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School name or topic? Thoughts on Sports Analytics


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I got accepted to a T10 PhD in Statistics with its research lab in sports analytics and a T50 PhD in Statistics with no lab for now but I saw lots of faculties with my interest (finance). Side note a good amount of my stipends for the T10 program is from the lab so I'm not sure about the chance of changing lab and also afraid to ask. (it might show my obvious disinterest in the lab?)

I know the answer to school name or topic is always topic, but my situation is a little different because I do enjoy sports analytics (have an undergrad published paper). My concern is that I don't want to work in sports field after PhD. I lean towards industry more than academia and am afraid that doing research in sports might affect my chance to find jobs as sports analytics is not a respectable(?) field in statistics.

I do love the T50 school and are happy with its location and stipends. But again this would probably be the last school attached to my name and I don't know if it would be the dumpest choice ever to choose a smaller school over an ivy. My main question is that would sport analytics research allow me to find jobs in industry other than sports?

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I don't think sports analytics is an issue - if you don't want to work in sports though, the one disadvantage is that you won't have an area of expertise that you can use to gain an advantage in the job market.  If you research clinical trials, you'll be set for pharma jobs; if you do spatial statistics, there are jobs that want those skills - you might be giving up an opportunity to develop some other area of expertise.  But I don't think it'll be looked down upon - I can think of one person recently who got a great professorship after doing sports analytics.

When you say T50, I assume it's ranked below 30-40.  I think that's a pretty big difference in program strength.  There are programs in the 25-30 range that compete with top 10 programs, but there's really no comparison between a 40-50 program and a T10.  I am not somebody who thinks that rankings are the most important thing ever, but unless you have strong personal reasons for choosing the lower-ranked schools, I think you'll really suffer from having less rigorous classes, a weaker cohort of fellow students, and fewer opportunities to work with good researchers.

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