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Fall2023 Statistics PhD application, school EVAL



Hi all, I'm currently working, but have decided to apply for a PhD program this Fall in statistics. I'm quite anxious about the chance of being admitted, since I have virtually no research experience. Below are my background.

Undergrad: UIUC

Major: Actuarial Science

GPA: 3.98/4.0


Master: Columbia

Major: Statistics

GPA: 3.67/4.0


GRE: 330

Research: Some grad-level course projects, a small undergrad-level educational research, currently doing an econometric research to improve my weak research experience.

Work experience: Currently working as an actuary in a top leading insurance company.

Recommendation letters: One from actuarial math professor in UIUC, one from statistics professor in Columbia, another is from the econometric research advisor(instructor tile, but a Harvard and UChicago alumni)

Course taken: Most math and stat courses and machine learning courses that should be prerequisite for applying for a stat PhD, but haven't taken real analysis yet.

Others: Nearly passed all associate level actuarial exams  


Pros: Relatively good math skills, have a master's degree, (some work experience?)

Cons: No concrete research experience, no publication, no hardcore math courses such as real analysis, low graduate school GPA


Schools I plan to apply are as follows, 15 in total, I'm not sure whether I'll be rejected by all of them due to lack of concrete research experience.

Actuarial Science PhD: Waterloo, Wisconsin-Madison, UIUC

Statistics PhD: UCLA, UMichigan, UCSB, UCD, PennState, 7 undecided (Probably from USnews top 50~150 list)


Also, is it common for being considered and admitted for MS instead(when the committee believe a student need take more prerequisites) when applying for PhD? Any advice will be precious for me. Thanks a lot!

Edited by anonyyy
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9 hours ago, Dr_Hugh_ said:


* Grades are good. You also have a master's degree, which should settle any concerns about your potential as a PhD student.

* LORs are good.

* As far as research experience is concerned, you will be evaluated on your potential. The admissions committee does not expect publications (it always helps but not a requirement). The econometric research is a good idea to demonstrate your interest.

The core of the evaluation will rely on your statement of purpose. You should definitely take the time to make sure you will be able to demonstrate your familiarity with the field and your ability to define research questions. I would definitely start now, since it can be time consuming to conduct a bit of research before the writing starts. School selection also plays a big role in the admissions committee's decision. It is important to demonstrate how well you fit in.

The MS is often some sort of consolation prize for PhD applicants. If you want to go to the PhD, it is always best to enroll in a PhD program and stay away from master's program that are often plain money grabs.

Hope this helps!


Thanks a lot! This is really a great help and encouragement. 

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