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Profile Evaluation for Fall 20201 Biostat PhD/MS


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Hello! I've recently started looking into Biostatistics programs and am considering applying for 2021. I'd love to get some advice on whether this seems like a realistic path for me before I really commit to it. 

Undergrad Institution: Top 20 private university
Major: Statistics
GPA: 3.5
Type of student: Domestic female

GRE
Q:169
V:166
W:5.0

Relevant courses:
Math:
Calculus I-III (B+, A, A), ODEs (B+), Multivariate Calc (A-), Linear Algebra (B-)
Stats: Linear Models (B+), Categorical Data Analysis (B), Regression Analysis (A), Probability (B), Inference (B+), Statistical Theory - undergrad level (B), Statistical Theory - grad level (B+), Time Series Analysis - grad level (A-), Statistical Computing - grad level (A)

Research: 2 years basic data analysis for a social science professor during undergrad, 2 years of very quantitative social science research after graduation

Programs Considering:
Ideally I'd go straight into a PhD, but I'm concerned about my low math grades, no analysis, and lack of stats professors who I think would give me a strong recommendation letter since I've been out of school for over two years. I'd prefer schools in the northeast, so have looked at programs like Columbia, NYU, UPenn, Rutgers, BU, and Yale for Biostat PhDs. Are any of these realistic? Are there any other biostat or more applied statistics programs in the northeast that I should consider? Or am I better off going for a masters? If so, what are some masters programs that would help a PhD application?

Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

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I think your assessment is right that your grades are a little low for these programs and the lack of analysis will hurt you.  But, your test scores are great and you go to a top school which I've seen make a big difference.

I still think those are all reaches besides maybe NYU which I'm not familiar with at all.  I don't think it would be crazy to apply if you have the money, but just keep expectations in check.  I would probably not bother applying to Rutgers because that is in their statistics department and they'll probably view your lack of math more harshly. 

Other lower ranked biosatistics PhD programs in the northeast include UMass, Rochester, Buffalo and Albany.  If you want to become a professor, it's worth getting a master's first and getting into a better program. If not, a BioStatistics PhD from anywhere will help you get a job.

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8 minutes ago, bayessays said:

I think your assessment is right that your grades are a little low for these programs and the lack of analysis will hurt you.  But, your test scores are great and you go to a top school which I've seen make a big difference.

I still think those are all reaches besides maybe NYU which I'm not familiar with at all.  I don't think it would be crazy to apply if you have the money, but just keep expectations in check.  I would probably not bother applying to Rutgers because that is in their statistics department and they'll probably view your lack of math more harshly. 

Other lower ranked biosatistics PhD programs in the northeast include UMass, Rochester, Buffalo and Albany.  If you want to become a professor, it's worth getting a master's first and getting into a better program. If not, a BioStatistics PhD from anywhere will help you get a job.

Thank you, that's really helpful to know! I'm definitely leaning toward industry at this point, but would rather not completely rule out a job in academia yet. Would a program like UMass or Rochester make that pretty difficult?

Also, if I decide to apply for a masters, would these same programs be more realistic or should I still look at lower ranked programs?

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I think you should clarify if its a school known for grade deflation or not. If its UChicago or Caltech the response might be different than if it were say Harvard or Yale. I would be overstepping my expertise if I tried to tell you what schools are a target vs reach but I could imagine the answers changing. Maybe others can comment on this perspective. 

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Just now, icantdoalgebra said:

I think you should clarify if its a school known for grade deflation or not. If its UChicago or Caltech the response might be different than if it were say Harvard or Yale. I would be overstepping my expertise if I tried to tell you what schools are a target vs reach but I could imagine the answers changing. Maybe others can comment on this perspective. 

Agreed, but I think schools like Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, would be viewed extremely favorably too.  I am not sure going to Northwestern or Duke would be a boost to an application over top public schools. Maybe this is just my personal bias and I could be completely wrong. 

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4 minutes ago, icantdoalgebra said:

I think you should clarify if its a school known for grade deflation or not. If its UChicago or Caltech the response might be different than if it were say Harvard or Yale. I would be overstepping my expertise if I tried to tell you what schools are a target vs reach but I could imagine the answers changing. Maybe others can comment on this perspective. 

Thanks for pointing that out, I hadn't considered it. It is a school known for grade deflation. 

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In that case, I would definitely apply to the schools you listed and some safer options and MS programs.  I still think they're reaches given the linear algebra and prob/stat grades. A lot of the PhD programs you listed will probably consider you for their MS program if you don't get into the PhD, so you probably don't need to apply for separate MS programs.

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Since you are from a top school that is known for grade deflation, your grades should make the cutoff for the schools you listed. In order to have a better chance, I would take real analysis this fall since it is going to be helpful even if you do applied research. If you scored an A- or above, I think this would be a positive sign for admissions committee. I would apply straightly to PhD programs and add a few MS programs.

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13 hours ago, Casorati said:

Since you are from a top school that is known for grade deflation, your grades should make the cutoff for the schools you listed. In order to have a better chance, I would take real analysis this fall since it is going to be helpful even if you do applied research. If you scored an A- or above, I think this would be a positive sign for admissions committee. I would apply straightly to PhD programs and add a few MS programs.

Thank you! I wasn't sure if it was too late to take analysis in the fall, but if there's any chance it could help I'll definitely look into that.

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Just now, tukey said:

Thank you! I wasn't sure if it was too late to take analysis in the fall, but if there's any chance it could help I'll definitely look into that.

I have had personal success sending updated transcripts etc. to adcoms. The worst case scenario is that they ignore it, but I have found the vast majority are willing to take it under consideration.

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