take 5, 6, or 7+ years to complete.

Having said that, you can go into consulting with any PhD. Even though this is true, I still wouldn't recommend going down this route.

There are many other degrees mentioned by the commenters here, but you can also get public policy experience by directly working in the field. Your quantitative background will be very attractive to a field which has a lower concentration of analytic skills.

An MBA would be the most direct route to consulting. As a PhD candidate, preparing for consulting is more difficult and isolated as a PhD compared to as an MBA. The school and career centre will help you a lot in an MBA to be ready for the consulting career path, whereas this isn't as direct or easy to do as a PhD.

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Clara
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replied on Jul 06, 2020
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Hello!

First of all, a PhD is a long long looooong way to get into consulting, if this is what you want, there are much shorter ways! For instance, also in the educational options, you can do an MBA!

In any case, to your question, yes indeed, would be attractive.

One of my coachees who got hired in McK Amsterdam precisely had that profile -it was not PhD but Master Thesis)

Best,

Clara

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Ian
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replied on Jul 06, 2020
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Hi there,

I do agree with Udayan that this approach makes one pause for thought.

That being said, you know all to well about the Economic concept of sunk cost.

As such, if you are genuinely interested in consulting, then the answer is: no, you're not particularly attractive to management consulting firms BUT you can still get in.

I just coached a PhD candidate to receive offers at both Bain and BCG!

However, it will take work, you will have to learn how to think like a consultant, and you will have to both demonstrate consultant skills in your resume and network effectively.

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Anonymous replied on Jul 03, 2020

Dear A,

It also depends from university you are and where are you doing you PHD. If this is one of the target schools, which is MPA (Master in public services or public administration) from Harvard business school then it's definitely a business school. And PHD from targeted business school is always an advantage. But if this is not a target business school, then most probably it's not relevant, especially in some geographies.

Could you please provide more information to give you an assessment,

Best,

André

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Robert
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replied on Jul 03, 2020
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Hi Anonymous,

Consulting firms nowadays hire from all different kind of directions, including non-STEM (as opposed to 20 years ago - some older folks here might remember).

Generally speaking - is it the most successful, most direct and easiest route into consulting? Definitely not, you will need to absorb lots of business knowledge and develop lots of business acumen yourself to to be somewhat competitive in your application. It's possible, but not very likely.

However, that also depends on the company you are looking at. Some consulting firms also have a public sector practice, for which you might be a well-fitting candidate (given enough business acumen nevertheless).

Hope that helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

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Francesco
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replied on Jul 03, 2020
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Hi there,

A Public policy PhD is not the typical background to join a consulting firm – as you mentioned STEM PhDs are more standard. If you do a PhD in a target school and manage to get a referral though I believe you should be able to land invitations.

I agree with Udayan that if your goal is consulting, joining now or after an MBA would be the more standard route.

Best,

Francesco

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Udayan

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