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Thread: How important is econometrics

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage applicant12's Avatar
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    How important is econometrics

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    Hi folks,

    I have a rather simple question: how important is it to have a lot of undergrad/some-master's-level econometrics classes under your belt before applying to PhD programs in econ? My impression is that a lot of undergrad students write senior theses/papers using econometrics so it must be useful to know how to use different metrics models. Essentially, would it help if one has taken courses such as applied econometrics, time-series, and forecasting? I'm planning to take these courses as electives for my econ degree so I'm weighing the benefits of them against other courses such as game theory, monetary theory, international economics, etc. Please feel free to post your thoughts/comments. Thanks

    applicant12

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    Game theory is typically quite analytical and thus constitutes a stronger signal than most undergraduate field courses. However, at least a semester (if not a full year) of econometrics and/or statistics is very important.

    Your primary objective should definitely to have a decent amount of coursework in each of economics, mathematics, and statitistics/econometrics. Economics is ironically probably the least important of these in terms of preparation. Once you have that taken care of, I'd worry more about your preferences and interests and securing strong letters of recommendation from faculty members.

    If you haven't already, you should also check out sources like
    http://www.econ.berkeley.edu/econ/gr...criteria.shtml
    http://www.economics.harvard.edu/und.../graduatestudy
    http://econ.as.nyu.edu/object/econ.faq.doc

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    Within my grasp! scienceofsleep200's Avatar
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    I agree with wobuffet. Some econometrics is VERY important.
    I would certainly do it instead of monetary theory and international economics, because in most universities intermediate macroeconomics touches on these topics and these courses don't usually go deep enough (at the undergrad level) to be worthwhile. I would think that some exposure to Game Theory is very important for surviving first year micro and as wobuffet said is a good signal.
    So, do the game theory and as many metrics subjects as you can...

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    Same as above.

    I'd definitely take Metrics courses over lower level field courses. Although, I'd also make sure to have taken a course in Game Theory during your undergrad. So basically just add Game Theory to the list of metrics courses you weight more heavily than Monetary Economics, International Economics etc.

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    At the minimum, take one course in econometrics (to show that you have seen it before). If you are looking to be a theorist, then you can fill up the remaining slots with other advanced coursework.

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    Thanks all for your thoughtful comments.

    I know math is extremely important so of course I'm not going to neglect it. In terms of economics, I've taken the core courses in econ (intermediate micro/macro, money banking, etc.), intro to metrics (essentially it covers OLS and violations of the assumptions, very basic). Right now I'm taking applied metrics and we have been learning about panel data, discrete choice models, and lagged estimation. I find the course kinda useful and interesting too. What I'm confused about is whether to take any more metrics or concentrate on taking a variety of electives to have a feel of what I like.

    That said, I guess what we all agree upon is to take game theory, then fill the rest of the classes with metrics courses like forecasting and time-series?

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    Yes, but forecasting is more useful for financial econometrics. Unless you are into financial economics or finance, then time series alone should be sufficient.

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    Ok what yes, well...dunno dreck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by applicant12 View Post
    Thanks all for your thoughtful comments.

    I know math is extremely important so of course I'm not going to neglect it. In terms of economics, I've taken the core courses in econ (intermediate micro/macro, money banking, etc.), intro to metrics (essentially it covers OLS and violations of the assumptions, very basic). Right now I'm taking applied metrics and we have been learning about panel data, discrete choice models, and lagged estimation. I find the course kinda useful and interesting too. What I'm confused about is whether to take any more metrics or concentrate on taking a variety of electives to have a feel of what I like.

    That said, I guess what we all agree upon is to take game theory, then fill the rest of the classes with metrics courses like forecasting and time-series?
    There are still more options. I took two undergraduate courses similar to yours, and after applied econometrics (and linear algebra), then took graduate econometrics I, which covered everything from those two courses in great detail (with lots more math), plus some more topics. If you've got the math already, you might ask your school to take some graduate courses. Depends on your interest, though.

    Mathematical statistics is yet another option, which sends comparable or even stronger signals than undergraduate econometrics, which is typically less mathematically rigorous.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dreck View Post
    There are still more options. I took two undergraduate courses similar to yours, and after applied econometrics (and linear algebra), then took graduate econometrics I, which covered everything from those two courses in great detail (with lots more math), plus some more topics. If you've got the math already, you might ask your school to take some graduate courses. Depends on your interest, though.

    Mathematical statistics is yet another option, which sends comparable or even stronger signals than undergraduate econometrics, which is typically less mathematically rigorous.
    I'm taking Math stat 1 & 2 starting this fall. I plan to take master's level metrics course (we don't have an econ PhD program at my school). I guess what I'm thinking is whether those econometrics courses that I listed will help me sometime down the line to write term papers/senior thesis/etc.? Or will they turn out to be of little value?

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    Taking additional econometrics or statistics courses will probably pay off in the long run more compared to non-essential math courses (anything beyond linear algebra and analysis) or economics topics courses beyond intermediate economics.

    In terms of term paper or thesis, no one expects you to use anything mode advanced for it than OLS, instrumental variables, fixed effects, or a simple discrete choice model (probit) in stata or some other package. Most undergraduate courses in econometrics should cover at least OLS inference. You can figure out fixed effects inference, probit, or IV as you write the thesis if you need those.

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