Performance Perspectives Blog

Mission Accomplished!

by | Feb 14, 2014

My postings slowed down this week, because I was preparing for my doctoral dissertation defense, which occurred yesterday (despite the horrid weather we were having). I am pleased to announce that I was successful.

I have wanted to achieve this goal for nearly 30 years (since I was about 11; I’ve always been ambitious). The challenge was finding an institution that offered a part-time program. I learned that most PhD programs are only available to full-time students, and taking a few years off to pursue a doctorate is beyond most of our abilities, surely mine. After a discussion with someone at Drexel University, I learned that Case Western Reserve (Cleveland, OH) had a part-time program, so I began to pursue it. However, along the way I learned of the program at Pace University in NYC. Given its proximity to my home and office (roughly an hour away), the decision was an easy one. I should add that logistics wasn’t the only reason I chose Pace; unlike Case Western, Pace afforded me the opportunity to have declared concentrations of finance and international economics.

Pace offers a Doctorate in Professional Studies (DPS). It is intended for business professionals who wish to obtain a “terminal degree” on a part-time basis. It was ideal for me, as it afforded the challenge, the instruction, and the opportunity I was seeking.

Its claim of being “rigorous” is one I can attest to. Roughly half the students who began the program with me dropped out, and of those who made it through the “ABD” (all but dissertation) phase, there remain a few who are still in pursuit of the ultimate goal (with, I suspect, at least one who has given up). 

My dissertation’s title is The Predictability of Holdings-Based Residuals As a Result of Trading Volatility. I will shortly begin working on the first of at least two articles based on my research.

Someone posted this on Linkedin yesterday (being a fan of synchronicity, I found the timing interesting):

While we might prefer less graphic language, the point is a clear one. Many of us set goals in life, but some of these goals remain unfulfilled. I have learned that we can come up with many, many reasons (excuses?) why we can’t do something; what we need is a strong enough why we must reason to achieve our goals. 

Today, there are other part-time doctoral programs. One of my business colleagues and friends is pursuing one through the International University. And I believe Oklahoma State has one, too. 

I can recommend Pace University’s, since I just spent the past several years involved in it. It requires one full day each month on campus per semester for the first three years. Students are required to pick two areas to concentrate in (mine were Finance and International Economics), and must take three electives each, that are also held on campus (though students can pursue these at other institutions, provided they meet the school’s requirements; for example, I completed one at Rutgers University). In addition to writing a dissertation (which must be scholarly, represent original research, and contribute to the profession), students must also pass both written and oral comprehensive exams (“comps”) in both areas of concentration.

One of my great discoveries along the way was the advancements that have taken place with university libraries. Today, access to journal articles is “a breeze,” as one can fairly easily track down material on line. In addition, the school has access to many databases (e.g., CRSP: Center for Research in Security Pricing), which can prove quite useful.

I am obviously quite proud and pleased at this moment, but I am also hopeful that others will be encouraged to pursue their goals. I am thankful for the support I received from my family and friends, and the faculty members who were willing to serve on my dissertation committee.

Note: a “terminal degree” is the highest academic degree in a given field of study.

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