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I don't know what type of schools I should be aiming for master's programs. Any help would be appreciated!


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Hi all,
 
With schools starting to open up their applications in the next 2-3 months, I've been wondering what schools I should aiming for. I want to get into healthcare using math/stats so most of the programs I was considering are bio-statistics or operations research with a focus on health systems. I have a pretty good academic profile but some concerns I have are that 1) my undergrad has zero prestige; 2) my GRE score seems a little low for the top programs; 3) I have no direct healthcare experience (currently work in unrelated economic research). Below are my stats but I'm not sure how competitive my profile would be.
 
Obviously, I would love to get into top schools like Harvard Biostats or Stanford MS&E, but I have no idea whether my GPA/GRE is really enough. Given my profile below, what type of schools should I be aiming for? Am I being delusional for thinking that I should even apply to a place like Harvard? What "tiers" should I be aiming for? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!!!
 
Undergraduate Institution: CUNY - Hunter College
Major(s): Math
GPA: 4.00/4.00 
Type of Student: Domestic Asian Male
GRE General: 166Q (90%); 164V (94%); 4.5 AWA (82%)
Programs Applying: MS Biostatistics, Statistics, and Operations Research (health systems focus)
Letters of Recommendation: 1 from my mathematical statistics class professor; 1 from my epidemiology class; don't know my third letter writer yet.
Relevant Coursework: 
Calculus I, II, III; Linear Algebra; Ordinary Differential Equations; Vector Calculus; Discrete math; Real Analysis I ; Complex Analysis; Abstract Algebra I ; Stochastic Processes; Numerical Methods & Analysis; Mathematical Statistics; Intro to Probability Theory; Intro to Epidemiology
Skills: R, Stata, Python, SQL (I have an active Github portfolio with all my code)
Relevant Research: None, but I'm not aiming for a PhD
Work Experience: Software Engineer for 2.5 years, and now currently doing data analysis doing economics research
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I'm not very knowledgeable about master's admissions, but I don't think there's really any reason to worry here.  You have a 4.0 as a math major, and you took pretty much every class (besides measure theory) that people would be looking for in a PhD applicant(!), plus the GRE scores to go along with it.  I'm aware that school "prestige" means rather more than I feel it should in applications (at least for PhD's), but even so, you have the profile of a student who was so good at a less prestigious school that you'd be considered anyways.  In any case, master's programs mostly care about ability to do the classes, and you've clearly demonstrated an ability to complete difficult math-based classes well.  

EDIT:  This is to say, I think you can apply pretty much anywhere you want.

Edited by Geococcyx
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2 hours ago, Geococcyx said:

 You have a 4.0 as a math major, and you took pretty much every class (besides measure theory) that people would be looking for in a PhD applicant(!), plus the GRE scores to go along with it.

Is 166Q competitive at top schools? I see admission averages that are like 168-169. Also, I'm afraid that even when they see a 4.0, they'll say something along the lines of: "So what? You studied at a CUNY, not an Ivy." I don't know if adcoms are that mean against non-prestigious degrees, but... I hope not.

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You should be in great shape. I would imagine you'd get into any biostatistics masters.  For statistics, I don't know exactly how competitive the top programs are like Stanford/Chicagto, but I think you should apply anywhere you are interested in. 166 should be fine.  Your background in computing should also be a good asset in admissions. 

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Also, because your profile is so good, you may be able to get a funded master's if you go to a PhD program that gives you the option to leave after 2 years into the PhD.  Unless you are independently wealthy, going to Michigan or Minnesota for 2 years with funding and saving $100k might be worth it over going to Harvard.

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Personally, (like most of the previous posts), I think you're good too.  I know the IVY's can be a bit choosy, but there are great regional schools that will give you money to attend.  Better to come out with low debt and a good education, than high debt and a good education.  When you're in the hunt for a job, network like crazy and get connected with people in places you want to work.  Making those connections early always helps.  Having been on job selection committee before, I find that people tend to like to hire people they know.

Good luck to you!!

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I think you're selling your school short. Sure, CUNY Hunter's not an Ivy, but there are only a handful of Ivy grads going into biostat each year, the vast majority of whom are looking at Ph.D. programs. Based on SAT ranges, it looks like CUNYH is roughly comparable to mid-tier flagship state schools (think Iowa, South Carolina, etc.), which is perfectly respectable. Biostat has plenty of success stories who didn't go to elite undergraduate institutions. This guy went to Harvard from U of Iowa. She did her undergrad at IUPUI. The list goes on.

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