From MSc to PhD: A BI success story

20 January 2015

Can you imagine being aged 22 and already starting on your PhD? Presidential Scholar and MSc graduate Vasyl Kotsovskyi, from Ukraine, is doing just that. Here he shares his experience and advice.

MSc graduation 2014. Dean of PhD and Finance professor Øyvind Norli with Vasyl Kotsovskyi.

- Congratulations on your PhD candidacy at BI! Why did you decide to continue studying finance?

I started in August 2014 and continued working with the area of science that I am interested the most, namely finance. Taking a PhD in Finance was part of my plans since the first year of my Bachelor Degree. On the one hand, I wanted to contribute to science and, on the other, share my experience and knowledge with others. 

BI significantly expanded my view on things, particularly within the world of finance. My education here gave me the tools to understand what is going on in financial markets and to construct my argumentative point of view. The environment here I can describe as competitively friendly. Fairness and competition are among the core features of BI, while professors and classmates are always willing to step in and help you. I also studied in Italy as part of my course, working with international professors and students which gave me an invaluable international experience, financially and culturally.

- Describe what a typical day will be like for you.

Since I am a first year student, courses take the lion’s share of the day in the PhD department. Usually we have three or four lectures per week and, perhaps, one problem session. The working day usually starts at 9 a.m., yet working hours are very flexible. The majority of the time is spend on studying. Courses provide us with necessary toolbox, so that the success of future papers depends on the material we are working on now. Apart from lectures and studying, a small fraction of time is devoted to Teaching Assistant work. The latter, however, differs from time to time. As all PhD candidates sit in the same office, we have rigorous discussions about the topics of interest or lecture material.  

- What steps did you take before qualifying for the Presidential Scholarship?

I already had a high GPA and was very motivated, which worked to my advantage. Since I was among the best-performing students on my Bachelor course, BI also accepted me as a student to benefit from obtaining the Quota Scholarship provided by the Norwegian Government. Following this, it was my GPA and ambition which qualified me for the Presidential Scholarship.

- Why did you choose BI?

Firstly, it is a well-recognised Business School both inside and outside Norway. It got a high score in the Financial Times rankings among European Business schools and is constantly improving. Moreover, BI has impressive statistics of employment, particularly at the Faculty of Financial Economics, which influenced my decision as well. The last, but not the least, important factor was Norway and its economy system overall, which I was curious about academically and it also fitted my personal preferences.

- What advice would you share with current and future MSc students?
From my point of view, the main piece of advice is this: try to understand the intuition behind the material that you are going through. Memorising formulas or even chapters might be helpful to solve standard problems, but it is useless when you deal with real-life issues.

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