Did you ask your advisors?
Hello friendly folks of urch! I'm currently a student in the UK aiming to get into the top 10 in the US(hopefully). I really don't want to spend the time/money going through the route of a masters first. I do know that getting into the top 10 is no easy task, but I would really love to know my chances.
Type of Undergrad: Oxbridge, pure economics, currently in last of three years of undergraduate education
Undergrad GPA: 1st class honours in both of my first two years, ranked top 10 and top 5 in level for the two years.
Math Courses: Math I, Math II (My level of math is about the mathematical appendix of the MWG)
Econ Courses: Macro (I, II, III), Micro (I, II, III), Econometrics (I, II, III), Labour, Economic Theory and Analysis
GRE Scores: 170/170/6
Letters of Recommendation: Two from my academic supervisors, one from a pretty famous professor from my school
Research Interests: Labour economics, applied micro, econometrics
Research Experience: Currently working on my senior thesis
Teaching Experience: None
I think my academic results are pretty good, but I am pretty worried about my lack of research experience. I have a pretty swanky job offer in finance/consulting, but research is something I would rather do. However, I know that an academic career gets much more difficult if I move down to lower ranked schools, so I'll probably only consider the top 10 schools. Do you guys know of people from the UK who go on to PhDs without a master's? Thank you so much!
From my experience, US admissions people tend to look down on (or just don't know the rigour of) UK undergraduate programmes, in particular with regards to the level of maths covered. I also understand that it'd be very difficult to obtain admission to any US programme after "just" an undergrad degree (despite the fact that UK undergrad economics degrees cover far more than covered in the US), so doing a Masters next is probably your best option in my view.
While what Rohanps said above may generally hold true, it doesn't necessarily apply to undergraduates from Oxbridge and LSE.
It's best to get input from your letter writers. They definitely know of people who have gone off to a PhD programme (especially since you're from Oxbridge) in the past from your school, unless they are junior faculty. They'll be well-suited to gauge your relatively competitiveness. That being said, applying to only top 10 programmes is quite risky. These schools have no shortage of applicants who have equivalently stellar grades, coupled with RA experience and PhD coursework. If you widen your net further to top 20, you'll be better off (that is, if you feel it is worthwhile to pursue a top 20 programme in lieu of whatever job offer you currently hold).
I know some PhDs from the UK and I can't recall a single one that obtained direct entry to a top 10 PhD after 3 years of university. I don't know why that's the case; the degree seems at least as rigorous as a 4-year math/econ degree from a US undergrad. I suspect it's kind of an equilibrium where US admissions only have enough prior information to evaluate master's degrees candidates, and there are too few direct-entry applicants for them to be comparable with each other.
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