# Profile Evaluation for PhD in Stat

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Hi,

I'm planning to apply for a PhD in Statistics this year for 2021 fall,

I would really appreciate any advice.

Research Interests :

Haven't really decided yet, broadly over statistical learning and statistical theory

Undergraduate Institution: Best known in Korea

Major: Statistics

GPA:
Overall 3.9/4.3 (3.79/4.0 converting A+ to 4.0 for 4.0 scale),
Major: 4.14/4.3 (3.97/4.0) (Excluding grad-level courses)

Type of Student: International Asian Male

Relevant Classes:
Math Courses
- Differential and Integral Calculus 1,2 (A0/A+)
- Linear Algebra 1,2 (A+/A0)
- Introduction to Mathematical Analysis 1,2 (A+/A0)
- Differential Equations (A+)
- Modern Algebra (A+)
- Real Analysis (B0) ( Is this critical?  )

Stat Courses
- Concepts and Applications in Probability (A+)
- Mathematical Statistics 1,2 (A+/A0)
- Regression Analysis (A+)
- Statistical Computing  (A+)
- Sampling Design and Survey Practice (A0), Experimental Design (A-), Discrete Data Analysis (A0), Multivariate Data Analysis (A0), Bayesian Statistics (A+), Survival Data Analysis (A0), Computational Statistics (A0), Data Mining Methods (A+), Stochastic Processes (A-), Nonparametric Statistics(A+)
- Grad-level courses: Theory of Statistics 1,2(A0/A0), Probability Theory 1 (B+, I definitely did above median; i heard the grade was deflated this semester), Applied Statistics (A+), Deep Learning (Stat Dept, A0),

Other courses
- Game Theory(Econ Dept, A+), Optimization Models (IE Dept, A+)

I'm planning to take few more grad-level courses on computational statistics, statistical methods, spatial statistics next semester.

Test Scores :
GRE general : V 157 / Q 169 / A 4.0
GRE subject math : Planning to take this October, expecting (>90%)
TOEFL : 114 (R30/L30/S28/W26)

Research Experience: Not much, I started an undergrad lab intern this summer, participating in seminars, so no clear results. I hope I could get some results (even if subtle) next semester, but not expecting much.

Work Experience

- Data Analyst Intern for 6 months at a Ad-Tech company for 6 months:

Worked on building ML models, learned python and sql; I think it's related with the field of statistics and it really motivated me to pursue a phd; definitely going to write about it at my SOP.

- Statistical Research Assistance at a Sociology Lab:

Working on analyzing survey data. Since it's in a completely different field, I don't really think it will affect my admission.

LOR : One from s stat professor of my undergrad lab intern, one from a stat professor i took few courses from, one from my ex-supervisor from the intern at the Ad-Tech company (He's currently a math professor at a different university).

Questions:

1. Do you think a B on Real Analysis will have a critical effect on my admission?
I think I have enough knowledge on measure theory needed for statistics, but I kinda messed up on the exams, and my grades aren't looking good... Even worse since I got a B+ on grad-level Probability Theory. Does my profile look like I don't have enough mathematical background on real analysis?

2. Do you think intern experience at an IT company can have any effect on the admission?
I've heard industrial experience don't really have any effect on the admission, especially for math and stat. I feel like the experience is important, since I learned a lot about ML theories and how to deal with real data; plus I'm getting a LOR (expecting it to be strong) from my previous supervisor.

I think I should've took more math classes rather than grad courses, but it's too late anyways.

4. Do you think getting admission to top-30-ish programs (up to Yale I guess? based on US News) seem possible with this profile?
I'm seeing a lot of people around me with better grades, more research experience than me, and I'm kinda losing confidence everyday I think about it. Do you think I should apply to lower-ranked schools for safety?

Edited by ieung
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1. Do you think a B on Real Analysis will have a critical effect on my admission?
Hard to tell. Your overall GPA and grades look strong, but there are other very strong applicants from South Korea. It also seems as though the main issue is that other top-tier applicants from South Korea have many more math classes and research experience in statistics than you do. Your research experience in the Sociology Lab may be viewed as a positive, but it wouldn't be on par with a statistics paper.

2. Do you think intern experience at an IT company can have any effect on the admission?
It probably won't have much effect on admissions.

Yes, that definitely would help.

4. Do you think getting admission to top-30-ish programs (up to Yale I guess? based on US News) seem possible with this profile?
It seems like admissions for Korean students is very competitive. I personally know Koreans who had publications in respectable journals like Computational Statistics and Data AnalysisBayesian AnalysisStatistics (some with multiple publications in such venues) who were "only" able to get into Texas A&M and North Carolina State University, but not Ivy League schools, Stanford, or CMU. In your case, I would target mainly large PhD programs at large public universities. It would be prudent to apply to lower-ranked programs too. I think you might stand a good chance at schools ranked around 40, e.g. UIUC, University of Florida, Rutgers, Ohio State, etc.

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I guess I'm not really competitive compared to other international applicants... should probably consider ~40 schools.

Although from what I know, applicants who have publications without the Master's degree are extremely rare; Even those who got into the top schools (Stan, UCB etc) immediately after finishing their undergrad don't have any publication, just super high grades and other research experience. Of course, those who have a Masters are more likely to have publications.

That being said, do you think completing a Master's degree can help my profile?
I've heard advises from other professors that it'll probably be a waste of time since I took much of the core courses, but if research experience and TA experiences while completing the Masters increases the probability of getting into better programs, I'm willing to do it... or if it doesn't really have any impact, I should probably just aim for lower safety schools...

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30 minutes ago, ieung said:

I guess I'm not really competitive compared to other international applicants... should probably consider ~40 schools.

Although from what I know, applicants who have publications without the Master's degree are extremely rare; Even those who got into the top schools (Stan, UCB etc) immediately after finishing their undergrad don't have any publication, just super high grades and other research experience. Of course, those who have a Masters are more likely to have publications.

That being said, do you think completing a Master's degree can help my profile?
I've heard advises from other professors that it'll probably be a waste of time since I took much of the core courses, but if research experience and TA experiences while completing the Masters increases the probability of getting into better programs, I'm willing to do it... or if it doesn't really have any impact, I should probably just aim for lower safety schools...

Come to think of it, most of the Koreans I know who obtained their PhDs in the U.S. (and who had papers before they began their programs here) did have a Master's degree. It may have been the Masters program where they were able to obtain the necessary research experience and publications. I would consider doing the Masters if you think that you can get something *very* noteworthy from it (like an academic paper if you are able to do research with a professor). But if the likelihood of doing that is low, then you may as well just apply to a wide range of programs in the U.S. You could still potentially get into a top 30 program, but it's hard to say with all the competition from international Asian applicants. I would suggest talking to your professors about the possibility of research experience and trying to get more concrete data about alumni from your department who enrolled in Statistics PhD programs in the U.S. (i.e. where did they matriculate? Did they all have Masters degrees before matriculating? etc.).

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2 hours ago, Stat Assistant Professor said:

Come to think of it, most of the Koreans I know who obtained their PhDs in the U.S. (and who had papers before they began their programs here) did have a Master's degree. It may have been the Masters program where they were able to obtain the necessary research experience and publications. I would consider doing the Masters if you think that you can get something *very* noteworthy from it (like an academic paper if you are able to do research with a professor). But if the likelihood of doing that is low, then you may as well just apply to a wide range of programs in the U.S. You could still potentially get into a top 30 program, but it's hard to say with all the competition from international Asian applicants. I would suggest talking to your professors about the possibility of research experience and trying to get more concrete data about alumni from your department who enrolled in Statistics PhD programs in the U.S. (i.e. where did they matriculate? Did they all have Masters degrees before matriculating? etc.).

Masters is kinda considered differently in Korea compared to other countries; it's more like year 1,2 of PhD, and you need a Masters degree to apply for a PhD program, so I guess that probably why.

Guess I should be talking more with my professors... Anyways, thanks for the advice! Really appreciate it.

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