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Number of PhD Applications


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I am wondering if anyone has insight into about how many PhD programs to which one should apply? I am looking at programs in statistics and operations research and have about 13-15 departments at which I could envision myself. Am I casting too wide a net, too narrow? Looking at the past admissions results, the variance in the number of programs to which prospective students apply seems quite large. 

Edited by dirichletprior
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13-15 is on the higher end but absolutely within the range of normal.  Most people limit their applications due to financial constraints (since it's ~$100 per school).  I'd recommend most people apply to at least 6 or 7 programs unless they have very strict geographic constraints (for instance, you have to stay in one city due to family).  20+ is excessive.

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I applied to an "excessive" number of schools (>20) because I was only aiming for the top programs. It did get a bit expensive, but fee waivers were easier to get than I expected. 

If I had only applied to 6, I would likely not have included the program that I am attending or others that ended up on my short list. However, I understand sending fewer applications if you are mainly interested in a few programs that you are confident will admit you.

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I applied to 14 schools. It definitely can be done without stretching yourself thin, but it does require some money and careful documentation of your applications (I had an excel spreadsheet).

My reasons were a combination of being international (so lower admission odds), wanting to get into a top school, and fear of getting in nowhere, mostly by seeing discussions here.

I ended up getting into one of my top choices, so looking back I'd drop a few schools, admission in general is a bit easier than it's made out to be here.

Best of luck!

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