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Profile Evaluation for Statistics PhD 2020


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Hi all! I'm in the process of finalizing the list of programs I will ultimately apply to and wanted to gauge my likelihood of acceptance at each one. In particular, I'd love to know if I'm aiming too high with my list and if I should add more schools in lower tiers. Thanks in advance for any input!


Undergrad Institution: Top 5 liberal arts college

Major: Math

GPA: 3.92


Type of Student: Domestic, White Male

Courses Taken: Calculus I-III, Ordinary Differential Equations, Probability, Statistics, Linear Algebra I-II, Group Theory I-II, Real Analysis I-II, Topology, Introductory Computer Science, Data Structures (As and a couple A minuses in each course)


GRE General:

Q: 170 (96%)

V: 166 (97%)

W: 5.0 (92%)


GRE Math Subject: 650 (49%) - planning to only submit where required or highly recommended


Grad Institution: None


Programs Applying: Statistics with a couple operations research mixed in


Research Experience: No formal academic research experience - several class projects and industry experience

1. 2-month long Linear Algebra project in which I used principal component analysis to reveal major league baseball pitching trends since 2000.

2. 2-month long Group Theory project in which I wrote a report and presented on recent findings related to automatic groups.


Work Experience: Nearly two years at a tech startup as a data analyst/software engineer.

1. Software engineering (~70% of responsibilities) - Experience building large scale infrastructure projects from the ground up. Working knowledge of Python, SQL, GitHub, docker, AWS, Redis, and other industry tools and practices.

2. Data Analysis (~30% of responsibilities) - Analyzed large email data sets and developed new statistics to identify undervalued users and email content. Incorporated concepts of parametric statistics into a decision engine that identifies underperforming email content. 


Letters of Recommendation: One from statistics professor, one from group theory professor, and another from real analysis professor. I know each of them well and expect strong letters from all 3.

Research Interests: Pretty flexible here, although Bayesian inference, high-dimensional data, networks, and statistical computing are of particular interest to me. 


PhD Programs I will definitely apply to:

Harvard (Statistics)

Carnegie Mellon (Statistics)

University of Michigan (Statistics)

Duke (Statistics)

UNC (Statistics)

NC State (Statistics)

Yale (Statistics)

Ohio State (Statistics)

University of Connecticut (Statistics)


PhD Programs I may apply to:

Purdue (Statistics)

Penn State (Statistics)

University of Toronto (Statistics)

Boston University (Statistics)

MIT (Operations Research)

Georgia Tech (Operations Research)


I'm aiming to apply to ~12 programs, so will likely choose ~3 schools from that second list. I appreciate any and all feedback! And anyone thinks there are other programs I should consider, please let me know!


Edited by kvothe13
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I think your list is reasonable. I'd be incredibly surprised if you didn't get into OSU/PSU/Purdue, and I think UConn is a very very safe choice. I think you have a good shot at most those other schools too. I'd probably recommend not sending out the GRE subject score unless it's absolutely required (I think Yale is the only school on your list that requires it, but I'm going from memory here). Since it is not a great score, I would not send it to schools where it's optional. 

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Thanks for responding so quickly @bayessays! To be cautious, I'd like add one more safe choice (on par with UConn) to this list, preferably in the Northeast. I'm leaning towards BU, but was wondering if you had any other thoughts. 

Also, do you think I should submit my subject test score to schools that "strongly recommend" I do so? They don't require it, per se, but I'm worried that if I don't submit it they might think I scored worse than I actually did. 


Edited by kvothe13
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BU is tricky since it's within the math department and their admissions standards might be a little different - I think with your profile, you would probably get in, but I wouldn't bet on it.  I got rejected from a stats PhD program within a math department at a much lower ranked school, so from personal experience I am more hesitant about odds at such a department.  Actual stats departments around the same rank you might want to look at near the northeast are are Rutgers and Pitt.  UMass Amherst has some good people too as a lower ranked place.


The common wisdom around here is a GRE subject score isn't going to help much unless you get around 80%.  I don't think your score is bad, but as a math major from a top school with a near perfect GPA and 170 GREQ, programs are going to have a pretty good impression of your math abilities, and unless you get at least an 80% on the test, it's probably not going to help that impression. I know people with similar profiles who submitted to top schools that strongly recommended the subject test, decided not to submit their mediocre scores, and were still accepted. 


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