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View Full Version : Is being from the US a net positive or negative for Admission odds?



rthunder27
01-06-2011, 07:21 PM
I started to ask this in the affirmative action thread, but decided to make it a new topic. For admission to US PhD programs, is being a US citizen with US education an asset or a liability?

One positive I guess is that there a fewer unknowns, ie you're a native english speaker and the adcoms are more likely to know your school (I know I'm conflating things here, and this is getting near the old debate over small LAC). Also, importantly, you're more likely to take a position at a US school after graduation, so you'll potentially improve their placements.

My guess is it's about a wash, and it depends on the schools current situation and the rest of the field of applicants. Perhaps it could be a benefit if schools want to strike a balance between US and internationals in their admits, so if the international pool was larger and more competitive, it is conceivable that they would accept a marginally lesser domestic to keep some sort of balance.

I really don't know, nor do I feel that confident about my speculation, so I'd really like to hear what others think!

Galoisj
01-06-2011, 07:41 PM
1. Funding issue
2. language skill
3. International undergrads in the US have a lot of disadvantages (indirectly affect admissions), e.g, more than 95% of scholarships and research opportunities require citizenship.
4. Much better recommendation letters (comparing to those having foreign education).


Also, having a US education is itself an advantage (freedom of choosing courses, better interaction with profs, etc), though this is also just indirectly affecting admissions.

Galoisj
01-06-2011, 08:03 PM
As someone in the other thread points out, many programs have limit on number of admits from the same nationality, and I think they usually won't limit the number of American students. My impression is that, applicants from the same country are usually competing with each other rather than directly competing with US applicants.

The admission rate for US students is also much higher; though this is subject to too many factors, an important fact is that, most international applicants are from top universities (usually top 5 or 10) in their home countries, while this is certainly not true for US students. Some figures: The Graduate School : University of Minnesota : Program Reports (http://www.grad.umn.edu/data/stats/ad/1024800.html)
There were 276 international applicants and only 91 domestic applicants.

rthunder27
01-06-2011, 08:32 PM
Interesting, I hadn't seen that page before, very nice level of detail. So internationals had a 41/276=14.9% admit rate, while domestics had 18/99=18.18% rate. Similarly at Northwestern Kellogg, internationals had 18/630=2.86% acceptance (not admit) and domestics had 11/281=3.91%. Does anyone else know of any other schools that break the numbers down like this? Since we can't assume the international/domestic application pools are equal in every other way, it's difficult to conclusively conclude anything from these topline numbers, but I bet untitled has looked at this in his regression analysis. I think you're probably right though, that in many ways the two pools are competing amongst themselves, so depending on the quality of the pools it is entirely possible for two candidates equal in every other way to have their international/domestic status make a difference.

Econ2011
01-06-2011, 08:41 PM
1. Funding issue
2. language skill
3. International undergrads in the US have a lot of disadvantages (indirectly affect admissions), e.g, more than 95% of scholarships and research opportunities require citizenship.
4. Much better recommendation letters (comparing to those having foreign education).

I think #1 is the key problem for a lot of internationals who cannot compete for the scholarships and have to rely on departmental fellowships or TA positions. I am not sure we can readily differentiate international applicants because many of them can actually have US degrees, myself included. I think it would still be an advantage to get an undergraduate degree in the US as it would be almost impossible to get into a PhD program from outside with just a BS degree. I am not sure language skills are going to play a big role. Anyone applying to a PhD program in general should have a decent grasp of the language. I would go for US education any day!

rthunder27
01-06-2011, 08:54 PM
I think #1 is the key problem for a lot of internationals who cannot compete for the scholarships and have to rely on departmental fellowships or TA positions. I am not sure we can readily differentiate international applicants because many of them can actually have US degrees, myself included. I think it would still be an advantage to get an undergraduate degree in the US as it would be almost impossible to get into a PhD program from outside with just a BS degree. I am not sure language skills are going to play a big role. Anyone applying to a PhD program in general should have a decent grasp of the language. I would go for US education any day!

This why I'm really kicking myself about not applying for NSF (I didn't know, there's really no excuse). You're right, having previous US education mitigates most of the international/domestic differences, but it does not remove the issue of placement. I have no clue how much adcoms think about that though. The best regression would include dummy and interactions for both US citizen and previous US education.

_nanashi
01-06-2011, 09:58 PM
I was told this once by a professor once during masters. The answer is yes, but the benefits are marginal. If they get a qualified American applicant they try to stack the deck a bit in his favor. The two big reasons are to encourage American applicants, which have been declining at a fairly high rate over the last 30 years.

The second reason is Americans are better cheap labor. They all around make better teaching assistants, graders, and instructors, and generally don't need as much training to these tasks effectively.

That being said said prof also said in the same conversation the dept still mostly takes the best students they get, and most of the time they happen to be Chinese.

I'd wager also that Americans do have easier time getting in, because they have easier time getting letters from respected economist. If you ask most economists where the top 100 econ Dept in the world, 75+ schools named are going to be American.