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I will be a senior this upcoming semester and am trying to finalize where I will apply (and where I have a decent chance of getting accepted) for Stats PhD programs (open possibly to Biostats as well). I'm mostly interested in doing research in bayesian statistics / machine learning, but that could change. Thanks for your input!

Undergrad Institution: mid-sized private school (~ top 100 math department)
Major(s): Statistics
Minor(s): Math
GPA: Current 4.0
Type of Student: Domestic male

GRE General Test: 
Q:
160 (I'm retaking the GRE in August to hopefully get around the 165+ range)
V: 157
W: 5.0
 
Applying to: Statistics PhD
 
Research Experience: will be doing research beginning in a week with a Stats professor using bayesian methods, working with environmental data. Will continue doing research
for the remainder of my undergrad education.
Letters of Recommendation: Nobody super well known, but 2 strong ones (1 from research I'll be doing with him) and 1 decent one
Math/Statistics Grades:  Calc 1-2 (A), Probability and Inference 1 (A), Probability and Inference 2 (A), Regression (A), Intro & Applied R Programming (A), SAS programming (A), 
Linear Algebra (A), Linux/Unix Shell programming (A), Intro to Python (A), Analysis of Variance (A),
Planning on taking: Calc 3 (taking this summer, should get an A), Fundamentals of Mathematics(proofs, taking this fall), Theory of Analysis 1 (taking after this upcoming semester), Bayesian Statistics (this fall),
Data science methods (this fall)

Planning on Applying to: Texas A&M (I'm probably reaching for this one), University of Missouri, University of Georgia, Florida State University, Arizona State University
 
What are my chances of getting into some of these schools, and what are some other schools I should look at? Thanks for your help!
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Since your math background is currently a little thin, some of this is going to depend on your analysis grade and improving your GRE score.  If you can get an A in analysis and improve your GRE score to a 165, I think you are aiming too low and should add a few more schools at the A&M level.  If you stayed at a 160 and got a B in analysis, I think you list is targeting the right range of schools.

Have you looked at biostatistics programs as well?  If you improve your GRE and do well in analysis, I could see you being competitive at schools like Michigan/Minnesota, and I definitely would look at schools like Duke/Vanderbilt/Pitt/Iowa which I think you'll be competitive for regardless.

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20 hours ago, bayessays said:

Since your math background is currently a little thin, some of this is going to depend on your analysis grade and improving your GRE score.  If you can get an A in analysis and improve your GRE score to a 165, I think you are aiming too low and should add a few more schools at the A&M level.  If you stayed at a 160 and got a B in analysis, I think you list is targeting the right range of schools.

Have you looked at biostatistics programs as well?  If you improve your GRE and do well in analysis, I could see you being competitive at schools like Michigan/Minnesota, and I definitely would look at schools like Duke/Vanderbilt/Pitt/Iowa which I think you'll be competitive for regardless.

Thanks for your reply! That makes sense. However, I will be applying to programs at the same time that I'll be taking my analysis course. Do you think that would be a big deal when it comes to admissions?

Also, I have looked into some biostatistics programs but not much. I'll be sure to do some more research on those. Thanks for the suggestions!

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I knew someone who majored in math at Ohio State, got a low score on the math GRE (159 I believe), but still got into A&M and other top state schools (although I imagine they are an exceptional case).

@bayessays gave you the best advice. If you did what he suggested, I could see you getting into some schools like A&M, PSU, Michigan, UCLA, Purdue, etc. (the larger state school programs). If you're interested in biostatistics, you might have a decent shot at all programs outside of UW (Harvard and Hopkins are reaches, but I've known students to get into these programs with profiles similar to yours).

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On 6/13/2020 at 10:06 AM, StatsG0d said:

I knew someone who majored in math at Ohio State, got a low score on the math GRE (159 I believe), but still got into A&M and other top state schools (although I imagine they are an exceptional case).

@bayessays gave you the best advice. If you did what he suggested, I could see you getting into some schools like A&M, PSU, Michigan, UCLA, Purdue, etc. (the larger state school programs). If you're interested in biostatistics, you might have a decent shot at all programs outside of UW (Harvard and Hopkins are reaches, but I've known students to get into these programs with profiles similar to yours).

Thanks, that's helpful. I'm not sure why I did so poorly on the quantitative section of the GRE, so hopefully I'll be able to improve it a decent amount when I take it again in August.

Since I will just be starting my Theory of Analysis class by the time applications are due, do you think that will affect my application, or will they basically assume I will perform well based on past performance in other classes? I'm guessing it's something I should probably just address in my SoP's.

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They'll see it as in-progress on your transcript.  If they have questions, they'll ask you for your fall semester grades (since most departments don't review applications until January).  If you do well in the course, I would suggest going out of your way after receiving fall semester grades to send departments your updated transcript.  I don't think you need to address anything in your SOP.  A decent number of people in biostatistics programs and stats programs outside the top 20 come in without having taken analysis.

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  • 1 month later...
Posted (edited)

Just to get some further advice, I finished Calc 3 with an A this summer, and will be taking Fundamentals of Mathematics (proofs) and a few 400-level stat classes this Fall. In January I'll start my Theory of Analysis 1 class (so the grade in that class will not be able to be reported on applications).

I retook the GRE, but my Q score is still stuck at 160 (even though I was getting 165+ on practices).

Should I retake the GRE, or will my GPA and other criteria be enough to compensate? I'm not exactly a fan of standardized testing but I'll retake it if it'll affect my chances that much (especially for A&M, which is by far my top choice).

Here's a revised list of schools I'm considering applying to (all Stat PhD unless noted):

Texas A&M
UT - Austin
UIUC
Rice
Mizzou
Florida State
Baylor
Duke (Biostat PhD)

Edited by BL4CKxP3NGU1N
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On 8/15/2020 at 2:12 PM, BL4CKxP3NGU1N said:

Should I retake the GRE, or will my GPA and other criteria be enough to compensate? I'm not exactly a fan of standardized testing but I'll retake it if it'll affect my chances that much (especially for A&M, which is by far my top choice).

I guess I'd probably retake just to not get auto-rejected. Honestly, even a 163 could make a huge difference compared to a 160.

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A 160 in GRE Q could lead to an automatic rejection. For most statistics programs, the average GRE Q of admitted students is over the 90th percentile. So realistically you should aim for 168+ and at the very least, a 165. Higher ranked schools typically require more math, so if you take two semester of real analysis, measure theory and some other proof-based courses with mostly A's in them, you stand a chance of getting into top 20's.

Edited by Casorati
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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the input everyone, that's helpful. I'll take the GRE again.

Assuming I score somewhere between at least 163-165, how does my list of schools look? And are there other good Bayesian programs I could target that I haven't included (and that aren't in California)? Either Stat or Biostat.

Edited by BL4CKxP3NGU1N
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31 minutes ago, BL4CKxP3NGU1N said:

And are there other good Bayesian programs I could target that I haven't included (and that aren't in California)? Either Stat or Biostat.

Maybe check out Ohio State and University of Iowa Statistics.

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14 hours ago, BL4CKxP3NGU1N said:

Thanks for the input everyone, that's helpful. I'll take the GRE again.

Assuming I score somewhere between at least 163-165, how does my list of schools look? And are there other good Bayesian programs I could target that I haven't included (and that aren't in California)? Either Stat or Biostat.

Pretty much every department will have at least some Bayesian faculty members. It's not necessary to be in a Bayesian department. My department is mostly frequentist, but I do Bayesian research. That said, the advantage of a Bayesian department is that the Bayesian training is embedded in the core curriculum. I had to take time to learn Bayesian statistics on my own.

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