# Evaluation/Advice for 2019 Biostat Ph.D. chances

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Howdy everyone, sorry for the new thread, but none of the others looked to be set aside for all comers...

Demographics:  Caucasian male, will be 24
Majors: Statistics, Physics, Cognitive Science
Undergraduate GPA: 3.7-3.8 range, 4.0 in Statistics but ~3.7 for other majors
Relevant courses:

Math
Calc II:  B+
Calc III:  A-
Diff Eq:  A
Intro to Proofs:  A
Sequences and Series:  A-
Applied Linear Algebra:  A
Mathematical Biology:  A
Future classes:  Real Analysis, maybe Numerical Analysis, maybe Point-Set Topology, maybe Abstract Algebra, maybe PDE's

Stat
All A's, as noted.  Intro stats at lower and upper levels, Experimental Design, Regression, Six Sigma/Quality Assurance, and Mathematical Statistics 1.
Future classes:  Senior capstone, Math Stat 2, Time Series, Quantitative Biology, Stochastic Methods, maybe Categorical Data Analysis.  Also possibly Causal Inference via Economics department.

Physics (only tertiarily relevant, I know, but given the lower grades I thought it deserved explication)
Math Methods in Physics (Linear Algebra and Applied Complex Analysis, mostly):  A
Mechanics:  B
E&M:  B
Quantum Mech 1:  B
Quantum Mech 2:  B-
Thermodynamics & Statistical Physics:  A
Future classes:  None, although our Physics program has a strong stochastic simulation background, and I could take a stochastic methods class through this department instead.

GRE:
Haven't taken either General or Math Subject yet.  FWIW, I got 1600/2360 on SAT and 36 on ACT, so I'd expect to do well on the standard GRE at least.

Research experience:  2 years doing quantitative clinical psychology research, working with infectious disease biostatistician now/in the fall

Computing skills:  OK at R and Java at present.  Learning SAS over the summer via a programming class, which should also improve my R skills.

Schools of Interest:  I'd probably get a bit queasy about accepting something below Emory or Vanderbilt in Biostat, but given my profile I understand that may still be too picky.  I will apply to a few Statistics programs too, but I'd rather do Biostat.  I have picked out Master's programs at UIUC and Georgia in Statistics, as well as some applied masters' in business fields as safety schools/programs, so I'm less concerned about picking out biostat safety schools.

I am assuming that big portions of my desirability as a candidate would revolve around my GRE Math Subject Test score and my grade in Real Analysis.  Beyond that, thoughts on what tiers of schools I should be applying to (either Stat or Biostat)?  I'm also trying to decide between several classes, e.g. Time Series vs. Point-Set Topology vs. Numerical Analysis, so any admonitions or otherwise would be well-taken.  Many thanks to anyone who takes the time to read this, and even more to those who respond!

Addendum:  When applications are due, I will have taken Calc II 6 years ago and Calc III 5 years ago, so I would hope(?) schools would take into account my having gotten better at calculus since then.
Edited by KnowSomethingParty
For relative brevity
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The GRE subject test isn't really all that important for biostatistics. It might help at places like Washington. If you take and do well in real analysis (preferably I and II if possible) and do well on the GRE general test math portion I think you have a very good chance at a top-3 biostats department, and would be extremely surprised if you didn't get into at least 1 top-5 program.

It's probably worth noting that undergraduate statistics classes hold very low weight in graduate statistics applications. Math courses and to a much lesser extent computational courses will be what makes or breaks your application. So if it comes down to taking more stats or more math, opt for the latter.

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Many thanks!  Yeah, I'd like to take our Measure Theory class (we don't have a designated Real Analysis II), but I don't think they're offering it this year.

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Even in Statistics, the Math Subject GRE is not typically required, except at a few programs. And some very good programs don't even consider it at all (for example, Duke does not consider it at all). A good score is helpful if you have a lighter math background, but I wouldn't worry about it too much if your math grades are good (unless you plan to apply to one of the few programs that requires it, e.g. Stanford or UChicago). Plus, many students have taken it and scored very well on it but still get rejected for whatever reason (it's not uncommon for many students from China, for example, to score in the 90+ percentile on the math subject GRE but still get denied admission to top programs in statistics).

If you apply to Statistics programs but are primarily interested in biostat, it may be helpful to apply to a few programs where you can do a Biostatistics concentration (e.g. University of Wisconsin Statistics, Rutgers Statistics, or NCSU Statistics -- in NCSU Stat Dept, they have a statistical genetics group). Otherwise, the options to focus on that might be limited in a Statistics department.

Edited by Applied Math to Stat
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If you do well on the GRE and in analysis, I'm sure you will have your pick of multiple top 10 biostat programs, probably some top 5. I wouldn't worry about your calculus grades at all, they aren't even bad.

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I think some of the responses thus far are a touch optimistic about your chances, given the increasing strength of student cohorts in biostat over the past several years. A lot will depend on which "large public university" you attend; there's a big difference between (say) Michigan and Kansas State. Your letters will also be important. Based on the information you've provided thus far, I'd say you've got a decent shot at getting into some places in the 4-10 range, which sounds like where you're aiming.

Oh, and don't bother taking the Math Subject GRE.

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I’ll second everything cyberwulf said. Biostat cohorts are getting stronger, and along with that more universities are establishing graduate programs. However, saying your queasy about places lower than “Emory or Vanderbilt” is a misguided way to think about potential programs. Don’t set your sights too narrow. You don’t need to go to Harvard to get a decent job.

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