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Biostat PhD re-apply next year?


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Hi all, 

 

I'm thinking about re-applying next year. Looking back my application profile this year, I have no regret given the amount of time to prepare, but I do feel I will be a more competitive candidate if I apply next year (Fall 2015). 

 

Here's my profile:

 

Undergraduate Institution: Big ten public school, ranks in the 60- 70s

Major: Mathematics

Minor: statistics

GPA: 3.75

Type of Student: international (Asian)

 

Graduate Institution: top 20 private school, but relatively new biostats program (not ranked)

GPA: 4.0

 

GRE General Test:  -- plan to retake if re-apply due to the low AW score

Q: 155

V:168

W: 3.5 

 

Programs Applying: PhD programs in Biostatistics

 

Research Experience (term 2014): one year biostats internship using SAS, two public health papers (collaboration with clinicians) (in preparation), 2nd / 3rd author; one clinical trial research paper in mid impact journal (under review), 1st author. one year clinical trial research experience (simulation in R). 

 

Research Experience (term 2015 if re-apply): one year biostats internship using SAS, two public health papers (one published, one under review, both relatively high impact); one clinical trial research paper in mid impact journal (published), 1st author. Two conference presentations. Two-year research experience (simulation and data analysis) in R (clinical trial and observational studies area)-Two papers under review. 

 

Teaching Experience: undergraduate math lab tutor for one year; graduate TA (stats class) for one semester 

 

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Undergrad - dean's list (all four years); Grad - Tuition scholarship (two years)  

 

Letters of recommendation (term 2014): one from my intern supervisor, one from a professor who I took a class (in stats), one from the professor I do clinical trial research (simulation in R) with. All know me quite well. 

 

Letters of recommendation (term 2015): two from the professors I do research with (clinical trial and observational studies area), one from either my intern supervisor or class professor.

 

Math courses: Calc II (A+);  Calc III (A), summer school, credit transfer; Linear Algebra (A+); Matrix Theory (A-); Abstract Algebra (A-); Undergrad-level proof course (A-); Graduate level proof course (real analysis & measure theory ) (B+)

 

Computer skills: SAS (base and advanced certification); R; Matlab 

 

 

 

I feel I will have more research experience if re-apply next year, but as an international applicant, I know the competition would be tough.

 

I've applied to a bunch of schools this year, and got in BU and Michigan Biostats PhD programs.  Can anyone compare BU and Michigan biostats (PhD) in terms of clinical trial research?  Also, if I apply to the same schools that I got in, will they still consider me?  Any biostats PhD program recommendation for clinical trial research?  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You could ask those departments to defer your acceptance until Fall 2015. Some graduate departments/schools do allow this strategy.

What is your end goal for waiting another year?

 

It seems like you have decent options right now; were you hoping for another program? It seems like you're willing to attend the programs that have already accepted you, so I'm not sure if you should try again.

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You could ask those departments to defer your acceptance until Fall 2015. Some graduate departments/schools do allow this strategy.

What is your end goal for waiting another year?

 

It seems like you have decent options right now; were you hoping for another program? It seems like you're willing to attend the programs that have already accepted you, so I'm not sure if you should try again.

 

I was hoping for schools in Pennsylvania (my fiancee works there), but Boston might work too, no much for Ann Arbor though.  Also, it looks like Michigan is heavy on genetics, I'm not sure if it's a good fit for clinical trial study.  Any opinion on the strength of BU?   I prefer to work in medical research institute, like MD Anderson, Dana-Farber etc.  

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I think MD Anderson might have a PhD program. They are well known for Bayesian Adaptive trials. I agree that Michigan is not considered strong for clinical trials, even though they are #1 in statistical genetics. University of Washington is an extremely strong place for clinical trials. Other places to consider off the top of my head: Minnesota, Penn, UNC, and Columbia. I also think NC State's statistics department would have a number of faculty doing research in clinical trials that you could work with.

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I think MD Anderson might have a PhD program. They are well known for Bayesian Adaptive trials. I agree that Michigan is not considered strong for clinical trials, even though they are #1 in statistical genetics. University of Washington is an extremely strong place for clinical trials. Other places to consider off the top of my head: Minnesota, Penn, UNC, and Columbia. I also think NC State's statistics department would have a number of faculty doing research in clinical trials that you could work with.

 

Thanks! I think MD Anderson has two PhD programs - with Rice and UT Houston.  I applied to Rice, Penn, UNC and Columbia too, but didn't get in.  Can you evaluate my profile and give some advice? 

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Is Michigan actually considered weak for clinical trials, or is it just not as distinguished in that area as it is for genetics research? I don't know much about the biostatistics side, but I see quite a few hits looking on the biostat faculty page doing the idiot thing and searching for "clinical". Clinical trials, isn't that the bread and butter of all biostatistics departments? And on the statistics side they have Susan Murphy doing some fascinating work with SMART designs, does she ever work with biostatistics students?

 

What I'm suggesting is that Michigan is an otherwise very good department and I think you're unlikely to improve on it at least in terms of overall reputation if you reapply. (I don't know anything about BU.) You already had solid research experience applying this year, weren't the projects you were working on mentioned in your essays and rec letters? It'd be nice to have actual publications rather than papers in review if you reapply of course, but this doesn't sound like added new information IMO. Do you think your recommendation letters are likely to be much better, or more of the same? I would also weigh this against how rapidly biostatistics admissions have become competitive in the past few years. Turning down places like Michigan or BU to roll the dice again at the places you were rejected by seems questionable to me. You might contact the admissions coordinator at Rice, etc. and see if they might be willing to discuss the weak spots in your application that led to rejection or how they view re-applicants in general. You could get ignored, of course, but better to have this information before you turn down good opportunities than to find out that they don't have much interest in applicants they previously rejected.

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Is Michigan actually considered weak for clinical trials, or is it just not as distinguished in that area as it is for genetics research? I don't know much about the biostatistics side, but I see quite a few hits looking on the biostat faculty page doing the idiot thing and searching for "clinical". Clinical trials, isn't that the bread and butter of all biostatistics departments? And on the statistics side they have Susan Murphy doing some fascinating work with SMART designs, does she ever work with biostatistics students?

 

What I'm suggesting is that Michigan is an otherwise very good department and I think you're unlikely to improve on it at least in terms of overall reputation if you reapply. (I don't know anything about BU.) You already had solid research experience applying this year, weren't the projects you were working on mentioned in your essays and rec letters? It'd be nice to have actual publications rather than papers in review if you reapply of course, but this doesn't sound like added new information IMO. Do you think your recommendation letters are likely to be much better, or more of the same? I would also weigh this against how rapidly biostatistics admissions have become competitive in the past few years. Turning down places like Michigan or BU to roll the dice again at the places you were rejected by seems questionable to me. You might contact the admissions coordinator at Rice, etc. and see if they might be willing to discuss the weak spots in your application that led to rejection or how they view re-applicants in general. You could get ignored, of course, but better to have this information before you turn down good opportunities than to find out that they don't have much interest in applicants they previously rejected.

 

I was actually going to say something about SMART but wasn't sure whether that's actually a big deal or just something that seems like a big deal to me because I'm at Michigan and working on a related topic.  Susan Murphy does not have a joint appointment in biostat, but she definitely serves on dissertation committees for the biostatistics department.  Tom Braun does some cool stuff for Bayesian Phase I dose-finding and also happens to be one of my favorite professors ever.  Some other big faculty work on analysis of trials, but it tends to be in the context of a specialty like missing data, cancer, time-to-event, etc.  For example, I just got an email this week about a defense in Jeremy Taylor's group on adaptive trial design for cancer treatments.  (Also, someone in my office block graduated last semester and took a job at MD Anderson after completing a dissertation on some survival topic not directly related to trials, so there's that.)

 

It seems like there are better fits out there for you, but if you'd rather not wait another year to start your PhD then you should know that choosing Michigan would not condemn you to a career in statistical genetics research.  The two-body problem cannot be helped, though =(.

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Yeah, I thought I would have a shot at Rice since it matches my background quite well, I guess I'm wrong then. :(    The fact that I don't have any training in Bayesian statistics might be a weak spot, considering it's a direction where clinical trial research is going.  I would definitely try to learn some Bayesian statistics if I decide to re-apply next year.

 

In terms of the recommendation letter for next year, I will have two letters spoken for my research abilities instead just one this year.  I think the letters would be at least as strong as this year.  The biggest improvement of my profile next year would be the additional one year of research experience directly related to my field, and two more papers coming. still not sure if that would be much helpful with the PhD application.  

 

It's extremely difficult to make the decision, especially for places like Michigan or BU. I would like to at least get a sense of where my weak spots may be before I make any decision. I hope to get some feedbacks from schools that already rejected me.

 

Does this post violate any rules? Not sure how it got two negative reputations.   :huh:

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Yeah, I think you have an unidentified weak spot in your application if you applied broadly and got few offers.  You don't say where else you applied, but I think you could have expected more favorable responses based on what you've said here.  Another year of experience might not fix whatever red flag might be killing your app. (Also, is that quant GRE for real or was it switched with verbal? A 155 after your math training would be worrisome to me.)

 

As for reputation?  My guess is that people feel like you are turning down a good option that may not be available to others now because you applied (and got into) somewhere that you apparently didn't research even a little bit beforehand.  Also, a quick google search would have revealed that BU and Michigan are not in the same league, so that didn't really help your case for preparedness.  I personally didn't ding you, but in the end they are worthless internet points and you shouldn't give them another thought. 

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Yeah, I think you have an unidentified weak spot in your application if you applied broadly and got few offers.  You don't say where else you applied, but I think you could have expected more favorable responses based on what you've said here.  Another year of experience might not fix whatever red flag might be killing your app. (Also, is that quant GRE for real or was it switched with verbal? A 155 after your math training would be worrisome to me.)

 

As for reputation?  My guess is that people feel like you are turning down a good option that may not be available to others now because you applied (and got into) somewhere that you apparently didn't research even a little bit beforehand.  Also, a quick google search would have revealed that BU and Michigan are not in the same league, so that didn't really help your case for preparedness.  I personally didn't ding you, but in the end they are worthless internet points and you shouldn't give them another thought. 

 

Oops, 155 is the verbal score. 

 

I applied to Upenn, Michigan, UNC, UWM, Columbia, Emory, Rice, UIC and SMU. I withdrew my application to UIC and SMU when I heard from BU.  I actually did some research before I apply, mostly based on the faculty listed on the school website and the location.  Personally I weight more on if the program is a good fit for my research interest than department ranking, so I didn't apply to several good ranked schools which focus more on the statistical genetics, say Yale biostats. I'm very confused at the places I got in (and was rejected), as I didn't expect such a wide range in terms of department ranking.  

 

I hear many nice things about the program in Michigan.  I got in the stats program for my master's two years ago, but turned it down in the end due to the high tuition. A friend who attended the stats ms program at Michigan spoke highly of the department.  And it seems that several graduate students from the stats department chose to continue their PhD in the Biostats program.   

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I don't have much to add other than that the competition is always absolutely brutal among international students. I'd be very hesitant to turn down a bird in the hand, particularly if you have an acceptance at Michigan. I'd hate to see you repeat this game next year and end up with no acceptances at all (or acceptances at schools that you like even less). Do you already have an MS in stat/biostat? If you do then I guess the strategy of applying again after you finish your MS requirements won't work as well.

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Hey everyone!

 

I am an international student with a non-traditional background (I am a an MD, so no math ou stats background apart from a MSc in Biostats) and I only got accepted in the University of Arizona PhD Program in biostatistics. I am not sure if I should go or if I should try to reapply next year after strengthening my math background and biostats experience.

However, this year I have a fulbright award, which I will not have if I decide to reapply next year.

 

Please help! I have not seen much information about UArizona anywhere (actually this program was a suggestion from Fulbright). Thanks!

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