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Fall 2024 International student statistics PhD profile evaluation

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Undergrad Institution: Mid-tier Indian University (not ISI or IIT)
Major: Mathematics (minor in Statistics)
GPA: 4.0/4.0
Type of Student: International Asian male
Relevant Courses (A+ unless stated otherwise):
Undergraduate Level MathCalculus (I,II,III), Real Analysis I (A), Real Analysis II, Linear Algebra, Group Theory, Topology (I,II), Complex Analysis, Applications of Dynamical Systems, Discrete Math, Intro to computational math, Numerical Analysis, Optimization, ODEs (I,II), Introduction to PDEs 
 Undergraduate Level Statistics and Computer Science: Introduction to Probability, Statistical Theory, Intro to Statistical Computing, ANOVA, Intro to Statistical Inference, Applied Non-parametric statistics, Basic statistical modelling, Applied Inference, Intro to Programming (CS), Web Development (CS), Intro to Computing Theory (CS)
Currently Taking: Measure Theory (in progress), Functional Analysis (in progress), Advanced Topology (graduate level, in progress), Topics in Stochastic Calculus (in progress) 
TOEFL:110; 30/28/25/27
GRE: 170Q/ 168V/ 4.5 AW
GRE Subject Mathematics: N/A
Programs Applying:  Statistics PhD, Biostatistics PhD
Research Experience: 
- Short REU in the US on the applications of math in cryptography (no publications), My current undergrad thesis research is on measure theory and I don't expect any publications before application deadlines
Work Experience:
- 6 months as a data science intern at a startup (basically data cleaning)
Teaching Experience: Math olympiad TA at the state level 
Recommendation Letters: Three; two from math professors at my institution (relatively unknown), one from a statistics professor affiliated with but outside my institution (well-known in the field). Hopefully all three will be excellent. 
Programming skills: Python, SQL, HTML, Javascript, SPSS
Research Interests: Theoretical and mathematical aspects of statistics and ML, also biostatistics (I currently have little background in this area but I believe I have the necessary math skills and an interest in its applications)
Others: Numerous awards from nationwide and international mathematics competitions both during high school and university (some of which are very well known), several fellowships and scholarships at national and state levels 


Applying to: Statistics PhD:

Stanford, UChicago, UPenn, UWM, UMichigan, U of Washington, Columbia, UCLA, Texas A&M, Iowa State, OSU, Rutgers, Purdue, UC Irvine, UT Austin,...

Biostatistics PhD:

Have not pinned down a list yet; would welcome any suggestions


  • Being an applicant from a relatively unknown international university
  • Not enough advanced probability & statistics courses
  • Virtually no research experience in statistics
  • Transcript will not contain senior year grades


Hi everyone, I am quite worried about my PhD applications, because I could not find someone similar to me so I have no idea how strong or weak my application is.

My biggest concern is being a student from a lesser known Indian university. I hope my high GPA and GRE scores will make up for this. Also, I am unaware of how significant a role achievements in math olympiads would play. Perhaps my awards in undergrad international competitions would convince gradcoms of the quality of my math preparation? I expect to use the SOP to highlight my motivation for pursuing research in statistics (mainly derived from the statistics courses I have taken).

My lack of research in stats may also be an issue. I doubt that an applied math REU would count in this regard. However to be fair, the REU was rather selective and I was one of the very few undergraduates from outside the US. 

Another concern is that the unofficial transcript I expect to submit will not contain the grades of some advanced math courses such as measure theory and functional analysis. I wonder if this could affect the strength of my application. A full official transcript will be available by Fall 2024. 

I very much welcome any advice or feedback. Specifically, any improvements to the list of grad programs above, with advice on reach/safety schools would be helpful + anything I could do to improve the strength of my application.

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For some context about my undergraduate institution: I now know that two former students who had profiles similar to mine (except without the REU experience in the US and performance at undergrad math competitions) were admitted into math PhD programs ranked around 20-25 on the USNWR math graduate schools ranking (such as CMU and UC San Diego for example). They took mostly the same math courses I listed above and had pretty much the same grades. However, I am unsure of how this could be translated into a prediction for success in statistics program applications.

The closest approximations I have are two relatively recent graduates who were admitted into a statistics PhD ranked 30-35 and a biostatistics PhD ranked 10-15 respectively. My profile primarily differs from theirs due to the lot of math courses I have taken whereas they had a lighter math background and much more stats courses.

Update: I added CMU to the list I expect to apply to and removed UT Austin


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