also, when schools ask for 3 letter of recommendation, could I put in an extra? Some people have told me it's possible.
-My gpa is 3.1 (3.5 in last 2 years, with 4.0 in econ)
-Only have 1 year of calc and linear algebra (but won't have grades for LA at time of application)
-800Q 580V 4.0AWA
-2 summers research in China(#1 school there), 1 paper pending publishing
-should have 3 fairly strong letters of rec from 1 esteemed professor and 2 not so known ones, all in ECON
I figured if I stood a chance of getting accepted, it would be at the least selective ph.D programs out there, if someone would indulge me? If not, easy masters to get into would work too.
You can probably get into the easiest PhDs, as we've said in the other thread. The question is, why do you want to do so? Why not get an MA so you can get some more math? Or why do you want to go into research in the first place?
I don't want to be judgmental, and you might know this already. But here are some points you definitely need to consider:
- There's no way you will be able to work in the academia if you get a PhD from the bottom programs.
- Most Econ PhD applicants have probably taken more math than you have by the time they finished high school. In other words, to put it bluntly, there are plenty of high school students who will probably do better in a PhD program than you will.
- The career prospects are not necessarily better. Five years of job experience can add a lot more value than five years of graduate program, especially if during these five years you'll be struggling to catch up with the math.
So there must be some very specific reason you're looking for a PhD and aren't considering anything else. I hope it's a solid reason, but please tell us so we can know what advice to offer.
Well, to be honest, I'm not looking to enter academia, so the rank of the school isn't as important as to what I actually learn. I DO, however, need a ph.D degree to help me better understand and utilize the resources at my hands in pushing my career forwards ( a complicated situation, in a nutshell, helping with policy passing and also a tight schedule, I don't have time for a masters to ph.D route). I am quite interested in research, but I seriously doubt I will pursue that path.
It's to my understanding even bad ph.D programs will provide you with a solid foundation in economic theory.
Not necessarily. Most solid "economic theories", when taught in PhD programs, requires a lot of mathematics that you lack and may not be able to catch up with. The bad programs tend to require less math, but that's more of a problem than a virtue.
Most of a PhD program is not necessarily education, I would say. A lot of it is spent to basically train economists in the language of academic economics (i.e. applied mathematics), to familiarize themselves with academic research, and to pick out the most promising researchers. If you want to get the most out of your education and then go work for public policy, it might be better to take a MA in economics or public policy.
Of course, a PhD sounds better to outsiders who do not understand how the academia works. That is a factor worthy of consideration.
If you don't see yourself working on research (or at least wanting to), a PhD probably isn't for you. After you're done with coursework, the majority of the time is spent training you to be a researcher. It is a research degree, after all.
If you are sure that you are not going to academia and that you need PhD for career promotion purposes, chances are you simply won't survive five (or more) years or PhD-style study and research.
In this case MA/MSc would be helpful to get a feeling of what it is like and then decide whether you want to proceed further. European schools are ideal for this, since in most places you start with MSc and then proceed (if you are admitted) to PhD without losing time and having to study something again. On average, the time spent for MSc+PhD in Europe equals the time spent for PhD in the US, so I don't see the reason why not to start with a master's degree.
What is your GPA in the math classes? You mention a 4.0 in econ. Honestly if your GPA is good in the math classes as well as the econ classes, you could take a few more math classes (like analysis, maybe intro to proofs before taking analysis if you don't feel "ready" for analysis, and possibly ODE) and get into some decent programs. I am not sure whether you did not take more math because you don't like math (in which case you might encounter problems in a PhD program, as PhD programs are very mathematical), or did you not realize that it is important to take math until late in the game? If it is the latter, maybe work for a year or 2 while taking a few evening math classes. If your GPA is low because you bombed the math classes, that is definitely a problem. However, if its low because you did poorly in a few reading/writing type courses, I think that extra math could get you into some programs that might not be top 10 but also wouldn't be bottom of the barrel.
Note: Just looked at your profile in the other thread. It seems like you bombed the first 2 years and then started to take things seriously and improved a lot. In that case, I would really recommend that you go for the masters if you want to get into a better PhD program.
I think that if you applied to a dozen or so schools in the Top 50-100, you would be offered at least admission to several. In fact, depending on the strength of your math grades and LORs, I would also suggest applying to some higher ranked ones (Top 20-40ish) and maybe a few reaches in the Top 20 (depends on how much money you're willing to spend on applications).
The issue is whether or not you'll get first year funding. All programs, but especially lower ranked schools, tend to be very tight with funding first year students that they aren't sure will make it past prelims (the flawed/inconsistent transcript is mostly the source of the doubt). Part of it is also that almost all funding at lower ranked schools is tied to a graduate assistantship and they're not sure if you can handle working 10-20 hours a week in addition to classes.
If you're willing to accept taking out loans to fund the first year, then I would target relatively more Top 40-60ish schools. If you're unwilling to consider unfunded offers, then lean more toward Top 60-100 schools. Although realize that the further down the rankings you go, the less funding they have available.
A word of caution though, i do agree that maybe the Masters route might be a better choice considering your career interests, especially considering the math intensive nature of any PhD program. You will ultimately make the final decision, but, consider the worth of spending two years at a more reputable school where you can finish a strong masters degree versus spending five years at a very low ranked PhD program. The bottom line, i'm sure you can get into a PhD program somewhere, however though, consider your future and career prospects in the long run given such an investment in a low ranked program.
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