IBS is offering four doctoral programmes in English, all leading to a PhD degree.
“Efficiency is a keyword for us”
IBS rector László Láng on the specific nature of IBS PhD program
In its philosophy, IBS PhD is rather different from the continental or the Hungarian doctorate programmes and their requirements, while it is no less demanding and ambitious, as well as rigorous. A PhD is a doctoral degree with an academic focus. In Hungary and generally, at most traditional European universities, a PhD paper is expected to be part of an existing research career. PhD students are also involved in lecturing. In the British system, however, working on a PhD dissertation can well be the first step of a research career. Another great advantage of IBS PhD is that there are no additional or extra course prerequisites, which means that PhD candidates do not have to double their work.
We offer our PhD students a series of research workshops, plus monthly consultations with two supervisors, who are experts of the research field. Efficiency is a keyword for us: we expect our PhD students to complete their dissertation within three years. Although the title ‘PhD’ means ‘Doctor of Philosophy’, the subjects can range from scientific issues to management theory. We are convinced that a PhD degree truly opens a door to the best positions all over the world.
“The interest is enormous”
We asked Loretta Huszák, the research officer of the doctorate programmes about her experiences
How many applicants did we have so far and in what fields?
IBS is offering four doctoral programmes in English, all leading to a PhD degree conferred by our British partner, The University of Buckingham. The interest is enormous. Since the first call in winter 2016, we have received approximately 150 (!) inquires. Just for the latest intake, September 2018, we received 69 inquiries. 35 full application packages were submitted by the deadline (not all inquiries lead to an application). Two third of the candidates applied for the doctorate programme in Business and Management, the rest of the applications were divided among the three other programmes: Economics; Art History and International Affairs. Six applications were accepted by the Research Programmes Council, which means that 17 % of applicants were admitted. We do not know yet how many of them will get registered, but I calculate with 60-70%. This would be quite a good average in international higher education.
Which are the most popular fields of studies?
The Business and Management programme is the most popular, which is not really a surprise. This is our strength, we have highly qualified teachers in this field. We also receive quite a few applications for International Affairs, as IBS is an international university. Many of our students would like to work later for international organisations and having an internationally acknowledged PhD is a great advantage to do so. Applications came from every continent.
What can you tell about or recommend to applicants in general?
We are enthusiastically looking for the right candidates but naturally, we need to select. What we offer is a three-year program, mostly based on independent research. This means that our PhD students do not have to attend additional courses at IBS, except for the research workshops that we offer. Therefore, it is extremely important that candidates have solid experience in independent and individual research work and publishing and they must demonstrate full competence in the special field of their research prior to starting their PhD. Applicants should understand that we receive quite a few inquiries and applications. We cannot advise each and every one of them individually. Mails starting with “Maybe I would like to apply for a PhD but I do not know how to start. Please advise me,” are not really productive.
Our doctoral programme is intended to provide students with increased structural support, as well as skills that are required by non-academic employers. Supervisors are expected to take a strong role, too, so that students can complete their PhD in three years. My advice to prospective doctoral students is that they should explore their skills and research topic very carefully before they apply. Are you curious, dedicated, visionary? Do you accept criticism, do you have endurance and the ability to self-teach? These are just a few of the skills and qualities highlighted by Peter J Bentley in his book The PhD Application Handbook (Open University Press, 2006). I would recommend all PhD candidates to consult this book before they apply.
Can you mention some exciting topics that the doctorate students are working on?
For me all topics are exciting, but my personal favourite is the one about “inverse migration”: one of our PhD students is exploring and analysing the reasons why people from economically more developed countries decide to move into less developed ones. The candidate is a UK citizen… A really hot topic!
Do doctoral students stay in Hungary or do they come for regular consultations, workshops?
Most of them moved to Hungary and they meet their supervisors once a month. It is not required, however, to move to and live in Hungary. Additionally, they are required to attend research workshops every second month.
How many workshops did you have so far and what were they focusing on? Who were the tutors/instructors?
A full year is behind us. So far, we had six workshops. I had the pleasure of being able to work with two great colleagues, both of them are experts in research methodology, Ms Ildikó Polyák and Mr Gergely Tamási, PhD. Ildikó Polyák is quite well known among our IBS students as a competent and experienced tutor who is knowledgeable in different disciplines. Gergely Tamási, PhD is the Head of the Quality Enhancement Centre. He is our chief tutor of research methods, he can assist candidates at all stages of their dissertation.
What kind of events are you planning?
Quite many. Besides the workshops and annual exams, we are planning a Series of Open Lectures, the first took place on September 4. The events include presentations of our PhD students, conversations with supervisors and Q&A. Participation and presentations at conferences are important for PhD students. These occasions stimulate new ways of addressing research problems, provide opportunities to receive up-to-date information, networking, to connect with others who are interested in similar topics. PhD candidates can create their profile as researchers.
What would you recommend for potential applicants?
I would like to stress how important it is to contact potential supervisors as early as possible. Once you have a specific research topic or area, you should be brave and contact an academic professional who is an expert on the topic. You should try to get into a kind of working relationship with him or her, before submitting your application. It is important that you have a well-circumscribed, and well-formulated research topic, as we cannot accept any topic. Our academic staff has research preferences – why not look for some common grounds? When you are contacting an academic, make sure you know about his or her work, research interest, this way you can make a more specific inquiry and your approach can be more effective!
Our PhD candidates are:
Jamila El Alaoui Ismaili is from Morocco, she is doing a PhD in International Affairs. Her area of focus is the MENA region, and her thesis aims to explain the survival of the Moroccan and Jordanian Monarchies during the Arab uprisings.
Tarek Dajani is the CEO of a holding group, which is active in transport and energy, in Jordan. He is passionately interested in researching international political economy and current affairs.
John Robertson is from Scotland. His research focuses on international migration, with particular emphasis on the relationship between migration and subjective well-being.
Ahmed Shoman is a Norwegian petroleum engineer, he is Middle Eastern by descent, Latin at heart. He is deeply interested in global sustainability issues.
László Szepesi’s research interests cover private banking, behavioural finance, and Small and Medium Enterprise financing. His PhD topic deals with the effects of state-subsidised loans on SMEs.