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OR PhD Profile Eval


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Hi all! I posted here last semester while I was still in my master's but I have finished and would like an opinion..

Basically I am applying to -

Columbia Stat

Columbia Operations Research

Yale Stat

Rutgers Stat

Rutgers Econ

Rutgers Operations Research

Stony Brook Applied Math

Stony Brook Econ

Princeton Operations Research

UPenn Operations Research

As you can see, my main area of research is economics & statistics.

My extended profile:

[sUNY Bing] B.A. in Math (Graduated with a 3.1 GPA. Got 4 C's. Two of them were pretty serious foundations, so I re-took them and got an A in both.)

[sUNY Bing] M.A.T. in Math & Math Education (Did ind. study in psychological methods of math foundations, conceptual retention methods, and methodology of teaching math) Graduated with a 3.65 (3 grad classes - Stat & Prob (A), Topics in Higher Geometry (A), Number Theory ( B) ) A lot of professors say that having a degree/experience in teaching is an asset in a PhD program.

[sUNY Buff] M.A. in Math (Concentration in Statistics, mainly stochastic processes & probability. GPA 3.7, Concentration GPA 3.95. Master's Thesis titled "Economic Forecasting Using Stochastic and Poisson Processes". Courses were: Comp Physics ( B), Applied Math w/ Presentation on Brownian Motion ( B), Math Physics (B+), Real Analysis (A-), Probability (A), Cryptography/Applied Number Theory(A), Stochastic Processes(A), Abstract Algebra (A) ). Will be taking Operations Research and Continuous Time Financial Math in Spring 2013 and Economics during Winter 2012.

Currently, while applying to PhDs, I am an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at a SUNY 4-Year State College.

My LoR are all from three professors, including my probability professor (also thesis advisor), abs alg professor, and cryptography professor. All A's, all top rank in classes. In Prob, I was rank 1 of 20 grad students. In Crypt, #2 and Abs Alg #2 also I believe but I think he is saying Top 5% or Top 10%. Either way, they all assure me they are giving me stellar letters.

I took GRE and got 800/510 Q/V, but I am re-taking it in a month. I am sure I will still get a top Q, and hopefully improve my V by a lot. I am taking the Math Subject Test - I have been getting ~850/80th percentile, so if I am around there, I will submit. If I bomb, I will not.

I am not asking for a percentage of getting into these programs, just curious if I have a chance/if I am competitive.

Thank you! :)

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Sure, you have a chance. I'm in a top OR program, and I think your profile could fit in here. Our profiles are pretty different, so I can't really compare directly, but you certainly have a shot at the places you mention.

Just curious, how did you decide on these schools/programs, and why are you applying to Econ programs? Also, why not add in some of the other top OR programs: MIT, Berkeley, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Georgia Tech? Do you know what you want to research?

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Hey, thanks for the reply! Given my math background, the only true interests I have are in Operations Research/Stochastic Processes/Applied Probability. A lot of my interest area involves queueing theory and optimization probabilities, which has a nice link to microeconomics, so I figured I would apply to those programs also and see what happens.

Basically, my whole life is in NYC. Girlfriend, friends, family, living.. so I have revolved my search around NYC, only including schools I would like to attend that are a train ride away. I would love to apply to the aforementioned programs, but I am not willing to leave NYC, especially for 4-6 years.

As I have said, I like queueing theory and its ties to profit loss probabilities and optimization of better networks/systems of businesses.

I think my main weaknesses are my undergrad grades (although I have made up the important ones) and my attended institutions. I tend to see a lot of international students and domestic students from Ivy's, which doesn't settle nicely <_< I am hoping I have made up for that through my graduate work and research and math professor experience. I also have no true finance/economics background outside of those subjects that are found in math (stochastic, prob, will be taking operations research & continuous time finance during spring, and microeconomics during this winter most likely, but committees wont see those grades unfortunately).

I appreciate the reply, if you have any advice, feel free to let me know! (reply or PM, whichever would be great!)


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I'm not sure what I can do to help, but I'm happy to answer any questions!

A few thoughts:

  • My research has also been in applied stochastic processes, so that's definitely a neat area (although I'm at one of the schools I mentioned in my post, so not one you'll be applying to)!
  • I know Columbia has a strong group of people working in this area, stochastic processes, in their IEOR department. I don't know a TON about them, but I think that would be a pretty cool place to be with your interests.
  • UPenn is a great school (obviously), but I wasn't even aware they had an OR deptartment. Are you applying to something in Wharton? If you're looking at stuff like that, maybe you should also consider programs at Columbia Business School (Decision, Risk, and Operations) and NYU Stern (Information Systems). Also, if you're applying to school in Philly, is Boston (MIT) really any farther away?
  • My thought process when I was applying was different from yours, in that I was willing to move just about anywhere to go to the best program I could get into. That's definitely a personal decision, but where you get your PhD/who your advisor is sticks with you for a long time. Sure, if you get into Columbia, then go for it, but if you could choose between, say, Stony Brook and Berkeley, this is something that could have a significant impact on your career. Then again, I suppose this depends entirely on what you want to do after grad school, and it also depends on your priorities.
  • Your concerns about your candidacy are valid, most of the students in my program are international and went to the best schools in their home countries, and the Americans come from good schools. I went to college in the US, and I did go to a good school, but it wasn't an Ivy. On the other hand, assuming you learned the material well during your MA, you know a lot more math than I did when I started my program. If I were on the committee (I'm not), I would take that under consideration. Also, you have research experience and know what you want to study. If you can show that your research interests are complementary to those of profs at these schools, that could help you a lot.
  • Don't waste your time re-taking the regular GRE. I think all that matters is the 800 in math, and I wouldn't risk taking it again and not getting the perfect score.

Anyway, good luck applying! Let me know if you have any questions.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey combronatorics, thanks for the reply!

Yes, UPenn Wharton has an Operations, IS, & Decisions program. I am also applying to Columbia Business and NYU Stern (OM though, not IS), idk why i didnt put them on my list.

UPenn is 1 hour by amtrak. Boston is 4. :(

Thanks for the GRE help. I am not taking it again, although a ~500 verbal is no help.

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  • 8 months later...

I have a degree in business management and a master's degree in OR. Do I have chances to do a phd in OR? Do the universities prefer students with computers, maths or engineering for this particular phd? thanks

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