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Stat Postdoc Soon Faculty

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Stat Postdoc Soon Faculty last won the day on May 3

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  1. Did you have any meaningful interaction with your professors in your online classes? You could ask one of the professors in your remote advanced math classes for a letter of recommendation. In their letter, they can describe that the classes you took were equally as difficult as the in-class ones and also involved rigorous proofs and derivations. If you interacted with these professors in any meaningful way, then I think it should probably be fine. You can also explain in your SOP that because you were working full-time, the online courses made the most sense for your schedule. In fact, stressing that you worked full-time *and* took these additional classes because you were so motivated to pursue a PhD in Biostatistics may help your application. For comparison, I know one PhD graduate from Harvard Biostatistics (now a postdoc at Princeton) who worked full-time as a software engineer while working on a Masters in Statistics part-time at Georgetown University. He then left his job to pursue the Biostatistics PhD at Harvard. His undergrad degree was also in Biology, not mathematics or statistics.
  2. If you have strong performance in real analysis and can get great letters of recommendation, I think you could have a good shot at Biostatistics or Statistics programs. Here is a newly hired Assistant Professor of Biostatistics at UCLA who majored in German and Classics at UC Berkeley as an undergrad but then switched to Statistics/Biostatistics after his BA: https://andrewjholbrook.github.io/ I also personally know people who majored in biology, psychology, economics, and journalism as undergrads but switched to Biostatistics or Statistics later on. Often times, these folks had to take the math prerequisites (the Calculus sequence and linear algebra) and then got a Masters first before going on to earn their PhD. But in your case, I think you could probably just apply directly to PhD programs since you will have taken all the math prerequisites as a non-degree seeking student by the time that you apply.
  3. If you might be interested in biostatistics, I think you could also get into really good biostat PhD programs. I could see you getting into somewhere like University of Pennsylvania Biostatistics and biostat programs ranked higher than that as well.
  4. Are you domestic or international? If you are domestic, I think you could probably add a few more schools in the range of NCSU through University of Minnesota and one other "reach" school besides UW. With your profile, you can probably get admitted to Rutgers, ASU, and UCSB, so I would recommend applying to more schools around the range of TAMU. Just a note though: NYU has only 7 PhD students total, and they appear to all be international, so it might be extremely difficult to get into NYU.
  5. If someone is going to transfer programs, I would recommend that this be done in the second, or sometimes, third year. There was one student in my PhD program who had spent three years in a pure math PhD program before enrolling in the Statistics PhD program at my alma mater. Transferring right away after one year seems odd and actually is awkward. Reapplying to a new PhD program in the second or third year isn't that awkward or necessarily unusual. Most professors are understanding of this, especially if the student who intends to leave hasn't even started research (then they have no personal stake in the matter). They might only have a personal stake if the student is one of their own advisees who is in like, their fifth year of study and wants to transfer (but then transferring instead of just finishing would be kind of strange).
  6. You haven't told us why you are having serious second thoughts about the program you're joining in the fall. Either way, if you decide to transfer, you will need to explain why you are reapplying to a new PhD program in your application, regardless of whether you transfer in your first, second, or third year. And you need to make it clear that you're not doing it because of academic difficulties at your current program but because your needs would be better served at another department. Maybe one of the other faculty members on this board who has served on a graduate admissions committee can give their input about how a PhD application from someone who has only been in their PhD program for one semester is perceived. There probably aren't a super high number of such applications, but how do you think a GAC would perceive this? I'm sure it raises a lot of questions, but maybe it's more a matter of how you justify it.
  7. You can probably find this information on the program websites, or barring that, you can ask the graduate coordinator what their policy is. Many programs like University of Michigan and NCSU allow entering first-year students to take the first-year qualifying exams (based on Casella-Berger and applied regression/design of analysis) upon arrival if they have already earned a Masters degree. And if they pass them, then they do not need to repeat the coursework. I would bet on taking at least one year of courses though, regardless of previous Masters or not. But you might be able to trim off a year of classes.
  8. I assume their letters were from professors they took classes with. For PhD admissions, the mathematical ability to handle the courses and "research potential" are the most important things (analogously, if you apply for TT faculty jobs, the potential to meet their tenure standards is what departments will be most concerned with). If you were performing well in the classes in your ~top 10 program, then most programs will probably think you have both.
  9. The Masters is just nice so you have "something to show for" your time at your current institution, but I suppose it isn't essential to have it if you've already been accepted to a new program. 😛 The two people I know who transferred from my PhD program had not started doing research under a PhD advisor when they reapplied/left -- they only had coursework. Some research experience might be helpful for your application, but I wouldn't say it's necessary if you've already been doing well in your classes at a reputable program.
  10. I don't think it should be an issue to transfer if you've passed your qualifying exams. At my PhD program, I know there was one person who transferred to University of Wisconsin Statistics and another who transferred to UNC Biostatistics. However, they both completed their Masters before starting at their new institution. If you're going to do this, make sure you're getting a Masters out of your current institution. Professors are busy people, so unless they had a very strong investment in you staying, they probably aren't dwelling on it and it's probably not as "awkward" as you think. People Master out of PhD programs all the time. Also, I wouldn't recommend trying to transfer in your first year. That definitely looks suspicious. It is safer to do so in the second year if you're going to do it at all. If you've passed your qualifying exams and done reasonably well in your coursework, you can mention those things in your SOP (or have one of your letter writers mention that), so the new program knows that your decision to transfer is not due to academic difficulties but due to evolving research interests, etc.
  11. See the above profile. In Biostatistics, I am not aware of any programs that 'strongly recommend' the Math Subject GRE, let alone require it. It's just not that useful for Statistics, plus so many international applicants (particularly from China) are able to score very well on it, so it rarely "makes or breaks" an application (except at Stanford).
  12. Absolutely agree. Just to clarify: I think the OP should consider the programs I mentioned as in the "lower end" of the range of schools they should apply to. I believe they can get admitted to a top-tier program like University of Washington.
  13. Your profile is actually pretty good. With a 3.9 in a math-y major from UC Berkeley, you should be in really good shape if you take a bit more math. I would recommend taking a few more math courses like numerical analysis and optimization, instead of econometrics or more statistics courses. For Statistics PhD programs, mathematical preparation is far more important than having taken a bunch of undergraduate applied stat courses (in fact, a not insignificant number of first-year Statistics PhD students have never taken a probability/statistics course before enrolling). Admissions is very competitive at the top Statistics PhD programs, so it would be good to apply to a semi-wide range of schools. But if you do well in real analysis, I could see you getting into a school like TAMU, Purdue, or Penn State (and you could likely get into a higher ranked school as well).
  14. I think research experience does help the application a bit insofar as you can possibly get a good recommendation letter out of it. One of the posters on this forum is an international student from Australia who was admitted to Harvard, Duke, and University of Washington Statistics, and they had experience doing applied statistics in public health/epidemiology research (however, they *also* had a ton of math from a top university in Australia). You probably wouldn't do methodological/theoretical (bio)statistics research with a Stat/Biostat professor unless you are a PhD student in stat or biostat. But as a Masters student, you could definitely do some applied/clinical research and get a good recommendation letter out of that. That said, having more math is much more important. So if you had to choose coursework vs. research, I would prioritize taking more math classes and getting good grades in them.
  15. Scoring well on the math subject GRE is sometimes helpful for someone with a non-traditional background like yourself. But it wouldn't be *nearly* as helpful as getting a Masters (or just taking advanced math classes at a local university as a non-degree seeking student) or some research experience. The majority of international applicants have high scores on the subject test, and yet, a lot of them are shut out of top PhD programs in Stats. And I believe one poster (also international) on this forum was also a non-traditional applicant who got research experience while working on a Masters at Harvard, and he was admitted to Statistics PhD programs at Harvard, Duke, and Berkeley -- even without submitting the subject test score. So the subject test is by no means sufficient NOR necessary to get into a reputable PhD program in Stats. I don't see that you have taken real analysis or any upper division proof-based math classes besides discrete math, and your math background will be considerably lighter than the most competitive international applicants. So I would recommend that you work on strengthening your math background and seeing if you can get some research experience rather than preparing for the math subject GRE. A Masters would help you do both of those. (Note: by "research experience," I don't mean that you need to be publishing first-author papers in stat journals -- the PhD program should train you to do that. But you could volunteer some time to collaborate on a project with an established professor, so you can get a good letter of recommendation speaking to your "research potential").
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