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2019 Stat Ph.D. Profile Eval

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Hello everyone,

I'm looking at Ph.D. programs in statistics or biostatistics. To summarize, my profile is quite confusing so I'm not sure which range of programs I should be looking at. I realized too late that I want to do a Ph.D. in biostat/ stat, so I couldn't change my major in psychology. My grades are not bad, but I don't have a lot of math classes taken. All of my research experience are applied, and I'm not sure my letters of recommendation will be outstanding.


Undergrad Institution: Small LAC in MN
Major: Psychology Minor: Statistics
GPA: 3.88 (overall), 4.0 (Math/ Stat)
Type of Student: International Asian female
Courses/ Background:
Calculus II (A), Linear Algebra (A), Stat Modeling (A), Advanced Stat Modeling (A), Probability Theory (A), 1 Research course (this is basically a research project but it counts as a class at my school) (A+)
Principles of Computer Science (Pass) (I hated this class in my freshman year so I took it as a pass/fail class, huge mistake)
Planning to take next semester 
Calculus III (online class), Real Analysis I, Stat Theory
Planning to take in Spring semester
Machine learning, Biostat, Differential equation (or a computer science course)
GRE: 157 V / 163 Q for now (I plan to retake the test, I hope to get > 160 V and near 170 Q)
Research Experience: all of my experience are applied research
- the research course I mentioned above (applied stat on immigration topic) - 1 semester
- research on alcoholism experiment - 1 year
- biostatistics internship at a well-known university (research on depression outcome of a psychology experiment) - 2 months
Letters of Rec: 1 from my stat prof, 1 from another stat prof that I took the research class with,  and 1 from the prof I'm doing the biostat internship with. Because of the short duration I'm working with 2 out of 3 professor (2 to 3 months max), I'm not confident that the letters will be outstanding. 
I'm very tempted to ask one of my psychology prof to write me a rec letter, because I took 2 classes with her and did research with her (both lab work and data analysis). However, I'm not sure this is a good move (?) 
Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Dean's List
Any advice on school range, rec letter, classes I should take (basically anything) is appreciated!
Thank you,
Edited by Jenny Tran
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I think you are a strong candidate for Masters programs, but I'm not sure about PhD programs (in Statistics anyway, I'm not as familiar with Biostatistics)... since you're not a domestic student, the bar will be a lot higher for you and preference will be given to international applicants with a strong math background. If you want to attend a higher ranked PhD program in stat/biostat, you may want to apply primarily to Masters programs but also try your luck with some PhD programs too. At some top schools in Biostatistics, it seems like there is a pipeline for top-performing Masters students to continue on to the PhD. 

Just something to consider.

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@Applied Math to Stat Because I don't have funding to do Masters, my only option is to apply for PhD programs. If I do well on Calculus III, Real Analysis I, Stat Theory, and Differential Equation in the Fall semester (and if I can send my new transcript to the schools on time), will I be able to get into any Stat/ Biostat PhD programs?

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Out of the four you listed, I think calc3 and real analysis are the most important. Generally real analysis is done after finishing the calc sequence. It's not that analysis really needs the material in calc 3 but more that most people find analysis kinda hard so taking more math classes beforehand helps. I'm going to guess the linear algebra class you took was not proof-based so, having a proof-based algebra class would also be more important. You should be able to send the fall transcript to schools on time assuming semester ends some time in December.

That said... I think you can get into some pretty good stat/biostat phd programs with good grades in fall math classes. But be careful about taking 3-4 math classes in a single semester. I was planning to take 3 math classes my senior fall (real analysis, complex analysis, and numerical analysis) before the professor for complex emailed me to tell me I should drop. In hindsight, he was right because I probably would have collapsed with the workload for those three classes alone.


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On the coursework side I would go with Calc 3, real analysis, and stat theory, but pair that with one or two  (preferably one) easy non-math classes (to be a full time student) and prepare to spend 30+ hours a week on your math classes.  Real Analysis and Stat Theory should require a lot of work outside of class. Ideally you would make in A in all three classes.

Since you are an international student, you are correct that it will be very difficult to get a fully funded masters at  PhD granting institutions.  So you probably have to apply to Ph.D. programs to get funding, even though your profile isn't that great for an international applicant.  Basically you should apply to the lowest tier of programs. I don't know what your chances would be and  anywhere that is realistic since I know that some of the less competitive programs are smaller programs without a lot of funding.

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