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About omicrontrabb

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  • Application Season
    2019 Fall
  • Program
    Statistics/Biostatistics PhD

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  1. I hate to be a bearer of bad news, but you are going to have a tough time getting in stats PhD programs. The most important criteria seems to be math ability. Discrete math seems to usually be a math course for non-math students. (For example, math majors at UCI are not required to take it.) So I’m not sure how admissions committees will look at that. But they are very interested in calculus 3 and linear algebra, which you got B+’s in. Your stats courses seem to be fairly applied, which admissions committees don’t seem to value much. Stats PhD programs also usually expect you to have taken real analysis. If you really want to get a PhD in statistics, you should start by getting a masters in statistics and doing well. Look at traditional statistics programs, not applied statistics, etc., so you can improve your math skills. That would also give you a better idea of what it would be like to get a PhD in statistics. PhD coursework is quite theoretical and math heavy. What’s your goal? You said you want to pursue data science. There seems to be a solid amount of data science jobs available for bachelors grads with your background. It also sounds like you mainly enjoy applied work, whereas stats PhDs are more focused on theory. So I’m not sure if getting a stats PhD would actually help you do what you want to do. You might get be better served by getting a CS masters degree focusing on machine learning or a statistics masters degree or even getting work experience in data science.
  2. I agree with @bayessays. I had a profile very similar to yours. (But with a 168Q on the GRE and a B in real analysis.) I was accepted into three of the top six biostatistics PhD programs this year, so I think you should have similar results. There does seem to be a lot of randomness in the decisions. In addition to those acceptances, I was rejected by two other top five programs and also Boston University. So, If I were you, I’d apply to basically all of the top 10 programs and you should definitely get in some of them. Also, for what it’s worth, I think all of the top biostats programs are in schools of public health, except for Berkeley, which has a weird interdepartmental set-up.
  3. It seems like many people in my program do internships the summer after their first year since they're not studying for quals and haven't yet started dissertation research. Do many companies prefer PhD students with one year left? Yes. But so many companies are desperate for statistics/data science/machine learning talent that virtually any competent stats PhD student should be able to get an internship at a brand name company. I'm currently interning at a very well known company the summer before starting my PhD program. If you wanted to do an internship every summer, you could certainly find places to hire you. That being said, I haven't met anyone that interned every summer. Most students spend most summers doing research and only intern once or twice. Many students interested in academia don't do any internships. Do you have 12 month or 9 month funding? It seems like most biostats programs do 12 month funding and generally expect students to stick around during the summer, while many stats programs only do 9 month funding and may have less expectations. Also, does your program have quals? And if so when? You should spend the summer before your quals mainly studying and not interning. It seems like internships have quickly become way more common among stats/biostats PhD students. At top ranked programs I visited, most students interested in industry had interned in tech/pharma/banking. Part of the reason for that is that you can make $25k+ for a summer internship, which can basically double your PhD stipend.
  4. @bayessays @Lp_space Are Canadian and American universities really treated that differently in admissions? American universities ranked 701-750 by QS are places like Alabama, Clemson and Kansas State. It seems like students from those types of American schools with a math major, 3.95 gpa and high GRE scores would have a really solid chance of being admitted to a PhD at Ohio State, Iowa, Rutgers, etc. I’m not questioning your knowledge. I’m more curious.
  5. @Peter Huynh I will say that withdrawing from a class and retaking it doesn’t seem to affect your application that much. I also withdrew from linear algebra, retook it for an A and was then accepted into some top 10 PhD programs. However, that’s mainly besides the point for the reasons mentioned above by others.
  6. Also @gradschool2020 you might want to spend some time thinking about what your goal actually is. A masters in analytics is a completely different degree than a PhD in statistics. I am not familiar with Northwestern in particular, but analytics degrees are usually very applied and cover statistical theory at around the advanced undergrad level (CLT, random variables, etc.). Many of them are structured more like MBAs, with designated cohorts and industry practicums, etc. In a statistics PhD, you would be doing measure theoretic statistics and virtually all of your classes and research would center around statistical theory. I would not recommend getting a PhD in statistics unless you’re really interested in statistical theory.
  7. @MrSergazinov Research experience isn’t nearly as important in statistics PhD admissions. Does research experience help? Absolutely, especially for the highest ranked schools. But math ability seems to be the most important criteria and you are very strong in that area. I went to visit days for several top 25 programs PhD programs and there were some admitted students there with no research experience. The admissions committees generally don’t seem to value applied stats research and there simply aren’t that many opportunities for theoretical stats research for undergrads. Don’t get me wrong, most admitted students (myself included) had research experience, but it was not everyone. Since you’re an international student at a school that’s not at the level of Harvard/Peking/ETH Zurich, you probably don’t have a shot at Stanford/Chicago/etc. But you might get admitted somewhere in the next tier down, like NCSU, Wisconsin, Penn State, especially if you do well on the GRE math subject test. With your math background at a good US university, I’d be pretty surprised if you didn’t get into at least one top 30 stats PhD program.
  8. I agree with what @Stat PhD Now Postdoc wrote in his post. You have a solid overall background and are clearly capable of completing a PhD in statistics, but admissions are just super competitive for international students. Applying to schools ranked around 20-40 sounds right. Something to keep in mind is that admissions rates also depend on the size of the program and the “general prestige” of the school. Small programs tend to be more selective and programs at well known schools seem to draw more applications than their rankings would suggest. I would suggest applying to NC State. It’s easier to get into than their ranking would suggest since the program is so large. I also suggest Ohio State for the same reason. I would avoid applying to Northwestern or UVA, which are both extremely selective.
  9. @J456 I went to Cornell’s visit day this spring and all of the admitted students were from super well known schools. The American students were almost entirely from Ivy+ schools. The admitted international students were from places on the tier of Imperial College London, Tsinghua University, etc. I don’t want to say it’s impossible for you to be admitted, but your background would not be typical. I am not as familiar with Stanford or Columbia, but I would assume it would be similar there since they are ranked even higher.
  10. I will start by saying that I am more familiar with PhD admissions than masters admissions, but I don't think that you need to be quite so worried. For your specific questions: 1/2.) Waiting would definitely improve your chances of admission. Doing well in those math classes is really important and would significantly boost your profile. It's your opportunity to show that you can do advanced math. I agree with @bayessays . If you get good grades in those classes and get a 165Q on the GRE, you should be able to get in anywhere you want. Depending on your financial circumstances, you could apply to programs this year and then just wait and apply again if you don't get into ones that you are happy with. It's possible you'd get in somewhere very good and I don't think that they penalize you for reapplying. So that would depend on how okay you are with potentially wasting hundreds of dollars. (I personally would wait and just find something fun to do for a year.) If you really want to start a masters next year, you could apply to somewhere like Michigan (currently ranked 5th for biostats). Last year their acceptance rate for the MS was about 80% and they have a January 15 deadline. (Even still, there's still a decent chance you wouldn't get in without having grades for lin alg and calc iii.) I'm not sure how that would affect your job prospects versus going to say, Harvard or UW. 3.) I don't think working would benefit your application. It's difficult to get a job doing something relevant to biostatistics without a degree in statistics/biostatistics. The advantage of waiting would be having your grades for prerequisite math classes. Do something you'd enjoy. 4.) Definitely prioritize doing well in those math classes. Biostatistics admissions committees don't seem to care that much about applied research, especially in other fields. It shows you're a hard worker, can help you form relationships for LOR, etc., but isn't a qualification in and of itself. During visit days at top 10 biostat PhD programs, plenty of admitted students had basically zero relevant research experience. Math skills, on the other hand, are crucial.
  11. @Bonferroni_Correction It mostly depends on how interested you are in academia. If you want to become a professor at a top stats department, where you go matters a lot. It's generally difficult to get a professorship at a school ranked substantially higher than your PhD program/PostDoc. Higher ranked schools have more well known professors who would help you land post-docs, etc. It's possible to work with a well known researcher at a lower ranked school, but going to a school with the goal of working with one specific (in demand) professor is pretty risky. If you want to go into industry, it doesn't matter nearly as much. Basically every ranked stats PhD program seems to place a lot of people into large banks/big pharma/big tech. That being said, super prestigious companies like Google/Amazon/Goldman Sachs/etc. seem to recruit more heavily from the top schools.
  12. How did you pick those schools? You seem to have a lot of Ivies and other schools with general prestige, which tend to be more difficult to get into than their ranking would suggest. Brown, for example, has an extremely small program, so I don’t know if I would call that a match school. Why don’t you apply to Minnesota or Wisconsin or Iowa biostats? Minnesota, for one, is very strong in biostats, and has an acceptance rate of around 25%.
  13. Your undergraduate grades are fine. A lot of applicants will have a B or two on their transcripts. But regardless, your math GRE score is super impressive. I doubt anyone will question your ability to do advanced math if you scored in the 90th percentile for the subject test. My understanding is that score would look good at many math PhD programs. Based on your profile, you will almost certainly get into NCSU. As for the other schools, you should be competitive, but the admissions are just so selective. I would recommend applying to some lower ranked schools as well. It sounds like you have very specific research interests, so I would just pick programs at different tiers that do that research. It sounds like you’re mainly interested in probably theory, so I would suggest, for example, UNC instead of NCSU. Cornell also has people working in many of those areas and is less selective than Berkeley/Chicago.
  14. You mentioned you want to get statistics research experience before applying? Is that so you have a better idea of what a PhD in statistics would be like? Or to improve your application? It would be helpful to see what a research statistician does, but isn’t necessary for the application. You are right, your background is probably too light on math courses to get into a top statistics PhD program. But otherwise you have a stellar application, good grades at an Ivy, extensive comp sci experience, GRE scores. There are not many statistics postbacc programs. Few people have done meaningful statistics research before applying to PhD programs. I would take linear algebra, real analysis and a probability class at a reputable university. I assume you’ll do well, which will satisfy the prerequisites and show you can handle advanced math. Alternatively, if you’re highly motivated, you could self-study math and take the math subject GRE. Those two options would save you a lot of time/money compared to getting a masters. Lastly, depending on what exactly you want to research, you could also consider CS PhD programs. I’m not personally familiar with their admissions processes, but you do seem to have a strong background in CS. Some topics, like machine learning, etc, are researched by both CS and stats PhD students.
  15. Most biostats Phd programs don’t teach measure theory, while all stat ones do. Most biostatistics don’t spend their time proving theoretical properties of estimators, like asymptotic efficiency, while many statisticians do. So theoretical math is emphasized more for stats. Biostats programs also seem to be a bit less competitive for admissions in general. Top biostat programs, like Michigan and Minnesota, admit around 25% of applicants, while comparable stat programs seem to have single digit acceptance rates.
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