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drmrpr

Looking for advice on whether to apply to PhD or MS degrees

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Hi all, I'm a senior at a top 50-ish public university, pretty well known, will be graduating this spring, and am planning on applying to statistics grad programs starting Fall of 2019 (i.e. to start in Fall 2020). I'm majoring in Applied Math but have a lot of statistics coursework (taken pretty much all possible probability/stats courses offered in the department), including mathematical statistics, computational statistics(using R), and a data analysis course. I have gotten A's or A-'s in all these courses. I have also taken graduate level Applied Statistics 1 and 2, getting a B+ and A+ respectively, and am currently taking a graduate level course in Survival Analysis, which I expect to do quite well in. I've also taken a basic course sequence in real analysis, as well as courses in probability involving stochastic processes.  My GPA overall is 3.75. While I have yet to take the GRE, I'm fairly confident I can do well, and overall I think my academics, while not incredible, are decent.

My real issue comes from the fact that I don't really have much relevant experience with respect to research or internships. I will be working in a full-time data analyst position starting this summer, but other than that I have essentially nothing.

I do believe that I can get strong letters of recommendation, because I have gotten to know some of my professors pretty well, and have done well in their classes.

With this in mind, is it realistic for me to directly apply for PhD programs in Statistics? Or would it be more beneficial to me to do a Masters program first (one with a research requirement, obviously) and then apply for PhD programs after that?

Would really appreciate any advice! Thanks :)

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My advice is to apply to both, most importantly apply to masters programs you’d want to go to that will pay you. You’ll kick yourself if you don’t apply for PhDs but if it turns out none of them accept you you’ll kick yourself for not having a good back up plan.

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You don't appear to have mentioned what your grades were in Real Analysis -- do you mind mentioning them, along with grades in any other proofwriting-based classes?  

Assuming that your grades in Real Analysis were uniformly B or above, it's definitely realistic to apply to PhD's next year (certainly so if you got all A's or 2 A's and a B+ or something).  That's particularly the case if you mean a public school in the US News top-50 (as I'm assuming), rather than one of the top 50 public schools listed on US News, and also (as I'm assuming) that you're a domestic student.  Go check my profile over in this thread:  https://forum.thegradcafe.com/topic/117853-2019-applicant-profiles-and-admission-results-for-statisticsbiostatistics/.  There are some school prestige and research experience differences that would probably balance each other, particularly with the benefit of actually working in the field for a little bit.  I know with my profile I was advised against applying to master's because they'd largely be a waste of my time/money, so I imagine that might hold for you too.  

 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Geococcyx said:

You don't appear to have mentioned what your grades were in Real Analysis -- do you mind mentioning them, along with grades in any other proofwriting-based classes?  

Assuming that your grades in Real Analysis were uniformly B or above, it's definitely realistic to apply to PhD's next year (certainly so if you got all A's or 2 A's and a B+ or something).  That's particularly the case if you mean a public school in the US News top-50 (as I'm assuming), rather than one of the top 50 public schools listed on US News, and also (as I'm assuming) that you're a domestic student.  Go check my profile over in this thread:  https://forum.thegradcafe.com/topic/117853-2019-applicant-profiles-and-admission-results-for-statisticsbiostatistics/.  There are some school prestige and research experience differences that would probably balance each other, particularly with the benefit of actually working in the field for a little bit.  I know with my profile I was advised against applying to master's because they'd largely be a waste of my time/money, so I imagine that might hold for you too.  

 

I agree with @Geococcyx. I, however, have a completely different profile than you do. Due to some medical issues, my grades are much lower in my math courses (and overall). However, since then, I was able to show the adcom's that I could easily keep a 3.8+ when I was back to normal and healthy. Also, I had incredibly strong research experience. I made up for my coursework with research, and there are plenty of profiles which go the other way. There is no real expectation (at least not yet, but I suspect there will be one soon) of undergraduate research in statistics. Because of that, you don't need to be concerned about a lack of research. As long as you have demonstrated you are capable of doing well in theoretical and proof based classes- which it seems you have- and you can write some solid statements + get good recommendations, you should be a good candidate for some top 25 schools. Maybe even some of the top 15 if you did well in analysis and survival analysis.

 

Oh, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to PM me.

 

B

Edited by BL250604

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Thanks for all the responses!

10 hours ago, Geococcyx said:

You don't appear to have mentioned what your grades were in Real Analysis -- do you mind mentioning them, along with grades in any other proofwriting-based classes?  

Assuming that your grades in Real Analysis were uniformly B or above, it's definitely realistic to apply to PhD's next year (certainly so if you got all A's or 2 A's and a B+ or something).  That's particularly the case if you mean a public school in the US News top-50 (as I'm assuming), rather than one of the top 50 public schools listed on US News, and also (as I'm assuming) that you're a domestic student.  Go check my profile over in this thread:  https://forum.thegradcafe.com/topic/117853-2019-applicant-profiles-and-admission-results-for-statisticsbiostatistics/.  There are some school prestige and research experience differences that would probably balance each other, particularly with the benefit of actually working in the field for a little bit.  I know with my profile I was advised against applying to master's because they'd largely be a waste of my time/money, so I imagine that might hold for you too.  

 

 Real Analysis was a 2 quarter sequence, in which I got a A and then a B+, and I also took a more introductory mathematical proofs course where I got an A (and I did indeed mean a public school in the US News Top 50). Thanks for the advice :)

 

7 hours ago, BL250604 said:

I agree with @Geococcyx. I, however, have a completely different profile than you do. Due to some medical issues, my grades are much lower in my math courses (and overall). However, since then, I was able to show the adcom's that I could easily keep a 3.8+ when I was back to normal and healthy. Also, I had incredibly strong research experience. I made up for my coursework with research, and there are plenty of profiles which go the other way. There is no real expectation (at least not yet, but I suspect there will be one soon) of undergraduate research in statistics. Because of that, you don't need to be concerned about a lack of research. As long as you have demonstrated you are capable of doing well in theoretical and proof based classes- which it seems you have- and you can write some solid statements + get good recommendations, you should be a good candidate for some top 25 schools. Maybe even some of the top 15 if you did well in analysis and survival analysis.

 

Oh, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to PM me.

 

B

Wow your research experience is really incredible haha, that's really cool. Good to hear that there still isn't a huge expectation of research experience. Thanks for the info!

Thanks to everyone for the advice! This has definitely encouraged me to go for it and apply for PhD programs next fall. I'll probably take @danny1997's advice and apply for some Master's programs simultaneously as well! Wish me luck :)

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4 hours ago, bayessays said:

Yeah, you're in good shape to apply to PhD programs outside the top 10.

Awesome :) Just a question - are the top schools generally just decided by what's on U.S. News, or are there other things people judge by?

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Posted (edited)
2 minutes ago, drmrpr said:

Awesome :) Just a question - are the top schools generally just decided by what's on U.S. News, or are there other things people judge by?

People are generally referring to US News

Edited by bayessays

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