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Statistics PhD: OSU vs. Rutgers


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Hello, I have been accepted into OSU(Ohio State University) and Rutgers. Though I'm currently waitlisted on several programs, I guess it would be difficult to get off the waitlist, so anyway I would like to make my decision between the two programs. Both programs are ranked similarly(OSU 24th, Rutgers 26th USNEWS).

I'm an international student and I have no concrete plan(industry or academia) after graduation yet. My research interests are mainly on high-dimensional statistics and my Master's thesis was about penalized classification problem under high-dimensional settings. Research fit is very important to me, but I understand that things could always change and saw many PhD students end up doing something completely different from what they originally had in minds.

As far as I have searched, OSU is slightly more inclined toward industry than academia, and many professors are working on Bayesian or spatial statistics, which I know very little about. Department size is relatively large, so there are many PhD students and professors of wide range of research interests including high-dimensional statistics. Coursework seems to be very intensive, including two qual exams, candidacy exam, and 80 credit hours. OSU also sent me some catalogue about its recent graduates' job placement records, which seems very solid to me. Columbus, where OSU is located, seems to be very nice place to live in too.    

On the other hand, I don't know much about Rutgers. Department size seems very small. Though there are as many number(30) of professors as in OSU, total number of PhD students are less than half. Coursework is relatively loose(just one qual exam). Total of 72 credit hours are required, but 24 or more of them are independent research or thesis related. Personally, I think Rutgers has more prestigious or reputable professors than OSU. There are many professors who are actively researching on high-dimensional statistics, including Prof. Cun-Hui Zhang. Rutgers also recently hired two professors whose main interests involves high-dimensional data analysis, which was the main reason I have applied for. However, I absolutely know nothing about its job placement records. In addition, living in New Brunswick is much more expensive. I get more stipends from Rutgers, but considering the high cost of living at NJ overall living conditions would be worse.     

I have hard time making my decision now. Any comments or help would be really appreciated. Thank you!

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I would try working out a monthly budget for both programs especially figuring out housing, fees,  and state taxes to see what the money difference is really like if you haven't already.  If Rutgers is doable financially it sounds like the better fit.  Also email the Rutgers about placements (they should be willing to give you it) and see if they have cheap university owned graduate housing. 

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