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Considering switching programs, advice, profile evaluation? (stat/biostat)

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Hi everyone, when I was applying two years ago I read this forum fairly religiously.  I'm happy to announce I got into a few decent stat programs (and waitlisted from a ton).  I have no complaints about my current phd program but I'm considering leaving with an MS and applying to another one closer to home for personal reasons.  I'm a domestic student and my background has been fairly non traditional.



BA in econ from a liberal arts school, terrible overall GPA (3.3). - almost no math courses to speak of.

Went back to a state university and took calculus, linear algebra, analysis, numerical analysis, probability/stats, a grad level reading course on numerical linear algebra, and a grad level CS course in pattern recognition.  In total around 20 math courses getting mostly A/A+ and a grad level CS and math course.  I also worked as a math tutor/grader and a research assistant for the economics department during this time.  Part of my weakness when I was applying two years ago was that I had a ton of math courses but very few in statistics (only math stats).


My current stat department is ranked between 8 - 20 depending on which rankings you use (NRC vs us news) and is a well respected applied program.  If everything goes right I should have an MS by the end of school year.  My grades from the first year are mostly core classes: Stat theory I, II [A-] (at the Hogg & Craig / Casella & Berger level), Stat methods I, II [A], stat data mining [A], computational statistics [A], overall GPA for this year was 3.89.  This semester I am taking Stat methods III, biostatistics and either artificial intelligence (graduate level, CS) or algorithms (undergraduate course).  I worked as a TA both semesters and during the summer and I passed the master's level qualifying exam this summer.  


Unfortunately, I don't have any additional research as most first years at this program focus on the core and passing the qualifying exam.  I should have a master's thesis done by summer.  I'm hoping this time around with my more substantial statistics background I can get into some of the places I was waitlisted from last time.


The programs I'm looking at applying to are UCLA [stats], UC Davis [stats], UC Berkeley [stats], UW [biostats], Penn State [stats], CMU [machine learning].  I'm mainly interested in applied statistics and machine learning.

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A related question, for my recommendations, should I have three professors from my current phd program?  I was considering including recommendations from two professors here (one from a course I've taken and another with the professor I'm working with for my master's thesis) and the previous economics professor who I worked for as a research assistant.

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Arent Penn State and CMU sorta on the other side of the continent? Looks like it's not purely for "closer to home" reasons :)


One of the faculty members (cyberwulf or biostat_prof) could probably give you a decent feedback, but you realize that many schools won't really give you course credit for a lot of what you've already taken right?

Edited by Shostakovich
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