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Biostat applications worries - profile evaluation


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I know there are tons of posts on here about Biostats, I've read through them all and have posted my own questions in the past... But right now, I'm filling out applications and I'm just getting super nervous.

I'm an American student, and biology major graduating this spring. I currently have a 3.42 GPA and should have a 3.48 GPA at the end of this semester if everything continues on the way it should. I found interest in Biostatistics a little late, and I am catching up with pre-req math classes this year. I'm currently taking Calc II and Linear Algebra, and will be sending a second transcript to schools after my semester ends to reflect these classes. I currently have high A's in both (96% and 97%) and shouldn't have a problem fishing with A's. ill be taking calc 3 in the spring. I've also taken an intro Biostatistics course in which I got an A, as well as a statistics programming course (learning R and SAS) I also earned an A in.... My GRE Q score is 164, and I'm taking it again this weekend to see if I can raise it a little more..... My LOR's are from 3 past professors: a Microbiology professors I have a good relationship with, a mathematical ecologist of whom I have done research with (which should lead to a publication this spring), and my former biostatistics professor who introduced me to the subject.

I know my math background is lacking compared to most applicants, and I'm worried that by applying this year, I'll just be throwing money away... Id like some feedback on my prospective list of schools with regards to my chances:

- Washington (masters, because I know I have no shot at their phd yet)

- Hopkins (masters, because I know I have no shot at their phd)

- Columbia (masters, because they don't accept phd students without an MS)

- Michigan (undecided between masters or phd)

- UNC (undecided between masters or phd)

- Minnesota (undecided between masters or phd)

- Yale (phd

- Brown (phd)

- Emory (phd)

- Boston (phd)

- Iowa ( undecided between masters or phd)

- Pitt (phd)

- Florida State (phd)

Overall, I would love to go straight to a phd program, as I'm certain that Is my end goal and funding is far better, but I don't know if I should take the risk. I know my chances would fare better with MS programs. I'm also unsure as to whether I would be considered for MS admission if denied from phd admission..... Anyways, be honest, are there any other programs I should look into, should I not even bother with Hopkins or UW, should I add more safeties, and are my current expectations a big too unrealistic?

Another question, my freshman year grades are weighing my GPA down quite a bit, having had a 2.9 GPA after the first two semesters. I started college young, just before my 18th birthday, and was really immature my first year. Since then my grades have definitely been on an upward trend, as I've been on the deans list the past 4 semesters, and currently on track for 4 more A's this semester.... Is this something I should address in my SOP, or will it be obvious from my transcript and not worth mentioning. I'm not making excuses for the first year, but I'd like to explain the change in my mentality and approach to school work, and why that first years performance is not indicative of my potential (again, as I've had > 3.7 since then).

Lastly, I'm extremely interested in Bayesian statistics, and curious if any programs are more Bayesian oriented than others, and if so, which ones?

Thanks for any input guys. I'm just freaking as I'm filling out the applications and I'm worried of not getting in anywhere.

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Most programs will consider you for Masters admission if you don't make the PhD cut; I recommend you find out whether that's the case for the schools you're interested in, and apply to the PhD wherever you can confirm that policy.

Your list seems reasonable to me. Hopkins is probably the biggest reach because they tend to favor pretty mathy applicants, and their incoming classes are pretty small. Though it's somewhat of a longshot, I wouldn't totally write off the UW PhD program (and in any case, you'd be better off in a funded PhD program at almost all the places on your list than paying for a Masters there).

Of the top 6 places on your list, Minnesota is by far the most Bayesian-oriented. An approximate ranking of 'Bayesianism', from most to least, looks something like:

Minnesota

Michigan

UNC

Columbia

Hopkins/Washington

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Thanks for the response yet again Cyberwulf. You have been so helpful on this forum, every week answering questions and giving advice for what seem to be the same posts over and over again. I'm sure all the other prospective students are just as appreciative of your advice as I am.

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