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cyberwulf last won the day on December 7 2017

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About cyberwulf

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    Biostatistics (faculty)

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  1. This is a pretty unusual situation, but coming with your own funding changes the admissions calculus somewhat. Provided the program has the capacity, they may be more willing to admit you provided they think you can successfully complete the degree.
  2. Combined with courses in probability and mathematical statistics, yes.
  3. It's hard to give numbers to these, since the importance is very context-dependent. For example, if someone has taken (and done well in) a number of advanced mathematics courses, then a B- (say) in Calc 3 or Linear Algebra isn't a big deal. On the other hand, if that's the most advanced math on your transcript, then it's much more of a concern. Some general rules, though: - The real analysis grade is very important, particularly if it's your most advanced class. It's not uncommon to see students with high grades in Calc and Linear Algebra get a low grade in RA, so if you do well that will help you. - Other pure/advanced math courses play a similar role to analysis; so, for example, getting A's in Abstract Algebra and Topology might help you overcome a lower RA grade. - Statistics courses outside of probability and math stat don't carry much weight, whether they're taken at the undergraduate or graduate level. The one exception is for students who are doing a Masters (or taking Masters-level courses) at a highly-ranked program. - Non-math quantitative courses can help bolster your application if you're light on math; otherwise, they don't carry much weight. - Electives courses generally don't matter much unless there is something very concerning there; for instance, you got low grades in all the classes that involved writing.
  4. It's hard to elaborate more on that, since as noted in my post the evaluation involves balancing a number of factors.
  5. Yep, that does happen from time to time.
  6. Well, the first round of application deadlines has come and gone, and soon your applications will be in the hands of admissions committees at programs around the country. From the outside, the process likely seems pretty mysterious, so I thought I would give an overview of how I review PhD applications. DISCLAIMER #1: My approach does not necessarily reflect how other admissions committee members perform their reviews. DISCLAIMER #2: This description applies to PhD applications, where the goal is to identify and rank the most promising applicants; the process is different for Masters admissions, where the goal is to figure out whether applicants meet a given standard. - The process begins when we receive a list of applicants whose applications are ready to be reviewed (i.e., they are sufficiently "complete"). For each applicant, we typically have access to individual documents (transcript, letters, research statement, etc.) along with a combined PDF file that has all the relevant information. - First, I get a feel for what type of applicant this is. There are five common types: domestic students coming from undergrad, domestic students attending Masters programs, international students attending US undergrads, international students attending US masters programs, and international students attending undergrad in their home country. I'll also note the institution(s) attend(ed). This sets the expectation for what I will be looking for in the application. - Next, I'm likely to notice standardized test scores. Both are going to help me start forming my impression of your application. Basically, I'm looking for anything concerning (e.g., a low GRE quant score) or particularly impressive (a high verbal and/or analytical writing score); if they're in the "solid" range, I don't pay much attention to specific numbers or percentiles. - One of the things I pay closest attention to is the transcript. I'll start by doing a quick scan to get a rough sense of overall performance; then I'll look more carefully at the courses. I'll start by looking at how many math courses were taken, and how well the applicant did in them. If there are some lower grades on the transcript, I'm interested to see whether they're mostly in "heavier" courses (such as organic chemistry) or "lighter" ones. In evaluating the transcript, I very much keep in mind the institution attended; if I've never heard of a school (and I've heard of a lot of schools, through my experience in admissions), anything less than a near-perfect GPA is likely going to be an issue, and conversely, if an institution is known for grade deflation, a lower GPA might not be fatal. - At this point, if there is anything unusual in the transcript or the rest of the application that seems to beg for an explanation, I'll take a look at the personal statement. Otherwise, I'm unlikely to give it much more than a quick glance. - Last come the letters of recommendation. The vast, vast majority of them are quite positive, so I am looking both for subtleties in tone ("this student was great!" vs. "this student was A-MA-ZING!") and for specific distinguishing details ("this student received the highest grade in my class, by a mile" or "within 3 months of starting to work with me, this student was operating at the level of a PhD student") that add information beyond what I already got from the transcript and test scores. I pay some attention to the academic rank and seniority of the letter writer (the statement "this is the best student I've ever worked with" means more coming from a senior full professor than a second-year assistant prof), but don't recognize most of the names so am not often "impressed" by the stature of letter writers. - Now, it comes time to score the application. At our institution, we use a categorical scoring system with options ranging from "I strongly object to admitting this applicant" to "I strongly support admitting this applicant". In assigning the score, I keep in mind the total number of people we are likely to admit (which is determined by projected available funding, and discussed before admissions decisions are made), and I try to give "supportive" scores to about this number of applicants. I keep a mental note of applicants that I'd like to discuss with the full admissions committee, particularly if I suspect my score is likely to be substantially higher than my colleagues'. - The last step involves the admissions committee discussing scores and ranking applicants. Our initial ranking is based on the average score assigned by committee members, and from this we can usually identify some "obvious" admits and rejects. Then, we discuss the remaining applicants and determine our final ordering.
  7. MS Biostat Evaluation

    If anything, I think you might be aiming a little low for Masters admission.
  8. MS Biostat Evaluation

    I think you'd be a solid candidate for most Masters programs in the field.
  9. Namedropping in SOP

    Drop names or don't, it probably doesn't matter. I guess I would lean slightly against doing it, since you do run the risk of looking uninformed if the given professor isn't really active, etc. The basic idea is that if you're not confident talking about the research that individual faculty members are doing, you probably shouldn't be spending a lot of space on it in the SOP.
  10. "Hot" areas in Biostats/Stats?

    The journal Statistical Science has quasi-review articles; you might want to browse some recent issues.
  11. A 161Q combined with a W in Real Analysis will likely raise some concerns about your ability to the "hard math" required in a top-tier PhD program (whether that ability is strongly correlated with being a successful biostatistician is another discussion...), so it's a good thing you're retaking the GRE. To the extent that you're comfortable, would definitely mention in your personal statement that the course withdrawal was precipitated by an underlying health issue. I think the "safest" options on your list are probably Columbia and Boston University; they are both relatively large programs in the 8-15 ranking range. Brown and Emory are in the same range, but for various reasons (Brown = small, Emory = strong applicant pool) it's harder to count on a positive decision from them. I think your "core" schools (i.e., the best programs you have a decent shot at getting into) are in the 4-10 range, including NC State. As of now, you have a bit of a hole in that range outside of the two NC schools, so you might look into places like Michigan, Minnesota, Berkeley, and Penn.
  12. Profile Evaluation: Statistics PhD

    It's probably not necessary to retake the GRE to fix your AWA score. With a 169 verbal and a liberal arts education (with, presumably, A's in virtually all your non-quantitative courses), any reasonable admissions committee member is likely to just dismiss the 3.0 writing score as an anomaly. Generally speaking, a student with a 3.95+ from a "respectable" school (i.e., a place that most academics have at least heard of; it doesn't have to be "famous") should be competitive for PhD admission at most programs. Your list of schools seems pretty reasonable to me. You might consider throwing an app at Washington, since they have a fairly robust social stats group.
  13. You should be applying to PhD programs. Most schools will automatically consider you for the Masters if you aren't admitted to the PhD, and once admitted, most also allow you to transfer out of the PhD into the Masters if it's not to your liking.
  14. Profile Evaluation: Biostatistics PhD

    I think retaking the GRE with that score is a waste of time. The only concern I have with the 'F' is that, in the context of the rest of your generally solid grades, people will wonder what happened there. Isolated F's sometimes signal cheating, so it's probably a good idea to address the grade in your personal statement (basically saying what you did above, i.e., that you were burned out and flaked on the course). It'll be interesting to see your results; you have very good mathematical prep from a strong school, so despite the low Masters GPA you could get some decent outcomes. Your list seems like a good start.
  15. You would be required to submit it at my institution, and I imagine most have a similar policy. I agree that it's a little silly for some Indian applicants, but we do see some meaningful spread in English ability from the group as a whole so it does provide some information.