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    Statistics Ph.D.

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epimeleia_heautou's Achievements


Caffeinated (3/10)



  1. Note that the dept. of statistics at UW is also conducting a faculty search, which could be tying their hands.
  2. Don't be. IIRC from last year NCSU sent out multiple waves of decisions.
  3. My two cents: I wouldn't cite your professor as a reason for withdrawing. In fact, the best way to handle such a situation is probably to ask your letter writers to address the matter. They can lend credibility to a general claim that it was not a good time for you to take the course. If you can do well in a future analysis course and have a letter writer explain your withdrawal, I don't think a W on your record will matter much. Probably. Somebody once told me to state my interests specifically enough to suggest to the adcom why I would be a good fit for the department, but not so specifically as to risk saying something an adcom member who works in the relevant field might find offputting. It's generally understood that your interests will likely change. IMO, discussing your research interests in your SOP is more an opportunity to communicate in your own voice that you are mature enough to do original research than it is a declaration of what, specifically, you will be researching.
  4. For what it's worth, I had some success this past application season despite having worse grades in a lot of upper level maths courses (even in measure theoretic probability, which is something you don't want to do poorly in when applying to stats PhD programs). What made things work out was that I had strong letters from professors who knew me well and who could vouch that my grades were not indicative of my true mathematical ability. (It also helped that I was able to pursue activities in between graduating from undergrad and applying that helped to illustrate this.) Your mileage may vary (this will depend in part on the reputation of your undegrad institution, among other things), but if you can work closely with a professor/academic mentor who can write a good, personal letter discussing your mathematical aptitude and ability to do original work, then I wouldn't worry about a B+ in real analysis. If that means taking time between graduating and applying, that shouldn't hurt your chances.
  5. Two thoughts: 1) Echoing what others had said above, complex analysis is a different beast than real analysis, at least in its more interesting applications. A different style of reasoning is often employed in complex analysis (as opposed to real analysis) and it can be difficult to get used to. I would choose between the real analysis and complex analysis courses based on which one you think you would do better in. The other courses you listed are not as directly relevant to statistics. 2) Does the university offer a course in measure theory or probability theory over the summer? Doing well in either of those could be very helpful. But they can also be quite difficult at advanced levels if you have not seen too much proof-based maths.
  6. I only just finished the application process, so my perspective is limited. However, I too was switching fields and came with much more of a pure maths background, and I'm happy with how the season went. Here are my observations, for what they're worth: 1) A lack of background in statistics is apparently by no means a deal breaker. It seems that many adcoms are just as concerned if not more so with whether or not a given applicant can handle the math required for statistical theory than they with the extent of the applicants background in statistical coursework or research. The extent of my formal "statistics" education is *very* limited, and I have little to no background in programming/computation, but I have a strong maths background from my undergrad major. Adcoms didn't seem to hold this against me. 2) By the time I join my PhD program this coming fall it will have been over three years since I received my BA. I don't have a masters, and most of the time I spent between completing undergrad and applying for grad school had been spent doing things very unrelated to statistics. Adcoms didn't seem to hold it against me. That being said, two caveats: (1) I managed to do some things related to stats as I was applying last fall, and this helped give my letter writers recent data points. If you're intend to take time off, I'd consider asking the professors who you intend to write your letters of recommendation to draft something this year while you and your accomplishments are still fresh in their memory; (2) the volume of the applicant pool to statistics graduate programs is growing quickly in size and in depth, and it's not clear what "competitive" will mean in two or three years time. 3) As far as MS vs. PhD goes, my understanding is that this depends on what sort of work you want to do afterwards. It seems that if you want to be designing studies, leading projects and developing new methods for your company/team, then you'll probably want a PhD. But, if you're happy to work in less of a leadership position, an MS will suffice. You should try talking to some people who are currently doing what you would like to do. You also may find that an MS in statistics on top of your MS in maths is unnecessary -- I'd imagine you'd be able to find work as entry-level or higher analyst if you continue to teach yourself basic stats and computational programming/scripting, find some sort of more or less "applied" project to work on during the second year of your masters, and perhaps do an internship this summer.
  7. If you aren't awarded a stipend this year, is there the possibility that you can receive one in following years after demonstrating your ability? Also, you should investigate the opportunities for procuring a research assistanship either during your first year or later. RAs are often funded by grants that professors have been awarded and control, so it may be possible for you to receive money during your time there even if it is not awarded directly by the department.
  8. I think you should have a shot. Focus on making the rest of your application as strong as possible. Good GRE scores (especially a good math subject score) can help make up for a less than stellar undergraduate record. The pattern of your grades also matters. For instance, having higher marks in your upper-level courses can make up for lower marks in introductory courses, but less so vice versa. The fact that you're coming from Stanford should help. Most importantly (in my opinion), you need very strong letters of recommendation. Try to reach out to professors who got to know you well and who can vouch for your potential as a masters student. If you can, try to compile a list of instances where you showed such potential during the courses they taught -- anything that can help jog their memory and paint as vivid a picture of you in their letters as possible. See if your letter writers have any contacts in departments to which you're applying. My cum. undergrad GPA was only slightly lower than yours, but I've managed to obtain offers from some highly ranked PhD programs as well as a funded M.S. offer. I attribute nearly all of whatever success I've had this season to my letters.
  9. [Emphasis mine.] I recommend trying as hard as you can to investigate further. Contact professors at both departments. Ask them what they're working on. Do these topics sound interesting to you? Ask them what their previous PhD students have gone on to do after earning their PhDs. Do you find those career paths interesting? Ask about how the structure of the programs and curricula are designed to get students involved in research. Do the environments sound like places that will be conducive to your success? Contact students at both departments. Ask them what the culture is like, what the surrounding area is like. Ask them what they do for fun. Ask them what they do to support one another when times get tough. I don't know anything about UIUC, but I did visit NCSU during their admitted students weekend. I really enjoyed it, but more importantly I found that interacting with students and faculty gave a much more complete picture of the department than just what the website can convey. In this day and age with e-mail, phone and skype, there's no reason you shouldn't try to contact the members of each department and get a sense of the sort of people you'd be spending the next 4-5 years of your life with.
  10. "Unofficially accepted" most likely means that the department has recommended your application to the graduate school for acceptance. This means that the department itself has voted you in, they just need the okay from the graduate school's administration before they make you an official offer with financial details and everything. That would be my guess, anyway. As far campus visits, just go and have fun getting to know people. If they've invited you to campus, they probably believe you have the technical strengths to complete the program. At this point they want a chance to get to know what you're like as a person and they want to give you a chance to get to know the department. So, just be yourself, and don't be afraid to ask lots of questions. My personal safeguard against not sounding stupid is not pretending to know something that I really don't -- or at least not talking about it, anyway.
  11. For what it's worth, my impression is that while the NCSU brand is not as universally recognized as is Harvard's, it is nonetheless *very* well respected where it is known, particularly in the research triangle and in the government agencies that have ties to the department's research interests. It's not clear to me that Harvard's brand is worth the extra tens of thousands of dollars in tuition and opportunity costs. Edit: I want to note that I'm discussing "brand" because I expect that you'd get an excellent education at either institution.
  12. I for my part don't even see a "view decision" link at all.
  13. Thank you, holykrp, for your explanation and the linked presentation. There seems to be less of a fine line dividing the two disciplines and more of a shift of relative emphasis over various techniques, methods and objectives.
  14. I'm just a fellow applicant with no special relation to any admissions committee. That being said, my understanding is that adcoms generally read interests listed in a SOP as "potential" interests and expect that they will likely change throughout graduate study. See I think that the foremost potential danger of stating a specific interest is less that you'll seem narrow-minded and more that you may inadvertently say something about the topic that strikes the reader as wrong or ignorant. Unless you went out of your way in your SOP to seem particularly obstinate about your research interests, I don't think the adcoms will hold your SOP against you. And, even if they do, it seems unlikely that this particular feature of your application will be the deciding factor that makes or breaks your application. I suspect that contacting the department is not a good move, as you may risk coming off as "high-maintainence" or "pushy". However, that's just my gut feeling, so take it with a grain of salt. Finally, I think you've set up a false dichotomy there in your second sentence; "incoherent" doesn't strike me the opposite of "specific." Best of luck! EDIT: Link formatting -- didn't realize that TGC forums don't support html.
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