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J456

Fall 2020 Stats PhD Profile Evaluation and Advice

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Hi,

I'm interested in applying for PhD programs in Statistics to study probability theory.  I'm also interested in inter-disciplinary applications of probability theory to statistical mechanics. Here's my profile:

Undergrad Institution : International university

Major(s): Economics & Mathematics
GPA: 3.84
Minor(s): Physics
 
Grad Institution: Kansas State
 
Major(s): Mathematics
GPA: 4.00
 
Type of Student: International (Asian)
 
Courses taken and taking: Calculus I-II (A, A-), Linear Algebra (A), Mathematical Proofs (A), Topology (A), Real Analysis I,II (A+),
Graduate Real Analysis I, II (A),  Applied Math I, II (A), Numerical ODE's (A), Measure Theory Based Probability Reading Course (A),  Complex Analysis (B), Undergraduate Probability I (A), Statistics and Data Analysis (A), Econometrics (A+), Functional Analysis (Taking next fall), Topology and Geometry (Taking next fall).
 
Misc: Bunch of physics courses, including some economics courses like Game Theory. Will most likely continue taking math classes during my remaining time at Kansas State. Self studied enough abstract algebra, linear algebra, and complex analysis to pass the qualifying exams in analysis and algebra. 

GRE General Test:
Q:
 168 (94%)
V: 156 (73%)
W: 5.5 (98%)
 
GRE Mathematics Subject Test: Will be taking in September and/or October
 
Programs Applying: Statistics

Research Experience: Worked on a physics research project in undergraduate. Resulted in a publication.

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Tutor, TA, Graduate Teaching Assistant
Letters of Recommendation: 1 from physics professor, two from math professors
 
Applying to where: 
 
PhD:  Stanford, Columbia, Cornell, UC Davis, Minnesota, UW Madion/UNC Chapel Hill, Boston University, Penn State, Iowa State/Colorado State, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State/Utah State (safety?)
 
Could someone comment on my chances, and how difficult it may be for me to get into a good, reputable school in statistics for a PhD in probability, where I can work on interdisciplinary topics, and explore auxiliary interests in statistical learning theory etc.
 
Edited by J456

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Which international university did you attend, and what was your class rank (roughly)? If your undergrad was not Peking, Tsinghua, USTC, Fudan, ISI, KU, SNU, or KAIST, then you might have difficulty being admitted into Stanford, Columbia, or Cornell. The other programs you listed seem very reasonable, however (UNC STOR might be a "reach" school, but I could see you getting into at least one of the others). You probably don't need to apply to Oklahoma State or Utah State, but I would apply to Michigan State if I were you -- there are a few strong faculty in probability theory there, and it seems like a school you have a reasonable chance at (irrespective of what your undergrad's prestige is, a Masters in math with a 4.0 from an R1 would be seen as a positive for schools in this general tier).

Edited by Stat PhD Now Postdoc

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I went to a university in South Asia. I graduated at the top of my class for the Economics and Mathematics joint major. I have mostly A's in the physics and mathematics courses, with an overall GPA of 3.84. It's a well known university in my home country, from where students have gotten into good universities for graduate studies, especially for CS, Biology etc. Students from physics and mathematics have gone to good universities (UT Austin, Berkeley etc.), but I suppose that was more so because of those students' achievements rather than the school's general name and prestige. It's definitely not a USTC, ISI etc.

Would you recommend I apply to some other school(s) than Stanford, Columbia or Cornell? I'd like to apply to at least one dream school (Stanford/Columbia) but maybe applying to all 3 of them may not  be  a good choice, Any reasonable 1-2 substitutes for Columbia/Stanford or Cornell. In that range but at places where I may have a better chance?

Edited by J456

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3 hours ago, J456 said:

I went to a university in South Asia. I graduated at the top of my class for the Economics and Mathematics joint major. I have mostly A's in the physics and mathematics courses, with an overall GPA of 3.84. It's a well known university in my home country, from where students have gotten into good universities for graduate studies, especially for CS, Biology etc. Students from physics and mathematics have gone to good universities (UT Austin, Berkeley etc.), but I suppose that was more so because of those students' achievements rather than the school's general name and prestige. It's definitely not a USTC, ISI etc.

Would you recommend I apply to some other school(s) than Stanford, Columbia or Cornell? I'd like to apply to at least one dream school (Stanford/Columbia) but maybe applying to all 3 of them may not  be  a good choice, Any reasonable 1-2 substitutes for Columbia/Stanford or Cornell. In that range but at places where I may have a better chance?

For your profile, I'd say the "sweet spot" is probably the general USNWR rankings of Iowa State through UCLA. Since admissions is very competitive for international students, it may also be a good idea to apply to a few schools like UConn, MSU, and maybe Pitt. These mid-tier but still solid schools are more likely to accept international students who aren't from the most elite schools in their respective region (in your case, Asia) -- some will even admit students from obscure undergrads as long as they are completing a Masters degree from an R1 in the U.S.

Edited by Stat PhD Now Postdoc

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So you're saying I should try and target the top 20-30 (or 40) range. That seems reasonable. Should I forget about the likes of Cornell, Stanford, and Columbia? Stanford is a dream, dream school, of course. Columbia seems like a good fit, dream school, so I'd like to take my chances there. What about Cornell? They're 20th in the ranking, right near UNC Chapel Hill? Worth taking a shot, or should I aim a bit lower?

I guess I can take out one of Cornell, Stanford and Columbia for a school that may be less of a reach, and remove Oklahoma State/Utah State for a more reputable school, since I'll also be applying to some other applied math schools like UC Boulder, Southern California, Arizona etc as well where I would have the chance to study probability.

Edited by J456

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@J456 I went to Cornell’s visit day this spring and all of the admitted students were from super well known schools. The American students were almost entirely from Ivy+ schools. The admitted international students were from places on the tier of Imperial College London, Tsinghua University, etc. I don’t want to say it’s impossible for you to be admitted, but your background would not be typical. I am not as familiar with Stanford or Columbia, but I would assume it would be similar there since they are ranked even higher.

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3 minutes ago, omicrontrabb said:

@J456 I went to Cornell’s visit day this spring and all of the admitted students were from super well known schools. The American students were almost entirely from Ivy+ schools. The admitted international students were from places on the tier of Imperial College London, Tsinghua University, etc. I don’t want to say it’s impossible for you to be admitted, but your background would not be typical. I am not as familiar with Stanford or Columbia, but I would assume it would be similar there since they are ranked even higher.

True. Makes sense, but I suppose I should take my chances and at least apply. Of course getting into a top 20 school is going to be super difficult. Is your suggestion the same as the previous person's? Should I aim for the top 20-30 (or 40) range? What would be your suggestions for schools for me, and how I can refine my list. Would love additional input.

Edited by J456

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I agree with what @Stat PhD Now Postdoc wrote in his post. You have a solid overall background and are clearly capable of completing a PhD in statistics, but admissions are just super competitive for international students.

Applying to schools ranked around 20-40 sounds right. Something to keep in mind is that admissions rates also depend on the size of the program and the “general prestige” of the school. Small programs tend to be more selective and programs at well known schools seem to draw more applications than their rankings would suggest.

 

I would suggest applying to NC State. It’s easier to get into than their ranking would suggest since the program is so large. I also suggest Ohio State for the same reason.

I would avoid applying to Northwestern or UVA, which are both extremely selective.

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Just now, omicrontrabb said:

I agree with what @Stat PhD Now Postdoc wrote in his post. You have a solid overall background and are clearly capable of completing a PhD in statistics, but admissions are just super competitive for international students.

Applying to schools ranked around 20-40 sounds right. Something to keep in mind is that admissions rates also depend on the size of the program and the “general prestige” of the school. Small programs tend to be more selective and programs at well known schools seem to draw more applications than their rankings would suggest.

 

I would suggest applying to NC State. It’s easier to get into than their ranking would suggest since the program is so large. I also suggest Ohio State for the same reason.

I would avoid applying to Northwestern or UVA, which are both extremely selective.

Yes, of course. Admissions are extremely competitive, and I'll try and target good public school in the top 20-40 range. But I think I'll try and take my chances at the top schools as well so I have no regret later as to what could have been.

Yes, I've heard that Northwestern, NYU and Yale have extremely small programs, so I suppose I should be looking at large state schools in the top 20-40 range, and some dream schools in the top 20 range where I can take a shot.

Let me know if you have anything to add. Thanks!

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@omicrontrabb @Stat PhD Now Postdoc

Would you mind commenting on the tentative list of schools I have made:

Berkeley

Columbia
UNC Chapel Hill
Iowa State
NC State
Minnesota
Penn State
Ohio State
Boston University (Probability track in Math)

Michigan State
UConn etc. (a safety?)

Does it look reasonable. I think it's too crowded near the 15-25 range, and maybe I need to add some schools in the lower end of the 30-40 range. Suggestions?

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My profile: I am a doctor trained in classical music trying to understand music cognition and it's application in clinical practice. Mainly exploring EEG/ERP.

 

GRE : 320

 

Education : MBBS from India, also known as MD in US (graduating in mar-2020) 12th standard: 91% 10th standard : 94%

 

Areas of interest : Auditory perception and music cognition 

 

Research experience : ~3 years, 3 research projects out of which two are EEG based. 

( sought private funding for both of my projects on my own capacity while i was in 2nd and 4th year of my med school) 

 

Publications : 2 (under review) both first authored. 

 

Extra curricular activities : trained in classical music for over 15 years, state level badminton player, have been involved in a lot public health realted activities. 

 

Some of the universities im thinking are Harvard, MIT, north western, Uchicago, university of Nevada, university of Rochester, university of Tufts,  university of Connecticut, princeton, columbia and Cornell. Do i stand a chance to make it to the above mentioned universities? How competitive my profile be? Any suggestions on how I can improve my CV are welcome :)

Thanks in advance guys! 

 

      

 

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