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How much of an advantage do you have as a perm resident vs international?


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Hi all,

 

I've decided to re-apply for admission next year (Fall 2014)

 

However, if I wait one more year (and apply for Fall 2015), I can apply as a permanent resident.

 

Will this give me a significant advantage at the top stats/biostatistics programs? From looking at school websites it seems like that most students at the top programs are international students (in fact for some programs it seems like a 100% of them are international students).

 

Are there a substantial number of candidates who are rejected but would have been accepted had they not been international students?

 

How are these factors discussed in the admission process? Do the faculty openly discuss it? (e.g. when faculty are discussing an applicant, do they say:

 

"oh candidate X may not have had as many advanced math classes or stellar recommendations as candidate Y, but he is a green card holder (or a US citizen), so let's take him over candidate Y.")

 

Or is it more subtle?

 

Thank you!

 

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Should be a lot more advantage as a PR, I've heard that PRs/Citizens are in a different applicant pool as internationals so they face less competition since there's a lot more international applicants and they tend to have stronger profiles. But logically I'd guess it's citizens > PR's > internationals in terms of admission and funding priority, all other things equal.

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In many biostat departments, several PhD spots are funded by NIH training grants. This funding is only available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and in order to keep these grants departments have to demonstrate a track record of recruiting and successfully graduating eligible students. So, if (say) a department has 5 training grant spots and 10 spots funded by other sources per year, then domestic students are competing for all 15 spots while internationals are, in reality, competing for 10. And since the 5 training grant spots have to be filled by domestic applicants, the department has to *make sure* that they get at least that many domestic students to enroll, so they need to admit quite a few more than 5, particularly since they know that competing departments will also offer these students admission and hence their "accept rate" among domestic students is likely to be relatively low. Further, there's an upper limit on the total number of students they can admit because they only have 15 total spots to offer.

 

Consider the following hypothetical but semi-plausible numbers:

- 50 domestic applicants, 100 international applicants

- 5 training grant spots + 10 other spots = 15 total spots

- Expected enrollment rate among admitted domestic students: 30%

- Expected enrollment rate among admitted international students: 40%

- Admit 20 domestic students to yield ~7 enrollees (5 receive training grants)

- Admit 20 international students to yield ~8 enrollees

- Domestic admit rate: 20/50 = 40%

- International admit rate: 20/100 = 20%

 

In stat departments, the situation is a bit different since most spots aren't funded via grants (and to kimolas, above, I think you're mistaken that NSF grants are available only to U.S. citizens; for these awards, the U.S. government doesn't typically distinguish between citizens and permanent residents), but the percentage of international applicants is quite a bit higher, often north of 80%. Hence the admit rate gap is more of a function of the fact that most international applicants are from Asia, and there may be concerns about their English language abilities, so the relatively small number of mathematically qualified students with English as their first language are hot commodities.

 

Bottom line: Being a permanent resident will substantially increase your chances of gaining admission to a biostat department, but is unlikely to significantly improve your chances in stat departments.

 

sisyphus, feel free to PM me about your situation.

Edited by cyberwulf
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Cyberwulf, even for stat departments, isn't it true that funding for international students requires more money? I remember talking to an department head (for stats) about this and he said that was the case.

 

Maybe, but this varies from school to school. At some places, graduate tuition is the same for all students; at others, the graduate school subsidizes the extra cost for funded international PhD students. In any case, given the massive domestic/international imbalance at many stat departments, it's apparently not a major factor for most places.

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Talking to some of the professors at various schools: Some of the private universities are pretty free when it comes to admission, they could basically admit anyone. They have no spots to fill with citizens or PRs. Some of them say the real disadvantage is being east asian, since they don't want to take loads and loads of east asians, for various reasons. A few said I was at exactly no disadvantage being from Ireland, other than that my program and professors might be less well known.

 

Schools like Berkeley and UW for example do have requirements in that regards, as cyberwulf says. I guess the question is, is it worth a year to wait, to have a bit of an advantage at a few schools? I mean, you can always reapply of course, but that does cost money. My guess would be that it's not worth it to wait to be honest. Unless you have a great plan for the year off of course, go exploring etc!

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In many biostat departments, several PhD spots are funded by NIH training grants. This funding is only available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and in order to keep these grants departments have to demonstrate a track record of recruiting and successfully graduating eligible students. So, if (say) a department has 5 training grant spots and 10 spots funded by other sources per year, then domestic students are competing for all 15 spots while internationals are, in reality, competing for 10. And since the 5 training grant spots have to be filled by domestic applicants, the department has to *make sure* that they get at least that many domestic students to enroll, so they need to admit quite a few more than 5, particularly since they know that competing departments will also offer these students admission and hence their "accept rate" among domestic students is likely to be relatively low. Further, there's an upper limit on the total number of students they can admit because they only have 15 total spots to offer.

 

Consider the following hypothetical but semi-plausible numbers:

- 50 domestic applicants, 100 international applicants

- 5 training grant spots + 10 other spots = 15 total spots

- Expected enrollment rate among admitted domestic students: 30%

- Expected enrollment rate among admitted international students: 40%

- Admit 20 domestic students to yield ~7 enrollees (5 receive training grants)

- Admit 20 international students to yield ~8 enrollees

- Domestic admit rate: 20/50 = 40%

- International admit rate: 20/100 = 20%

 

In stat departments, the situation is a bit different since most spots aren't funded via grants (and to kimolas, above, I think you're mistaken that NSF grants are available only to U.S. citizens; for these awards, the U.S. government doesn't typically distinguish between citizens and permanent residents), but the percentage of international applicants is quite a bit higher, often north of 80%. Hence the admit rate gap is more of a function of the fact that most international applicants are from Asia, and there may be concerns about their English language abilities, so the relatively small number of mathematically qualified students with English as their first language are hot commodities.

 

Bottom line: Being a permanent resident will substantially increase your chances of gaining admission to a biostat department, but is unlikely to significantly improve your chances in stat departments.

 

sisyphus, feel free to PM me about your situation.

 

While I agree that the advantage is probably greater at biostatistics departments, the limited data I can find suggests that domestic applicants have a considerable advantage when applied to statistics departments as well:

 

http://www.grad.washington.edu/about/statistics/admissions/admissions12-by-major.pdf

http://www.grad.wisc.edu/education/academicprograms/profiles/949.pdf

http://gradschool.unc.edu/pdf/2010-ADMISSION-STATISTICS.pdf

http://gradschool.duke.edu/about/statistics/admitsta.htm

 

I just picked four schools that I know post their graduate admissions statistics online; there is no other rhyme or reason to these four schools (other than the fact that they all have good stat departments). In each case, you can see that the percentage of domestic students admitted is much higher than the percentage of international students. Granted, three of the four are state schools, where international students may be at a particular disadvantage since international students are typically not  eligible for in-state tuition. But presumably that's not an issue at Duke, but the admission rate is still noticeably higher for domestic applicants. (If anyone knows of any other private schools who make this data publicly available, I would be interested to see it.) And while I don't have any hard data to back it up, conversations with faculty at several top-ranked (and hence wealthy) stat departments suggests that even they favor domestic applicants.

 

So if you can afford to wait a year to apply with a green card, I would definitely do it. The advantage to being a U.S. citizen/permanent resident when applying to graduate school in stat/biostat is substantial.

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While I agree that the advantage is probably greater at biostatistics departments, the limited data I can find suggests that domestic applicants have a considerable advantage when applied to statistics departments as well:

 

http://www.grad.washington.edu/about/statistics/admissions/admissions12-by-major.pdf

http://www.grad.wisc.edu/education/academicprograms/profiles/949.pdf

http://gradschool.unc.edu/pdf/2010-ADMISSION-STATISTICS.pdf

http://gradschool.duke.edu/about/statistics/admitsta.htm

I summarized the demos for stat and biostat from three of the above sources a few days ago, plus UMN. Reposting for the benefit of this discussion and adding in the Wisconsin data for 2012-13 (hadn't seen that before, thanks):

  • UMN statistics: acceptance rates of 30/121 (25%) for females, 40/173 (23%) for males, 4/14 (29%) minority (includes Asian-American), 53/257 (21%) international, 17/42 (40%) domestic
  • UMN biostatistics: 35/68 (51%) female, 28/76 (37%) male, 6/12 (50%) minority, 31/95 (33%) international, 32/49 (65%) domestic
  • Duke PhD statistics: 8/75 (11%) female, 8/121 (7%) male, 0/7 (0%) under-represented minority, 8/140 (6%) international, 8/56 (14%) domestic
  • UWash PhD statistics: 12/156 (8%) female, 23/210 (11%) male, 8/46 (17%) minority, 10/233 (4%) international, 25/133 (19%) domestic
  • UWash biostatistics: 26/148 (18%) female, 22/113 (19%) male, 7/40 (18%) minority, 22/151 (15%) international, 26/110 (24%) domestic
  • UNC statistics/OR: 0/7 (0%) under-represented minority, 45/386 (17%) international, 25/125 (20%) domestic
  • UNC biostatistics: 11/17 (65%) under-represented minority, 52/166 (31%) international, 59/96 (61%) domestic
  • UWisc PhD statistics: 1/4 (25%) under-represented minority, 49/182 (27%) international, 26/42 (62%) domestic
  • UWisc MS statistics: 0/2 (0%) under-represented minority, 13/196 (7%) international, 10/21 (48%) domestic
  • UWisc statistics, biostatistics option: 0/0 under-represented minority, 4/57 (7%) international, 9/19 (47%) domestic

(Unrelated: what is with Wisconsin's MS program being way more selective than the PhD?)

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