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The Advantages of a Life Sciences PhD and an MBA

written by: John Garger•edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch•updated: 7/31/2010

An MBA with just about any PhD is an excellent combination. Learn how an MBA coupled with a PhD in Life Sciences can get you where you want to go.

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    A PhD in life sciences can cover everything from agrotechnology to zoology. More and more companies are turning to life science majors for permanent hire and for consultation. However, as many people who hold a doctoral degree learn, a PhD in life sciences can only take you so far. To get the most from a PhD in life sciences, an MBA is also needed to get your career on track and give you an edge in a competitive hiring market.

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    PhD in Life Sciences

    Life sciences is a broad field with many subfields including biology, genetics, physiology, and even nanotechnology. As the demand for life sciences professionals continues to increase, so does the need for people to manage life sciences employees who can speak the language and understand the business side of things as well.

    It's no secret that some of the most brilliant scientists make the worst managers. Accused of working in an ivory tower, many academicians just don't operate in the same environment as employees in commercial industries. The result is a need for managers who not only understand life science employees but also understand more than just the basics of business, management, and leadership.

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    The MBA Advantage

    The Master's of Business Administration (MBA) was a degree that exploded on the scene during the 1970s and 1980s. Once coveted as an extravagance that only a few held, the MBA has become almost a necessity to break out middle management and move up the corporate ladder.

    Holding an MBA shows employers that you have the competent skills to manage others. Management schools' emphasis today on leadership automatically associates the MBA with skills in that area of management as well.

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    Life Sciences and the MBA

    Companies can be leery of hiring people with PhDs because of the stigma attached to academicians. Holding an MBA helps dispel that myth for those with a PhD in life sciences. In fact, an MBA may be what eliminates the barrier created by the belief that academicians make terrible managers.

    The more you move up the corporate ladder, the less you do the job you were trained to do. Eventually, you find yourself completely disconnected with doing the work but instead find yourself managing those who do. An MBA can not only break you out of those barriers but also poise you to be an excellent choice as someone who understands the field of life sciences but also has the ability to lead others.

    In addition, the MBA gives you the ability to fall back on a career should life sciences not take you where you want to go. Regardless of your PhD training, the MBA can position you as a general manager and leader in any field. To get the most out of your PhD in life sciences, consider that the MBA is a powerful companion to break you out of the barriers that exist in industry and give you an advantage when it comes to promotions and other advancement opportunities.