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2025 PhD Reach Chances for PhD in Math/Statistics Focusing on Optimal Transport


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Hi. I'll be applying to PhD programs for Fall 2025 and I wanted to check my chances on these reach schools. I already have two acceptances from decent universities in Europe for 2025 so I'm not bothering with "safeties" anymore, but want to try my hand at these programs as I want to focus on optimal transport, and these schools have faculty that directly work on it, not just use it as a tool in their research. For reference, I am an international student from South America studying in the US.

Undergrad - Applied Mathematics from a well known school in Los Angeles

GPA: 3.6/4.0 (I suffered an accident that destroyed my senior year GPA, which I will briefly mention in my SOP)

Honors: Dean's List, International Dean's Scholarship, Prestigious Grant from outside the university, 2021 Math Department's Award

Masters - Applied Mathematics from the same school

GPA: 3.9/4.0 in Master's, and 4.0/4.0 in 3 other grad math courses outside my masters at another university.

Grad Courses: Real Analysis (B+), Probability II (A), Mathematical Statistics II (A), Numerical Methods (A), Statistical Learning Theory (A-), Optimization (A), Data Science (A), Machine Learning at the Engineering Department (A), ODEs (A-), Statistical Consulting (A) and I have also taken 3 other courses at another T25 university with A's in all: Real Analysis II, Linear Models, Bayesian Statistics.

Teaching Assistant for 2 years for Calculus 1 and 2.

GRE: 169 Quant

Research

- One first author research conference presentation with a PhD student.

- Published master thesis supervised by a well known professor in probability.

- 2 single author submitted papers on the geometry and properties of the Sinkhorn algorithm for optimal transport.

- 1 single author paper on using OT to analyze training dynamics of neural networks still in the works, but will hopefully submit before October.

- One summer project on optimal transport supervised by a Professor at a T10 school which will hopefully end up in a publication.

Letters of Rec: I think 2 of them are strong, as they are from Professors that have both taught me and supervised my research. The third is weaker, from a Professor that saw me go from doing not too well in one statistics class to doing very well in the next one.

Schools I'm Thinking About: Cornell, EPFL, ETH Zurich, Kings College London, Yale, UCLA, UMichigan, Columbia, NYU, Penn, Harvard, Warwick, MIT (in no particular order, I would be more than happy to go to any of them). Cornell, EPFL, ETH Zurich and Warwick all have more than one faculty member focusing on optimal transport as far as I can tell. 

Are any of these schools within reach? Or should I just save my energy and go to one of the two universities that have already accepted me?

Edited by AManWithAPan
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