It doesn't look like you have enough math for any of the higher ranked econ PhD programs. Given your goals I would focus on policy schools.
Appreciate any feedback on my competitiveness. Thanks!
Type of Undergrad: B.S. in business from state school (ranked in top 100) - 2002
Undergrad GPA: 3.7
Math/Econ Courses in undergrad: Tested out (AP credit) of Analytical Geometry + Calculus and Pre-Calculus with Trig; Honors Calc II (B); Business math with calculus (A); Microecon (A); Macroecon (A); Statistics for business and economics (A)
Type of Grad1: MPP from top 10 program - 2004
Grad GPA: 3.8
Math/Econ Grad Courses: Applied Quantitative Analysis I (B); Applied Quantitative Analysis II (A); Applied Microeconomics for Policy Analysis (A)
Type of Grad2 : MPhil in mngt from Oxbridge - 2005
Grad GPA: 68 overall, 75 on dissertation
Math/Econ Grad Courses: Public Policy and Economics (66); Methods in public policy (65)
GRE: need to retake – took in 2002 and scored 770Q so I’m guessing similar percentile on new test
Letters of Recommendation: My problem is that these advisors are from 10+ years ago - 1) MPP thesis and GRA advisor, who has PhD in economics from Michigan State; 2) MPhil dissertation advisor, who has PhD in engineering from Cambridge; 3) probably former manager from professional experience, which I think will be my strongest rec. Only other academic that I could use would be my undergrad honors thesis advisor, who is PhD from Wharton. But that's going way back.
Research Experience: Honors thesis funded by NSF and published in peer review journal; GRA in grad school for 2 yrs and thesis externally funded; dissertation in grad school 2, which was also externally funded
Teaching Experience: None
Research Interests: Applied Micro, Labor economics, Education, Inequality, Social Mobility
Working Experience: 4 years in strategy consulting in DC and London, 8 years in non-profit executive roles at national non-profits (VP and chief level roles)
SOP: My understanding is the SOP is not hugely meaningful, but here goes...My interests, grad school experience, and career have a clear line – a focus on solving inequity. I don’t want to continue on my current path, which is to a CEO type of position at a leading non-profit org. I’m more interested in affecting the arc of the line – the slope of impact on inequity. Which to me comes down to progressing knowledge – both from a research side as well as actually building human capital. So my theory of change is simple – to leverage data / analysis to better understand which policies affect inequity, and to influence and teach the future leaders a generation behind me. Very high level, but you get the point. I also have two other ambitions, which I’m not sure are worth stating in an SOP. First, at some point I’d want to be pres or univ of a major institution. Or at least dean of a policy or econ dept. Given my track record of promotions and leadership roles, I don't think it's a crazy ambition (assuming I was a successful researcher / professor for a while). Second, I’m motivated to drive the conversation and thinking in my community (the southeast US), where honestly I don’t think the research and ecosystem is near where it is in the NE and west coast (though Raleigh Durham does have interesting stuff going on).
Other: I’d be 38 as an applicant, which I can’t imagine helps!
Concerns: 1) Age; 2) I’m in a highly compensated job so I could see questions about my seriousness of taking this on and then time to drive change in the field in my mid 40s and up; 3) Letters from profs that are based relationships a decade ago; 4) math/econ courses are probably on the weak side; 5) I have a growing family so am hesitant to move across the country for 4+ yrs
Applying to: This is what I want feedback on because I have no idea whether I’d be competitive in top 10. My current thinking is the following tiers:
- Top 10s – UofC, Stanford, prob 1 more
- Regional – Duke, Georgia State
- Policy schools – Kennedy, LSE (social policy), Harris, UGA
- Intl – Oxford, LSE, UCL, Cambridge (if I went this route, I’d prob explore doing a masters part-time in the US first in order to reduce my time abroad)
Yes, policy programs, absolutely. There is nothing here to suggest you would enjoy an economics PhD but you would be very welcome in a Public Policy PhD program and would enjoy it much more. Remember, economics is a positive social science. It's the first concept in almost every intro textbook. We don't judge and we don't try to impose our beliefs on others. Your goals, as stated, are antithetical to that core principle.
Aside from all that, you have no chance of being accepted at Top 50 programs in economics - you have little formal math and your recommendation letters from 10+ years ago and are not economists. Schools have a plethora of over-qualified candidates to choose from. Somewhere like Georgia State Econ might offer you a spot but you'd be a risky bet and would probably have to pay your own way.
Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate it. I'm inclined to agree with both assessments - that policy schools are more in my wheelhouse.
One follow - what are the top 2-5 math or econ classes you'd recommend to increase competitiveness? I have Georgia State and Georgia Tech available locally so could enroll in a few courses over the next year. Or could even do the masters program at either if that was going to help my chances significantly.
Ok, to get really detailed - which courses here?
And - if I were to take those courses - what do you think on my competitiveness?
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