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Thread: Difference between Economic Policy & Public Economics?

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage applicant12's Avatar
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    Re: Difference between Economic Policy & Public Economics?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dogbones View Post
    Now I'm starting to reconsider the MBA, because it was going to take away most of the free time I would have with pursuing just one degree. If not an MBA, what else can I do other than the MA in Econ to boost my application and odds??
    Given your situation, I'd say not much. The only things I can think of are (a) publish, even as a coauthor with faculty member(s) and/or (b) excel as an RA. However, both require regular communication and collaboration with professors, things that may be difficult for you since it seems like you're working full-time and only taking classes on Fridays and Saturdays, days that I would guess faculty members just wanna teach and go home rather than hanging around to discuss research.

    If you're serious about the PhD (and I think to know that you need to read up more about PhD study, career outcomes, etc. which this forum is a good place to start), I would leave Hawaii and go do a master's at schools that have a history of sending students to PhD programs (several places outside the U.S. Stateside, Duke comes to mind, although there are cheaper options such as UC Denver - others will have to help me out here, I've been away from the game too long to be knowledgeable about this). Try to get an RA position while doing the master's and excel. The idea is you have to start going to school full-time as opposed to working full-time. I don't know how feasible this is for you, so it's something you'll have to think about seriously

    Also, don't limit yourself to just an MA in Econ. Be creative. A lot of places now have degrees in data science and applied math and that kind of stuff. They would be very helpful since you need to take more math classes anyway. You will still need LORs written by Econ profs, but even if you don't end up doing a PhD in Econ, a master's in data science would open many doors in the private sector for you upon graduation. BUT IT IS CRUCIAL THAT YOU ONLY TAKE THIS ROUTE IF YOU CAN HANDLE ADVANCED MATH. Given your undergrad record, you wanna aim for 3.7+ gpa coming out of a master's program.

  2. #52
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    Re: Difference between Economic Policy & Public Economics?

    Quote Originally Posted by dogbones View Post
    Now I'm starting to reconsider the MBA, because it was going to take away most of the free time I would have with pursuing just one degree. If not an MBA, what else can I do other than the MA in Econ to boost my application and odds??
    Your plan to take several advanced math courses is very smart. Just be sure to get straight Aís.

    Another thing you may be able to do is to volunteer as a research assistant for a UH faculty member over the next year. In addition to the R skills you mentioned, it will likely be helpful to be able to manage some Stata.

    applicant12 mentions getting a masters from a school that regularly sends students to top PhD programs. Very few Americans who end up at top programs take this route, but given where you are starting it may be worth considering. Applicant12 mentions Duke, which is the one American school with a long track record at doing this. LSE also has a long track record (from some of their masterís programs, not all.) Newer competitors include Texas and Wisconsin. But you would need to be sure you would end up near the top of the class. UC Denver (which applicant12 points to) and Montana State also do well in placing their top students in mid-range programs.

    The other thing to do, and this is easy, is take a practice GRE to be sure that you can score well enough for this to be a nonissue,

  3. #53
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    Re: Difference between Economic Policy & Public Economics?

    What a thread this has been. These are the most salient facts about the applicant I got so far:

    • She went to school in Hawaii and started out as a pre-med, but had to drop that plan. She eventually had enough time to finish a major in economics, with math up to linear algebra. Her GPA in the math courses were straight Bs.
    • She has been out of school for four years and wants a career change. She is not terribly committed to any career so long as it involves white-collar, analytical work. One of those options is "Econ college professor" based on her experience in those courses.
    • She cannot afford to go back to school full-time, or at least doubt that's the best option. Therefore, she is asking the best way to move forward with the constraint of not being able to study or provide research assistance full-time (as well as a geographical constraint maybe).
    • Her one time applying to a PhD program was to her alma mater, to which she was admitted with no funding. This is a sign from admissions that you are unlikely to pass first-year classes and qualifying exams. (see Applicant12 earlier)


    I apologize for twisting any words but you can see I'm building a narrative here. Conventional wisdom is that this profile is not suitable for an Econ PhD, due to the math GPA part, the "not terribly committed to a career" part and the "admitted with no funding" part.

    Today the admissions market is "thicker" to borrow a term I just understood, in that adcoms can rely on signals like graduate math courses or research experience to outweigh poor performance in the past. But the tradeoff for acquiring these signals is time.

    From your position it would take at least 2 years before your profile looks good enough to get into a decent PhD (part-time study of math + getting to know faculty), and can take up to four (say if you needed 2 extra years of full-time RA experience on the continent). Add up the 5-6 years required for a PhD, and this is 7-10 years before you are on the academic job market.

    Is the risk worth it? That decision is up to you. I think this is way too much of a time commitment when you are not particularly weld to a profession. One alternative is tm_member's suggestion of a MPP, but those are damn pricey and requires you to move across the country and network to get a career going. Another alternative is to take some graduate coursework in economics, parachute into a MEd and become a K-12 Econ teacher?

  4. #54
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    Re: Difference between Economic Policy & Public Economics?

    Although my program is Fridays & Saturdays mostly, the math courses and research with faculty will be during the week, so I don't anticipate that I'll be working any jobs at all from next August... maybe just make money from day trading and investing. I don't think it would make any sense to try to hold a job while doing graduate level economics, especially if I want to focus on research in addition to the coursework. You're right about the GRE, I almost forgot about that one. Once I learn R (still waiting for my book to arrive), I'll move onto things like Python and LaTeX, maybe Mathematica and Stata...

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    Re: Difference between Economic Policy & Public Economics?

    Quote Originally Posted by dogbones View Post
    Once I learn R (still waiting for my book to arrive), I'll move onto things like Python and LaTeX, maybe Mathematica and Stata...
    You don't really need books to learn any of this stuff. Answers to most questions can easily be found by a quick search on Google. EdX has a course on intro to R (maybe even other languages). I would stick to one or two programs you really like and are commonly used in the profession (as of now they seem to be STATA for applied micro and MATLAB for macro, but that may change with the recent exodus to R and Julia). I myself use those STATA and MATLAB exclusively, and although I have some working knowledge of R and Python, I would have difficulty conducting research using them (writing loops, etc.).

    I think that given the fact that you don't plan on working full-time anyway, that provides another incentive to do a master's somewhere else. Do you even know where people who did their MAs at UH Manoa went on to do their PhDs in recent years? If not you should definitely find out and compare that record with those of places that have a history of sending their students to the schools you target.

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    Re: Difference between Economic Policy & Public Economics?

    applicant12, I didn't know people still used MATLAB! Isn't that from back in the Fortran days? Maybe I'm just getting information crossed though... so if UH doesn't have a real history of sending MA to PhD programs except for U Texas Austin and another school which I forgot, would adcoms even take a serious look at my application? I'm going to try for the publications approach to getting more consideration from better schools. It's hard for me to leave Hawaii when you consider that it's cost more than twice as much to get an MA outside of Hawaii, which will come close to nullifying the free ride I'm hoping to get for the PhD...

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    Re: Difference between Economic Policy & Public Economics?

    I suspect Matlab, which postdates Fortran by 30 years, is the most widely used language in economics. (So far as I know there is no actual data on the topic.) R has made very significant inroads in econometrics because it is so widely used in statistics. By the way, Fortran is still very important in some areas where speed is paramount.

    Adcoms will certainly look at a UH masters. But it wil likely take recommendations that are better than any UH student has previously gotten to get you to a better program than previous students have gone to.

    The publications route is unlikely to do much good. It is extremely unusual for an undergraduate to have a serious publication. A co-authored publication with a faculty member can help, although these are also fairly rare. The basic issue is that if you can do serious research now, why would you need to get a PhD? The process of trying for publications is fine, but you shouldn’t count on publications to make a big difference to your application.

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    Re: Difference between Economic Policy & Public Economics?

    Quote Originally Posted by dogbones View Post
    applicant12, I didn't know people still used MATLAB! Isn't that from back in the Fortran days? Maybe I'm just getting information crossed though... so if UH doesn't have a real history of sending MA to PhD programs except for U Texas Austin and another school which I forgot, would adcoms even take a serious look at my application? I'm going to try for the publications approach to getting more consideration from better schools. It's hard for me to leave Hawaii when you consider that it's cost more than twice as much to get an MA outside of Hawaii, which will come close to nullifying the free ride I'm hoping to get for the PhD...
    They'll look at your application but UT Austin (or the school you forgot, if it is better) is the upper ceiling on your expected outcomes. That is the very best you can hope for. There's nothing wrong with that... I went to a similarly-ranked PhD program (at the time) and I have a TT position with a 2-1 teaching load.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful. Good post? Yes | No

    Re: Difference between Economic Policy & Public Economics?

    Quote Originally Posted by dogbones View Post
    applicant12, I didn't know people still used MATLAB! Isn't that from back in the Fortran days? Maybe I'm just getting information crossed though... so if UH doesn't have a real history of sending MA to PhD programs except for U Texas Austin and another school which I forgot, would adcoms even take a serious look at my application? I'm going to try for the publications approach to getting more consideration from better schools. It's hard for me to leave Hawaii when you consider that it's cost more than twice as much to get an MA outside of Hawaii, which will come close to nullifying the free ride I'm hoping to get for the PhD...
    So this is an example of what I meant when I said your knowledge of PhD study is limited. Almost all DSGE research uses Dynare, which is entirely MATLAB-based. MATLAB is nowhere near dead, or as someone already said it might be the most used program in economics. At this stage when you donít know much about academic research tools just yet, I would refrain from making statements such statement about any particular program. Also, as I have said, it seems to me you still donít appreciate how competitive this whole thing is

    I would surmise that as long as your application makes it through the cutoff round, it would be seriously looked at. The lack of record sending people to PhD programs would concern me, especially for someone with a not-so-stellar undergraduate record who plans on doing an MA at the same school.

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