Personal Statement of Purpose

                             Applicant: XXX (Peking University Graduate School Shenzhen Campus)
                                    Program: Ph.D. in Financial Economics, MIT Sloan School of Management

Any student applying for MIT Sloan Ph.D. program has to ask him/herself a concatenation of questions—“Do I have the outstanding intellectual ability?” “Do I have excellent academic records?” “Do I have the necessary research experience?” and “Am I committed to a career in research?”

Like any other potential applicant interested in Sloan Ph.D. program, I have been seeking honest answers to those questions. For me, the answers must first and foremost be honest because the extent of honesty is the mark of my sincerity and seriousness of application. There is another perquisite for the answers: they must be highly positive. Otherwise, I would not deem myself a worthy and qualified candidate.

Throughout my academic career, I have been committed to the pursuit of excellence, both in my studies and in research. My training in economics and finance started with my undergraduate program at the School of Economics, Beijing Technology and Business University. My overall GPA reached 3.62/4.0, with special excellence in economics, finance, and mathematics. Except for international finance and linear algebra, my grades in all the courses in those three areas exceeded 90/100, with full mark in econometrics and a virtual full mark of 99/100 in financial engineering. As an undergraduate, my performance remained consistently No. 1 in my class consisting of over 40 students, and No. 3 in the entire grade of 180 students. What underlay this excellence is definitely a passion for finance and economics and an outstanding intellectual ability.

To acquire advanced knowledge and expertise in finance and economics, I entered the Peking University (Shenzhen) Graduate School of Business in 20XX. At this premier business school of the country’s most prestigious university, my intellectual caliber kept rising despite the challenging nature of the program. With an overall GPA of 3.91 and major GPA of GPA3.94, I have once again outperformed my 62 fellow students.

Apparently, passion and intellectual caliber have not been the sole factors that have informed my academic pursuit. It is the academic initiative that led me to do a double Master’s degree at the Faculty of Business and Economics of Hong Kong University (HKU). At this top 2 business school in East Asia (according to an assessment in 20XX), I have strived for the ultimate limit of excellence in an exclusively finance-oriented program. With a Straight-A record (GPA 3.97), I was on the top of the “Dean’s Honours List” for 20XX, an honor awarded to 20 students among a total of 133 double-degree students.

This is the first time I have cited those statistics and facts to indicate what a good student I have been and, in doing so, I do not mean to give you the impression that I am a conceited or pretentious person, for person of such a nature would not have consistently maintained the highly level of excellence the way I did over a whole span of seven years. For me, what comes first and remains paramount has always been to learn what I love and learn it truly well. Intellectual curiosity and a lasting commitment to academics are what really lie behind my statistics and facts.

Doing the double Master’s program at PKU (Shenzhen) and HKU has produced unique impacts on me. The City of Shenzhen, located right across Hong Kong, one of the leading financial centers in Asia and in the world, was created two and a half decades ago as China’s first special economic zone. It has the country’s most vibrant economy and one of the two stock markets on the mainland. The special geographical locations of the twin cities and twin universities (what a coincidence of closeness between their abbreviations!), as well as the English-language curriculum, have exposed me to the inner workings and corporate culture of global companies and the spirit of entrepreneurship. In addition, I have had the most outstanding faculty with whom to perform research.

In the first semester, guided by Dr. XXX Chan, I used the historical data in the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong from 20XX to 20XX to evaluate the Value Investment Strategy, and found that the strategy worked in most of the years. In a team of four students, we did duration gap analysis to understand the value change in equity of a hypothetical bank and then we made investment proposals under the constraint of the Duration Gap of 2.5 years. We did this in order to avoid taking too much interest rate risk exposure.

Under the direction of my advisor Frank XXX, I used the historical data in the Stock Exchange of Shanghai from 20XX to 20XX to do a regression of the beta of three stocks, and to get the risk-adjusted return with historical volatility and the mean of return. Then, Dr. XXX Chang mentored me on dynamic portfolio insurance based on the paper “The Mechanics of Portfolio Insurance” by Tomas J. O’Brien. From the binomial tree of stock prices, I did dynamic replication of insured portfolio using stock and bonds or using futures and bonds. I also employed Mont Carlo simulation to compare delta hedging and delta-gamma hedging and concluded, based on the Black-Scholes Option Pricing Model, that a generally high volatility of underlying stocks leads to high option prices.

In the third semester, Dr. Andrew XXX taught me how to use Vasicek-Model and extended-Vasicek-Model to construct short rate lattices, and used the binomial tree to price the options on bond, pre-payable mortgage, and callable bonds. I did plain-vanilla Duration hedge, key-rate duration hedge and minimum variance hedge using the Fed fund futures and Treasury bonds data.

More recently, I have been serving as RA in the project “China’s Urban Environment and Economics”, involving statistics about urban population and gross industrial output (20XX—20XX), sulfur dioxide emission (20XX―20XX), and environment and GDP in the provinces (20XX―20XX). In a separate project on the internal control of banks and performance study, I helped collect annual reports of 30 banks in four countries including U.S. and U.K. and studied their corporate governance, shareholders and management. As researcher at Orient XXX, a local financial company in Hong Kong, I was involved in studying American sub-prime mortgage crisis. In a team article, “Employing Capital Structure Arbitrage Strategy on Recent Financial Markets”, we used Merton Structural Model to construct a capital structure arbitrage strategy to exploit the mispricing between a company’s equity price and a tradable CDS index in the context of recent sub-prime mortgage crisis.

Now, I am half way through with my dissertation, a study on the Chinese real estate market in terms of the extent of marketization and new housing premium. By using such tools of data extraction, the paper processes 17082 real estate data, 4149 land use data, and 955 marketization indexes. STATA has allowed me to do initial linear regression analysis and at present, I am adding such control variables as real estate features, construction cost, vacancies and doing IV analysis. Ultimately, I wish to reach meaningful conclusions concerning the relationship and come up with interpretations from economics perspective. It is characteristic of China’s real estate market that striking differences exist for different cities and provinces. My literature review shows few existing scholarships on the subject and my supervisor believes that in the due course I can publish my research findings in a B-category international journal.

Over the past year, I have grown from a student by taught courses to a student by research. It is a milestone for me, but I am level-headed enough to realize that there is a long way to go before I can become a truly accomplished researcher. A true commitment to a career in research is what goes into the making of such a researcher. I believe MIT Sloan Ph.D. program in financial economics can give me the top-notch training needed for being such a researcher.

The financial theories developed at MIT Sloan have set the cornerstone of modern field of financial economics and their practical implications are widely recognized and implemented by Wall Street and corporate practitioners. Having benefited from the Black-Scholes-Merton Valuation Model in my past research, I consider my present application for MIT Sloan a personal tribute to this great institute of leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship spirit.

MIT Sloan compels my utmost respect as it offers what I am interested in learning—asset pricing. Specifically, I hope to concentrate on Option Pricing Model, which can be used for financial asset pricing as well as for real options pricing including real estate pricing and corporate assets pricing. My interest also includes No Arbitrage Pricing Model and Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM). To the extent that my academic and research backgrounds demonstrate sufficient experiences in those fields, I am a good match for your program.

I hope that MIT Sloan can feel that I have given candid and affirmative answers to the four key questions that I posed to myself at the very outset. I also hope that MIT Sloan can feel that I am a worthy and well-prepared candidate who can prove a valuable asset to the prestigious Sloan community.


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