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Thread: Profile Evaluation - Economics PhD

  1. #1
    Trying to make mom and pop proud
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    Profile Evaluation - Economics PhD

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    Hey guys, I'll be applying to PhD programs this fall and I'm looking for some input on if I have a shot at the schools I'm looking at. Any info/advice would be much appreciated.

    GRE: 168 Quant, 155 Verbal, 5.0AWA

    Undergrad: Top 3 Canada, Econ Major

    GPA: 3.7/4.3, Major GPA: 4.02/4.3 (top 5% in the program)

    Math courses: Calc 1-2 (A+), Mathematical Economics (~Multivariable Calculus) (A+), linear algebra (A), Differential Equations (A+), Stats (A+), Real Analysis (just finished at a mid ranked Canadian school, expecting an A or A-, should get the mark in the next week)

    Economics courses: Intermediate Micro (A-), Intermediate Macro(A-), Advanced Micro(A+), Advanced Macro(A+), Econometrics (A), Times series Econometrics (A), International Trade theory(A+), Game Theory(A+), Monetary Economics(A+), International Macroeconomics(A+), and a few other elective courses (all in the range of A- to A+)

    Grad: Masters in Economics at top 3 economics department in Canada (different university than my undergrad)

    GPA: 4.3/4.3 (got an A+ in every class, top student in the program)

    Courses: Micro, Macro, Econometrics, IO, Labour, Empirical Micro, Financial Economics, International Macroeconomics

    Research Experience:

    Received the top grade in my undergrad for my 4th year thesis, thinking of trying to get it published but not sure how much help it would be to my profile if it's not in a top journal.

    RA'd for a senior professor at my undergrad for 3 summers. Main research area of applied micro/labour. Coauthoring a paper with him now, will likely be sending it to journals later this fall.

    My main research interests are applied micro (empirical labour and IO).


    1. The Professor that I have RA'd for. Should be very strong. He knows me very well and thinks highly of me. He's quite well known in Canada and the US. He did his PhD at a top 5.

    2. Graduate chair from my masters. Took a course from him. Should be quite strong. Basically saying I was the top student in the program. PhD from top 5.

    3. International macro and monetary economics professor from my undergrad. He knows me quite well. He did his PhD at a top 5 and has been a visiting professor at multiple top 5s.

    Target Schools:
    I am fairly confident that I will be able to get into at least one of the top 2 in Canada (Toronto or UBC) and I figure I will only apply to schools in the US that are better than those 2 in terms of placement. I am thinking of applying to:

    UBC, Toronto, Wisconsin-Madison, Michigan, Boston U, U Penn, UChicago (I know this is a stretch), UCSD, and maybe some others in top 15

    - Low GRE verbal (not sure how much this matters)
    - poor grades in first year undergrad. I got a C in sociology and a couple B-'s. However I had a GPA of 4.1/4.3 in my last 3 years of undergrad.
    - lack of math courses. Not sure if schools will consider my mathematical economics course equivalent to a multivariable calculus course from a math department. I am considering taking a Calc III course this fall, but I am working full time so it may be difficult to fit in.
    - Real analysis course. Does it look bad that I am taking it from a school that I didn't do a degree at? If I get an A- in the course will that be considered low by adcoms? I have no interest in doing research in theory but I know it is important for the first year courses.

  2. #2
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    Re: Profile Evaluation - Economics PhD

    Potential top 10 admit, just depends on the LORs.

    You should always apply to a range of schools (up to the point where you would not attend if admitted, which differs subjectively). For you, I'd recommend applying to the schools you have listed plus MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Berkeley, Yale, Northwestern, UCLA, NYU, and Columbia (if your letter writers are willing).

  3. #3
    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
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    Re: Profile Evaluation - Economics PhD

    Agreed with tm_member. You're one of the rare applicants that are aiming too low. The top 10 US programs admit roughly ~5 Canadians per year and you're likely to be among the top 5 Canadian applicants of your year. Your undergrad sociology grades and GRE verbal are trivial in comparison to being the top student in your econ master's program or having a solid senior thesis. You also seem to have more/better research experience than the typical Canadian applicant.

    As you said, you should only apply to PhD programs that are better in placements than Toronto/UBC. In fact, there are some legal/financial inconveniences of studying in the US as a Canadian, so you shouldn't even apply to US PhD programs that are only slightly better than Toronto/UBC. This narrows down your rational range to roughly the top 10 in pure econ programs and top 5 business-econ/political-econ programs. You can certainly afford to apply to all of them.

    Keep in mind that only your best funded offer matters, and there's some intrinsic randomness in the process. If you have a 2-3% independent chance of getting admitted to each top 10 program, you'll still get higher expected EV from applying to them compared to adding a few safeties.

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