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Thread: Profile Evaluation for PhD Please

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    Profile Evaluation for PhD Please

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    Hello,

    I am graduating from REDACTED this year, and I am likely going to a 100-150 RePEc ranking (REDACTED) Economics university for my MA degree in Canada in fall 2018. I wasn't able to get into Toronto MA and likely will not get into Western MA. Here is my undergrad profile:

    Math:
    Intro to Proofs A-, First Year Calculus B+, Linear Algebra B+, Calculus of Several Variables A, Stats I A-, Stats II C, Discrete Math B, Differential Equations C, Groups and Symmetries B+, Vector Calculus C-, Combinatorics B-
    Economics:
    Intro to Economics B+, Intermediate Micro (Credit/No Credit Basis), Intermediate Macro C-, Urban Economics A, Econometrics I A+, Advanced Macro B+, Advanced Micro A+, Public Economics A, Econometrics II A+

    I am going to put in a lot of effort during my MA and am confident that I can do really well in it as well as on the GRE. If this happens along with my poor undergrad GPA (3.0 cumulative), do I have any chance at a strong PhD program in my fields of interest? I am interested in econometrics and micro theory. Experimental economics also seems interesting to me. Would I have any chance at say a top 30 program in these fields? Ranking doesn't matter too much to me but I'd like to end up in academia at a relatively strong department so it does play a part. I was thinking that if I am not able to get into a strong program I can also try to work in the government for a year or two and apply after. I am willing to do a lot if it means getting into a strong program. Any help is appreciated.
    Last edited by Erin; 10-03-2018 at 10:44 PM. Reason: By request.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation for PhD Please

    This is something that you need to ask the administrators/faculty at your master's program about. Specifically, their record of placing into PhD programs. If, say, they place 20% of their students into PhD programs, then you could say you have a chance at a decent PhD program, and vice versa. (Given your undergrad performance, I'd say it may be reasonable to be confident of getting top 20% in a master's cohort, but not reasonable to go beyond that.)

    I just looked up Carleton's website and they have an infographic on career paths. They show that less than 24% of Econ MA graduates go into education (I imagine academia is a fairly small subset of education). They don't even bother to list "further education" separately. That's not a good sign.

    I think, realistically speaking, you should assume your typical placement out of the program will not be a PhD program. At this point, (i) consider whether you'd be happy with an economics-related government or professional job after Econ MA, or (ii) whether you want to switch directions completely now.

    If you'd be happy with (i), then I'd say go ahead with the program and focus on the work, and if you do really well in the first semester, then consider applying to PhD programs.

    But as of now, it's not realistic to put MA->PhD->academia as your primary career path; you're only going to hurt your chances at other careers if you focus too much on that possibility.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation for PhD Please

    This may be outside of what you're interested in, but if you have a relatively good idea of what research you find interesting and think it's unlikely you end up in a top North American program, I'd recommend to look at European programs too (also in terms of master's). The reason is that European faculty quality varies much more within departments than across departments (like in North America). So you could easily find a place that is doing horrible in macroeconomics, but has leading scholars in econometrics. The nice by-product is that in many European countries higher ed is (almost) free. Make sure to pick a program though that allows you to transition back to North American grad programs if that's what you want!

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    Re: Profile Evaluation for PhD Please

    Thanks for the responses. I think its pretty clear what I need to do now. I need to do really well next year in the MA so that I can have a chance at good programs. I will also try to get some research experience with some faculty. And yes I will look into European departments as well. Are there any in particular you know that are strong in econometrics or micro?

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    Re: Profile Evaluation for PhD Please

    Quote Originally Posted by Majestic View Post
    Thanks for the responses. I think its pretty clear what I need to do now. I need to do really well next year in the MA so that I can have a chance at good programs. I will also try to get some research experience with some faculty. And yes I will look into European departments as well. Are there any in particular you know that are strong in econometrics or micro?
    Your two A+ grades are in an undergrad econometrics sequence. You got consistent C's in pure math. This conflicts strongly with your stated research interests. "Econometrics" as a research field refers to econometric theory - which is practically measure theory & applications. Micro theory is career suicide for those that aren't entering an elite program, and you're certainly not competitive for top 30 in the U.S. nor the top tier of programs in Europe at this point. If you were interested in the type of material in an undergrad micro and econometrics sequences, your natural research area is empirical micro or I.O., not econometrics.

    I would be glad to hear the professor's suggestions on second-tier PhD programs in Europe, because this forum lacks expert information about that. But for your case, he should be recommending empirical/experimental-oriented programs.

    edited to add: I think I haven't sufficiently conveyed how detached this type of discussion is from realistic expectations. As I stated earlier, you should hold the assumption that you won't place into a ranked PhD program from Carleton's MA econ program, simply because that's evidently not what their program aims for. Your additional plan of doing research assistance, if you manage it together with your course-load, may raise your chances by a bit compared to your cohort, but I seriously wonder if you actually have the work ethic to maintaining something like >60 hours of work per week from now on until you apply. Because you certainly haven't been doing that for the last few years. As of now my honest estimate of your chances of getting a funded PhD offer during that MA econ program is pretty close to 0%. Until and unless you receive drastically positive feedback in your grades and research work, any discussion of research field or post-PhD job markets is a distraction/psychological substitute away from what you should be focusing on, which is to look for a professional/government job.
    Last edited by chateauheart; 04-18-2018 at 02:14 PM.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation for PhD Please

    As for the work ethic, during my undergrad I simply was very arrogant and did not put in much effort at all. I know it will require very hard work to do better in the MA and whether you believe that I will or not, I will put in the effort required although I don't expect you or anyone to believe that given my GPA. I just want to know what needs to be done to be able to get into a good PhD program, not whether or not I will put in the work. If top marks in this MA, some research experience, and some level of good scores in the GRE won't do it, then I am willing to accept that. I know that currently I do not have the profile of a good PhD candidate, but I just wanted to know what is possible if I do well in the future.

    I guess the time to look into this further and ask about recommendations for programs will come after I have performed well. Thank you for your insights. I appreciate it.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation for PhD Please

    If your goal is to get into a top tier PhD, do another MA after carleton at a feeder school. I.e UBC, U of T, SFU, Queens or Western. Generally these schools will fund you so the extra year wont set you back horribly.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation for PhD Please

    Quote Originally Posted by chateauheart View Post

    I would be glad to hear the professor's suggestions on second-tier PhD programs in Europe, because this forum lacks expert information about that. But for your case, he should be recommending empirical/experimental-oriented programs.
    There are many reasonably good departments in Europe that one could target. As a rule of thumb, I'd look at the RePeC Ranking by country (Economics Rankings | IDEAS/RePEc), exclude all schools that are considered top worldwide and you should have a good starting point. Then check all departments if they have decent faculty in your area.

    A few good departments in Europe, in no particular order: Toulouse, Barcelona, UC3M, Paris School of Economics, LSE, UCL, Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick, KU Leuven, Tilburg, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Bonn, Munich, Mannheim, Zurich, Bocconi, Copenhagen, Stockholm School of Economics, IIES Stockholm, Bergen, Central European University.

    If you want to communicate outside of the classroom without having to learn a new language, UK, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden have an absolute advantage as English is spoken by virtually everyone.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation for PhD Please

    I tried to post a detailed reply several times, but apparently my answer wasn't approved. Bottomline: Check rankings (e.g. Repec) for good European departments and identify departments that are strong in the field.

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