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Thread: Profile Evaluation

  1. #1
    Trying to make mom and pop proud
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    Profile Evaluation

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    Hi Guys!

    Any thoughts, suggestions would be greatly appreciated! This isn't (obviously) for this go around of applications but the following year.


    Wondering what would be considered a realistic for Econ PhD programs? Top 10? Top 20? Top 50? Looking to see where I relatively hold up. More details about my profile:

    Undergrad GPA: 3.78 Top 50 National University with honors
    Major: Econ major, math minor. I took principles of macro & micro (both As) intermediate macro and micro (both As) econometrics (A-) History of monetary economics (A-) Economic Policy Analysis (A-), Public Economics (A), IO (A-) Senior Capstone, written on a topic in financial economics,(A), Calc 1 (A) Calc 2 (A), Calc 3 (B+), Stats (A-), Linear (A-), intro to proofs (A-) Time series analysis (A)

    Grad GPA: 3.9 (Same university)
    Major: Mathematics
    Real Analysis (A-), Measure Theory (A), Probability (A-), Statistical Inference (A) Algebra 1 (A) Algebra 2 (A) Thesis: Applying methods of topological and symbolic dynamics to complex economic modeling problems (A) I was also a TA for undergraduate Analysis (if that counts for anything)

    GREs: Not taken yet! Although practice tests, including the 2 ETS tests have been 166-170 Q, 157-160V.

    Letters: Professors from 1) (Grad) Math Thesis advisor. We're in the process of publishing some of the results that came out of my thesis and 2 years of research I did for him. 2) Undergraduate Capstone advisor in which I wrote a paper on quantifying reputational losses that are felt by publicly traded firms when they are accused of misconduct.3) Economist at Federal Reserve Board.

    Research Experience: I spent 2 years as a graduate research assistant to a professor which involved mathematical modeling of complex systems. Research is funded by a DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) grant. My focus was on applying some of the abstract general modeling approaches to concrete economic models. I am currently working at the Federal Reserve Board doing applied macro research on linkages between real and financial market behavior. Includes policy simulations and projections of macro activity. A lot of DSGE modeling and some statistical inferences.


    I'm not entirely sure what to think of my profile and how competitive I am for some of the top schools. I think my research background is good and my letters of rec will be strong as well, but I want to hear what everyone's thoughts are. I'm concerned about my GREs. Not quant, but verbal. Is a verbal score in that range too low?

    Overall, thoughts and chances? Please be realistic. Thank you!

    (Also posted in "Grad School" forum)
    Last edited by pc724; 05-09-2017 at 07:49 PM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Profile Evaluation

    I think a top 30 is realistic. You might even crack the top 10. Your wildcard is your LORs. Non-economists tend to do a poor job explaining to economists why someone is a good economic researcher. They simply do not know the way we communicate, which makes it hard for them to use the language that economists tend to use to signal this information. In other words, their LORs can lack "oomph"

    I am also not sure how good the LORs from your fed writer and capstone writers will be. For the job market these letters would probably be excellent. But for attending graduate school, maybe not so much. A common problem is that academic economists in top programs only really respect other topic academic economists. They might turn their nose to these LORs.

    Do you have any economic professors that can write you letters? Or were your capstone and fed writers previously tenured profs?

    No one cares about your verbal score.

  3. #3
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    Re: Profile Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaysa View Post

    I am also not sure how good the LORs from your fed writer and capstone writers will be. For the job market these letters would probably be excellent. But for attending graduate school, maybe not so much. A common problem is that academic economists in top programs only really respect other topic academic economists. They might turn their nose to these LORs.
    You should probably place more weight on Kaysa's advice since I'm only an undergrad, but I do have a slightly different opinion on this. When I received advice from professors while applying for full time RA positions, most of them agreed that RA jobs at the NY/Chicago Fed and the Fed Board are prestigious and not easy to get into. These Fed RA programs are specifically aimed at people trying to build up their profile for PhD programs, and they consistently place their best RA's at top 10 schools every year (emphasis on "best"). However, it is true that these positions may not be as strong as the ones at the NBER, Chicago Booth, Stanford, etc, in the sense that the average placement from the Fed Board is weaker than these positions. What really matters is whether these positions have experience placing their RA's into PhD programs, and the NY/Chicago Fed and the Fed Board definitely have this experience (some smaller regional Fed Banks may not have this experience). I can't imagine their letters being significantly discounted just because they're at the Fed, as I'm personally aware of graduates from my school/other US schools who worked full time at the Fed and placed very well.

    I would try to first ask your letter writer at the Fed what range of schools you should be applying to. If you've done a good job at the Fed, then I'm sure your letter from that Fed economist will be strong and respected.

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