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Thread: Profile evaluation - 2018

  1. #11
    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
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    Re: Profile evaluation - 2018

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    This is as clear-cut a case as I can ever imagine of someone who should not be applying to PhD programs.

    1. You aren't competitive for PhD econ. I'd be shocked if you get a funded offer from a top 40 program within two years.

    2. You're giving up way too much.

    And international programs should not be within your consideration. That's just absurd for someone with a family.

    There might be a very thin argument for going into policy PhDs, but I suggest you think long and hard about it. Our forum has lots of resources in its previous threads and posts, including some info on public policy PhDs; I suggest you browse through them and get all the info about an academic career in public policy before you make any decisions.

    Finally, one thing I want to note is that a lot of econ/policy PhDs explicitly decide to go into policy institutions and non-profits for the opportunity of having a greater impact. Your assumption that academia provides you more opportunities to address social ills (via some human capital channel) strikes me as incorrect; if you continue to advance in your remarkably successful career in the non-profit world, you can easily get the opportunity to guest lecture at major regional universities every semester, especially for MPP programs, and reach a far larger/broader audience than that of most economists. I think this career provides you greater opportunities for your goals, than PhD programs, even if we compare it with your initial (overly optimistic) assumption that you have a decent chance of getting into a top 20 econ program and ending up as a dean. But I'm not experienced in this industry, so I won't say more.

  2. #12
    Trying to make mom and pop proud
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    Re: Profile evaluation - 2018

    Hi all,

    Again, thanks everyone for all of the feedback. It's been very helpful. I've also been concurrently talking with people - in particular had some conversations with econ admissions folks. Consistent themes on my lack of math, age, and the alternative paths that I could take to achieve my career goals.

    All of this to say, I'm still in a place where I want to go for a PhD, but likely in public policy. Here are the programs that I am going to further explore. Any thoughts on competitiveness? I'm not as sure on the PP route but I'm assuming I'd be more competitive.

    Reach Schools
    1. Harvard Kennedy PP
    2. Uof C Harris PP
    3. Emory and Georgia State Econ

    Mid
    4. Duke PP
    5. Oxford social policy
    6. LSE social policy

    Safety
    7. GA Tech / GSU joint PP program

  3. #13
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    Re: Profile evaluation - 2018

    Harvard PP is as competitive as top 10 econ programs. Since your profile is unlikely to even get into a top 40 econ, I would say you have no chance there. U of C PP is competitive as top 20 econ programs as well.

    I don't know about the rest.

  4. #14
    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
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    Re: Profile evaluation - 2018

    You are certainly more competitive for PP. But I think most of us aren't sure exactly how much your non-profit experience will boost your chances. A 12 year career in consulting + non-profit is better for your application than a 12 year career in accounting; however, I'm not sure it's better or worse than students who graduated 2-4 years ago and have limited work experience. The latter is the standard candidate for some public policy PhDs. Because your background is quite unique, I think you'd be justified to cold contact a few people and ask about the relevance of your background. (try to find a current PhD student, or a faculty on an adcom - don't just ask the admissions office staff).

    With that factor being a huge unknown to me, I'd just try to give you a benchmark: in terms of admissions competitiveness and level of quantitative rigor, Harvard Kennedy PP and U of C Harris PP are comparable to a #10-#20 economics PhD program. On a purely academic basis, your profile clearly isn't strong enough for those programs. For economics program in that range, using old GRE scores, the median quant score is 800 and the mean is somewhere between 790 and 800. Most admitted (funded) students from the U.S. will have 3.9+ in math/econ at a top 30 private university or 3.8+ top 30 state university, in addition to RA experience.

    Other things:

    1. I wouldn't consider GA Tech a safety. It's known as one of the top programs in the tier below Kennedy/Harris.

    2. I also wouldn't rank GA Tech below Oxford/LSE social policy in your preferences. Typically, social policy programs are a class below public policy programs, if I may say that, because the latter have been better at keeping up to date with the quantitative areas of social science. This is reflected in stronger placements and funding. Furthermore, I don't know a lot about the strengths of Oxford/LSE's programs, but generally I'd recommend to focus on U.S. programs only, both for academic reasons (the U.S. dominates policy research) and because of your significant family commitments. I imagine for those programs you'd have to take a MRES+PhD route as well, which I think is sub-optimal (you'd have to write a thesis in the first year, when you should be spending all your time on econ/stats).

    3. Another southern(-ish) program that's at the level of GA Tech is UNC's PP program. You should consider it - I quite liked the syllabus/structure of their program when I read about it. In general, you want to go for programs that have deeper economics training. The increasing use of economic methodology is the trend of the public policy discipline, and you want to receive enough training that guarantees you can continue to understand contemporaneous methodlogy for the next 2-3 decades.

    Keep in mind all these advice comes from an econ PhD who's not too familiar with pub pol; don't believe it with conviction, but use it as a benchmark. Keep reaching out to people you might know with similar interests, especially pub policy phd students you may have known during your work.
    Last edited by chateauheart; 01-31-2017 at 11:17 PM.

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