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PhD Stat/Math/Econ Advice


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Ok recently I have decided to apply for PhD programs in Statistics/Math/Economics. I currently reside in Los Angeles and I do not want to apply to schools outside of Southern California. I went to community college and my GPA was around a 3.4 I transferred to UCLA and majored in Mathematics where my GPA was around a 3.0 (not as high as I would like). I feel my economics GPA is probably much higher than my math, I did not do well in Advanced Linear Algebra and Real Analysis. I enjoyed probability theory and applied mathematics courses much more. I also took a large amount of accounting classes and work.

After I graduated, I went to work for the first place that hired me, a tax accounting firm (I felt lucky to get a good paying job). I worked there for two and a half years and saved my money, not knowing what to do with it. I decided I wanted to further my education, but I didn't feel my GPA was high enough, I would be able to get letters of recommendation and didn't have time to work and take the GRE. Thus, I decided to enroll in a MS program in Mathematics with an Option in Applied Statistics at California State University Long Beach.

I currently have a 3.8 GPA and I have passed my comprehensive examinations for my Masters. One of my professors has really encouraged me to apply to PhD programs. I have been able to get the needed letters of recommendation and I just took the GRE a few days ago (V: 470 Q: 800). I realize that my verbal scores are subpar, however I was not left with much time to study for the GRE so most of my time was honing my basic math "concepts" so I would get the highest score possible.

My first choice school UCSB, where I am apply to their PhD program in Statistics with an emphasis in Financial Mathematics. I am more interested in applied probability theory, stochastic processes and financial mathematics. Most of the other PhD programs seem to be geared towards Biostatistics which I am not so keen on. Also, some schools have their probability theory and/or statistics coursework in the Mathematics department (i.e. UCI, USC, UCSD). USC's Mathematics department requires the math subject GRE and I do not have the time to take that before the deadline. So I have decided to apply to some programs Mathematics (UCI) or Economics departments (UCSD, USC).

So to summarize I am applying to the following programs:

1. UCSB Statistics

2. UCLA Statistics

3. UCSD Economics

4. USC Economics

5. UCI Mathematics

My questions are as follows:

1. How much does being in a Master's in Mathematics with an Option in Applied Statistics program help me in getting into these programs? (I will receive my MS by June 2011)

2. Is my undergrad GPA a huge liability toward my admission into programs?

3. My verbal GRE score is rather low for Economics PhDs is this a huge obstacle? UCSD's economics program is pretty competitive would I be better suited applying for their Mathematics Department?

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Ok recently I have decided to apply for PhD programs in Statistics/Math/Economics. I currently reside in Los Angeles and I do not want to apply to schools outside of Southern California. I went to community college and my GPA was around a 3.4 I transferred to UCLA and majored in Mathematics where my GPA was around a 3.0 (not as high as I would like). I feel my economics GPA is probably much higher than my math, I did not do well in Advanced Linear Algebra and Real Analysis. I enjoyed probability theory and applied mathematics courses much more. I also took a large amount of accounting classes and work.

After I graduated, I went to work for the first place that hired me, a tax accounting firm (I felt lucky to get a good paying job). I worked there for two and a half years and saved my money, not knowing what to do with it. I decided I wanted to further my education, but I didn't feel my GPA was high enough, I would be able to get letters of recommendation and didn't have time to work and take the GRE. Thus, I decided to enroll in a MS program in Mathematics with an Option in Applied Statistics at California State University Long Beach.

I currently have a 3.8 GPA and I have passed my comprehensive examinations for my Masters. One of my professors has really encouraged me to apply to PhD programs. I have been able to get the needed letters of recommendation and I just took the GRE a few days ago (V: 470 Q: 800). I realize that my verbal scores are subpar, however I was not left with much time to study for the GRE so most of my time was honing my basic math "concepts" so I would get the highest score possible.

My first choice school UCSB, where I am apply to their PhD program in Statistics with an emphasis in Financial Mathematics. I am more interested in applied probability theory, stochastic processes and financial mathematics. Most of the other PhD programs seem to be geared towards Biostatistics which I am not so keen on. Also, some schools have their probability theory and/or statistics coursework in the Mathematics department (i.e. UCI, USC, UCSD). USC's Mathematics department requires the math subject GRE and I do not have the time to take that before the deadline. So I have decided to apply to some programs Mathematics (UCI) or Economics departments (UCSD, USC).

So to summarize I am applying to the following programs:

1. UCSB Statistics

2. UCLA Statistics

3. UCSD Economics

4. USC Economics

5. UCI Mathematics

My questions are as follows:

1. How much does being in a Master's in Mathematics with an Option in Applied Statistics program help me in getting into these programs? (I will receive my MS by June 2011)

2. Is my undergrad GPA a huge liability toward my admission into programs?

3. My verbal GRE score is rather low for Economics PhDs is this a huge obstacle? UCSD's economics program is pretty competitive would I be better suited applying for their Mathematics Department?

Don't sweat the verbal score. Half the grad students in Math/Stat PhD programs are foreigners whose English is (sometimes) pretty bad. No one will care about that score for Math/Stats PhD programs. Maybe they will for Econ; I'm not that familiar with Econ PhD programs.

Having a Master's will help because hopefully it means you have a solid foundation for PhD programs. Although be prepared to redo a lot of the coursework. The undergrad GPA will most likely be ignored if your MS GPA is that good. Your MS coursework is important too. I'm assuming you took Real Analysis, a year of Mathematical Statistics, maybe some applied courses... Good letters of recommendation are important too.

Just as a warning, you may want to apply to more schools. Departments everywhere are cutting back on the number of students they are accepting due to funding issues, whereas applications in some fields (such as Statistics) have spiked in the fast 4-5 years.

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  • 1 month later...

I can't comment much on your specific situation, but this sounds a bit familiar...

I did Applied Math, and my scores were pretty comparable to yours. I only applied to three Applied Stat schools and got into all of them. Two offered me financial support via grants and assistantships. I don't remember if the other did. Admission criteria may have changed since the economy is in the toilet. 

I would imagine that having the M.S. already and reapplying to continue on for a Ph.D. would be a strong indication that you'd be in it for the long haul. In graduate school, there seems to be a big wave of attrition in the first year of the core courses, and then another after the M.S. is earned.

My undergrad GPA didn't seem to be a factor. The M.S. showed that I was capable of handling grad school coursework.

No idea about econ programs.

I'd be curious to see what the results were of your applications since my background was pretty comparable at the time.

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What do you think of Alabama's Applied Stats PhD program? Could you PM me if you get a chance I have a few questions regarding the program if you have time.

Thanks!

I can't comment much on your specific situation, but this sounds a bit familiar...

I did Applied Math, and my scores were pretty comparable to yours. I only applied to three Applied Stat schools and got into all of them. Two offered me financial support via grants and assistantships. I don't remember if the other did. Admission criteria may have changed since the economy is in the toilet. 

I would imagine that having the M.S. already and reapplying to continue on for a Ph.D. would be a strong indication that you'd be in it for the long haul. In graduate school, there seems to be a big wave of attrition in the first year of the core courses, and then another after the M.S. is earned.

My undergrad GPA didn't seem to be a factor. The M.S. showed that I was capable of handling grad school coursework.

No idea about econ programs.

I'd be curious to see what the results were of your applications since my background was pretty comparable at the time.

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3. My verbal GRE score is rather low for Economics PhDs is this a huge obstacle? UCSD's economics program is pretty competitive would I be better suited applying for their Mathematics Department?

I tend to think that math should be your last choice because 1) you didn't do well in math in UG. You have a high GPA in the MS program but grading is more generous at the graduate level; 2) job market for math ph.d. is tough. Universities used to pay about $60k/yr to assistant professors-assuming you even get to that level in the next 10 years- but these days, they can hire Indian students at $30k. By the time you're looking for a job in math, the salaries might be even lower.; 3) If you have the brainpower to do math, stat would be easier and more marketable.

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  • 1 month later...

I tend to think that math should be your last choice because 1) you didn't do well in math in UG. You have a high GPA in the MS program but grading is more generous at the graduate level; 2) job market for math ph.d. is tough. Universities used to pay about $60k/yr to assistant professors-assuming you even get to that level in the next 10 years- but these days, they can hire Indian students at $30k. By the time you're looking for a job in math, the salaries might be even lower.; 3) If you have the brainpower to do math, stat would be easier and more marketable.

If you have the brainpower to do math, stats could be unbearable.

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If you have the brainpower to do math, stats could be unbearable.

Is this true? I think very few people really have the brainpower for math, but stat is pretty challenging and useful ... Is stats that boring? I think you must learn measure theory before you even start learning stat, so stats must be worthwhile challenge and a practical skill, too.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I can't comment much on your specific situation, but this sounds a bit familiar...

I did Applied Math, and my scores were pretty comparable to yours. I only applied to three Applied Stat schools and got into all of them. Two offered me financial support via grants and assistantships. I don't remember if the other did. Admission criteria may have changed since the economy is in the toilet. 

I would imagine that having the M.S. already and reapplying to continue on for a Ph.D. would be a strong indication that you'd be in it for the long haul. In graduate school, there seems to be a big wave of attrition in the first year of the core courses, and then another after the M.S. is earned.

My undergrad GPA didn't seem to be a factor. The M.S. showed that I was capable of handling grad school coursework.

No idea about econ programs.

I'd be curious to see what the results were of your applications since my background was pretty comparable at the time.

I will let you know when I get the results from all the schools. I have already been rejected from USC so I am waiting on the rest. I plan on staying in southern california (as my girlfriend is currrently at UCLA) for at least another year or two, which is partly why I applied to schools in this area, I am not really concerned about funding because I am not in debt and have paid for all the tuition up through this point, and if I need to take some loans so be it (UC resident tuition is not unaffordable, another reason I chose to only applied to California schools). If I don't get into any schools I will find work and maybe reapply to more schools in a couple of years.

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  • 4 years later...

Any feedback from anyone? I'm mainly wondering if reputation or ranking of a master's in stats matters when applying for PhD programs in economics.

 

I would think that it matters. A lot of people tend to agree that undergrad quality matters. By extension, I think that it at least has some impact.

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