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Applying 2020 Fall Stats PhD Eval

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Undergrad institution: NYU

Major: Honors Mathematics

GPA: ~3.7

Domestic/International: domestic.

Research Interests: Probabilistic time series analysis, bayesian stats, reinforcement learning, deep learning. Humanitarian slant.

Undergrad Math Courses: Honors cal III (B+), honors LinAl (A-), Indep Study in classical diffgeo (A), ODEs (A-), honors analysis I (A-), honors algebra I (A-), independent study in representation theory (A), honors analysis II (functional analysis and measure theory, A), honors algebra II (B+) independent study in wavelet analysis (A).

Grad Courses: Measure theoretic probability (A-), topology II (A).

Current Courses: math stats, math modeling, [PhD/MA] probabilistic time series analysis,  [PhD] probability 1, [PhD/MA] (mathematical) foundations of machine learning.

Research: Current work in multigrid methods and machine learning. Unlikely to be published. Two undergraduate research grants from department and dean.

Letters of Rec: 1 very large name in probability (ex Bourbaki), two other TBD but decent to very good professors.

Programming languages: Python, R, Matlab, some C++.

GRE: not taken due to COVID.

Work: internship at bulge bracket bank starting October.

Schools: Generally top programs, especially with a focus on humanitarian statistics. Notably:

  • Columbia
  • Stanford
  • Harvard
  • UChicago

I dislike safety schools, if I'm reaching too high would rather spend a year in industry then apply again. Some recommendations of schools would be appreciated though.


My biggest concern is that my transcript seems distinctly A-. Research was self guided and with overseas professor who could rarely communicate due to covid, as well as a topic my research partner and I fell out of love with quickly. Also, my honors analysis and algebra II courses were way harder than usual ones, with the analysis class being very similar to Courant's PhD real analysis course. Also had a particular... disdain for algebra professor that I'd rather not write on my SoP which is a large part of the B+ in that class (genuinely, not just whining).

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You'll have to broaden your range with some top 10 and top 20 schools. The 4 you listed are very competitive, and I don't think you'll be competitive for Stanford.  If you apply to programs and are rejected, you will almost certainly be rejected when you reapply, so you need a few more realistic choices.  Your grades are fine, so don't complain about them or make excuses on your SOP.  

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