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Where to apply to grad school (Phd Economics)

Hi all,

I am hoping for guidance in applying for my Phd in Economics. I would also appreciate feedback on how to strengthen my profile. I am still in school and will take more classes than I have listed below

A little about me:

Double Major in Math and Econ from a top 30 public school.

High GPA (3.93)

Math Coursework: Calc I, Calc II, Vector Calc, Differential Equations and Linear Algebra, Discrete Math, Number Theory, Stochastic Processes I and II, Analysis I and II, Topology I and II, grad probability, Applied Number Theory

Econ Coursework: Intro Micro and Macro, Intermediate Micro and Macro, Econ Stats, Econometrics I and II, Game Theory

Will complete an honors thesis in econ department.

Research in economics with guidance from math faculty

GRE Scores: 162 Quant, 167 Verbal, 5.0 Writing

Programming experience

I still have time to improve my test scores, but I am worried that I won't be able to raise my quant score by much.
Please respond with advice on where to think about applying and what to do to strengthen my profile. I am interested in studying mathematical economics and econometrics and would like to work with policy economics.

I don't understand... you have a 3.93 GPA in a math/econ double major and took grad classes, and you don't think you can raise your GRE quant scores above 162? This is the 80th percentile. Although people in this forum generally agree that GRE scores aren't used as strict cutoffs, I still think you can help yourself tremendously by raising your GRE quant score.

Otherwise, your profile looks great- what do your letters of recommendation look like? If you have had limited interaction with faculty, you can consider applying to full time RA positions: they recruit throughout the whole year, but mostly in Sep-Nov and Feb-May.

(disclaimer: I'm also an applicant this year, not a grad student or faculty)

Thanks so much for the input. I don't understand either! I am certainly working hard to improve, but I am a super slow test taker.
My letters should look good, although not spectacular. I think I have made a good impression on the math faculty at my school and have been complemented on my research from econ professors.

Do you have any on input on which tier of schools I should expect to be admitted to?

Echoing what was mentioned regarding the GRE, you should aim to get at least 165 for Q.

Wirh regards to letter writers, you should aim to get economics faculty members to write your letters. If they are familiar with the process or have sent people to PhD programmes in the past, they'll give you the fairest assessment on what range of schools to apply to.

From the look of things, you seem to have a shoe-in for at least a top 30 admit (very very conservative estimate). You should try for some top 10s, with the bulk of your application being in the top 20s. If you don't get in, you should take a gap year and RA full-time since that seems to be the only thing lacking in your profile. The gap year can greatly improve your chances the next time round.

You can also check out the past profiles and results to have a feel of where you stand, relative to others who've gotten in, in the past.

The last cycle : http://www.urch.com/forums/phd-economics/160036-profiles-results-2018-a.html

Just for empathy's sake, I found myself in the same boat regarding the GRE. I'm finishing my math degree, econ degree, and have political science BA and political science Masters (the latter two being irrelevant to my point here), with a 3.8 GPA. I've taken Calc I/II/III (A-/B+/A-), Linear Algebra (A-), Stats (A), Advanced Engineering Stats & Probability (A), Diff EQ (A), Number Theory (A), Combinatorics (A), Modern College Geometry (A), Dynamical Systems (A-), Real Analysis (B-), Group Theory (A).

I don't consider myself to be a great mathematician. I'm pretty good, but nothing special (as my grade in Analysis indicates). My first go around with the GRE I got a 158, which was a huge bummer for me. And similar to you, it wasn't that I didn't know how to do the problems, it's that I ran out of time (I don't think I came across a single problem where I said, "I don't know how to do this." So I've had to go back and learn how to do problems much quicker (plugging in answers, plugging in values). I was too stubborn to do this at first. But for problems that have variables in the question and the answer (e.g. what was the proportion of a/b, in terms of x), and for problems in which the algebra ends up getting messy (getting third-degree terms), I've learned that this is the quickest way. The problem for me / root of my stubbornness, has to do with the fact that just plugging in values and seeing if they work goes against everything I've learned in math, vis-a-vis being taught that showing something works with specific values does not mean your solution works in general. In no way am I excusing my score - it was bad. Just explaining that I had the same problem as you with time management, and have been able to get better since then.

Not sure if that helps, but just thought I'd make the suggestion: ditch your normal / upper level math training and learn to just plug in values/answers for more complicated problems. It has really helped my speed.

If you're getting letters from at least some math faculty, and you haven't worked as a RA for any of your econ writers either, you should consider your letters to be in the bottom quartile in terms of the applicant pool at top 20 programs. There are almost no exceptions to this principle; the opinions of people who aren't familiar with grad econ or haven't seen you in a research/thesis-writing capacity will be perceived as essentially worthless during admissions, regardless of how enthusiastic they are.