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Fall 2025 Applicant (no Real Analysis)


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Hi all - I plan on applying for a Stats PhD this upcoming fall. I think I have a decent profile (info below), but I have not taken Real Analysis. I have been out of college for a few years now working in a fairly technical analysis/research intensive role (economic consulting), and I don't see any opportunity to take it before I apply. How much of an issue is this? I have put a lot  of effort into getting the ball rolling on organizing my application push for the upcoming fall and would be pretty depressed to find out I don't really have a chance. I am not considering any school that lists RA as a firm requirement. Several schools I am considering don't mention it at all, and others mention it as desirable but not required, candidates can take it in their first year, etc.

Undergrad Institution: UW-Madison
Major(s): Industrial Engineering
Minor(s): Computer Science
GPA: 3.98/4.0
Type of Student: Domestic white male

GRE General Test: 
Q:
 169
V: 163
W: 4.0
 
Programs Applying: Statistics
 
Research Experience:  Worked as a paid research assistant in undergrad (no publications, not statistical - more social science related). I have one paper published through work (I am one of five authors on it FWIW) that was for a conference (not statistics-related, more industry research).
Awards/Honors/Recognitions: two scholarships, graduated with highest honors
Pertinent Activities or Jobs: 
  • Undergrad tutor for 3 years (physics, statistics, math, some IE courses)
  • My most notable strength is likely my current job. I won't go into a ton of detail, but I work with mostly PhDs (albeit in economics) as a Research Analyst and spend most of my time programming and performing relatively intense analysis in what I would characterize as a research-like environment. I will write about this at length in my SoP.
Letters of Recommendation: 2 Econ PhDs who supervise in me my current role and can speak to the level of statistical rigor in our work + 1 well regarded professor in the Operations Research space
Math/Statistics Grades:  (A's in all) Linear Algebra, Calculus I-III, Mathematical Statistics I-II, Physics I-II, Programming I-II, Operations Research, Matrix Methods in Machine Learning, Optimization
Any Miscellaneous Points that Might Help: 

Applying to Where: (all Statistics PhDs)

UC-Berkeley

UW-Madison

UCI

Harvard

Rice

CMU

University of Michigan

University of Minnesota

University of Pittsburgh

Northwestern

University of Washington

Ohio State

UCLA

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Is it possible you could take Math 444 online from UIUC? (It's a self-paced online course) I usually wouldn't recommend paying for something like that, but your profile is extremely good and I just think it'd be a shame to miss out on some good admissions because your math background is weaker.  Even 10 years ago at biostats programs, I barely knew anybody who was admitted without Real Analysis (of course, this isn't necessarily causal...) -- statistics programs tend to want even more math, and admissions have only gotten harder over the years.

I think you're underestimating how much schools want you to have taken real analysis - I checked 3 schools on your list and 2 out of 3 explicitly said they want you to take real analysis (UCI and Northwestern). 

I think you'd probably have at least one option if you applied to your current list without RA, but I also think basically every school is a reach.  Your profile is good, but it also doesn't really stand out - you're from a good school but not elite, your math background is below average, and your research experience (despite your current job) is still below average for an admitted applicant to most of these schools.  I would recommend both taking RA if possible, removing a few of the top programs and adding some safer schools, and perhaps applying to biostatistics programs where they may be more forgiving of less math.

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42 minutes ago, bayessays said:

Is it possible you could take Math 444 online from UIUC? (It's a self-paced online course) I usually wouldn't recommend paying for something like that, but your profile is extremely good and I just think it'd be a shame to miss out on some good admissions because your math background is weaker.  Even 10 years ago at biostats programs, I barely knew anybody who was admitted without Real Analysis (of course, this isn't necessarily causal...) -- statistics programs tend to want even more math, and admissions have only gotten harder over the years.

I think you're underestimating how much schools want you to have taken real analysis - I checked 3 schools on your list and 2 out of 3 explicitly said they want you to take real analysis (UCI and Northwestern). 

I think you'd probably have at least one option if you applied to your current list without RA, but I also think basically every school is a reach.  Your profile is good, but it also doesn't really stand out - you're from a good school but not elite, your math background is below average, and your research experience (despite your current job) is still below average for an admitted applicant to most of these schools.  I would recommend both taking RA if possible, removing a few of the top programs and adding some safer schools, and perhaps applying to biostatistics programs where they may be more forgiving of less math.

Thanks for the response. Unfortunately I don’t anticipate having time to take a course before I apply in the fall. So I’ll probably just bite the bullet and apply without it. Regarding biostatistics, I know they may be more forgiving of less math, but I genuinely don’t have an interest in the public health component if I’m being honest. I assume that implies I probably shouldn’t apply? My end goal is machine learning-related research.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 6/3/2024 at 10:37 PM, bayessays said:

Is it possible you could take Math 444 online from UIUC? (It's a self-paced online course) I usually wouldn't recommend paying for something like that, but your profile is extremely good and I just think it'd be a shame to miss out on some good admissions because your math background is weaker.  Even 10 years ago at biostats programs, I barely knew anybody who was admitted without Real Analysis (of course, this isn't necessarily causal...) -- statistics programs tend to want even more math, and admissions have only gotten harder over the years.

I think you're underestimating how much schools want you to have taken real analysis - I checked 3 schools on your list and 2 out of 3 explicitly said they want you to take real analysis (UCI and Northwestern). 

I think you'd probably have at least one option if you applied to your current list without RA, but I also think basically every school is a reach.  Your profile is good, but it also doesn't really stand out - you're from a good school but not elite, your math background is below average, and your research experience (despite your current job) is still below average for an admitted applicant to most of these schools.  I would recommend both taking RA if possible, removing a few of the top programs and adding some safer schools, and perhaps applying to biostatistics programs where they may be more forgiving of less math.

I am also lacking Real Analysis from my undergrad, but I took Introduction to Measure Theory with lots of proofs. @bayessays Do you think this would be a good substitute? I plan to apply for PhD in stats/biostats.

Edited by alemao
it was confusing
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