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Thread: 2019 Profile Evaluation - Geographically Limited :/

  1. #1
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    2019 Profile Evaluation - Geographically Limited :/

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    Type of Undergrad: Top-Ranked Public Liberal Arts
    Undergrad GPA: 3.73/4.0
    Major: Economics (with Honors), International Studies

    Masterís Program: International Economic Relations (More Policy than Quant)
    Masterís GPA: 3.9

    GRE: Need to take (Over 5 years ago, scored in top 97pctile in quantitative)

    Math Courses:
    Multivariate Calc I (A-)
    Discrete Math (B)
    Differential Equations (B)

    Econ Courses:
    Micro Theory (A)
    International Econ (A)
    Intermediate Theory: Money, Income and Employment (A)
    Economic Statistics (A)
    Applied Econometric Analysis (A-)
    Advanced International Economics (A)
    Economics Honors Thesis Course (A)


    Letters of Recommendation:
    1 from professor from my Masterís program
    1 from Partner at my firm (quantitative consulting firm; partner is a PhD economist)
    Not sure about 3rd yetÖ

    Research Experience:
    5 years of experience working on research projects for a quantitative consulting firm. Mostly program evaluations for the U.S. Department of Labor, as well as supporting econometricians and statisticians serving as expert witnesses in Litigation matters. Extensive experience in data management (Stata and some R), statistical sampling, predictive analytics, program evaluation, labor economics, report writing, and model validation.


    Teaching Experience:
    None

    Research Interests: International Development- Water Scarcity, Education

    Applying:
    I am limited to North Carolina (family reasons). I know most apply to 15-20 schools, but I will be unable to.
    UNC is my top choice; Will apply to NC State, Duke, Wake?, Please advise.


    Worries:
    - I have been out of undergrad for years now and have not kept up with many professors. I have one professor from my Masterís program who will probably write a strong letter, as well as an economist who founded the consulting company I work for. My other options are limited- there is a PhD statistician who I have supported on various litigation matters, but I am not sure how strong that one would be. Iím also limited geographically, so I cannot apply to multiple schools. I have to make these applications as strong as possible.

    Please advise on 1) whether I look like a good candidate for UNC Chapel Hill, 2) suggestions for NC schools to apply to, and 3) how to make my application stronger.

    Thank you in advance!

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    Re: 2019 Profile Evaluation - Geographically Limited :/

    It really is a shame that graduate school is such a difficult thing to do when you have geographic constraints. The bad news here is there really aren't many PhD econ programs in NC. Duke, UNC, and NC State are all I can see. It doesn't look to me like Wake Forest has one. There may be some unranked programs outside of those 3 if you keep looking and are willing to take a risk on that. If stretching into SC/Virginia truly isn't feasible, that seems to be it.

    The other tough thing is that you're an unconventional candidate, coming from many years of private work and lacking the traditional indicators of a quantitative background (short on math and not many A's). You should really try to get a very strong GRE quantitative score and hint to your letter writers that vouching for your quantitative skills would be useful.

    I'm just an applicant this year, so take this profile evaluation with a grain of salt. I'm going off of my years of reading this site and the handful of outcomes I've witnessed in person. But here's my best guess: Duke is very unlikely, UNC is somewhat unlikely, and NC State is probably an option, but not a guarantee.

    With so few apps, I would say the cost is low enough that it's worth an attempt if this is something you're serious about doing. Factor in that admissions is incredibly random (you could be theoretically be getting offers from similarly ranked schools as NC State but get rejected from NC State, for example), and you can see the hurdle here. I do think Duke is out of your reach, but I sent plenty of apps to schools out of my reach, so don't feel bad about doing it.

    As far as adding to your profile, if I could choose one area it would be classwork. A difficult math course (linear algebra is a must for many programs; real analysis would help) would be the best option in terms of feasibility and value-added. Letters are very important, and if you have some people who will very strongly recommend you and work to convince them you can handle the rigors of an econ PhD, admissions people may take a chance on an unconventional candidate.

    The reality is it'll be quite difficult. Doesn't mean it's not worth a shot, though. But depending on what your career goals are, there may be other worthwhile programs outside of an econ PhD, which is a really, really big investment (not in terms of direct cost, but time/energy/opportunity cost in private work), and is even that much harder with the constraints you currently have. It's definitely worth thinking about.

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    Re: 2019 Profile Evaluation - Geographically Limited :/

    Quote Originally Posted by minskymoment View Post
    It really is a shame that graduate school is such a difficult thing to do when you have geographic constraints. The bad news here is there really aren't many PhD econ programs in NC. Duke, UNC, and NC State are all I can see. It doesn't look to me like Wake Forest has one. There may be some unranked programs outside of those 3 if you keep looking and are willing to take a risk on that. If stretching into SC/Virginia truly isn't feasible, that seems to be it.

    The other tough thing is that you're an unconventional candidate, coming from many years of private work and lacking the traditional indicators of a quantitative background (short on math and not many A's). You should really try to get a very strong GRE quantitative score and hint to your letter writers that vouching for your quantitative skills would be useful.

    I'm just an applicant this year, so take this profile evaluation with a grain of salt. I'm going off of my years of reading this site and the handful of outcomes I've witnessed in person. But here's my best guess: Duke is very unlikely, UNC is somewhat unlikely, and NC State is probably an option, but not a guarantee.

    With so few apps, I would say the cost is low enough that it's worth an attempt if this is something you're serious about doing. Factor in that admissions is incredibly random (you could be theoretically be getting offers from similarly ranked schools as NC State but get rejected from NC State, for example), and you can see the hurdle here. I do think Duke is out of your reach, but I sent plenty of apps to schools out of my reach, so don't feel bad about doing it.

    As far as adding to your profile, if I could choose one area it would be classwork. A difficult math course (linear algebra is a must for many programs; real analysis would help) would be the best option in terms of feasibility and value-added. Letters are very important, and if you have some people who will very strongly recommend you and work to convince them you can handle the rigors of an econ PhD, admissions people may take a chance on an unconventional candidate.

    The reality is it'll be quite difficult. Doesn't mean it's not worth a shot, though. But depending on what your career goals are, there may be other worthwhile programs outside of an econ PhD, which is a really, really big investment (not in terms of direct cost, but time/energy/opportunity cost in private work), and is even that much harder with the constraints you currently have. It's definitely worth thinking about.
    I agree pretty much 100% with what minsky says here. I am also an applicant this year (applied to about 16 schools, was wait-listed at 2 and accepted by UCLA and rejected by all others, going to UCLA). My profile is similar to yours in several ways. First I applied after working in the economic/litigation consulting field for two years (it sounds like your private sector work was similar to my job). My case is slightly different since it sounds like you worked for five years, but in general I was told by others on here and in my network that academic economists do not necessarily value private sector work in consulting the same as what might be termed "pure research experience" (RAings or coauthoring, etc). This jives with the way one academic economist I know reacted to my initial choice to work in consulting (he wasn't ecstatic). It also is consistent with my admissions outcomes - it did not appear to me that it helped give me an edge in anyway (not a causal relationship necessarily, but not contradictory). I decided when applying to not use any of the PhD economists at my consulting firm for letters of rec as a result of this information, and I believe this was a good choice. That being said, it may not be an option for you, since you have been working for five years. I imagine ad coms would realize that and adjust their opinion according. In light of that I think having one letter from your firm partner is fine, and the master's program professor is good. I would try as hard as possible to get a third letter from an economics professor or some quantitative discipline, as that would help signal additional academic quantitative strengthwhich will be your biggest challenge.

    I am also similar to you in that it appears we both are very interested in the policy side of economics. When I applied this year, I applied to several applied economics and public policy PhD programs. Although I ended up not being accepted to these (I was wait listed at one) many of them sounded very interesting to me. They also seem like they'd credit your application more for your work experience and policy interest. I am not sure of any in your geographic constraint, but I suggest you search for applied economics or public policy PhD programs similar to Wharton's Applied program or RAND's PRGS program that are within the geographic region you want.

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    Re: 2019 Profile Evaluation - Geographically Limited :/

    Thank you! This is very helpful.

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    Re: 2019 Profile Evaluation - Geographically Limited :/

    You may want to consider UNC's or Duke's public policy PhD programs. Both strong programs that will value your professional experience, and you may find better research fit there rather than an econ program.

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    Re: 2019 Profile Evaluation - Geographically Limited :/

    You have nowhere near the amount of math that programs like Duke and UNC would want you to have. NCSU may take a chance, but I'm not even sure about that. If you decide on applying anyway, looking at your research interest regarding international development, I think NCSU ARE department may be a better fit then a traditional econ program. If I remember correctly, NCSU has a decent ARE department, but don't quote me on this. If I were you, I would take more math somewhere so that I would have at least have 3 cal classes and linear algebra. The LOR from your boss will be greatly discounted, and if the other LOR is not written by a PhD economist, it will also be discounted.

    You have a nonconventional profile, so I don't know if my suggestions help. Good luck.

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    Re: 2019 Profile Evaluation - Geographically Limited :/

    I agree that you probably need at least Calc 1, 2, and 3 plus linear algebra to get into UNC. You could take these before applying. I like the idea of the policy PhD program mentioned above and UNC and Duke both have very good programs.

    You really want letters from people who have a PhD in economics, ideally who are professors.

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