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Thread: Advice on choosing MACRM vs PhD?

  1. #1
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    Advice on choosing MACRM vs PhD?

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    Just to give a bit about my background first:
    I have an Econ/Math double major from a top-20 US University
    GRE: 169 (Q), 163 (V)
    3.6 GPA; A's in Intermediate Micro, Macro, Econometrics, Calc 3, Real Analysis, Linear Algebra. However, I did receive B's in PhD Micro and Econometrics which I took 10 years ago (when I was 19). After undergrad, I got an MA in Education, and then taught for a while. I know admissions committees won't care about the following (clearly) but I started an Ed Tech company, ran it for 5 years and sold it last year to a fortune 500 company. I have written two published books, and teach a summer entrepreneurship course at Harvard. I have primarily been focusing on the teaching of economics to undergrads - and have been tutoring it for the past 10 years. I've had a lot of time to also study advanced economics, and for the past few years have been even tutoring grad micro to new PhD students (I've clearly improved my understanding a lot since getting a B in it in 2009). However, none of this is on my transcript. I did take and get an A in grad econometrics last year, and I was able to get letters of recs from some of my old professors (including my thesis advisor) - while these are strong, the writers haven't interacted with me in 10 years, so i'm not sure if admissions committees will doubt my mathematical abilities since I've been out of school for so long.

    In the fall 2018 admissions cycle, I applied to 10 of the top 20, and to Rutgers and MSU. I was rejected from all of the top-20 schools, and only had offers from Rutgers (unfunded) and Michigan State (funded). However, I was also offered (50% tuition off) admissions to Uchicago's MACRM program.

    My career goal is to be a tenure track professor (obviously, as good a university as possible). My research interests are labor/ed policy/applied micro.

    So my question is: should I go to Uchicago (which means spending another 1.5 years, spending 40k in tuition, and still potentially not getting into better programs) or take the offer from MSU? In talking with some of the current MACRM students, it seems like if you do well in the first year, Uchicago tends to offer you admissions directly into their (public policy) PhD program, which seems like the placements for Uchicago Public Policy are a tad better than MSU Econ (even within econ programs - but I really don't care whether I end up in a public policy department or an econ department since I would likely do the same applied micro/policy research). Thanks in advance for your advice!

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    Re: Advice on choosing MACRM vs PhD?

    I'd be curious what people thought about MACRM as well. I was also accepted (but with only 1/4 tuition). I am shooting more for political science (although conditional on me doing the program and doing well, econ may be on the table), so if people had thoughts on it in that context as well that would be helpful.

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    Re: Advice on choosing MACRM vs PhD?

    Boi you have a very unconventional profile. You definitely should consult other people, but if I were you and if I could afford the tuition at Chicago, I would go there. I think that would give me the following options: (a) get into Chicago's public policy PhD program (given that what you heard is true), (b) the program would give me the opportunity to take challenging classes and show people that "hey I can do it; please take a chance on me", and (c) access to new LOR writers. You should definitely check out MSU's placements first though and see if you're happy with the median placement there before deciding. Good luck

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    Re: Advice on choosing MACRM vs PhD?

    This is really a unique profile. A funded acceptance to MSU Econ indicates an aptitude for Econ at the grad level. However, the teaching, life, and business experience are almost surely discounted at econ programs. The MACRM will likely not help shape you for Econ.

    I could see a PhD program in "Entrepreneurship and Public Policy" being very interested in this type of candidate. Job outcomes from these kinds of programs tends to be very good. Moreover, if you attend an Entrepreneurship PhD at a school where you can take grad classes in Labor and Public, you'd be able to do research outside of strict entrepreneurship.

    Most importantly, econ programs will likely feel limiting to someone with your background.

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    Re: Advice on choosing MACRM vs PhD?

    Quote Originally Posted by tm_member View Post
    This is really a unique profile. A funded acceptance to MSU Econ indicates an aptitude for Econ at the grad level. However, the teaching, life, and business experience are almost surely discounted at econ programs. The MACRM will likely not help shape you for Econ.

    I could see a PhD program in "Entrepreneurship and Public Policy" being very interested in this type of candidate. Job outcomes from these kinds of programs tends to be very good. Moreover, if you attend an Entrepreneurship PhD at a school where you can take grad classes in Labor and Public, you'd be able to do research outside of strict entrepreneurship.

    Most importantly, econ programs will likely feel limiting to someone with your background.
    Do you think you could offer some insight on my situation? (Sorry to hijack this thread but it seems relevant enough). I'm interested in political science/political economy (I would only do econ if the professors in the program thought I should do it). I only received a 1/4 tuition scholarship, but from what I can tell it provides the best training available and the core coursework seems to be good preparation for a political science PhD (the core coursework includes a 3 part sequence in political economy).

    Note: I'm asking here because people in political science forums don't know a lot about the MACRM program.

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    Re: Advice on choosing MACRM vs PhD?

    Do you think you would be able to give you opinion for my situation? (Sorry to hijack this thread, but it seems relevant enough.) I'm more interested in political and political economy. Do you think the MACRM program would be good preparation for a political science PhD? I was admitted with only a partial tuition scholarship, but admitted to the CIR program with full tuition. Do you think the MACRM program would be worth it?

    I'm posting here because no many people are familiar with the MACRM program on the political science forums. Thanks!

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    Re: Advice on choosing MACRM vs PhD?

    Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful responses!

    And no worries at all about "hijacking" the threat; your situation is equally relevant! From what I can see, the MACRM seems like a much better signal (for both econ and poli sci PhDs) than the CIR. In particular, the professors writing your LORs would be able to comment on the rigor of the courses in the MACRM (since they are effectively the same courses as the Harris Public Policy PhD, with real analysis and linear algebra being pre-requisites). The courses seem like they are slightly (just slightly) less rigorous versions of the PhD micro/econometrics sequence (in fact they use the same textbook as most PhD micro courses). So that would definitely convey quantitative ability, in addition to the fact that you are paired with a research project and get a year of RAing under your belt as well (and a recent research paper that you would write at the end of the year). And as you said, this would also open up the possibility of applying to Econ PhD programs in addition to Poli Sci PhD programs afterwards (since you could easily get LORs from the Econ PhD's who comprise the majority of the MACRM faculty).

    The question of whether the MACRM is "worth it", we can actually kind of estimate as follows (being very imprecise mathematically): Is the $45k in loans you would take (60k tuition for 15 months with 25% covered = 45k) to go to MACRM over CIR worth it? It depends on the expected salary increase you might have by taking that path. Assuming even something like a 5% discount rate, if you make $X more "for the rest of time", that amounts to X/(1-.05) = 20X. So for this to be worth the $45k tuition, you would need to have an expected salary increase of 45k/20 = $2.25k a year. Even if we assume a discount rate of 10% instead of 5%, that number comes out to be 45k/10 = $4,500. I would think that being placed at a slightly better school (by doing the MACRM) would quite likely result in a $5-10k salary increase throughout your career (which is actually not that significant a difference if you are earning somewhere between $150k-$200k midway through your career).

    So as long as you are earning about $5k more per year on average by going to the MACRM, it's worth taking $45k in loans to do so. Of course, how much more you would make (if anything) is very much a guess at this point, so that's something you have to estimate in your mind and decide from there!



    Quote Originally Posted by Youalreadyknow View Post
    Do you think you would be able to give you opinion for my situation? (Sorry to hijack this thread, but it seems relevant enough.) I'm more interested in political and political economy. Do you think the MACRM program would be good preparation for a political science PhD? I was admitted with only a partial tuition scholarship, but admitted to the CIR program with full tuition. Do you think the MACRM program would be worth it?

    I'm posting here because no many people are familiar with the MACRM program on the political science forums. Thanks!

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    Re: Advice on choosing MACRM vs PhD?

    Thanks again for all of your responses . I have decided to accept the MACRM offer! Will re-apply to Econ/Public Policy PhD programs in two years, hopefully with better results! (And hopefully strong LORs from well-respected research professors)

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