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Preparation for PhD in Statistics / Biostatistics

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Hello everyone,

I'm looking for some advice about how I can prepare for a PhD in Statistics / Biostatistics coming from another field (Economics). I have a BSc in Economics and Mathematics where I took undergraduate probability and econometrics, along with some relevant math courses like linear algebra, real analysis and non-linear optimisation. I also have an MA in Economics where I took the first year PhD sequence in econometrics and the mathematical statistics sequence from the Statistics Department. In terms of research experience, I have had several empirically-oriented RA jobs and I have a co-authored publication in a very highly ranked economics field journal. 

I'm not particularly interested in economics and path-dependence has taken me this far in the field. I'd like to make the move into doing causal inference research with biomedical applications (nothing more specific than that at the moment). I'm just not sure what preparation I should have before sending out applications. I'm planning to take the measure-theoretic probability sequence this coming year and maybe a Bayesian statistics course from the School of Public Health (since econometrics is heavily frequentist). 

Is there other coursework that I should be trying to pick up? Should I push hard to get an RA job from someone in the Biostatistics Department? Or maybe try to land work in a teaching hospital? At the moment all my letters, while strong, will be from economists. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance!

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I'm kind of similar to you in the sense that my undergrad was also in economics & math while my masters is in pure math / stats.  I'm trying the opposite route though where I'm going back to economics for my PhD.

Heres what I can tell you after talking with my stats profs/advisors about grad school for the last 2 years.

1)  Taking more courses in stats/prob at this point wont make or break your application so really take whatever interests you. As long as your undergrad/MA gpa is decent and there are no red flags in serious courses, the marginal benefit of taking more courses from a signaling perspective at this point is very limited.

2) An RA job in the biostatistics department is great if you can get it but I dont think it would help you much in the application process unless you really stand out to your supervisor in the next 4-5 months. So get the job if you can and take a call after a few months of work if you want to use him as a reference or not.

3) If possible, dont use all economist references especially if you plan to apply for biostats. Try to get some references from people in stats , maybe from the professor you took graduate math stats with for example.


Edited by TeX4
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