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A Philosophy Major Trying To Get To The Science Side


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Hi all,

I'm a senior student in philosophy and I'm trying to switch to mathematics/economics for graduate study. I made this decision for complicated reasons that I'm afraid are irrelevant here. But since it is a bold move, I'd love to hear opinions from anyone on the forum.

My GPA is approximately 3.2/4.0 if my calculator is correct. My dissertation was evaluated as distinctive on the department level. The idea of switching track came so late that I've hardly prepared much for it. GRE general: 98% below in Verbal, 96% below in Quantitative and 87% below in Analytical Writing. GRE sub in math: 69% below. About to start an intern ship at a research institute and brain bank in 2 weeks.

I've done no research in math/econ so it's quite a headache how I'm gonna show I can do research to grad schools. Recommendation letters are another headache. I don't know any professors from the two disciplines from my university.

A few more words for the GRE sub. I know it's not really good, but I learned almost everything in only three months and all by myself.

Waiting for opinions.

Alex Cheung

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Nevermind having no research in math/econ, what about courses? The lack of research, coursework, and low GRE sub score don't bode well for you. You would probably have to go back to take more related courses, perhaps you could see if there were any after degree programs you could enroll in somewhere.

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Thank you for your advice.

I took an elementary microeconomics course last semester but it was offered to undergraduate student in general (rather than to economics majors). This probably won't help, I guess.

Do you think a 85-90% sub score would win me some advantage, if I could get it?

Thx again.

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I would say a 85-90% subject score would be required in your case, just to show that you know math. But you would have to do more than that to prove to the admission committee that you know mathematics. Tests are easy to study for.

Also you have to realize that graduate schools expect you to take specific courses at the undergraduate level. If you are missing only a few, they might let you into the program but will require you to take those classes at their university. However in your case, you are missing all of them.. I would suggest that you try to do a minor in economics or math. I'm guessing it would take you an extra year to get, but it will give you the required mathematical knowledge and get to know some of the professors. Or at least take some upper-level classes.

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Many thanks!

I have to admit that you are right in saying tests are easy to study for. Since both of you suggest so, I think I should be trying to take courses. However the time must have passed for me to begin a minor. I'll see if I can still do it. If I can't then maybe an after degree program like ktel advised would be the optimal now, perhaps a diploma. Any recommends?

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Sometimes a school will allow you to take a second Bachelor's degree at the same school and let you count your courses in your first degree as your breadth/elective courses in your second degree. This way, you might be able to get a BSc in Math, for example, in 2-3 years instead of another full 4 years. What kind of diploma program do you mean? Graduate programs in Math will want you to have upper level Math courses! However, if you are doing a joint Math-Econ program, they may have less strict regulations because multidisciplinary programs, by nature, tend to recruit/attract people from varied backgrounds :)

Maybe the best thing right now is to look up some sample programs that you would want to apply to and see what they list as the minimum admission standards. Maybe you might want to get in touch with some of these places too.

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My BA/MA are in econ and am entering a PhD in econ.

I know you feel it's irrelevant to say why you are switching - but I think the Ad Comms will very much care about your motivation. Philosophy to "Math/Econ" is not common path. And it's troubling you lump mathematics/economics together - they are very different disciplines at the graduate level.

Are you talking Masters? or PhD? for graduate school.

Most people here --- and you probably want to check out the URCH forums where they have a much better economics forum (http://www.urch.com/forums/forum.php) -- will tell you you need to be very strong in math to do a PhD in economics.

Top 10-20 schools look for 90th percentile+ on the GRE-Q, and generally the minimum math background for applicants is: a 3-semester calculus sequence (differential, integral, multivariate), linear algebra, a couple of statistics courses and one or two upper level math courses including differential equations and/or real analysis.

To get into most good programs you also need good letters of recommendation that will attest to your ability to do research and succeed in a graduate program, and a convincing SOP that will detail why you are applying to each program, who you might want to work with, and how it relates to your own research interest.

So - it would be interesting here for you to tell more about why you are making the change - and what math courses you have already taken.

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