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Profile Evaluation: Statistics PhD 2020 (International)

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I'm an international student from South Korea, and I would like some feedback on the schools that I've chosen to apply to.

My stats are:

Undergrad Institution: Top 3 in South Korea (Korea or Yonsei)

Major:  1st major - Business , 2nd major - Statistics 
GPA:  4.20/4.5 (96.6 / 100 or about 3.77 / 4.00 approximately depending on the conversion policy)
Student Type: International Asian Male 
GRE General Test: 163 Verbal (93%) , 169 Quant (95%) , 4.5 Analytical Writing (81%)

Math - Calculus I (A+), Calculus II (A) (In our school, calc I/II covers all up to multivariable), Linear Algebra I (A+), Linear Algebra II (A+), Analysis I (A+, used Rudin's PMA), Analysis II (A+), Real Analysis (A), Topology I (A+), Game theory (A+)  

Statistics - Multivariate Statistics Analysis (A+), Mathematical Statistics (A+), Regression Analysis (A+), Categorical Data Analysis (A), Intro to Probability Theory (B+), Sampling Theory (B) 

Computer Science & others - Statistical Computer Software (B+), Fundamentals of Data Science (A), Computer Science using python (EdX course from MIT,  pass), Microeconomics (A+), Data Management & Business Intelligence (A+), and plenty of other finance/business courses that I think don't really matter 

Courses I Plan to Take (Before Graduation) : Differential Equations, Algorithms
Research Experience: 1. Worked as a lab intern for a year at the industrial engineering department's supply chain value analytics lab. Helped mostly on analyzing sensor data and conducting predictive analytics for equipment fault detection. Applied LSTM models on equipment time series data to predict future equipment failures using Python.

2. Just Started working at a hospital (Arguably the best in South Korea) as a data analytics intern. Currently working on applying ML methods on genome data 
Programs Applying: PhD in Statistics
Awards/honors: Semester High Honers for 4 consecutive years
Programming Experience: Python (Keras, Pandas, Pymssql, SQLlite3), R, SQL, SAS, Latex
Letters of Recommendation:  One professor from the Supply chain value analytics lab (Strong, professor is from the industrial engineering dept), One professor from the Statistics dept (Strong, have taken his class and received good grades, kept in touch regularly), One professor from the Statistics dept (not as strong as the rest, just received good grades in her class), One from the Math dept (taken Analysis I/II from him and received good grades) 
Applying to where: 

Reach: Texas A&M, UCLA, UNC, U Minnesota, Penn State

Normal & Safeties: Ohio State, UC Davis, UIUC, Purdue, UFlorida, UConn  


1. Worried about not having stellar stats for an international student. Especially not having the Math GRE Subject Score 

2. Not sure if the list of schools is appropriate for my stats. Would really appreciate any feedback/ comments! 

3. Worried about the B in sampling theory, and B+ in Prob theory and statistical computer software 

4. Wondering if I have taken enough math courses. Especially considering that I've switched fields from business to stats 

5. Any thoughts, comments, or just friendly words of advice would be really appreciated! 

Edited by courier
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Given that you are from one of the top 3 schools in South Korea and your overall grades in math/stat classes are pretty good, your list of schools is very reasonable. You do have a few B's, but most of your other grades are excellent. I don't think you need to worry so much about the fact that you switched from business to stats. I know people from South Korea whose undergrad major was business (they only took math courses in their last few years so they could apply to Stats graduate programs in the U.S.)

UNC-STOR may be hard to crack, though. This department is tougher to get into than the others you listed, and furthermore, it is also more probability theory-focused than others. I would recommend you apply to NCSU.

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Thank you for your words of advice! I have one more question regarding the Math subject GRE. Do you think that taking the Math subject GRE is worth it? Just by looking at this forum, some ppl say that it's not really useful unless the school explicitly asks for it (eg. Stanford), while others seem to say that taking the subject test will be quite beneficial for one's application. Considering that I would have to invest quite a significant portion of my time if I had to take the math subject test (I didn't take number theory, differential geometry, etc.), would it be better to just focus on other parts of my application? 

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I wouldn't worry about it. Acing the math subject GRE does not guarantee acceptance to the top PhD programs for international applicants -- many of the students from my PhD program (which is ranked ~40th the last I checked) did very well on the subject test but did not get into the very top tier programs. Some top-tier programs like Duke don't even consider it, and you will hear of past applicants on this forum who got admitted to UChicago and Berkeley without submitting the subject test score.

Focus on making the rest of your application very strong, including making sure that you can secure strong letters of recommendation.

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Thank you again for the comment! I presume that "rest of my application" refers to my SOP, personal statement, good grades on remaining courses, and most importantly letters of recommendation?  

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The SOP doesn't have to be amazing, just competent (i.e. you can detail your academic and research experience and state a few potential research areas of interest). The letters of recommendation, grades (especially those in upper division math classes), and the general GRE scores are the most important parts of the application. The GRE is mainly a filter though, but a high score on it can sometimes lead to on-campus fellowships. Your GRE scores are exceptional -- even better than a lot of domestic applicants (the GRE V score is certainly very impressive for someone whose first language is not English).

Edited by Stat PhD Now Postdoc
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