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hopesandprayers

Chances of getting in to top statistics graduate programs (i.e. global top 20)?

10 posts in this topic

TL;DR - What are my chances of getting into a top statistics graduate program (either masters or doctorate) with excellent marks but little research experience?

I am a student at a Canadian university ranked 151-200 in mathematics and statistics (on QS at least).  My major is statistics.  My GPA is a 4.30 out of a possible 4.33, and I have A+ grades in every math and stats course I have ever taken, obviously these include: calc I-III, intro algebra (theoretical version), ODEs, intro complex analysis, real analysis I and II, regression, time series, probability theory, multivariate stats.  If I maintain my current GPA I am likely going to graduate inside the top three people in my graduating class (top GPA in grads this summer was 4.29).

I graduate next year, but only have one semester of research experience and no publications.  I am curious, for the sake of my ambitions and time + application money's sake, how likely am I to get into a top school such as Stanford/Harvard/Princeton, etc. for statistics or mathematics?  I imagine mathematics (or CS) requires more of a research background than the stats does (this is coming from the advisor at my university and my research supervisor for the one semester I have).

I appreciate any advice you guys can give.  Thanks!

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I think you've got a good shot if you get good letters of recommendation and do really well on the GRE 155+ in verbal and 168 + in quantitative. 

 

However, I would encourage you apply to Master programs to give yourself a better a shot at getting into a top tier school. I'd recommend apply Master's for top 10 and PhD for 10 - 25

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but is your goal to get a phd or to get hypsm on your resume

people applying for master's mostly won't even have a single real analysis class, while op has take 2 and gotten A+s

I think this profile looks pretty good, but at this point I'm just curious how grade inflation is at Canadian schools. OP as well as the other post on front page from @statscan9 (also Canadian) both have nearly perfect GPAs, so either they are both truly exceptional students, or schools hand out free A's in Canada?

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In Canada our classes are hard enough that we learn not to generalize from a biased sample of size 2 :).

11 hours ago, edward130603 said:

but is your goal to get a phd or to get hypsm on your resume

people applying for master's mostly won't even have a single real analysis class, while op has take 2 and gotten A+s

I think this profile looks pretty good, but at this point I'm just curious how grade inflation is at Canadian schools. OP as well as the other post on front page from @statscan9 (also Canadian) both have nearly perfect GPAs, so either they are both truly exceptional students, or schools hand out free A's in Canada?

For OP, the only way to find out is to give it a shot - for stats, you should be competitive at good schools, but may struggle with the top tier (Stanford/Berkeley - Harvard/Princeton aren't on the same level). To improve your options, I'd suggest applying to Canadian masters programs as well - they're the equivalent of the first two years of an American PhD, and I know a few people who have used them as a stepping stone to get into top American schools. Also, if you haven't really done research you probably don't really know what you're in for - a masters can help with that. 

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The grade inflation situation in canada is similar to the states in the sense that math departments inflate grades while others dont. I dont think you can label the entire country as being one or the other.

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@insert_name_here I can't speak for OP since I don't know what school he attends but at my school we have less grade inflation than at US schools so our GPA has to reflect that. We actually get grades in terms of percentages, and then those are converted into GPA, roughly as follows: 50-60% is a D, 60-70% is a C, 70-80% is a B, 80-90% is an A, 90-100% is an A+. The average grade for almost all of our classes is between 60% and 65% (so a C). My marks (virtually all A+, with an actual average of 96.5%) put me in the top 2-3 of my class for the Statistics and Actuarial Science department (~200 undergrads in my year). My supervisor (who knows the top marks) says I'm likely going to win the award handed out at graduation for highest graduating average, so I might actually be the top student. We definitely don't just hand out marks here, in fact our averages are lower than what most US averages are from what I understand. 

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Posted (edited)

33 minutes ago, statscan9 said:

@insert_name_here I can't speak for OP since I don't know what school he attends but at my school we have less grade inflation than at US schools so our GPA has to reflect that. We actually get grades in terms of percentages, and then those are converted into GPA, roughly as follows: 50-60% is a D, 60-70% is a C, 70-80% is a B, 80-90% is an A, 90-100% is an A+. The average grade for almost all of our classes is between 60% and 65% (so a C). My marks (virtually all A+, with an actual average of 96.5%) put me in the top 2-3 of my class for the Statistics and Actuarial Science department (~200 undergrads in my year). My supervisor (who knows the top marks) says I'm likely going to win the award handed out at graduation for highest graduating average, so I might actually be the top student. We definitely don't just hand out marks here, in fact our averages are lower than what most US averages are from what I understand. 

From the sounds of it, you go to Waterloo. If this is true, then while I agree that grade inflation is less of an issue here, I find it very hard to believe that "almost all" of your classes had averages in the low 60s. That may have been true in first or second year but in almost every math course I've taken past 200-levels, the average has been in the 70s (and maybe the occasional high 60).

Just read that you're at UWO.

Edited by biostatboi

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Posted (edited)

Class averages are obviously a very noisy signal though. Its not really clear how a person getting an A in a UWO math class with a C average would fare in a similar class at say UofT / McGill .  I dont really know the ability of the undergraduate math student body at each of these schools but it would seem reasonable that the strong students would go to the school with the better department right after high school and so a school with a very strong department having a high class average would not really be surprising in that sense since all the strong students went there to begin with.

Basically class averages dont mean much without perfect information which no one really has. A student with good grades is taken at face value of being good though regardless of school, I dont think people look at averages for exactly the reasons mentioned above.

 

Edited by TeX4

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Totally agree it's hard to compare class averages between schools. I have friends at both Toronto and Waterloo and when I compare exams and lecture notes the courses are basically identical to me, so I'm confident I'd have similar grades at either of those schools. However, it's hard for me to tell if there would be more of a noticeable difference to an "average" student.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the advice to all who provided it.  I will likely go to a Canadian masters program (probably U of T) first based on the advice I'm getting around the internet and from my school's advisors

Averages in all the math classes I've taken have been a C+.  Stats has varied between a C+ and a B- for all of them.  We only get letter grades.  Not sure about the proportion of A+ grades (I only get to see an average and a breakdown of A- to A+, and the A- to A+ category usually ranges between 8-15% of a class).  Not terribly easy, but again it is undergraduate coursework so not so hard either.  That being said, I'll probably finish in the top 3 students in my grad class, so I don't think that the inflation is heavy at all.

Edited by hopesandprayers
minor changes and grammar

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