View Full Version : Master's degree in Statistics before getting into PhD in Economics?

npark6

03-16-2009, 06:53 AM

I am quite interested in pursuing PhD in Economics.

I've tried submitting applications to PhD programs, but I got so many rejections. I've graduated with first class honors majoring in economics and finance, but I think I got rejections since I only took few math and stat courses.

So I am guessing that if I do a master's degree in statistics and apply again, I will have higher chance of getting in.

What do you all think? I would really appreciate your opinions.

ImProcrastinating

03-16-2009, 11:52 AM

I think it would help us advise you if you posted your complete profile. Getting a master's is a big decision, and probably only a good idea under special circumstances.

That said, if a lack of math/stat courses is your problem, why get a master's in stats and not in math? I was thinking about a master's in stats two years ago, but all my advisers said a master's in math would be a better idea.

igotshoe

03-16-2009, 01:08 PM

I think it would help us advise you if you posted your complete profile. Getting a master's is a big decision, and probably only a good idea under special circumstances.

That said, if a lack of math/stat courses is your problem, why get a master's in stats and not in math? I was thinking about a master's in stats two years ago, but all my advisers said a master's in math would be a better idea.

I agree a full profile would be better to evaluate your situation. However, I do not believe that MS in Math is strictly preferred over MS in Stat, as it depends on your specific interests in economics. I am looking to pursue a MS in Stat eventually because my interests are in asset pricing and econometrics, so my coursework would be highly beneficial in the long run.

Also keep in mind that some MS programs have a flexible curriculum that allows for econ/stat/math courses to be taken (possibly at PhD level). Get a full profile on here and we can help more.

celtic_tiger_econ

03-16-2009, 01:45 PM

Do a masters in Math... definitely

I wish I had done that rather than a Masters in Econ. It will get you into a better school.

MathMathMath

03-16-2009, 01:54 PM

I'd say a masters in math, unless you had a specific reason for preferring to do a masters in stat. I think the masters in stat would still help if you're opposed or unable to do the masters in stat, but that in most cases (perhaps baring specific research pursuits that need more stat) the masters in math would be better.

pookie bear

03-16-2009, 02:14 PM

masters in stats has a better chance of being funded than math.

breakz

03-16-2009, 02:17 PM

I disagree with the MS idea. OP (or anyone) runs the serious risk of not performing well in a MS in Math if he doesn't have upper division experience. He should try upper-division quant courses first, the MS is a two-year investment whichcosts thousands.

This all depends on where your profile is. Ask an advisor first, they have a better idea generally.

For those that say Math though...what evidence do you have? Math has diminishing returns unless OP is aiming for top schools. And even then, placement is conditional on success in the MS program. Saying "get an MS" and getting said MS are two wildly different things.

MathMathMath

03-16-2009, 02:27 PM

I disagree with the MS idea. OP (or anyone) runs the serious risk of not performing well in a MS in Math if he doesn't have upper division experience. He should try upper-division quant courses first, the MS is a two-year investment whichcosts thousands.

This all depends on where your profile is. Ask an advisor first, they have a better idea generally.

For those that say Math though...what evidence do you have? Math has diminishing returns unless OP is aiming for top schools. And even then, placement is conditional on success in the MS program. Saying "get an MS" and getting said MS are two wildly different things.

On that thought, it might be a better idea to do something like work as an RA while taking a few math courses (like 1 per semester) part-time.

takemoremath

03-16-2009, 05:17 PM

One advantage of a stat degree vs. a pure math degree is that a stat masters has far better private sector employment opportunities. So if along the way your plans change a stat degree is good credential to have. Plus, it is also my impression that funding comes easier for MS stat than MS math.

constrainedoptimizer

03-16-2009, 07:47 PM

One advantage of a stat degree vs. a pure math degree is that a stat masters has far better private sector employment opportunities. So if along the way your plans change a stat degree is good credential to have. Plus, it is also my impression that funding comes easier for MS stat than MS math.

I definitely agree with this.

OP also has to ask themselves if they are more pure or empirical. If more empirical, an MS in STAT may be a better fit overall. I do believe the math requirements for an undergrad degree in STAT are the same pre-requisites for graduate work in economics...so it wouldn't be as if they are mutually exclusive. My Alma Mater offered an MS in Mathematical Statistics which may have been a great thing to have on both your transcript or your job resume...

mathemagician

03-16-2009, 07:57 PM

I think it may be better to complete a math major rather than a MS in statistics. Why? Because you'll learn more "math" as a math major (yeah I'm being a bit facetious). Also, more statistics won't cure a deficiency in analysis or linear algebra.

constrainedoptimizer

03-17-2009, 01:43 AM

I think it may be better to complete a math major rather than a MS in statistics. Why? Because you'll learn more "math" as a math major (yeah I'm being a bit facetious). Also, more statistics won't cure a deficiency in analysis or linear algebra.

While I would wholeheartedly agree with your post if the OP were considering an optimal undergraduate degree, I have to respectfully challenge your position in saying that I am pretty sure that the OP would have to cure any deficiencies in analysis or linear algebra prior to the onset of the very first probability\measure class in any reputable MS program.

uhokay

03-17-2009, 01:58 AM

One advantage of a stat degree vs. a pure math degree is that a stat masters has far better private sector employment opportunities. So if along the way your plans change a stat degree is good credential to have. Plus, it is also my impression that funding comes easier for MS stat than MS math.

It seems a disadvantage would be encouragement to enter the private sector after the stat degree and not get an Econ PhD!

npark6

03-17-2009, 02:00 AM

I am the person who started the thread. Thank you all for insightful answeres. And as many of you suggested, here's my full profile so that you can provide more meaningful advices.

Undergrad: top school in Canada

Faculty: Faculty of Management (Commerce)

Major: Economics & Finance (Joint Honors Program)

CGPA: 3.5/4.0

Major GPA: 3.7/4.0

Received many scholarships, and graduated with First Class Honors

Math: Linear Algebra (A), Calculus 1 (A-), Calculus 2 (B), (both of them single variable)

Stat: 1 yr honors course in economic statistics (A-)

No TA or RA experience in undergrad

But received A for a term paper in graduate level advanced seminar course.

Work experience:

Worked for 2 yrs in top-tier international research institute

GRE:

v/M/W= 730/800/4

Results of 2009 Fall Entry Application

Applied and rejected: Many of top-tier econ phD programs in US

Interviewed and waiting for result: Oxford PhD in Financial Economics

Accepted: Columbia MA statistics

Waiting: NYU econ (probably will be rejected), U of Chicago MA in stat, Cambridge MA in economics

Q. Should I do MA in Statistics to have a better chance for 2010 (or 2011) application? In mid-long run, I hope to do a phD in econ or finance in top-tier school...

I would really appreciate your advices. Thank you!

breakz

03-17-2009, 02:12 AM

Forget the MS in stat, you need undergraduate advanced math first! Real analysis and probability theory or math stat are practically minimums for top-10 schools.

How did you do in your econ courses?

mathemagician

03-17-2009, 02:20 AM

While I would wholeheartedly agree with your post if the OP were considering an optimal undergraduate degree, I have to respectfully challenge your position in saying that I am pretty sure that the OP would have to cure any deficiencies in analysis or linear algebra prior to the onset of the very first probability\measure class in any reputable MS program.

I guess not :p. I'm only jesting - I hope you won't take offense.

mathemagician

03-17-2009, 02:22 AM

To npark6 - I would say you should take undergraduate Math Stats, Analysis, and Multivariable Calculus before you think about doing a masters (unless you're receiving funding).

EDIT: Well Columbia Stats is nice - just be sure you know what you're getting yourself into.

npark6

03-17-2009, 02:41 AM

The thing is,, I cannot take undergrad math/stat courses now, as I already graduated and came back to my home country. (I am an international student btw)

And here in my home country, I cannot take such courses part-time.

And obviously, I cannot do another undergrad degree to fulfill those undergrad math/stat courses.

So, only options are

1. To take online course - which do not count in admission decisions as far as i know

2. Or, to do a master's degree and take basic math/stat courses as much as possible in the first term.

That's why i am thinking about MA in stat. (Btw, I did well in econ classes)

Now, what should i do? ...

pookie bear

03-17-2009, 04:00 AM

Grab a copy of Sheldon Ross' probability theory, stewart's multivariable calc book, Mood's Intro to the theory of statistics book, and perhaps Lay's Analysis: with an intro to proof (as long as it covers point-set topology you should be good).

Self-Study these before your program starts and you will be well prepared.

*Note: People are going to chime in with better book selections, but this is what I would pick.

constrainedoptimizer

03-18-2009, 04:11 AM

I guess not :p. I'm only jesting - I hope you won't take offense.

Not at all!

bigleaguechew

03-18-2009, 04:42 AM

Don't even consider doing a master's in math without more undergrad math. With a lot of disciplined self-study, you can probably get through a stats MA though. I'd focus on the multivariable calc and analysis. Chances are that you'll have more opportunity to pick up the basic stats stuff at the beginning of a stats program. Good luck! It's going to be an uphill battle.

wind up bird

03-18-2009, 05:09 AM

Don't even consider doing a master's in math without more undergrad math. With a lot of disciplined self-study, you can probably get through a stats MA though. I'd focus on the multivariable calc and analysis. Chances are that you'll have more opportunity to pick up the basic stats stuff at the beginning of a stats program. Good luck! It's going to be an uphill battle.

I'd get comfy with matrix algebra as well. That came up in every class I had in my stats MS.

howardzou

04-05-2009, 01:03 AM

To npark6: I am very interested in this post because I have also been thinking of doing a stats master (I am a college junior by the way, but it's coming up to me soon). I think it's cool to be accepted into Columbia MA stats! Did you get funding from them? Are you going to accept it?

whois?

04-05-2009, 10:03 AM

I think that the MA in Economics in Cambridge would probably be better preparation in terms of going on to a PhD. In addition, unlike an MS in Stats, it will open to you the route of going into the Cambridge PhD programme with ease, which, unless you want to be an academic, is just as good as a top 10 school in the US in terms of reputation.

ADR2009

04-19-2009, 03:08 AM

I am actually in a very similar situation to you npark, so I can relate. I am about to graduate with a degree in Business and Economics and my interests have shifted a bit and I have been thinking I'd like to get a PhD in Economics or Finance. I too have limited math coursework, so I will be doing an MSc in Statistics at either LSE (accepted) or Oxford (haven't heard yet) next year. From everyone I've spoken with (and I've been working with a group of about 15 economists for the past 8 months), it seems that if you do very well in a Stat MSc and take a Real Analysis course (and do well) you will be setting yourself up in a good position for getting into a decent PhD program. It's not necessarily about the quantity of math courses you've taken, but whether or not you can perform well in a highly intensive math course.

I would certainly take the recommendation of taking this summer and learning math though. I will be spending the next few months learning linear algebra and calculus (through Differential Equations). If you find that you are doing very well in your MSc program and enjoy what you are doing, I would recommend trying to research for a professor for a year and then apply to a PhD program (since it won't make much sense to apply this upcoming cycle since you won't have grades from your stat program). If you get good reference letters from PhD Economists then you will also be in good shape. If you decide not to apply to PhD programs, an MSc in Statistics will allow you to do a lot of interesting work in the private sector (more than I think a Math or Econ MSc). Hope this helps!