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Thinking about applying to Economics PhD instead of Religion ones...


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Hello,

 

I am considering switching my academic path and applying to Economics PhD programs instead of (or in addition to) Religion PhD programs.  I have a B.A. in Economics from an average state school with a pretty good GPA (3.64) and am finishing an M.A. in Biblical Studies from a good private college this spring with a projected high GPA (3.8+).  

 

Does anyone have any ideas what admissions committees at Econ programs will think about someone with an Economics B.A. and Religion M.A?  I know Econ MA's aren't typically required to get into the PhD program.  Having a Religion M.A. might even make me an interesting applicant given that economics has somewhat of a history in religious thought, but I don't really know.  My GRE scores are currently low (50th percentile low) but I will be retaking them before the coming application season.  

 

My reason for the potential switch is that the path to a Religion PhD is longer (sometimes requires two M.A.'s to even get accepted), the professor pay is lower (roughly $30,000 less) and the job openings are much slimmer.  I like both subjects, admittedly religion a lot more, but I figure that I could always teach a religion undergrad course with a Econ PhD at my future school of employment (one professor I know does this), whereas I couldn't do the reverse with a Religion PhD.  The abstract nature of teaching religion also seems tougher to prepare lessons someday (essentially pure lecture) whereas drawing graphs, putting formulas on the board, etc could be much easier do.  Any advice would be appreciated.

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How far have you gone in mathematics? Really, that's the key criteria you should be considering if you're serious about an Econ PhD. How did you do in those courses? What were your marks in the more quantitative courses, including econometrics? 

 

Unless they were quite strong, I think you'd find it easier to gain admission to a PhD program in Religion. I don't think the MA helps or hurts you, and I think it would be of marginal importance to most committees. Your GPA is okay, but you'd need to have strong GRE scores (especially Q) and would have to convincingly articulate why you're interested in an Econ PhD now. This:  "whereas drawing graphs, putting formulas on the board, etc could be much easier do" is absolutely not the way to approach it. Getting paid more is another topic to avoid. You're going to be working with, and applying against, folks who are passionate about this subject-- if you only like it, that'll stand out.

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You bring up some good points.  

I did well in econometrics (A) and pretty much the same in the other math-related courses for an Econ major (stats I and II, quantitative analysis I and II, etc).  I did not take advanced calculus or anything like that though.

You're right about how having more passion for different subject could potentially show through in the application process.   My reasoning for applying is mostly economic (no pun intended), and while that may be a topic to avoid in the statement of purpose, is not necessarily an uncommon one.  I've got a little more time to think about it.  Figured I'd throw it out to there to some Econ grad students who are familiar with the field. 

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I have to agree with what others have said here. There is a huge difference between Econ Ph.D and Econ Undergrad. How do you feel about proofs? Do you like doing them? What about research? Do you have any economic/analytical research completed? I would take some time and read the literature typical of a first year Ph.D program in Econ and see if that interests you. To do well in a program, you really have to love the subject. If you're not sure, or just think that you like it then I would avoid it. I'm going through a similar process that you are.  

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