View Full Version : Profiles and Results 2014

03-10-2014, 12:28 PM
I suggest that you should post in this thread only after you have received all or most of your offers since posts can't be edited after a few days. Also, feel free to mention how accurate or inaccurate the predictions were if you started a predictions thread.

Type of Undergrad:
Undergrad GPA:
Type of Grad:
Grad GPA:
Math Courses:
Econ Courses:
Other Courses:
Letters of Recommendation:
Research Experience:
Teaching Experience:
Research Interests:


What would you have done differently?

03-10-2014, 03:20 PM
Type of Undergrad: Top 5 Econ
Undergrad GPA: 4.0
Type of Grad:
Grad GPA:
GRE: 170 Q 170 V 5.0 AW
Math Courses: through Real Analysis
Econ Courses: many electives, incl. advanced micro, advanced macro, seminar in micro theory
Other Courses: linear regressions
Letters of Recommendation: 3 econ professors, should be somewhere between good and really good
Research Experience: senior thesis, RA for 4 semesters
Teaching Experience: TA for 4 semesters
Research Interests: development, applied micro
SOP: i hope it was good

Acceptances: Stanford, Chicago
Waitlists: Yale, Berkeley
Rejections: MIT, Princeton, Harvard (implicit)

What would you have done differently? Applied to more schools. There's a large luck element that can be minimized by broadening your list of schools. I feel like I got really lucky, but it could easily have gone another way. Also, applied earlier. I only decided that I would apply in early November, so I barely had time to pick the right programs, study for the GRE, arrange letters of rec, etc. Seek advice from my professors earlier in the process, so I wouldn't have made stupid mistakes like forgetting to apply for an NSF.

03-10-2014, 05:39 PM

For more information you can join my page on Facebook, PhD in Business Administration: Prospective Candidate Information Forum.

f p ramsey
03-10-2014, 10:45 PM
Type of Undergrad: Math, somewhere in Europe; US citizen
Undergrad GPA: 3.96 (converted)
Type of Grad: Econ, same place in Europe
Grad GPA: 4.00
GRE: 170/170/5.5
Math Courses: Calculus, Real Analysis, Complex Analysis, Topology, Abstract Algebra, Geometry (with Linear Algebra), Probability, Statistics (multiple courses per topic)
Math Courses (grad): Measure Theory, Measure-theoretic Probability, Stochastic Differential Equations, Stochastic Processes, Functional Analysis, Differential Geometry
Econ Courses (grad): Microeconomics (MWG), General Equilibrium Theory (MWG), Decision Theory (Kreps), Game Theory (OR), Industrial Organization (Tirole), Political Economics (PT), Macroeconomics, Dynamic Macroeconomics, Econometric Theory
Other Courses: some physics, programming, mathematical biology, computational sociology
Letters of Recommendation: 2 well-known theorists, 1 co-signed by two coordinators (and faculty) of my grad program
Research Experience: Very limited. Senior thesis, no RA (at the time of applications)
Teaching Experience: Nothing relevant
Research Interests: Theory
SOP: Spent way too much time on this, and ended up with a bland description of my current research interests and projects. One-paragraph customization for each school.
Concerns: Didn't apply to NSF. Was afraid that I didn't get to know my letter-writers well enough and that they didn't have enough material for their letters (in hindsight, this is probably ludicrous).

Acceptances: Stanford, Stanford GSB, Princeton, Yale, Northwestern, Berkeley (partial funding), Chicago (full funding), UPenn
Rejections: MIT, Harvard (implicit)
Attending: Visiting Stanford, Stanford GSB, Princeton. Already declined the others; I have no reason to slow the process for waitlisted students.
Comments: Given my grad program's placement record, the only real shocker was Stanford GSB. Other than that, a very noise-free process, with the Top-2 out of reach and acceptances in the other Top-10s. My letter-writers were very proactive in reaching out to their contacts, and this was surely a huge factor in my results.

What would you have done differently? Applied for NSF. Maybe pushed (much) harder and applied last cycle.

03-11-2014, 05:39 AM
Type of Undergrad: top 10 us math/econ
Undergrad GPA: 3.78
Type of Grad: n/a
Grad GPA:n/a
GRE: 170 Q 162 V 5 AW
Math Courses: Multivar Calc (A), Lin Alg. & Diff Eq (A-), Discrete Math (B+), Honors Linear Algebra (A-), Probability (A-), Real Analysis (A), Numerical Analysis (B+), Mathematical Statistics (A), Abstract Algebra (A-), Stochastic Processes (A-), complex analysis and honors thesis this semester
Econ Courses (grad-level): Macro (A)
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Econ 1 (A), Intermediate Micro (A), Intermediate Macro (B+), Financial Economics (A), Econometric Analysis (A), International Monetary Economics (A), Advanced Micro Theory (A-), US Macro Policy (A), Honors Thesis (A)
Other Courses: nothing relevant
Letters of Recommendation: finance research supervisor, thesis advisor/grad macro professor, us macro policy/grad macro prof
Research Experience: 1 year RA in empirical corporate finance, senior thesis in int'l finance
Teaching Experience: n/a
Research Interests: international macro, macro, finance
SOP: just talked about my research interests, background, and mentioned professors that i want to work with

Acceptances: Chicago ($$ no funding first 2 years), Columbia ($$), NYU ($$), Wisconsin ($$), JHU($$), BU ($$)
Waitlists: UCLA
Rejections: MIT, Princeton, Harvard, HBS, Berkeley, U Penn, Northwestern, Stern, Stanford, Michigan
Attending: NYU or Columbia
Comments: Couldn't be happier. Harvard, MIT, Columbia, and NYU were my top choices and I was accepted to the ones in the city I preferred (NYC baby).

What would you have done differently? Probably tried harder to take grad math/econ in my undergraduate career and make those A-'s solid A's.. I definitely sacrificed academics to have fun, but do not regret it one bit. Sure I maybe could have got into more schools, but at the end of the day my college experience was amazing and my experiences outside of class with my peers have definitely shaped me more as a person than graduate analysis would have. I also would have definitely taken Econometrics earlier to get involved with research asap. Get to know your professors as teachers, advisors, and, most importantly, people as I am sure I could not have cracked the top 10 or gotten the Chicago admit without those letters. I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know these people and hopefully will be a stronger researcher as a result. Cheers!

03-11-2014, 08:18 PM
Type of Undergrad: BA (Hons) Economics, Minor in Math from T4 Canadian School
Undergrad GPA: 3.75 (Math/Econ 3.8)
Type of Grad: N/A
Grad GPA: N/A
GRE: 167Q 160V 4.5AWA
Math Courses: Calc I (A), Calc II (B-, then A+), Calc III (A), Calc IV (A), Lin Alg I (A), Lin Alg II (B-), Intro to Proofs (A+), Real Analysis I (A-)
Econ Courses (grad-level): PhD Micro II (Spring 2014)
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Intro Micro/Macro (A-, A-), Intermediate Micro/Macro/Metrics I (A, A-, A), Intermediate Micro/Macro/Metrics II (A-, A-, A-), Advanced Micro/Macro/Metrics (A+, A-, A+), Financial Economics (A), Industrial Organization (A), Public Finance: Expenditures (A-), Microeconomic Policy (A), Economics of China (A-), International Trade (Spring 2014)
Other Courses: Bunch of computer programming classes (A or A+ for all)
Letters of Recommendation: 1) PhD Chicago (top 5% RePec ranking in Human Capital), RAd for him for 1.5 years, should be strong. 2) PhD Northwestern, Advanced Metrics prof, scored one of the highest marks in his class, said he would write me a strong letter. 3) PhD Northwestern, Advanced Micro prof, recommended I take the PhD Micro class so he clearly thinks I'm suited for grad school as well, highest mark in class.
Research Experience: 1.5 years as a Research Assistant, Senior Thesis
Teaching Experience: Econ Help Centre, private tutor
Research Interests: Urban Economics, Transportation, Networks
SOP: Just a regular, everyday normal SOP

Acceptances: (All MA) Toronto [Doctoral], UBC, Queen's, McMaster, Warwick, UCL. First 4 schools included full funding + more
Waitlists: -
Rejections: -
Pending: LSE
Attending: Toronto (Doctoral Stream)

What would you have done differently? Honestly, I'm not too sure what more I could've expected. I'm really happy with my results, and I'm excited to go to UofT next year!

03-12-2014, 12:40 PM
Type of Undergrad: BSc (Hons) Economics, from T3 UK school
Undergrad GPA: First Class Honors
Type of Grad: N/A
Grad GPA: N/A
GRE: 167Q 157V 4.0AWA
Math Courses: Calculus, Linear Algebra, Real Analysis, Complex Analysis, Chaos, Probability (all As)
Econ Courses (grad-level): N/A
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Intro Micro/Macro, Intermediate Micro, Intermediate Macro, Principles of Econometrics, Econometric Theory, Behavioral (all As)
Other Courses: n/A
Letters of Recommendation: 1) PhD Harvard (top 5% RePec, thesis advisor, RA); 2) PhD LSE (tutor, knew me extremely well) 3) PhD Cambridge (Top 5% RePec, RA supervisor)
Research Experience: 1 year as a Research Assistant, Senior Thesis, Summer internship in economic research think tank, 1 year full-time RA at a large central bank
Teaching Experience: none
Research Interests: International Macro, Macro, Theory
SOP: Kept redrafting it throughout December, so different schools received different versions. I don't think it made much of a difference.

Acceptances: Chicago ($$), NYU ($$), Columbia ($$), Princeton ($$$)
Waitlists: none
Rejections:, Harvard, MIT, Yale, Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA

What would you have done differently? I am extremely happy with my results. To ease the process, I would try to worry less about about things like the GRE or SOP and have more faith in the judgement of my letter writers. In the end, neither the GRE nor the SOP will make the world of a difference. I would have also definitely submitted my thesis to all places and ignored all the voices that kept stressing the perceived necessity of a MA degree for international applicants. LORs really seem to be super important, so getting people at your school to care about you through joint research, research assistance or simply a demonstrated interest in a professor's research seems to be crucial. At this point, I am glad this process is over for me and am looking forward to visiting days and the upcoming 5 years!!!

03-12-2014, 07:19 PM
Type of Undergrad: Military Academy, majored in Mech Engr & English
Undergrad GPA: 3.94
Type of Grad: MBA, top-5 resident program
Grad GPA: not calculated, finished program with Honors
GRE: 167Q/164V/5.0W
Math Courses (undergrad-level): Discrete Math (A-), Calc II (A+), Engineering Math (A+), Prob & Stats (A+)
Math Courses (grad-level): various MBA courses
Econ Courses (grad-level): various MBA courses, but managerial in nature
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Principles (A)
Letters of Recommendation: Very good. Experienced and respected economists who know me well.
Research Experience: 2 years at an Econ and manpower-oriented defense research agency.
Teaching Experience: 3 years (Principles, Intermediate Micro, Econometrics).
Research Interests: Applied Micro, esp. economics of education.
SOP: Very good.
Concerns: Military background and MBA are non-traditional, might or might not help my application outcomes.
Other: Geographical pref for East Coast or mid-Atlantic region.

Acceptances: Kentucky, Virginia, Notre Dame
Waitlists: none
Rejections: Harvard, MIT
Attending: will choose after completing my visits
Comments: I am thrilled with the UK, UVa, and ND acceptances. Harvard and MIT were longshots anyway, but especially so given my non-traditional background (older student, military experience, MBA).

What would you have done differently? I am pretty happy with these results. I applied to the correct number of schools given my geographical preferences and program interests. Best of luck to everyone out there; hope our paths cross down the road.

03-12-2014, 09:01 PM
PROFILE: Murphy235
Type of Undergrad: Top 30 US public school, well respected econ department. No PhD program. Mathematics and Quantitative Economics double major.
Undergrad GPA: 3.90 (4.0 in econ, 3.8 in math)
Type of Grad: N/A
Grad GPA: N/A
GRE: 163V/170Q/5.0W
Math Courses: Linear Algebra (A+), Discrete Math (A+), Abstract Algebra I&II (A/B), Real Analysis (A+), Diff eq (A), Mathematical finance (A), Set Theory (B+), Probability (A-), Inferential statistics (A), Regression analysis (B+), Time series (A), Calc III (A+)
Econ Courses (grad-level): N/A
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Intermediate Theory (A/A), Industrial Org (A), econometrics (A+), Health Economics (A+), history of economics (A), Growth (A), Game Theory (A+)
Other Courses:
Letters of Recommendation: IO prof from a top 10 program, thesis advisor, and department chair. Know all well, so should be strong.
Research Experience: senior honors thesis
Teaching Experience: tutored macro for a year.
Research Interests: IO, game theory, econometrics
SOP: Explain why I studied math and how I came to my interest in economist. Pretty standard.
Concerns: two B's in math, limited research experience. Hoping the ad comms see my "bad" grades were all in one semester.
Other: Phi Beta Kappa member and magna cum laude, for what they're worth. :p
Applying to: Ohio State, Northwestern, Yale, Chicago, Madison, Duke, Michigan

Accepted: Ohio State, UW-Madison MS
Wait List: Duke
Rejections: Michigan, UW-Madison, Northwestern, Yale, Chicago
Attending: Duke, if that becomes an acceptance. Unsure otherwise.

Comments: I'm hesitant about Ohio State due to how young their applied IO faculty are, but it could end up being a good fit. I won't know until my visit for sure. If I don't, I'm not sure if I'll re-apply, seek out an MA or RA opportunity, or something else entirely. In any case, i'm getting married this summer and don't have time to waste being upset. :D

What would you have done differently? I think i aimed too high, based on my record. I wish I'd done more research and realized how important certain things were earlier, but I can't change it now. I also would have taken graduate real analysis and grad level regression.

P.S. Sorry about the boldface. My webpage won't let me un-click the bold font option.

Mod Note - Fixed Boldface

03-14-2014, 02:46 PM
PROFILE: 2iron
Type of Undergrad: Top 30 US, Top 5 Public, Top 35 Econ
Undergrad GPA: 3.97 Overall, 3.97 Econ/Math
Type of Grad:
Grad GPA:
GRE: 168 Q, 166 V, 6.0 AW
Math Courses: Calc II (A), Multivar Calc (A+), Mathematical Probability (A), Mathematical Statistics (A), Linear Algebra (A), Diff. Eq (A-), Real Analysis (A+)
Econ Courses: Principles of Micro (A+), Intermediate Micro (A+), Intermediate Macro (A), Econometrics (A-), Advanced Econometrics (W), Auction Theory (A), IO (A), Environmental (A+), Info and Uncertainty (A+), Honors Seminar (A+), Honors Thesis (A+)
Other Courses: Discrete Optimization (engineering) (A+)
Letters of Recommendation: 1 from professor for two classes, top 10 Ph.D.; 1 from research seminar professor/thesis advisor, top 15 Ph.D. and well-known; 1 from research supervisor, well known in field
Research Experience: Honors thesis (won highest honors for it), RA for econ think tank one summer
Teaching Experience: Some tutoring, not much else
Research Interests: Applied micro theory, environmental, IO, structural
SOP: Very thorough, gave a lot of research ideas and faculty suggestions.
Other: National Collegiate Fed Challenge competition

Acceptances: Princeton, Northwestern, Berkeley ARE, HKS, Wisconsin, Michigan, Duke, UBC, UC Davis, Arizona
Rejections: Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Yale, UCSD
Attending: Probably Northwestern, maybe Princeton.

What would you have done differently? To beat a dead horse, taken more math instead of all of the humanities electives I thought would make me more well-rounded. Maybe gotten to know some other professors who have better ties to Stanford. Done my homework in high school so I could have gone to a top ten undergraduate institution. But, my grades were good, my thesis was good, and my SOP was very good, and I'm pretty happy with how things turned out!

Oh, and I would have applied to Columbia and maybe Stanford GSB and not applied to Davis and Arizona. I underestimated how well I would do.

03-14-2014, 11:41 PM
Type of Undergrad: Top 10 US News for undergrad, Top 20 US News for Econ
Undergrad GPA: ~3.8 (3.9 in econ)
Type of Grad: N/A
Grad GPA: N/A
GRE: 165Q/169V/5.5W
Math Courses (undergrad-level): Linear Algebra (B+), Vector Calc (A), Diff Eq (A-), Nonlinear Dynamics (A-), Analysis 2 (A)
Math Courses (grad-level): Probability (A), Measure Theory (A), Functional Analysis (A+), Stochastic Calc (IP)
Econ Courses (grad-level): PhD Micro 1 (A-), PhD Micro 2 (B+), PhD Metrics 1 (A), second year game theory (A), second year decision theory (A), second year contract theory (A), continuous time methods (IP), Master's Macro (A), Master's Growth Theory (A+)
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): research independent studies
Other Courses: tons of physics (both UG and G level) and other random stuff
Letters of Recommendation: Two profs from grad econ classes, one from grad econ prof + thesis advisor, one from a Fed research supervisor
Research Experience: honors thesis, Fed summer RA, a couple smaller projects
Teaching Experience: TA for intermediate micro.
Research Interests: Micro (game theory, choice theory), political economy, networks, growth
SOP: Pretty standard, with lots of details about papers that I liked (tailored to each program's faculty).
Concerns: Pretty bad Q GRE, a couple bad grades in important classes.
Other: N/A
Applying to: Top 10 Econ, Stanford GSB, HBS, Caltech, Brown, Duke

Acceptances: Chicago, Yale, Northwestern, Penn, Columbia, Caltech, Brown
Waitlists: Harvard, Stanford, NYU
Rejections: MIT, Princeton, Stanford GSB, Berkeley, HBS
Attending: Will visit Chicago, Yale, NW, Penn, and Columbia, and wait on Harvard/Stanford.

What would you have done differently? (1) I started on economics rather late, taking my first class in the second half of my sophomore year. I was still able to take lots of grad classes, but an extra year or two would have helped -- both in terms of taking more classes and getting the chance to do real RA work. (2) I would have studied for the GRE more. I imagine that my relatively poor Q score didn't help at top places, but it may not have really hurt either. (3) Would have guarded my GPA better in my first two years. I accumulated several random Bs, often in easy introductory courses, that dragged my GPA down. This is probably a small factor, but it would have been nice to have applied with a 3.95+.

03-15-2014, 01:51 AM
Type of Undergrad: Top 3 Canadian (Double Major in Stats/Econ)
Undergrad GPA: 4.2/4.33
Type of Grad: None
Grad GPA: None
GRE: Q170/V154/4.5
Math Courses: Calc III (A+), Matrix Algebra (A+), ODE (A+), Math Proofs (A), Applied Linear Algebra (A+), Probability (A+), Stochastic Processes (A), Linear Programming (A+), Real Analysis I (B-)
Econ Courses (grad-level): Masters Econometrics (A), Masters Macro (A+)
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Principles Micro/Macro, Intermediate Micro I/II, Intermediate Macro I, Labor Economics, Optimization in Econ Theory (all A+), Topics in Micro (A-)
Other Courses: Lots of Stat courses: Statistical Learning, Regression (Linear Algebra based), Statistical Inference, Graduate Statistical Theory, Graduate Exploratory Data Analysis, Graduate Generalized Linear Models (all A+ except for Statistical Learning)
Letters of Recommendation: Labor Professor I RA'ed for 8 months (Top 5% IDEAS), Grad Econometrics prof, Optimization in Economic Theory prof (All should be strong)
Research Experience: 8 months RA in labor economics, 2 full time summer research under in Statistics relating to MCMC/Bayesian inference/multivariate statistical methods, etc. Resulting in R package + forthcoming publications in stat and biology(one first author, one co-author, all with legitimate professors in Statistics and Biology)
Teaching Experience: 8 months TA for first year calculus and upper level applied linear algebra
Research Interests: Labor, econometerics, applied micro
SOP: Typical.

Acceptances: Northwestern (waitlisted for year 1 funding and tuition waiver), Brown, UCLA, USC, UBC, Cambridge (MPhil), LSE (Masters), Toronto (Doctoral Stream MA)
Waitlists: Stanford, NYU, UPenn
Rejections: Lots. Many that are relatively lower ranked
Attending: Hoping to get off one of the waitlists.
Comments: As you can see my results have been very noisy. Waitlisted at Stanford while rejected at places like Wisconsin Madison, Duke etc. My analysis grade definitely hurt me. Nevertheless, Northwestern is the best placement our school has had in the past few years.

What would you have done differently?
I would have gotten better in Real Analysis. I firmly believe if I received at least an A- in Real Analysis, I would have had better results in the top 10. My letters and research experience is what ultimately saved me in the end. Regardless, I did the best that I could given the resources at my school. Still very pleased with my results, this is the best our school has placed recently. I'll be ecstatic if I get full funding at Northwestern or am admitted at Stanford.

03-15-2014, 02:21 AM
Type of Undergrad: Top Australian, Honours Degree
Undergrad GPA: 3.92 (3.99 last 4 years)
GRE: 170Q 165V 4.5AWA
Math Courses: Calculus II,III(A,A) Linear Algebra I,II(A,A) Real Analysis I,II(A-,A) Probability I-III(A,A,A) Statistics I,II(A,A) Stochastic Modelling(A) Complex Analysis(A) ODE(A) Linear Programming(A)
Econ Courses: Microeconomics I-IV(A,A,A,A) Macroeconomics I-IV(B,A,A,A) Econometrics I,II(A,A) International Finance(A) Game Theory I,II(A,A) Financial Economics(A) Monetary Economics(A) Mechanism Design(A)
Letters of Recommendation: Thesis advisor, Research supervisor, Professor
Research Experience: Honours thesis in economics, RA at business school and summer research in math
Teaching Experience: 3 semesters
Research Interests: IO, Applied Micro, Micro Theory
SOP: Standard

Acceptances: Northwestern, Yale, NYU Stern, NYU, Chicago, Penn, Columbia, UCLA, Wisconsin, UCSD
Waitlists: Michigan
Rejections:HBS(after interview), MIT, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Berkeley
Attending: Yale

What would you have done differently? Nothing much, I'm not sure if I could have done much better. I could probably have worked harder and more consistently, but I don't think it would have changed anything.

03-15-2014, 10:19 PM
Type of Undergrad: Top 3 UK (3-year degree)
Undergrad GPA: First class degree
Type of Grad: Top 10 US Uni, masters degree
Grad GPA: 3.90
GRE: Q800/V530/AW4.0
Math Courses: My only "proper" math course was an undergraduate real analysis course (A) I took during my masters degree. During my undergrad I learned math as part of my econ courses.
Econ Courses (grad-level): Master's level: Micro I & II (A in both), Macro I (A) Macro II (A-), PhD level: Public (A-) Development (incomplete at the time of applying)
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Principles Micro/Macro/Metrics, Intermediate Micro, Intermediate Macro, Intermediate Metrics, Advanced Micro, Advanced Metrics, Finance, Public, Development.
Other Courses:Some management/accounting courses and some political science/non-econ development courses.
Letters of Recommendation: Assistant Prof. at US top 10 uni for whom I worked as an RA during my masters degree. Associate Prof. at US top 10 uni, thesis advisor and one summer of RA work. Professor at my undergrad uni who tutored me and knew my coursework well but didn't know much about my research potential.
Research Experience: Part-time RA for 1.5 year during masters degree and summer internship as RA for one of my letter writers.
Teaching Experience: None
Research Interests: Applied micro, mainly development, public and political economy
SOP: Pretty standard I guess, very dry. Talked about my research ideas, nothing about my background or personality.

Acceptances: Yale, Brown, (maybe I would have gotten into Wharton applied econ but I told them I wasn't interested after Yale offer)
Waitlists: None
Rejections: Harvard, HBS (but got interviewed), HKS (PEG), MIT, Columbia, NYU, NYU Stern, Michigan
Pending: Maryland, Attending: Yale
Comments: Super happy about Yale, feels like I was very lucky to get in. I was also surprised by how noisy the results were, I got and interview at HBS and got into Yale but rejected from Michigan and most likely Maryland. My explanation for this is that knowing one faculty member makes a huge difference.

What would you have done differently?
If I could do it all over again, I don't think I would have done a masters degree, instead I would have worked for two years as an RA for a tenured professor at a top uni and taken 1 or 2 PhD level classes while working. That would have saved me lots of money and probably prepared me equally well for my PhD program. Conditional on doing the masters degree I would have tried to get to know more faculty as that seems to be the best way to get admitted to a top program.

03-16-2014, 09:16 PM
Type of Undergrad: LAC ranked somewhere between 10 and 20
Undergrad GPA: 3.8
Type of Grad: None
Grad GPA: N/A
GRE: 170Q, 160V, 4.5A
Math Courses: Calculus I&II, Linear Algebra, Math Stats I&II, Stats, ODE, PDE,
Real Analysis I&II (All As, except B+ in both Real Analyses)
Econ Courses: The usual suspects (All As)
Other Courses: Nothing noteworthy
Letters of Recommendation:
(1) Undergrad Thesis Advisor (AP – Top 20 PhD)
(2) Undergrad Econ Professor (AP – Top 40 PhD)
(3) Fed Boss (Top 5 PhD; Top 10% IDEAS/RePEc)
All three know me very well. Ex-post, I’m sure they were all very strong letters and that I owe a lot of my success to these people.
Research Experience: Undergrad Thesis, Fed RA Experience
Teaching Experience: TA’d a couple times
Research Interests: Applied Micro
SOP: Well written. Explained research experience and what I’d like to work on in future. Tailored somewhat to each program, often mentioning specific work that faculty had done that I found interesting and related to what I want to do.
Concerns: Applied to the top 20 in an earlier cycle and got shut out. B+’s in Analysis. Not as much math as some of the crazies.
Other: Applying for the second time, after spending time as a Fed RA and with different recommendations.

Acceptances: Berkeley ($$$), Duke ($$), Michigan ($$), NYU ($$$), UCSD ($$), Wisconsin ($$), Yale ($$$)
Rejections: Cornell, Columbia, Harvard, MIT, Stanford

Comments: I am very happy with the results. Can’t wait to start!

What would you have done differently? Applied for the NSF for sure. Studied more for, and done better in real analysis. Taken one or two more math classes.

03-17-2014, 12:29 AM
Type of Undergrad: BA Mathematics at a top 30 liberal arts school
Undergrad GPA: 3.76/3.9 Math
Type of Grad MS at top 7(?) agecon department
Grad GPA: 3.8
GRE: 170V/166Q/4.5AWA
Math Courses: Calc (A,A,A-); LA (A); Proofs (A-); Advanced LA (A); Abstract Algebra (A); PDE (A); Topology (B+); Probability (BC oops); RA (A); Thesis (A)
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Some silly ones for non-majors, Intermediate Micro/Macro (A,A); Agricultural Development in Africa (A)
Econ Courses (grad-level): Masters: Applied Micro (A); Applied Econometrics II (I, but will have a grade by application time); Urban Economics (AB, Bschool) PhD: Econometrics I/II (AB, A); Micro Theory I (In progress); Environmental Economics (In progress)
Other Courses: Art and liberal arts, Sea Semester out of Woods Hole.
Letters of Recommendation: One professor I have been RAing for, phd ucsb should be very positive.. One professor who I don't know well but is in my department, editor of a good journal in my field. One professor I took phd econometrics with, well known econometrician.
Research Experience: UG math thesis. RA for two years in masters program. Masters thesis. (Both on air pollution distributions and market based air pollution controls) I got a grant to do a summer project in agricultural marketing.
Teaching Experience: None
Research Interests: Environment. Spatial econometrics.
SOP: Good.
Concerns: A few bad grades. I think the BC in probability theory as an undergrad should be drowned out by the A/ABs in phd metrics. Nobody needs topology do they? Also, I don't think my letters (with one exception) will be amazing.
Applying to: Reaches (for fun?): Stanford, Columbia. Others, also reaches?: Berkeley ARE, Yale Forestry, Duke, Davis, UCSB, Maryland AREC.


Acceptances: UCSB($$$), UC Davis ARE ($), UC Berkeley ARE ($), UCSD ($$), Duke Econ ($$), Duke UPEP ($$$), Maryland AREC ($$)
Rejections: Columbia, Stanford, Yale FES
Attending: I have some tough decisions to make
Comments: My results were stellar, I'm very lucky.
What would you have done differently? I certainly applied to too many schools, making my decision making period very difficult. I think I undersold myself a little bit, and should probably not have applied to the lower ranked applied programs.

03-17-2014, 02:35 AM
Type of Undergrad: Top 2 university in China, one term exchange in Top 3 Canadian university
Undergrad GPA: Top 3% in class
Type of Grad: N/A
Grad GPA: N/A
GRE: 166V/169Q/4.0AW
Math Courses: Advanced Calculus I and II (85+), Linear Algebra, Probability and Mathematical Statistics, Real Analysis, Statistical Inference, Methods of Statistical Learning (in exchange), Advanced Probability, Math History (All 90+)
Econ Courses: Grad Metrics I (in exchange) and II, Grad Game Theory, Principles of Economics, Intermediate Micro, Intermediate Macro, Undergrad Econometrics, Development Economics, Monetary Economics, Public Economics, Business Cycles, Topics in Chinese Economy, Honors Thesis (All 90+)
Letters of Recommendation: Grad Metrics II Professor (Leading figure in Nonparametric Metrics), Grad Metrics I Professor (Yale PhD, good publication records), RA Supervisor (Brown PhD)
Research Experience: Undergrad RA, Undergrad Honors Thesis
Teaching Experience: TA for Principles of Economics I and II
Research Interests: Econometric Theory
SOP: Typical, but expressed my interest in Metric Theory strongly

Acceptances: Chicago, UCLA, UCSD, Wisconsin, Penn State, UBC, USC
Waitlists: UPenn, Brown, Duke
Rejections: Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, Berkeley, Yale, Northwestern, Columbia, NYU, Caltech
Pending: TAMU
Attending: Probably Chicago
Comments: I applied mostly to schools with strong metrics groups. As you can see most top 10s rejected me and I guess it’s because of my strong focus on econometrics only. Glad that UCSD gives me a good funding package, I love this school. A pity that Yale rejected me since it’s my dream school.

What would you have done differently?
Some minor things which would not change my results so much: I should not have written my diversity statement (which I think really hurt me) and should have used the letter of my dean on Stanford and Yale. Should not have applied NW and Caltech (wasting money on schools with very small metrics groups). Let me return to my freshman year and I would have studied harder for advanced calculus. Well, if I’m rich enough I’ll exchange to Berkeley!

03-17-2014, 04:04 AM
Type of Undergrad: Top 2 in China, then transferred to top 30 US
Undergrad GPA: 3.99/4 in US
Type of Grad: N/A
Grad GPA: N/A
GRE: 165V/169Q/6.0AW
Math Courses:
Calculus I and II (95+), Linear Algebra 1 and 2 (95 , 85),
Probability, Real Analysis 1,2, Complex Variables, ODE, Algebra 1 , all A's

Econ Courses:
Principles of Economics 1,2 (75, 90);
Intermediate Microeconomics; Intermediate Macroeconomics ; Economic Development ; International Economics ; Econometrics ; Math for Economists (Phd) ; Statistics, all A's;
Microeconomics 1 (Phd) (B+)

Letters of Recommendation: Phd Math for Econ Professor, Complex Variable Professor, and two professors I've RA ed for; I'm sure the last two played a major role here.

Research Experience: Undergrad RA
Teaching Experience: grader for years
Research Interests: Development
SOP: nothing special

Acceptances: Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Brown, UCSD, BU, Upenn, Northwestern, Columbia
Waitlists: Duke, Cornell (for first year fund), have withdrawn from both
Rejections: Harvard, MIT, Berkeley,
Attending: most likely Yale, will decide after visit day
Comments: A little bit disappointed by the MIT rejection, but how can one not be happy with these results? I am still struggling a bit among stanford/princeton and yale, but I guess given my interest Yale would be a nice place.

What would you have done differently?
Really not much. I have been concerned about getting recommendation letters back when I was a sophomore, but everything worked out alright; you just need one professor who really appreciates your talent and willing to help you, then doors just open up one after another.. Bottom line is that hard work pays off, but you also need a bit of luck to meet the right person to give you a push.

03-18-2014, 11:59 PM
Declined: ​Northwestern

03-20-2014, 01:13 PM
Type of Undergrad: BA in Econ, PoliSci, Intl Relations from large, mid-rank state university
Undergrad GPA: 3.1
Type of Grad: MS in applied econ from small, unranked, but regionally highly-regarded program
Grad GPA: 3.8
GRE: 169V/162Q/5.0
Math Courses: Undergrad: Calc I/II(A/A), Multivariate Calc(B), Economic Statistics(C), Linear Algebra(A), DiffEq(A), Grad: Mathematical Economics(A-), Operations Research(B+), Linear Programming(A), Integer Programming(A), Data Analysis(A+)
Econ Courses (grad): Micro I(A-), Macro I(A-), Metrics I/II(A/W), Environmental(A), Energy(A), Topics(A), Resource I/II(B+/A-)
Econ Courses (undergrad): Micro(A-), Macro(B+), Metrics(B+), Intl Finance(A-), Intl Policy(A), Intl Trade(W/B), Development(C+), History(B)
Other Courses: too many poli-sci courses, some basic science leftover from aborted engineering studies
Letters of Recommendation: All econ professors from grad school. None extremely well-known, but all are active.
Research Experience: Very little; projects and papers for grad classes, some private sector stats research
Teaching Experience: Not really; a little tutoring a long time ago
Research Interests: Environmental and resource, political economy, development
SOP: I customized it for each school and tried to be both brief and informative while remaining inoffensively bland. It probably seemed boring and vague if anyone bothered to read it. <1000 words; <700 if the application also required a personal history.
Other: Self-studying real analysis and probability theory. I’m a little older –nearly thirty, married – don’t know if or how that affected my application though it constrained where I applied and which offers I’m willing to accept.

Acceptances: UC-Davis ARE($$), Oregon St AE($$), UC-Riverside($$), Oregon, Colorado($$), UW PPM($), Arizona, Wyoming($)
Rejections: Berkeley ARE, Arizona St, UCSB Bren
Attending: U-Dub, probably
Comments: I really wanted to choose Davis, but outside circumstances prevented it. Based on my results, it seems my target schools were a little low.

What would you have done differently? Maybe included a couple more reaches in my applications list and fewer safeties, but, overall, I’m pretty happy with my results. I should have planned ahead more – I didn’t even consider applying to PhD programs until last May. If I had thought seriously about getting a graduate degree as an undergrad, or about a PhD while getting a master’s, I could’ve taken pains to improve my profile. Should have prepared more for the GRE and taken it earlier – my mediocre quant score didn’t help my application.

03-21-2014, 12:25 AM
Type of Undergrad: European business school
Undergrad GPA: 3.7 US GPA equivalent
Type of Grad: Top US MA Economics program (With a top 20 Econ and top 10 finance department)
Grad GPA: 3.83
GRE: 164Q 158V 4.5AW
Math Courses: No formal calc sequence. ODEs (A), Math Stat(A), Linear Algebra(A-), Intro Scientific Computing(A), Calc IV (B), Intro Higher Mathematics (A+), UG Real Analysis I (A-), PhD Probability and Measure Theory (B), Math for Econ (baby calc) (A), Stats for econ (a joke) (A)
Econ Courses: PhD Micro II (B+), Grad Micro I (A), Grad Micro II (A), Grad Metrics (A), PhD Metrics I (A), Grad Math Finance (A), PhD Asset Pricing (A), PhD Empirical Corporate Finance (A-), PhD Timeseries (??)
Other Courses: lots of undergrad business/strategy/accounting courses
Letters of Recommendation: 2 highly recognized finance profs, 1 top 3% IDEAS Econ prof, 1 unknown econ prof, 1 somewhat known econ prof but with good AER/QJE pubs. I more or less directly asked all of them if the letters were going to be strong enough to get into top programs, and they all said yes.
Research Experience: RA'd for 1 year during masters for a recognized finance prof
Teaching Experience: UG Financial Accounting, Business School Managerial Economics
Research Interests: Applied Theoretical Corporate Finance && Empirical Asset Pricing
SOP: Why do I want to do a PhD, my current research projects, my interests, why this school fits (1 paragraph). It took me about a week to write and tailor my SOP to all 22 programs I applied to.

Acceptances: NWU Kellogg ($$$) Finance, Duke Fuqua Finance ($$), London Business School Finance($$$), CMU Tepper Finance ($$$)
Waitlists: UCLA Anderson Finance, Yale SOM Finance
Rejections:HBS Finance, Harvard Econ, MIT Econ, MIT Sloan Finance, Stanford GSB Finance, Stanford Econ, Chicago Booth Finance, Chicago Econ, Berkeley Haas Finance, Princeton Econ, NYU Stern Finance, NYU Stern Econ, Columbia Biz Finance, Columbia Econ, Wharton Finance.
Pending: None
Attending: The best program

2. Know your rec letter writers well. Plan out who you want to write your letters in advance. Letters are so.. so.. important!
3. I am extremely happy with my results

What would you have done differently?

Low GRE scores. I retook it 4 times with no luck. I was probably filtered out at a lot of schools due to my GRE score. However, i am positively surprised that I got accepted at a techy place like CMU with a quant gre score in the 89th percentile. Coming from a well respected program might have helped me bypass some filters though.

If I wanted to break into the top top places, I think I would need more research experience. Possibly publishing a top paper, or working for a year or two as an RA at Harvard, MIT or Stanford, or another solid place. I have a few blemishes like B in prob and measure theory,but I dont think anyone cares, as long as your overall GPA is decent.

I was probably rejected from all the econ programs because my SOP was pretty clear in that I wanted to study finance.

Should I have taken more advanced PhD level math courses? No

03-25-2014, 10:41 PM
Type of Undergrad: Top 3 econ school in Germany;
Undergrad GPA: ~3.4? (2.2 German GPA);
Type of Grad: Top 3 econ school in Germany;
Grad GPA: ~3.7? (1.7 German GPA);
GRE: 169/165/4.5;
Math Courses: BSc. minor in Math: Analysis I, II, Linear Algebra, Probabilty Theory etc. A- on average;
Econ Courses: A lot, mostly on Industrial Organization and Macro;
Other Courses: Some graduate level courses taken not for grades on empirical IO;
Letters of Recommendation: Great to good LoR from profs from Arizona State, UWMadison and EUI;
Research Experience: Very technical Bachelor and Master thesis on empirical IO; RA to professors and at a research institute for 2.5 years total;
Teaching Experience: None;
Research Interests: Empirical IO, numerical methods, growth theory;
SOP: Talked about my extensive research experience, motivation and professors I would like to work with at the school;

Acceptances: UMinnesota Twin Cities ($$), John Hopkins ($$$), UT Austin ($$);
Waitlists: UC Davis;
Rejections: Northwestern, NYU, Stern, UMichigan Ann Arbor, UW Madison, CalTech, UCLA Anderson, Brown;
Pending: UToronto, UToronto Rotman, Carnegie Mellon;
Attending: Probably UMinnesota;

What would you have done differently?

During studies: I would have concentrated more on getting good grades, rather than rushing into research and doing advanced graduate classes (that could not go on my transcript anyway) to implement the fancy methods in my Bachelor or Master thesis.
During application: I would have given myself enough time to polish every single aspect of every single application and not rush.

03-27-2014, 03:28 AM
Type of Undergrad: Top 20 Liberal Arts College
Undergrad GPA: 3.84/4.00 (4.00 Econ, 3.67 Math)
Type of Grad: None
Grad GPA: None
GRE: 170Q, 170V, 5W
Math Courses: Calc I, II, III (A, A+, A), Linear Algebra (A+), Number Theory (B), Applied Math: Social Sciences (A-), Abstract Algebra I (B+), Probability (B), Numerical Analysis (A), Real Analysis I (C+), Mathematical Statistics (A), Math Capstone Seminar (A).
Econ Courses (grad-level): None
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Intro (A), Intermediate Micro/Macro (A/A), International (A), European International Econ (A), Economics of the European Community (A-), British Economy (A), Applied Econometrics (A), Applied Macro Seminar (A+).
Other Courses: Liberal Arts-y stuff, Intro to Comp Sci
Other: 2.5 years of work experience at an economics consulting company.
Letters of Recommendation: 1) My boss (Top 70 Econ PhD); 2a) Macro professor (Top 100 Econ PhD), 2b) Econometrics professor (Top 100 Econ PhD); 3) Math advisor, very distinguished, PhD from Dartmouth.
Research Experience: In college - minimal beside that done for classes (brief summer gigs after sophomore/junior year, grunt work). 2.5 years at the econ consulting company I am currently working at.
Teaching Experience: Tutoring calc/stats sections for 3 years at college.
Research Interests: Applied Micro, IO, Health, Law and Econ.
SOP: Standard, but trying to tailor it to each university.

Acceptances: Boston College ($$), UMichigan Ross (Business Econ, $$$), UNC Kenan-Flager (Accounting PhD, $$$), Georgetown ($$$), Cornell ($$, 1st year funding only after I declined the offer), Brandeis ($), George Mason (awaiting funding decision), George Washington (awaiting funding decision), Brown (Econ MA, no funding)
Waitlists: UVA
Rejections: Duke, BU, MIT Sloan (Accounting PhD), Yale SOM (Accounting PhD)
Pending: UMD, CMU, Wharton
Attending: Boston College

What would you have done differently?
I should have gotten As in all my math classes and perhaps done a bit more research with professors during my summers in college.

03-31-2014, 08:30 PM
Type of Undergrad: Honors BS in economics with a minor in math from a non-flagship state school
Undergrad GPA: 3.88 Cumulative (3.95 Econ)
Type of Grad:
Grad GPA:
GRE: 170 VR / 170 Q / 5.0 A
Math Courses: Calc1-4 (all A), Matrix Theory (A-), Discrete Math (A), Probabilities (C+), undergrad analysis 1 (A) and 2 (Expected).
Econ Courses (grad-level): Econometrics I (A) and II (expected), Development (A), Natural Resources (A)
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Intermediate micro (A) and macro (A), game theory (A), econ with SAS (A), cost benefit analysis (A), econ and law (A-), Energy econ (A-), labor (A), altruism (A), managerial econ (A), and 6 independent studies (all A).
Other Courses: Financial Investing (A)
Letters of Recommendation: 1 from my thesis adviser, 1 from my employer (econ prof emeritus) who might have some name recognition, and 1 from my previous research adviser.
Research Experience: RA at a think tank for 2.5 years, completing an undergraduate thesis, and public sector (state-level) summer research internship.
Teaching Experience: Intermediate Micro and UG econometrics (both upcoming)
Research Interests: Applied micro, public economics, and micro theory
SOP: Standard
Concerns: Clearly my grade (C+) in probabilities will keep me out of many schools even though I defend it in my SOP and all of my letters defend it. Also, very few people from my school have gone from undergrad to a good program in a really long time (two in the last ten years have done t-30 or so). I'm hoping to not be closed out.
Other: This is my first year applying. I'm very uncertain about what is going to happen.
Applying to: Harvard, Chicago, Northwestern, Duke, Princeton, UVA, Wisconsin, Michigan, UPitt, Wash U, OSU, and UNC.

Acceptances: Duke ($$), UVA ($$), UW-Madison (PhD track MSc, no $), UPitt (?), WUSTL ($$), UNC (?), OSU (?)
Waitlists: none
Rejections: Harvard, Chicago, Northwestern, Princeton, Michigan, UW-Madison (essentially)
Pending: none
Attending: Duke
Comments: Despite what I would think of as a somewhat noisy profile, my results all make sense and fall in order.

What would you have done differently? I wish I had started taking serious math courses sooner because all of my college math background comes from the last two years and that was a bit of a stretch. I also would've taken earlier undergrad courses more seriously and done more than just enough to get an A for the sake of getting more out of my later research experiences.

04-02-2014, 08:30 PM
Type of Undergrad: Top Latinamerican University for Economics
Undergrad GPA: 8.6/10 (Honours)
Type of Grad: None
Grad GPA: None
GRE: 165Q, 158V, 4.5W
Math Courses: Calc I, II, III, Linear Algebra (A+), Econ for Economists, Probability, Mathematical Statistics.
Econ Courses (grad-level): Trade and development, Game theory, Auction theory, Experimental economics
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Several intermediate micro and macro, Several econometrics, public finance, international trade, etc.
Other Courses: Several philosophy courses
Other: Over a year working as advisor of economics in the public sector.
2 published articles (low ranked journals)
Good STATA use.
Letters of Recommendation: 1) My boss 2a) Researcher whom I worked for 2b) Profesor of Intl. trade.
Research Experience: 1 year research experience (Intl. trade).
Teaching Experience: None
Research Interests: Development economics, public sector, philosophy and economics
SOP: Hard to tell.

Acceptances: LSE, UCL, Warwick
Waitlists: None
Rejections: Harvard (Kennedy), Chicago, Columbia, Georgetown
Pending: UBC, UToronto, Wharton
Attending: Most likely LSE, but lets wait to hear the other offers.

What would you have done differently?
Regardless of the requirements to apply to a PhD, I have no doubt that particularly for unrecognized (e.g. out of top 50 international programmes) universities, a good Masters programme can benefit the applicant vastly (in terms of admitance chances).

04-07-2014, 06:02 PM
Type of Undergrad: Econ, European top 10 school
Undergrad GPA: 8.5 (top 5%)
Type of Grad: Econ, MS
Grad GPA: 8.8 (top 5%)
GRE: 159 / 163 / 4.5
Math Courses: Calculus, Linear Algebra, Dynamic optimization
Econ Courses (grad-level): Field courses + econometrics/math
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): All you would expect (including endogenous growth models in macro), econometrics from Wooldridge
Other Courses:
Letters of Recommendation: Director of studies and thesis sup
Research Experience: RA + internship at bank research dep. + BA and MA thesis
Teaching Experience: TA in principles of macro
Research Interests: Business cycles, DSGE modelling
SOP: Good (?)
Concerns: Poor GRE Q score
Other: Exchange at UW Seattle, 4.0 GPA
Applying to: MPhil: Cambridge, Oxford, UCL, UPF, LSe, Tinbergen, Tilburg, PhD: EUI

Acceptances: Tinbergen ($$), Tilburg ($$), Cambridge (external funding), EUI ($$$) (PhD)
Rejections: LSE, Oxford, UCL
Pending: UPF
Attending: Cambridge or EUI; will decide in the comming weeks.

What would you have done differently?
Do better on the GRE. I had hoped for something in the mid-90'th percent. so this score was really a bummer. I think it hurt me a lot at UCL, LSE and Oxford because they all sent me a rejection relatively swiftly. It also stopped me from applying to the US. Overall I think this outcome is better than I had expected. If I would have had to sign for this outcome in January I would immediately have.

algebra in econ
04-09-2014, 03:41 AM
Type of Undergrad:BS Economics and BS Mathematics From Well-Known Private Institution
Undergrad GPA: 3.4 (3.8 Econ)
Type of Grad: N/A
Grad GPA: N/A
Math Courses: 3 Part Calc Sequence, Undergrad Differential Equations, Graduate Theory of Ordinary Differential Equations, 3 Semesters of Real Analysis, 2 Semesters Abstract Algebra, Intro to Proofs, Linear Algebra, Linear and Dynamic Programming, Numerical Methods, Number Theory, Algebraic Lattice Theory, Graph Theory, Cryptography, Algebraic Number Theory, Algebraic Geometry, Analytic Number Theory
Econ Courses (grad-level): Micro, Macro, Econometrics, All courses that are offered here.
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): 2 Semesters Micro, 2 Semesters Econometrics, Macro, Computational Economics, Economic Growth, International Trade and Finance, Spectral Analysis, Social/Financial Network Theory
Other Courses: Multiple CS courses (one course short of a minor) (A lot of python), Russian, Chinese, Spanish if those matter.
Letters of Recommendation: 2 Math Professors, 3 Econ Professors
Research Experience: Economics RA for 3 years. 1 published paper, 2 working-papers, 3 papers in progress. All different fields. Mathematics RA for 1 year. 2 papers in progress. Presented one of our current research papers at a conference. Attending another conference next month. Hoping to get one more conference in before December. I am also working with Professors at other institutions on my current research.
Teaching Experience: Undergraduate Macro TA for 1 year, Graduate Macro TA for 1 semester, TA Number Theory for 1 semester
Research Interests: Economics of Information Security, Social/Financial Network Theory, Algebraic Geometry and Lattice Theory (Game Theory), Mathematical Economics, Macro Economics, Search Theory, Growth Theory, Economic Development (Child Labor Policy), Auction Theory
SOP: Sell my Math and research abilities and hope that Grad schools will see my ability and not focus on a couple of grades from when I was battling illnesses.

Acceptances: Minnesota($$), Indiana($?), MSU($$), Texas A&M($$), BC($$$), UPenn (Wharton)
Rejections: Michigan, NW, UPenn, ND, Illinois, UCL, Zurich, Arizona, Carnegie Mellon, Pitt, Penn St
Pending: N/A
Attending: Minnesota!!!

04-09-2014, 03:42 PM
PROFILE: thuswindburn
Type of Undergrad: Unranked Large State School
Undergrad GPA: 3.814 overall, 4.0 econ. BS in economics
Type of Grad: MA at top 30 econ phd program
Grad GPA: 3.714
GRE: 169 Q, 158 V, 4.0 AW
Math Courses: Calc I (A), Calc II (B), Calc III (B), Linear Algebra (A), Differential Equations (A), Real Analysis (A), Probability/Statistics (B+),
Econ Courses: Principles Micro/Macro (A/A), Intermediate Micro/Macro(A/A), Environmental (A), Econometrics (A), Crime(A), European Economic History(A), Money and Banking (A), Mathematics for Economists(A)
Other Courses(Grad Econ): Macro Theory (A-), Micro Theory(B+), Econometric Theory(A), Game Theory(A-)
Letters of Recommendation: 2 from my MA program: 1 top 5 econ PhD, the other top 20. 1 from undergrad, top 25 PhD, this one will have known me the best.
Research Experience: Minimal research experience, worked on masters thesis at my undergrad institution before changing programs
Teaching Experience: Grading/TAing, so no real teaching experience
Research Interests: Environmental and IO
SOP: Talked about how I went from an engineering student to wanting to pursue a PhD in economics. Talked about my interests and influences along the way.

Acceptances: University of Arizona, UNC-CH
Waitlists: N/A
Rejections: Penn State, WUSTL, JHU, U Pitt, ASU, Boston College, UVA
Pending: Vanderbilt
Attending: University of Arizona
Comments: Really happy with this program, feel like I couldn't have found a better research fit.

What would you have done differently? I could have gone to a much better undergrad. I simply didn't put much effort into it at the time. So outside of jumping back 5 years not a whole lot else! Probably would have paid a bit more attention in Calc III :P

04-10-2014, 01:20 PM
Type of Undergrad: Good State School with Heterodox econ program but a good polisci department (I double majored)
Undergrad GPA: 3.3
Type of Grad: NA
Grad GPA: NA
GRE: 165 Q 169 V
Math Courses: Calc 1-3 (A-,B+,B), intro stats (A), Stats for econ (B+)
Econ Courses (grad-level): NA
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Princ micro (A), princ macro (A), Intl econ (A), Inter macro (B+), Hist. econ doctorine (C+), Intl Monetary Rel (Didn't finish), Asian econ development (B), Econ development (A-), American industrialization and economic development (A), Intl trade (A-)
Other Courses: Double Majored in International Relations
Letters of Recommendation: 1 from assoc. prof. (now at Redlands) that I had a very good relationship with, 1 from full prof. that I had an OK relationship, One from my current boss at a big 4 consulting firm who I needed to point out that I am no longer suffering from the depression and anxiety that caused me to fail a bunch of classes for a couple years.
Research Experience: NA
Teaching Experience: NA
Research Interests: Development , IO, Public Finance
SOP: Good I think. Hopefully made up for my poor showing for a couple years in Undergrad

Acceptances: CU Boulder, UCSC, NIU, UIC
Rejections: Rutgers, Purdue
Attending: CU Boulder
Comments: Excited to get started. Plus living in Boulder should be great.

What would you have done differently?
I would have done better in undergrad, obviously. I also would have gone to a different undergrad, though money issues would have made that difficult. Also, I only took the GRE one time. I got a 165, which was better then I did on any of the practice tests, so I assumed that was the best score I was going to get, but upon reflection I don't think the practice test results are all that reliable so I would take the GRE again.

04-11-2014, 01:36 AM
Type of Undergrad: Top 10 small liberal arts
Undergrad GPA: 3.9
Type of Grad: Top 5 econ (only took a single class)
Grad GPA: 3.7
GRE: 164V 170M 5W
Math Courses: Analysis I & II, Probability, Statistics, Game Theory, + few other random ones
Econ Courses (grad-level): 2nd year applied econometrics
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Econometrics, Micro (intermediate), Macro (intro, intermediate, and advanced), + 4 field classes
Other Courses: Almost a minor in CS
Letters of Recommendation: (1) undergrad professor (from a top school, but now an associate prof liberal arts college), (2) well known researcher who I've worked as a RA for, (3) Another professor I've RA'ed for, more junior but at a top school
Research Experience: 1.5 years post undergrad as a research assistant working with several well known professors
Teaching Experience:
Research Interests: Econometrics and IO
SOP: 1/5 education background (explaining my lack of undergrad econ), 2/5 Research projects I've worked on, 2/5 A couple of representative research ideas that I'd like to work on
Concerns: No published research. Not many economics class in undergrad. Only one grad level class
Applying to: Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, MIT, Northwestern, Yale, Chicago, NYU, Duke, UCSD, Haas.

Acceptances: Stanford GSB, Yale, Haas (Marketing), Northwestern, Columbia, UCSD
Waitlists: Stanford Econ (actually they sent me a rejection first, and then an email accepting me off the 'waitlist')
Rejections: MIT, Harvard, Chicago Booth, NYU Stern
Attending: Stanford GSB

04-12-2014, 01:46 AM
Type of Undergrad: Dual degree in econ/math from a US News top-100 public without a PhD program
Undergrad GPA: 3.7 (combined across all three schools that I attended)
Type of Grad: Combined BA/MA at the same school, plus PhD coursework at a US News top-25
Grad GPA: 3.7
GRE: 165Q/164V/5.0AW
Math Courses: Calculus I/II/III, Linear Algebra, Diff Eq., Real analysis I/II, Game theory, Probability and Stat. for engineers, Probability theory, Numerical linear algebra (graduate), Functional analysis (graduate, fall).
Econ Courses (grad-level): MA micro/macro, MA econometrics I/II, economics of education, Independent Study, PhD micro I (fall), PhD micro II (spring)
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Intro micro/macro, Intermediate micro/macro, econometrics, four electives
Other Courses: An entire certificate program in another unrelated field, an interdisciplinary honors' program, a computer science class, and a research methods class.
Letters of Recommendation: Senior and MA thesis advisor/ MA micro professor (extremely strong letter); MA econometrics professor (should also be very strong); Intermediate micro professor/undergraduate advisor; economics of education professor. I alternated between using the last two writers depending on the school, and all four letter writers have PhDs from programs in the 20-30 range.
Research Experience: This is the strongest part of my profile. I have a solo-authored paper that is under review at a good journal, and I included it as a writing sample. I am also currently coauthoring a paper with my advisor, and have been working on my MA thesis.
Teaching Experience: Just tutoring
Research Interests: Industrial organization, applied micro
SOP: Standard
Concerns: My math grades are pretty mixed. While I did get As in both semesters of real analysis and some other classes, some of the rest of my math grades aren't great. My biggest concern may be the overall noisiness of my profile. I'm worried that some of my safeties may think that I will get into a better program due to the strong parts of my application, while the higher-ranked programs may not accept me due to my weaknesses.

Acceptances: Rice ($$), Arizona($), Texas A&M ($$), UC Irvine ($), UConn ($), Ohio State ($$, but offered after 4/15)
Waitlists: Maryland (withdrawn), UNC (withdrawn), UVA (rejected off waitlist), Vanderbilt (withdrawn)
Rejections: Chicago, Pittsburgh, UT Austin, Notre Dame, Hopkins, GWU, MSU, Wharton AE
Pending: Virginia Tech (withdrawn)
Attending: Rice!
Comments: I really think that Rice will be an excellent program for me, and I'm very happy with my choice.

This has been a really long and difficult process for me, and I have learned a lot through my experiences. These comments are based on what I learned:

Things I would have done differently:
1. I would have gone to college straight after high school rather than waiting until I was 25.
2. I would have taken less math or easier math. I know this is something that you don't hear very often, and it is a bit difficult for me to admit because I really enjoyed every math class that I took. However, my grades suffered because I tried to fit in so many courses in so short a period of time. I would have been far better off in terms of admissions if I would have taken it slow and gotten As in all of my math courses as a math minor, rather than doing a full math major and getting a bunch of Bs. Alternatively, maybe I should have done the math major but taken easier courses. I really shouldn't have been taking graduate math.
3. I would have applied to a more realistic range of schools during my first application season
4. I should have added more schools in the 20-40 range, and replaced Chicago with a reach school in the 10-20 range
5. I might have gone to a different undergrad. This is hard for me to say, because I absolutely loved my undergrad and gained a lot from having closer interaction with my professors than I would have at a big school. I also think that I would have been miserable as an undergrad at Maryland, and I was geographically constrained. The best option may have been for me to go to Hopkins (I would have very likely gotten in).

Things that I would do exactly the same:
1. Undergraduate research. I gained a lot from my undergraduate independent study. I don't care that much if the paper (still under review) ever gets published. I did it for the learning experience, and I have learned a lot about the research process. It also resulted in me getting very strong letters.
2. Signed up for the combined BA/MA program where I could take masters courses during undergrad. Despite it being a typical American policy-oriented MA, I learned a lot in my masters micro and econometrics courses, and I found that the masters micro was good preparation for PhD micro. Additionally, it provided me with a built in backup option after getting shut out last year
3. Taken PhD micro. Several admissions committee members told me that my grade in PhD micro influenced their decision to admit me. I have also learned a lot, and it will hopefully make my first year less stressful
​4. Done my summer internship at the BLS. While I didn't get to do much actual research, which disappointed me at the time, I learned a lot about BLS data that I have since used in my research

04-13-2014, 09:21 PM
Type of Undergrad: BA Econ & Math at non-flagship state university
Undergrad GPA: 3.71, 3.9 Econ and 3.69 Math
Type of Grad: MS, Top 3 ARE
Grad GPA: 3.9
GRE: 163Q/165V/4.0A
Math Courses: Calculus I (A), Calculus II (A-), Calculus I (B+), Discrete (A-), Linear Algebra & Matrix Theory (A), Probability (B+), Numerical Analysis (A), Real Analysis I (B) , Real Analysis II (A), Point-Set Topology (A), Mathematical Statistics (A), Survey Sampling (A), Abstract Algebra I (B+)
Econ Courses: UG: Intro Micro/Macro (A/A), Intermediate Micro/Macro (A/A), Money & Banking (B+), Health Economics (A-), Urban Economics (A), History of Economic Thought (A), Development of Latin America (A), Econometrics (A), Economics of Immigration to New York City (A-), Elements of Mathematical Economics (A), Behavioral Economics (A); Graduate: Applied Econometrics (A+), Microeconomic Analysis I (A), Optimization with Economic Applications (A-)
Other Courses: Selected University Honors courses (interdisciplinary, credits equivalent to adding a minor), Computing for Math & Sciences – Python (A), Upper Division credits in Geology and Biology
Letters of Recommendation: North Carolina State University, Econometrics: We have talked pretty in depth about research interests, and got an A+ in their course. This one is generally pretty optimistic, but is really batting for me. Berkeley ARE, Applied Micro/Policy Analysis:Got noticed in the class for asking a lot of "good" questions, didn't talk in office hours that much (once or twice), but did consistently good work and received high scores across tests and assignments including writing assignments (A in class). University of Washington (Seattle), Macro/Econometrics: Was a top student in Econometrics and Macroeconomics classes, worked on two applied econometrics research (housing/foreclosure) studies, also very much batting for me.
Teaching Experience: Class tutor (i.e. held office hours) for principles of micro for 2 years.
Research Interests: Microeconomic Development with the added tools from Social Network Theory and a strong focus on Risk and Uncertainty. Very much oriented towards empirical investigation of the effects of social networks, risk sharing, risk mitigation, insurance, etc. on development (and ag. dev) outcomes. Leaning towards work with obvious policy implications.
SOP: Research, research, research. Did end up mentioning people I wanted to work with by name, which is always kind of controversial. I believe that this part of my application is unambiguously improved from last year.
Concerns: Low Quant GRE. Bad grades in math theory courses (B in RA I, B+ in Calc III -- though I guess I'm less concerned about the B+ in algebra). Only a marginally competitive undergrad GPA though my graduate work and rising trend (3.79 last two years) may retroactively cover for that. Addendum: name recognition, both of school and letters.

Accepted: UMN APEC ($), UC Santa Cruz ($), Wisconsin AAE, UC Davis ARE ($)
Out: Yale, Berkeley ARE, Stanford, Brown, UCSD, Georgetown, Maryland, Maryland AREc, UBC
Waitlist: Cornell AEM
Attending: Davis ARE
Comments: Davis was one of the original group of schools that I chose when I was applying last year. It's good to know that I was able to hit that target, though I did have higher expectations. With that said, I'm very optimistic about my future at Davis. Some of the schools on my list I knew a priori that I wouldn't make it at, but I'm actually genuinely surprised about a few. In particular I was surprised that Cornell AEM and Maryland AREc didn't accept me, though to be fair I made a devastating mistake in both of those applications. Also, surprised about the Georgetown rejection, though it would make sense that I'm not exactly what they're looking for in a candidate.

Things I would have done differently (at various stages of my academic career):
1. Been serious about preparing for graduate school earlier. This is obvious, and I'm sure everyone feels this way, but I was pretty set on being an economist since I was in principles classes. I wasn't aware of the difficulty of getting in, or how sensitive the process was to math scores (I really could have gotten A's in the calculus sequence had I been more serious).
2. I would have not done an honors degree -- which actually competed for my time in considerable ways over the course of my education. Knowledge of Russian Literature, for example, is wonderful, but it upsets me that I probably paid a price in the level of economics program I could get into do to my competing workload. Then again, I would have never taken a globalization class, and probably wouldn't be a development type at the moment were it not for this program.
3. It would have been a very good idea to transfer to the state flagship (which has a top 20 econ department), which was very doable when I was a sophomore. This would have been useful for name recognition, diversity of courses and also for letters -- all of which I was sorely lacking. Of course the trade-off here is that I made friends at my original UG institution. Additionally, I could have probably avoided the shut-out and moved much more quickly to get into the PhD programs.
4. Less (or different) math -- the marginal improvement in my application from taking courses like topology and abstract algebra was almost zero, looking back, Had I committed only to a math minor and taken more prob/stats courses I could have been a better candidate for an RAship.
5. Which brings me to #5: Aside from my GRE, I think research was actually a really poor part of my application. I would have needed to a do an RA either over summer or after graduating. This would have also helped with my letters issue.
6. If faced with a shut out, I would have given myself an option to do a MS program that would allow me to take PhD courses at previously mentioned flagship state U. Alternatively, a prestigious school related degree would have been worth exploring (maybe Yale Int'l Dev --> PhD Econ would have worked?).
7. One change would have been fairly easy, and is attributable to lack of foresight. I would have retaken the GRE during the summer, as opposed to try to retake it late in the fall last year. I didn't have a whole lot of time to study for it, and it turned out that my car broke down, so it really wasn't actually worth getting to the appointment.
8. It's pretty obvious that my MS held a lot more weight at applied economics programs that elsewhere. Since Davis is pretty good as applied programs go, and I had a good sense that I would be accepted, I would have not broadened these applications very much. I would, however, have added a few (2?) programs since the programs are much smaller. On the other hand I would have reduced my overall applications to economics programs for cost reasons.

04-13-2014, 10:31 PM
Type of Undergrad: BS Econ and BS Math from regionally known uni, 1 yr exchange at Oxford
Undergrad GPA: 3.98
Type of Grad: 1 term of Macro at Oxford
Grad GPA: 4.0
Math Courses: Calc I/II/III, Differential Equations, Linear Algebra (A-), Real Analysis I/II, Probability, Abstract Algebra, Discrete Wavelet Theory, Chaos Theory, Applied Capstone
Econ Courses (grad-level): Monetary and Fiscal Economics
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): all the normal ones including an independent study in advanced econometrics
Other Courses: programming?
Letters of Recommendation: 1 Oxford Math (known), 1 Oxford Econ (maybe known), 1 home Math (not known)
Research Experience: 1 summer of econ research (competitive grant), 2 summer of math research (on econ topic w/ home math prof.). One paper from the two summers of math research pending (non-elite journal)
Teaching Experience: TA in micro, Calc 3, including lecturing opportunity in micro. Tutoring in both departments since sophomore year. TA in Chaos Theory, lecture every week
Research Interests: international monetary policy, nonlinear and chaotic dynamics, currency zones
SOP: standard
Concerns: unknown home uni, two letters from math people, not too much grad work, paper hasn't been published yet...
Other: Time person of the year in 2006, won an award for best maths research paper at my uni
Applying to: Masters: LSE, Oxford, CEMFI, BGSE
Phd: Columbia, NYU, Northwester, UPenn, Yale

Acceptances: CEMFI ($), LSE, BGSE ($), Oxford - Nuffield($)
Rejections: Columbia, NYU, NW, UPenn, Yale
Attending: Nuffield College, Oxford!!
Comments:The American rejections were expected. The studentship at Nuffield and full funding at CEMFI were both very surprising! The thing that made all the difference in my profile was my year abroad at Oxford and the opportunity to take a grad course there. I am very excited to return!

Things I would have done differently:
1) Not have gone to my home university. It is an unknown school with unknown professors. The year at Oxford saved my profile, but I think I could have received an admit from a top American school if I had gone to a Phd granting institution in the US.
2) Realized that I wanted to do econ + math earlier. I came in to undergrad thinking that I wanted to go into I-banking and so I didn't take any math my freshman year.
3) Done a REU at top university in the states instead of working at my university both summers.

04-14-2014, 05:15 PM
Type of Undergrad: BS Industrial Engineering, Mathematics Minor in Economics - Smaller state university with MA econ program
Undergrad GPA: 3.98
Type of Grad: taken a few graduate courses as undergrad
Grad GPA: 4.0
Math Courses: Calc I/II/III (A's), Differential Equations (A), Linear Algebra (A), Intro to Proofs (A), MATLAB (A), Advanced Calculus I/II (A's), Intro to Complex Analysis (A), Prob and Stat I/II (A's), Numerical Methods(current), Matrix Theory (current)
Econ Courses (grad-level): Econometrics (A), Mathematical Economics (A)
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): intermediate micro & macro (A,A), Labor Economics
Other Courses: Operations Research, lot's of statistically related engineering courses
Letters of Recommendation: 2 Illinois Econ PhDs one of which I RA'd for and the other is my econometrics professor, 1 Chicago Math PhD that I did independent study with
Research Experience: served as undergraduate research assistant for economics professor at home university, also a few conference articles from some work in the industrial engineering department
Teaching Experience: Lots of math tutoring, Engineering Economy recitation instructor
Research Interests: education, labor, public, applying optimization to education problems
SOP: discussed why I felt prepared for PhD courses and research interests, i though it was good, but all relative
Concerns: coming from poor university, letter writers are all from home university, little economics coursework
Other: prestigious awards from poor home university
Applying to: Masters: Home University (Mathematics/Statistics)
Phd: Yale, Cornell, UCSD, Maryland, Virginia, Michigan State, Colorado, Oregon, Missouri, Washington State

Acceptances: Washington State ($), Missouri ($$), Oregon, Home University (Mathematics, $)
Waitlists: Virginia (rejected off waitlist)
Rejections: Yale, Cornell, UCSD, Maryland, Colorado
Pending: Michigan State
Attending: Home University
Comments: Best decision for my family! My wife I were applying to schools together (she was apply to masters programs) we simply had matching problems and just didn't get in together anywhere. I will take this time to boost my profile and reapply in two years

What I would do differently: I wish I would have found this forum sooner! I would likely have not applied to so many top tier programs. Professors at my home university felt that I was fine applying to T30 schools, but we don't send many to econ PhD programs either so I am pretty sure that I way overshot especially for my sub-par GRE scores.

What I will do differently: Take advice from everyone on here! Seriously, please message me with any help. I will reapply in two years with a masters in statistics (and real analysis coursework). I plan to try and get involved in some research projects if I can find the right advisors and do a thesis in economics related field. I will definitely study for an retake the GRE and shoot for at least 167 Q. Hopefully I can pull all of this off.

04-14-2014, 10:09 PM
Type of Undergrad: Top 40 Econ USNWR, Large State School
Undergrad GPA: 3.9
GRE: 800q, 600v, 4.0aw
Math Courses: Calc I-III (AP, A, A), Linear Algebra (A), Differential Equations I-II, Honors (A-, B+), Real Analysis I-II (A-, A) Math Stats (A), Probability (A), Time Series (A), Grad Real Analysis (B)
Econ Courses (grad-level): Grad Micro Theory I-II (A-, A-), Math Camp (Pass- must be taken P/F only)
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Intro Micro/Macro (A, A+), Intro Devo (A-, Taken in French), Intro Money & Banking (A),
Inter Micro/Macro/Metrics (A+,A-, A), Inter Game Theory (A), Adv Experimental Seminar (A), Adv Devo Seminar (A)
Other Courses: Lots of French and African Studies- studied abroad for 2 semesters in Europe and West Africa
Letters of Recommendation: Undergrad thesis adviser and prof, tenured; My PIs from JPAL RA job wrote a joint letter, one is very well known in devo & other is a junior top 5 prof; Current boss, who is very well known & a top 5 senior prof
Research Experience: Senior Thesis/Summer Fellowship, Worked 1.5 years in a developing country as a field RA for JPAL/IPA, Will finish out 1.5 years RA at a top 5 school before starting grad school
Teaching Experience: 1 semester Intermediate Micro RA at my UG, 2 years Athletic Dept tutor for math and econ
Research Interests: Applied Micro
SOP: Generic body with short tailored paragraph at the end.
Concerns: It was just really hard for me to predict how I would do ex ante-- I hadn't heard of anyone with a similar application (lots of research and good coursework but at a not at a top 10 university and not perfect grades). I was also waffling about doing a PhD in general-- there were certain aspects about grad school and economics that I encountered while working around professors/phd students that were not appealing to me. However, in the end I decided to apply because I really enjoy doing research and want the flexibility and intellectual stimulation of the types of jobs that will be available to me.
Applying to: NSF, Harvard, Harvard Health Policy Econ, MIT, Princeton, Berkeley ARE, Chicago Booth, Stanford, Yale, Northwestern, NYU, Columbia, Brown

Acceptances: NSF, MIT (WL $), Berkeley ARE, Yale, Princeton, Harvard Health Policy, Northwestern (WL $), Columbia, Brown
Rejections: Harvard, Chicago Booth, Stanford, NYU

Comments: I'm very grateful to have had so many wonderful options. I think my application's success was definitely due to the time I took to work as a research assistant (twice) after undergraduate. The recommendation letters were without a doubt part of this, though I think at least for the NSF it was also clear from my application that I know what I'm getting myself into and how economic research is actually conducted. This would not have been true had I come straight from undergrad-- now I feel prepared and ready to jump into my own projects. I'm very happy with my results, and think I'll do well both personally and professionally at the program I've decided to attend. I am co-locating with my significant other who also applied to Econ programs, and we were very lucky to have a couple of great options that would allow us to be in the same place. It's been a stressful last couple of months, but I'm excited first to relax a bit and then to jump back into coursework in August. Hooray for not spending another second of my life obsessively checking grad cafe (or this site).

Things I would have done differently: Nothing really. I may not have taken one or both of the difficult/not required math classes (that I got B's in) because they were very stressful. However, it doesn't seem like the B's hurt me, and perhaps it was a good signal that even though I am more of an applied person, I have a rigorous math background and am likely to be successful in the required theory classes. I do agree with Catrina that one should be careful taking honors or graduate math (especially if you had a hard time at all in easier classes)- there are much less risky ways to make yourself stand out, and it's definitely possible to be hurt by grades in classes that you didn't need to take.

Oh also, I would have tried not to worry so much. The obsession in economics (and I'm sure a lot of other fields/professions) with rankings, prestige, who got in where, who is getting tenure, how many publications you have etc is just distracting. I was lucky enough to work for some wonderful people who seem to avoid wasting their time on that stuff, and focus on doing good research that people care about. I'm optimistic that I'll be able to create that kind of environment for myself as well. I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting to be at a program that will train you well and allow you to write a good job market paper, and that is almost certainly correlated with whatever department rankings people have come up with. However, at the end of 5 years, it's your paper that is being evaluated. I'll probably freak out about that too when the time comes, but hopefully it will be a brief period surrounded by plenty of time enjoying life and my research. Best of luck to everyone!

04-14-2014, 10:29 PM
Type of Undergrad: Top 25 Econ PhD Program (Private institution)
Undergrad GPA: 3.65, B.A. Econ, B.S. Health Science
Type of Grad: N/A
Grad GPA: N/A
GRE: Q 164/ V 160/ AW 4.5
Math Courses: Calc I-II (A), Linear Algebra (A), Multivariable Calculus (A), Differential Equations (A)
Econ Courses: Introductory Microeconomic Analysis (A-), Intermediate Microeconomic Analysis (A), Intermediate Macroeconomic Analysis (B+), Economic Statistics (A), Behavioral Economics (A), Economic Analysis of Legal Issues (A), European Capital Markets (A), British Macroeconomic Policy (B), Economic Policy: A British Perspective (B+), Business and Economics (A)
Letters of Recommendation: Econ/ Ag Econ Professor from Top 5 program, Public Health Professor from undergad institution, Principal from international school I taught at for 3 years
Research Experience: RA for Professor #1 above, Development
Teaching Experience: Mathematics and Microeconomics at international school
Research Interests: Development, Environment
SOP: Awesome?!

Acceptances: Michigan State AFRE ($$), University of Arizona ($$), UC Santa Cruz ($$), University of Georgia ($$), Clemson ($), UC Davis (M.S.)
Rejections: Berkeley ARE, Duke UPEP, UCSB, UCSD, Brown, Columbia
Pending: Vanderbilt (C'MON, ITS THE 14th! Application was free...fair enough)
Attending: MSU AFRE
Comments: Perfect fit (with its international development, environmental, field work, etc.)

What would you have done differently?
Nothing really, I am not some math superstar or the typical applicant- I only decided on the PhD while abroad, so I took all my math classes while RAing back in the US this past year and change. For now, I am truly (only?) interested the applied/ empirical component, and am excited about MSU.

If anything, I would have only applied to (more) Ag Econ programs, but there really was no harm in shooting a few off to higher/ purer programs.

I thank everyone for posting to this forum, it has been quite helpful throughout the process, in that I hadn't thought about it while I was an undergrad or had the opportunity to speak about it with people outside my current department. Best of luck, and GO ECON!

04-15-2014, 02:08 AM
Type of Undergrad: Top 50 undergrad, top 50 in economics; LSE study abroad
Undergrad GPA: 3.86/4.00 at home university; First at UK university
Type of Grad: n/a
Grad GPA: n/a
GRE: 167Q/155V/4A
Math Courses: Calculus I/II/III (A,A,A-) Diff. Eq. (A), Linear Algebra, proof based (A-), Group Theory (A), Ring Theory (A), Abstract Algebra and its Applications (A), Sets and Logic, intro to proofs course (A-), Game Theory (A), Proof based Econometrics (A-), Advanced Calculus I/II (A; IP)
Econ Courses (grad-level): PhD Micro (A)
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Micro/Macro 101 (A,A), Intermediate Micro/Macro (A,A), International Trade (A-)
Other Courses: Took undergraduate probability theory (A), graduate probability theory (B+)
Letters of Recommendation: Econometrician from UK university, Mathematician from UK university, Economist/Undergraduate Advisor from home university
Research Experience: RA'd for my international trade lecturer in my 2nd year, and currently working on my honors thesis.
Teaching Experience: TA for Macro 101 at my home university
Research Interests: monetary/macro
SOP: standard

Acceptances: Maryland ($$), UT-Austin ($$), George Washington
Waitlists: BU, BC, and Johns Hopkins
Rejections: MIT, Yale, Northwestern, NYU, Columbia, Michigan, LSE, Georgetown, Penn State, and Virginia
Pending: None
Attending: Going to RA at a Fed branch for 2-3 years!
Comments: If you would have told me in August my results, I probably would have been pretty disappointed. I really did not know that research and letters would play such a huge role. However, this really has worked out for the best. Iíve gone through the process so itíll be easier the next time around; I get to make some money before grade school while gaining invaluable research experience and, hopefully, great LORs and networks from the Fed economists at the branch I will be attending. I will probably aim lower next time but I think with the RA experience and taking classes at the top 15 university nearby I really do think I will be a very competitive T20 applicant next time around, and hopefully even a T10!

What would you have done differently? I shouldnít have ignored the warnings on the internet of how important letters and research experience are. I think I did the best I could with meeting professors, given that most of the econ classes at my university are taught by PhD students and that I was only at LSE for a year with no LSE professor willing to have a study abroad student as an RA (and understandably so!). However, I should have realized Iíd need to get an RA position either at a university, Fed, or some other public entity between undergrad and grad. Thus, I should have applied to less PhD programs and more RA positions. Obviously, all these observations are ex-post, so thereís no way I could have known any of this without learning everything I have this year.

Luckily, it all worked out for me and then some this application season. I wonít be attending a graduate school next year, but I will be immersed in macro research for the next two years where Iíll get some great programming and research experience, Iíll get to have more fun in my early 20ís, and Iíll actually get to make sure that a life as a researcher is something I really want. Thanks for all the help everybody- Iíll try to stop by every once in a while but if not, see you in the 2015-2016 application season!

04-15-2014, 09:11 PM
Type of Undergrad: Honors Econ/Math combo major at large research university - ranked top 80 US
Undergrad GPA: 3.95
Type of Grad: N/A
Grad GPA: N/A
GRE: Q167/V163/AW 5.0
Math Courses: Calc I/II/III (A/A/A), Linear Algebra (A), ODE (A), Intro Real Analysis (A), Discrete (A-), Probability Theory (A), Statistics (calc-based) (A), Optimization (A), Numerical Analysis (A)
Econ Courses: Introductory Micro/Macro (A/A), Intermediate Macro (A), Intermediate Micro (A), 2 semesters of econometrics (A), Information and Uncertainty (A), Mathematical Econ (A), Banking and Monetary Policy (A)
Other Courses: Computer science minor (basic programming, algorithms, intro software engineering), Spanish minor
Letters of Recommendation: One from my thesis adviser (Wisconsin PhD), as well as one from my metrics and banking professor (Princeton PhD). Third from my undergraduate adviser. All three are likely to be very good.
Research Experience: I was a research assistant for one semester and this summer with my professor listed above, studying the effect of options on baseball contract salary structure. I'm currently using this research for my senior thesis.
Teaching Experience: TA for intro microeconomics course. I will be a TA next semester for a labor course.
Research Interests: applied micro, specifically development, education, and labor. I'm particularly interested in Latin American development and government policy.
SOP: fairly generic but solidly written
Applying to: MIT, Yale, Penn, Michigan, Brown, Cornell, Duke, Maryland, Boston U, UT-Austin, UVA, Georgetown

Acceptances: Virginia ($$), UT-Austin ($$)
Waitlists: Maryland (I suppose I didn't make it off....)
Rejections: MIT, Yale, Penn, Michigan, Duke, Boston U, Brown, Cornell, Georgetown
Pending: none
Attending: Virginia
Comments: My results are extremely consistent. I got into schools which I expected to get into and got rejected by schools which I didn't expect to get into. I thought I stood a decent chance to get into Maryland, but that's alright. My strategy of applying to only a couple of realistic choices and reaching for the rest paid off. I'm very happy going to UVA, Charlottesville seems like a great place to live and the department seems like it's on the rise.

What would you have done differently? I have no regrets in terms of my application strategy. The only thing I regret is not deciding to pursue the PhD path sooner. I hadn't decided that I wanted to do economic research until last summer. Had I been set on pursuing a PhD earlier in my undergraduate career, I would have taken more math courses and focused on research internships rather than private sector internships. Overall, I'm happy with how this process turned out, thoroughly enjoyed my past four years, and am looking forward to the next five.

04-16-2014, 04:47 AM
Type of Undergrad: BS Management from large state school.
Undergrad GPA: 3.2
Type of Grad: ​MS Finance and Economics from small unknown regional state school
Grad GPA: 4.0
GRE: 162/158/4.0
Math Courses: Calc I-III(A,A,B) Linear Algebra (A), Diff Eq (C), Intro to Proofs(A), Intro Stats(C), Regressions(A)
Econ Courses: Intro Micro/Macro, Inter Micro, Adv Micro/Macro, Econometrics, Public Finance
Other Courses: Lots of finance and business classes
Letters of Recommendation: Solid letters but from non top 50 PhDs
Research Experience: Worked on a paper with a prof
Teaching Experience: Taught a few classes
Research Interests: Macro/monetary, public finance
SOP: Normal

Acceptances: CSU, GMU, CU-Boulder, UO($$), UW-Milwaukee($), UNM($)
Rejections: USC, UW, UCSC, UCI, GWU, UIC, UU
Attending: A finance PhD program
Comments: Towards the end of the application cycle I applied to one finance program. Randomly got accepted on April 15th. I probably prefer econ but I'm selling out and going for the money.

What would you have done differently? Figured out that I wanted to do a PhD while I was still in high school. Also, I should have retaken the GRE. Overall I'm happy with my results though.

04-16-2014, 05:11 AM
Type of Undergrad: US private top 50 economics department
Undergrad GPA: 3.53
Type of Grad: MA in economics at a top 50 economics department
Grad GPA: 4.0
GRE: 168Q, 166V, 4.5AW
Math Courses: Real Analysis (A), Probability and Statistics (A), Math for Economics (A), Computability Theory (A), PDE’s (B), ODE’s (B+), Mathematical Modeling (B+), Graph Theory (B-), Numerical Analysis (B), Topology (B), Linear Algebra (B), Multivar Calc (B)
Econ Courses (grad-level): Following at the master’s level: Microeconomics (A), Macroeconomics (A), Econometrics (A), Game Theory (A)
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Intro Micro (A), Intro Macro (A-), Intermediate Micro (B), Intermediate Macro (B+), Money and Banking (A-), Game Theory (A), Economics of Network Industries (A-), Econometrics (A-), Economics of Crime (A), Thesis (A-)
Other Courses:
Letters of Recommendation: I think that they all say pretty good things about me. Five econ professors, most schools will probably know at least 2 of them, though maybe not the same ones at each school.
Research Experience: Two years in economic consulting, no experience as an RA for a current professor
Teaching Experience:
Research Interests: Labor, Econometrics, Applied Micro
SOP: I very briefly describe why I wasn’t well-focused as an undergrad, and what I hoped to get out of academia that I wasn’t getting at my old job. Otherwise, just describing research interests and perceived fit with each school.
Concerns: My MA program is somewhat new, but I thought it was pretty solid preparation for PhD work and hope that it is perceived as such. Also, my undergraduate record is full of B’s in math courses.
Other: Was shut out from top 20 last year. Trying again after doing MA coursework.

Acceptances: UT Austin ($), UC Davis ($), UCLA (initially no first-year funding, revised to tuition and fee waiver)
Rejections: Yale, Columbia, Michigan, Brown, NYU, U Chicago, Wisconsin, Boston University, Duke, Cornell, UCSD
Attending: UCLA
Comments: I'm ecstatic about UCLA. It was one of the programs for which I had the best perceived fit, so perhaps that's why they took a chance on me rather than the dozen programs that rejected me. Perhaps showing interest in them after my admission helped me to eventually get first-year funding.

What would you have done differently? Having now read a lot of other people's SOPs, I can say that mine were extremely well tailored to the individual schools to which I applied. I looked at their faculty's cvs, their current JMCs' web pages, explored all of the research institutes and grant opportunities, etc. In the end, I don't think this ended up mattering a whole lot (although apparently I was pretty close on the margin). This process is sooo much easier if you just get good grades at an undergrad institution with a decent PhD program. It's a lot harder to compete on other margins. If I could go back, I would have taken that transfer admission to NYU, gotten involved in undergraduate research, and avoided any and all internships. I am extremely happy with what a one year MA has done for my results. I applied to mostly the same schools last year, and my result was an offer from UC Davis without first-year funding. Not to mention that the preparation ended up being a lot more helpful than I had expected.

04-16-2014, 05:58 AM
Type of Undergrad: Junior College + BA in Econ from a very large, nonprestigious public U without an MA program
Undergrad GPA: 3.23 Overall / 4.00 Econ / 3.75 Last 60 Units (Overall includes my disastrous performance in another major at another school before dropping out, going to JC and changing majors)
Type of Grad: MA at another very large, nonprestigious public U that did have an MA program
Grad GPA: 3.62 Econ / 3.27 Overall (because of a couple of unauthorized withdrawals during a family emergency – 3.58 if you don't count those)
GRE: 790 Q / 720 V / 5.0 AWA (Feb 2009)
Math Courses: Calculus I/II (AP,5/5), Calculus III (A-), Linear Algebra (B+), I ntro Differential Equations (A), Freshman Statistics (A), Probability (A), Mathematical Statistics (A), Stochastic Processes (B), Ordinary Differential Equations (A), Foundations of Higher Mathematics (A), Introduction to Mathematical Analysis I/II (A/A), Mathematical Optimization (F – dropped late)
Econ Courses (grad-level): Mathematical Economics (A), Advanced Micro/Macro (B/B), Econometrics I/II (A/A), Development (A), Transportation (A), Labor (A), Research Seminar in Applied Micro (B), Research Seminar in Development (B)
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Principles of Micro/Macro (A/A), Intermediate Micro/Macro (A/A), Money & Banking (A), International Trade&Finance (A), Public (A), Health (A), Interpretation of Economic Data (A), Principles of Econometrics (A)
Other Courses: Intro Financial Management (A), Investments (A), Risk Management (A)
Letters of Recommendation: One very enthusiastic letter from my Econometrics I professor detailing my teaching ability. One from my Econometrics II professor discussing my work with him as a research assistant developing functions in Stata that hadn't yet been built into the software. One from the advanced micro theory professor, whom I also TAed for.
Research Experience: Research seminars in Economic Development and Applied Micro (mostly labor). I don't think my papers were impressive at all, but I got the B grades necessary to pass the courses.
Teaching Experience: One semester in undergrad as a section-TA for Principles of Micro, did a few full-hall lectures as an MA student. Grading papers as an MA student. Helping my Metrics II professor switch his class from eViews to Stata by developing a couple of time series scripts for functions that hadn't yet been built into Stata. I'm currently a part-time tutor for high-school and college students.
Research Interests: Econometrics (Theory and Applied), Monetary, Finance, Labor and Public Finance. I'm especially interested in the effects of monetary stimulus on the relative profitability of different industries, and how that affects the relative prices and wages between industries, and which income groups benefit most from these changes.
SOP: Discussed my interests in the above fields that the program actually offers, and mentioned a few specific research ideas. Mentioned that the geographic locations of my chosen schools was especially appealing (midwestern/southern in smaller metro areas). Discussed why I left my last job -- it had nothing to do with my future career goals.
Concerns: Those B's in Graduate Micro/Macro and my research seminars are pretty damning, and despite my moderate GPA I do have several Fs and Ws on my transcripts. Also, Since I dropped out of a HS teaching credential program, I'm technically on academic probation at the last school I attended, even though it's unrelated to my economics goal. That alone may disqualify me automatically just according to university rules.
Other: I dropped out of college my first time around after making a series of very unwise decisions about how to spend my free time. I went back and performed very well in undergrad, finishing at the top of the department with a prize and everything. During graduate school, I had a family emergency that honestly should not have distracted me from my studies as much as it did – it impacted my research seminars and resulted in a couple of unauthorized withdrawals for a couple of elective classes. Thinking that my shot at a PhD program was gone, I left academic economics. I entered and dropped out of a HS math teacher credential program, deciding that teaching a captive audience wasn't really for me, finally ending up in my most recent position as a marketing analyst, which I also ended up leaving because it was a dead-end job irrelevant to my future career goals. My academic and professional record is thus a story of many mistakes and unfinished commitments, which makes my otherwise moderately decent-looking profile a real crapshot. Whatever happens, I'd rather get rejected from all of the 10 programs below than wonder what could have been.
Applying to: Kansas State, Kansas, Missouri, Texas A&M, Purdue, Indiana, Clemson, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Georgia

Acceptances: Kansas State ($$), North Carolina State (no funding)
Rejections: Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, Purdue, Texas A&M
Pending: Clemson, Indiana, North Carolina (no responses as of 22 April 2014)
Attending: Kansas State
Comments: I was hoping to be admitted into more than one program with funding, so it's KSU by default. My results aren't as high-falootin' as the relatively lofty goals I had set, but I'm pretty happy with the very generous offer I did get. Manhattan, KS looks like the kind of nice area I want to live in, and the DGS seems like a really nice guy. I did not visit since they have no official visiting day, and I had no other offers to merit an investigation. I never contacted the four remaining universities, figuring that if I have to ask they must not be that interested in me anyway. I want to attend a program where I can make a genuine contribution, and KSU seems to think I can do that. Besides, now I get to brag about living in a beautiful $650/mo 2-bedroom apartment on the west side of Manhattan.

What would you have done differently?
Pretty much everything:

I was a royal screwup when I first started college at the age of 18 at a fairly well-known university that happens to have a well-respected Econ PhD program. My original major was Physics, and I thought I was all hot stuff and that I didn't need to study after doing very well my first two quarters. I just partied and blew off my classes, eventually dropping out with a GPA of 2.7. I should have taken it more seriously the first time around, but c'est ma vie.
After returning to college at a local community college when I was 24, I did exceptionally well and scored awards every semester except for a single unauthorized withdrawal. I should have applied to transfer to UCLA and USC to finish my undergrad after that -- even if I were rejected, I wouldn't have to wonder what could have been had I earned a degree from a more prestigious program with higher expectations.
I would have taken more math while actually in my undergrad program instead of trying to squeeze it into my MA program later. I was in a hurry to graduate before my dad died, so I just took the BA and moved onto an MA program.
I would not have attended my particular MA program if I knew then what I know now about it. I went for free on a grant, and it was worth every penny -- any other MA program would likely have been a better choice.
Finally, I would have applied to more low-ranked and unranked PhD programs. Even though few low-level programs offer Econometrics and Monetary Theory as concentrations, there are other concentrations that I think I could have worked with at other lesser programs.

Anyway, the mistakes I've made in life have made me what I am today. None of my circumstances could really have changed without altering others, so speculation is pointless. People who know me say I'm a pretty decent guy with a sharp mind for economics, and I've accepted that I should just be satisfied with improving from my lowest lows rather than trying to outdo literally everybody in absolute terms. Besides, had I done very well without screwing up at first, I would have just graduated with a Physics degree and probably never have become interested in Econ as a career since I didn't really get interested until the housing market got ridiculously inflated in 2006-07.

04-18-2014, 09:36 PM
Type of Undergrad: Flagship State University. Ranked 80-100 (US NEWS). BBA in Finance. Minors in Econ, and Philosophy.
Undergrad GPA: 3.56 Cumulative. 3.89 Major. 3.96 Econ. 3.68 Math.
Type of Grad:
Grad GPA:
GRE: 156 VR /163 Q/ 4.0 A
Math Courses: Calculus I, II, III (B, A, A), Statistics I (A-), Linear Algebra (A)
Econ Courses (grad-level):
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Introductory Macro & Micro (A, A-), Intermediate Macro & Micro (A, A), Econometrics (A), Introduction to Political Economy (A), Emerging Market Economies (A)
Other Courses:Financial Engineering (A), International Finance (A), Advanced Investments (B), Investments (A), Info. Tech Finance (A)
Letters of Recommendation: One from research professor in Finance. One from research professor in Economics. One from research internship at think tank.
Research Experience: Summer internship at think tank.
Teaching Experience: Tutored elementary school children through college.
Research Interests: International Trade, Development, Econometrics
SOP: Eh. Couldn't get a feel for it. I think its alright.
Concerns: No Diff EQ, or Real Analysis. Cumulative GPA could be hire.
Applying to: Boston College, UNC - Chapel Hill, CU - Boulder, UC - Santa Cruz, Univ. of Oregon, UMass - Amherst

Acceptances: UNC, Oregon, Colorado
Rejections: Boston College, UCSC, CEMFI, UMass Amherst
Attending: UNC
Comments: I think I did reasonably well. UNC or Boston College were the best schools I applied to. I'm happy to have been accepted into one of them.

What would you have done differently? If I could have afforded another semester of undergrad I would of taken more math. Unofrtunately by the time I realized I wanted to pursue a PhD, I only had v. few electives left, and needed to take 2 summer classes to get linear algebra in. Also, I would have applied to at least 4 more schools. I did not realize how unpredictable admissions could be. At the beginning, I only thought I would get into my alma-mater UMass, who rejected me. So I was surprised to have been accepted to 3 schools better than UMass.

04-20-2014, 04:01 PM
Type of Undergrad: BA in physics from top 20 liberal arts in US
Undergrad GPA: 3.44
Type of Grad: M.Sc. in Economics of Public Policy
Grad GPA: 8.4/10
GRE: 161V, 164Q, 4.0AW
Math Courses: Calc I-III, Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, Partial Differential Equations
Econ Courses (grad-level): Micro, Macro, Econometrics, Information Economics, Game Theory
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): History of Thought, Japanese Economic History, Money and Banking Thesis Seminar
Letters of Recommendation: should be good, my two undergraduate advisors, one in political science, one in physics, and my graduate director who is fairly well known.
Research Experience: None
Teaching Experience: 2 semesters as teaching assistant for physics courses
Research Interests: Price Theory, IO, Market Process Theory, Political Economy
SOP: Tried to highlight how my odd background and discovery of interest in economics will prepare me for PhD. Emphasized my year of programming experience in the private sector, but mostly focused on my interests.
Concerns: Most things, but mostly my GPA. My physics program was quite difficult and I was in the top view, but I attended a small college that many people don't know. Hope my letter of recommendation can convey this.
Other: I would absolutely love going to George Mason and felt safe with my chances so I took some other huge gambles. Probably not advised for other people who aren't as happy with their "safety" school (I would never consider getting to go to George Mason as going to a safety school).
Acceptances: Minnesota ($$), Davis (0), George Mason ($), Boulder (0)
Rejections: Berkeley, CalTech, Chicago, Duke, Harvard, Harvard Political Economy, Maryland, Michigan, MIT, Northwestern, NYU, Princeton, Rochester, Stanford, Stanford GSB, UCLA, Yale
Attending: Minnesota
Comments: I applied to a bunch of schools that were long shots. However, I only needed one.

What would you have done differently? I knew I wanted to study economics only after my undergrad, so it is hard to say I would have done anything their differently. Of course, I would have taken more math and econ courses. Since I've known what I wanted to do I wouldn't change much. I went to Barcelona GSE to get a better placement and I got one. It worked out as I hoped. If anything, I would have maybe taken the GRE again.

04-20-2014, 07:42 PM
Type of Undergrad: Public University rank 200s (US News) triple majors in Economics, Math & Construction Management
Undergrad GPA: 3.94/4.0
Type of Grad: N/A
Grad GPA: N/A
GRE: V148,Q164, AW3
Math Courses: Cal I,II &III (A's), Matrices & Linear Algebra (A), Advanced Calc of One Variable (A), Elements of Stat I (A), Prob & Stat I (A), will take Advanced Calc of Several Variables, Differential Equations, Abstract Algebra, Vector Calculus, Pro & Stat II next spring
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Intro Micro & Macro (A's), Intermediate Micro (A), Intermediate Macro (A), Econometrics (A), Industrial Organization (A), International Economics (A), Managerial Economics (A), Busn & Econ Forecasting (A), Mathematical Economics (A)
Other Courses: Engineering Economics (A), other engineering analysis courses
Letters of Recommendation: 2 Associate Professor UIUC PhD (international economics)- excellent; 1 Professor Iowa PhD (macroeconomics) - good; 1 Associate Professor Havard PhD math (analysis)-good
Research Experience: 1+ years research assistant for NC Department of Transportation research projects to improve their Pavement Management System using cost-benefit analysis, senior project in math (evaluate sensitivity of Central Limit Theorem to heavy-tailed distribution), do research to extend dynamic trade model under supervision of a letter of recommendation writer
Teaching Experience: N/A
Research Interests: International Trade & Development, Monetary Econ, Applied Econometrics
SOP: mediocre, want to do research for development projects in third world countries
Concerns: Low GRE verbal, low school rank, no graduate coursework
Applying to: Cornell, PennSt, UVA, UNC, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Kentucky, SMU, Clemson

Acceptances: Clemson (wl-$), Kentucky (?), SMU ($)
Rejections: Cornell, PennSt, UVA, UNC, Georgetown, Notre Dame
Attending: SMU (Southern Methodist University)
Comment: I am quite disappointed with admission results. However, the results seem to be consistent to me. I think my GRE scores, SOP hurt my application the most. SMU is not well-known school, but their econ department has good connection with Dallas Fed. They have also placed students into World Bank, which is my dream workplace. I am glad to go SMU this fall.

What would you have done differently?
1. If I could choose again, I would transfer to better school no matter what. Giving my high GPA first two years in college, I had opportunities to transfer to better schools such as UNC, Wake Forest, but I chose to stay because I didnt want to give up my construction major. I definitely see the opportunity cost now. In my case, construction degree in my current school vs econ degree from better reputation school.
2. Taking math courses early. I waited until class year to begin to take Calculus II. Although it only take me one full year to finish calculus, prob & stat, real analysis sequels, the lack of grades from these course (cal IV, prob & stat II, real analysis II) in this semester seems to hurt me.
3. Retake GRE. The new GRE option allows us to show only our most satisfied scores, so it is no harm to retake as many times as you can. I only took once because of my busy schedule last semester. I would retake it even in Christmas season.
4. Write SOP early. I waited until late November to start write SOP, so I did not have many chances to revise it.
5. Request one letter from a professor you know the best. I know exactly one professor that write the best letter for me. Unfortunately, he is Civil Professor from UIUC, so I did not ask him to write. If I reapplied again, I would ask him to write at least 1/3 of the programs I applied. Sometimes professors from different disciplines can show your strength in different points of view.

04-21-2014, 01:42 PM
Type of Undergrad: Double major in Econ and math at State University rank top 30 (usnews)
Undergrad GPA: 3.5
Type of Grad: MA Econ at the Same school
Grad GPA:3.9
GRE: 700V, 800Q,3W

Math Courses: Cal I II III, Differential equation(A), Partial Differential Equation(B), Intro Real Analysis(A-), Numerical Analysis(A), Discrete Optimization(A), Probability(A-), Stochastic Process(A), Topology(B-)
Econ Courses: (Undergrad) Intro micro, macro, intermediate micro, macro, IO, Labor, Economics seminar, International trade,Econometrics,Time series. (Grad) Microeconomics theory I III (Both A), Advanced Econometrics(A+), Applied Macroeconomics(A)
Other Courses: Statistical modeling(A)
Letters of Recommendation:Two top5% ideas professors, one assistant professor with Harvard PhD
Research Experience: One year RA for behavior, eight months RA for Health economics. One independent research class.
Teaching Experience:Tutor only
Research Interests:Labor, Behavior, International Finance
Applying to:Harvard, MIT,Princeton, Chicago, Berkeley,Yale, Columbia, NYU, Northwestern, UCLA, Michigan, Michigan Ross (Finance PhD), Duke, Cornell, CMU,UCSD, Maryland, Penn State, WUSTL, UT Austin, BU

Acceptances: Cornell($$), Maryland($$), Michigan Finance($$$) (received after April 15th)
Rejections:The rest 18 schools
Attending: Cornell!
1.The Michigan Finance PhD acceptance came after April 15th when I had already accepted the offer from Cornell... I wish if it would come before April 15 since I don't want to break my promise to Cornell and I have convinced myself to go there already.
2. Connection matters a great deal which usually is shown in your recommendation letters. One of my recommenders was a professor at Maryland. One of the professors at our project is an associate professor at Cornell. I have personal interaction with a finance professor at Ross.

What would you have done differently?
1. Don't screw my UGPA. I never thought about doing a Econ PhD until I was the second semester in junior year, so my UGPA was pretty much screwed up at that time. The downside for this is I probably get cut at the first screening on the UGPA. They usually assume the grad GPA is inflated so my grad GPA did not help much.
2. Retake GRE to boost my AW score.

04-29-2014, 03:04 AM
Profile: (Note~I'm too lazy to update this with Fall 2013 grades, but about half the programs I applied to only saw these grades so take it as you will)
Type of Undergrad: Economics and Statistics with Math Minor from Unranked Econ Dept at Large Flagship University in Southeast
Undergrad GPA: 4.00
Type of Grad: N/A
Grad GPA: N/A
GRE: 162V, 162Q, 4.5W
Math Courses: Calculus III (A), Diff Eq (Current), Matrix Algebra (A), Intro to Abstract Math (A), Probability and Statistics (A), Analysis (Current), Probability (Current)
Econ Courses (grad-level): N/A
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Intro to Economics (A), Intermediate Micro (A), Econometrics (A), Issues in Micro Policy (Study Abroad so no grade on transcript), Managerial Economics (Study Abroad), Industrial Organization (A), Intro to Math Econ (A), Independent Study in Transportation Economics (Current), Public Finance: Taxation (Next Semester), Elements of Forecasting (Next Semester)
Other Courses: Regression Modeling (A), Statistical Methods (A), Time Series Forecasting (A), Process Improvement (Next Semester)
Letters of Recommendation: A research professor in transportation economics (PhD from my university) who I have worked with for a couple years on some regulatory issues as well as a local planning project; a Statistics professor (Texas A&M) whom I took the Stat Methods and Forecasting classes from as well as serving as a TA for his Stat Methods course currently; Economics professor (PhD from WashU) at Top 50 program in DC whom I spent last summer doing research with
Research Experience: I worked with aforementioned economics professor on transport regulatory issues and I spent last summer in DC primarily writing a case study on a telecommunications firm for an economics professor at another university’s public policy center
Teaching Experience: I am currently TA-ing for a senior level statistics course, but it’s really an office hours and grading gig
Research Interests: Applied Micro (Particularly transportation), empirical IO, possibly public economics
SOP: I haven’t started writing yet…
Concerns: GRE scores; no LoRs from prestigious programs; GPA might not be as stellar after analysis this semester
Other: I feel a little late in making the decision that I want to apply to graduate school in economics as I spent the last year mixed between urban planning, statistics, and economics.
Applying to: Michigan, Maryland, Boston U, Boston College, Toronto, Michigan State, Virginia, Colorado-Boulder, UC Irvine, Syracuse, Texas A&M, Brown, Vanderbilt

Acceptances: Texas A&M (no $), UC Boulder ($), UC Irvine ($), Virginia (from waitlist) ($), Michigan State (from waitlist) ($), Syracuse ($)
Waitlist: Vanderbilt (Withdrew), Boston U
Rejections: Michigan, Brown, Toronto, Maryland (from waitlist), Boston College (from waitlist)
Attending: Virginia!!!

1. This process is terrible, but it worked out rather nicely at the 11th hour.
2. In retrospect, I think I did a good job with target programs.
3. Vandy apparently doesn't sound out rejections or waitlists even if you call / email ask for an update a few days before the deadline.

What would I have done differently?
1. Probably not applied to Brown, Syracuse; should have applied to UNC Chapel Hill
2. Used a 4th rec. writer for some better LOR targeting.

04-29-2014, 05:22 PM
Type of Undergrad: Math/Econ doubler major at Beloit College, year abroad at LSE
Undergrad GPA:3.9
GRE: Q168 V159 AWA4.0
Math Courses: Calc II (A) Linear Algebra (B+) Abstract Algebra (A) Real analysis (A) Topology (A) Differential Equations (A) Discrete Wavelets (A) Vector Calc (A) Colloquium (B+) Game Theory @ LSE (A) Math Modeling (A)
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Principles (A) Micro (A) Entrepreneurship (A-) Macro (A) Game Theory (A) Money and Banking (A) Quant. Methods (B+) Principles of Finance @ LSE (A) Social Science Research Methods @ LSE (A-) Operational Research Methods @ LSE (A) Senior Seminar (A)
Other Courses: Intro to Physics (A), Intro to CompSci (A)
Letters of Recommendation: Yale PhD, WV PhD, LSE PhD, Cornell PhD (math)
Research Experience: Ronald E. McNair Scholar (2 summers faculty-mentored), Analyst for student-run market research firm, Editor for undergraduate research journal, 2 capstone projects including work with a professor
Teaching Experience: Environmental Modeling TA, Metrics TA, Semester of economics tutor, 3 semesters of high school mathematics tutoring
Research Interests: Micro Theory, Game Theory, Mechanism and Market Design
SOP: First generation college student/low income background

Acceptances: Northwestern
Attending: Northwestern
Comments: Overall, I'm happy, although it was stressful seeing all of the other rejections before my acceptance. I feel like I really beat the odds here, given my family's background and my undergrad institution. My backup plan was pretty solid, as I have a summer RAship lined up at the University of Chicago's Becker Friedman Institute and will be teaching micro/macro for a month in China.

What would you have done differently? I wish I would have went to a better undergrad institution, which isn't unreasonable given my waitlist at Princeton during the undergrad application process. However, it would have large marginal gain in reputation and/or the transfer of already earned credits to incentivize me to give up a year of academic standing earned in high school.

nontrad dreams
05-02-2014, 08:18 PM
Type of Undergrad: BA - econ, minor in mathematics at PhD granting state school (R1) circa 60 ranking.

Undergrad GPA: 3.43 overall (did poorly many years prior to going back), Institution: 3.77, Econ 3.89
Type of Grad: -
Grad GPA: -
GRE: v: 166, q: 161, a: 5.0
Math Courses: Calc sequence (A, B, B), Intro to advanced math (A), Applied linear algebra (A), Real Analysis (B)
Econ Courses (grad-level): -
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Micro and macro principles courses, Micro and macro intermediate, Statistics for Econ, Econometrics, Behavioral Econ, Economics of Education, Economic Demography, two semesters of Independent Study. All As except Int. macro (B).
Other Courses: grad level math/stats: Intro to Game Theory (A), Intro to Probability (A)

Letters of Recommendation: 1) Prof at alma mater, relatively bigwig in applied micro, supervised my Honors thesis, RA for current research. 2) Another prof at my school, well published and active researcher in health econ, mentor. 3) Associate Professor at Brown. RAed remotely for study. 4) Professor at my school in Urban Planning / Public Affairs, Cornell policy grad, pretty well published in field (infrastructure policy), wrote an honors paper for.

Research Experience: two studies (see LORs above). Built databases for both from collection of disparate data sources. One was archival data source from 19th century and required significant research using primary archival sources to make sense of. Other is educational subfield related and my Honors thesis is confluent with this work. Have done a good deal of thinking for this one too in additional to collating data.

Teaching Experience: none

Research Interests: Education, early childhood development, economic demography

SOP: Outlined my unusual story (older, returned to school from unrelated career three years ago, have a family, etc) my research experience and my research interests. Both apps done so far clocked in at 800 and 1000 words, so parsimony is the order of the day so far.

Concerns: Unusual background. Old enough to be a full professor if I'd started young. Has appeared to be an asset in UG work but hope that holds up. Crappy quant score. Applying to mostly policy-ish programs, so maybe I will be slightly more competitive there.

Other: I am taking the high risk path of only applying to 5 schools due to severe family-related options geographically (i.e. moving is subject to spousal approval). Three policy or policy-ish programs and two Econ programs. One is my UG alma mater, this is my safety as I have been reassured that admission is not an issue. Feel good about my LORs and am hopeful that they will counteract my low-ish quant score a bit.

Applying to: UIC - Econ, UT-Austin - Econ, UC Harris School of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of PP, Northwestern Univ. Human Development and Social Policy PhD

Acceptances: UIC - Econ (university fellowship), UT (standard funded offer off the waitlist)
Rejections: UC Harris, Harvard Kennedy, NWU HDSP
Attending: UIC - Econ

Comments: I guess I was meant to be in a pure Econ program. I thought I would be a weaker candidate there but those were my only admissions. Pretty pleased to have two choices given that they equal 40% of my applications. Ultimately I had to stay close to home for a lot of life reasons and getting a generous fellowship didn't hurt. My school is considerably lower in ranking than UT but I am looking at some very significant opportunities to coauthor by staying put that I think will mitigate the hit from the rankings diff. Also will probably be easier to get a real a strong job market push from the handful of very high quality profs here than it might be in a more crowded field of strong candidates at UT. Still a little bummed though. I am a former Texan pining to go home.

What would you have done differently? Started a decade sooner? I guess I started as soon as I knew I wanted to do this this, so that is kind of pointless to regret. The timing of my daughter's birth coat me a B in Calc III (not that she wasn't worth it!). Couldn't have done much better in Analysis while working and raising a kid. My GRE quant score was a drag. Took it twice and the first time (posted) was better. Ultimately though, I am VERY pleased that I concentrated on making the most of some great RA opportunities as they got me what I think were some pretty great letters and I think those outweighed the GRE and the rest, especially judging by some others posting on here with low GRE quant and good results.

I am really excited to keep studying. As an older adult, I feel that it is a tremendous privilege to be able to study something I love and get paid reasonably well to do so. Thanks to all for the community here.

05-05-2014, 10:40 AM
Was aiming for a Master's to possibly pave the way for a PhD. I though similar profiles might find it useful.

Type of Undergrad: Econ Major, non-US (turkey)
Undergrad GPA: 3.27
Type of Grad: n/a
Grad GPA: n/a
GRE: 158v/162q/4awa
Math Courses: Calculus I-II, Linear Algebra, Mathematical Economics
Econ Courses: Micro& Macro sequences, Econometrics I-II, Statistics I-II, International Economics I-II, Public Finance, Monetary Theory and Policy, History of Economic Thought, Game Theory, Economics of Uncertainty and Information... list goes on
Other Courses: nothing relevant, not really a flexible curriculum anyways. Minor in History of art and architecture, lots of language courses (Latin, French, Chinese). Courses in French from my study abroad semester.
Letters of Recommendation: 1 from my thesis advisor/Int. Econ prof, 1 from Game Theory/Uncertainty prof.
Research Experience: Undergrad thesis + 1 summer at a math-based game theory project
Teaching Experience: TA for Int. Econ this semester, wasn't available during my applications
Research Interests: International macro, game theory
SOP: Well this was tricky. Gradually improved it but I think the first ones I wrote were not good at all, the last one was the best.
Other: Lots to worry about - low grades in both math and econ courses from first two years, many of which I had to retake. also had to study for a fifth year because of six courses being linked to each other and my department not offering summer school.

Acceptances: BGSE Macro Policy, Tilburg MSc, Bocconi ESS
Waitlists: -
Rejections: UCL, BGSE Economics
Pending: MEDEG Erasmus Mundus
Attending: BGSE (95% certainty)
Comments: None of this is funded, possibility of finding outside funding.

What would you have done differently?

Thought about what I want to do after university earlier and not flunked the 20 courses I took in the first two years if I could go way back. If there is anyone out there reading this at the moment who is in their 1st and 2nd year, I'd suggest you really study and get As from now on. It is not hard to do but impossible if you do not attend any of your classes - which seems like a no brainer but a fact I realized so late. I think it is a wise idea to talk to upperclassmen. Talk to seniors and your assistants and your professors. At 18, I did not have a care in the world really. My university was free, there was no attendance, who cared if I got an F, I could always retake it, right? Wrong. Transcripts sometimes speak louder than words and I think grad school might be one of those instances.

And also read the regulations on courses the first day you get in. Really. It will save you copious amounts of confusion, discussion with uneducated staff etc. I think this might be different in other countries but noone tells you this stuff here.

Realistically though, could have worked harder on my SOP, the first ones I sent (UCL and BGSE) were not good at all. Could have taken GRE while I was not studying abroad, which left me no time to study. Still, I am very pleased with my results. Would have been great if I got into all of them but had a very hard time choosing as is, so it's a good thing that I did not have the London option.

05-11-2014, 06:16 PM
Type of Undergrad: BSc Economics at a top Economics university in Europe (globally ranked in the 25-50 range)
Undergrad GPA: 3.5
Type of Grad: MSc Economics at the same university and MA Economics at a Canadian University (100-200 range)
Grad GPA: 3.45 (MSc) and 3.9 (MA)
GRE: Q170 V154 W5.0
Math Courses (all from an econ department, so no pure math): Math 1 (A, linear algebra), Math 2 (A, matrix algebra / game theory), Stats 1 (A, probability), Stats 2 (A, basically an intro econometrics)
Econ Courses (grad-level Europe): Public Econ (B-), Methods (A, Math/Econometrics), Financial Econ (B+), Financial Markets (B+), Labor (B+), Taxation (B+), Master Thesis (B+)
Econ Courses (grad-level Canada): Micro 1 (B+), Micro 2 (A+), Macro 1 (A-), Macro 2 (A+), Health (A), Environmental (A+), Econometrics 1 (A), Econometrics 2 (A), Master Thesis (A)
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): A lot, with grades usually A or B. My final year grades are slightly lower because of a fulltime job during that year, which I explain in my letter. As for my final year courses: IO (C+), Growth Theory (A-), Behavioral Econ (A), International Econ (B+), Economic Policy (B), Bachelor Thesis (B+), Labor (A-), Ethics (D)
Other Courses: Accounting 1 (A+), Accounting 2 (B+), Finance 1 (A), Finance 2(A), M&A (B), Portfolio Theory (A), English (B+), Chinese 1 (A+)
Letters of Recommendation: One from the prof in the PhD macro course in Canada, and one from supervisors for my thesis in Europe (ageing/macro) and Canada (health)
Research Experience: Worked as a research assistant for half a year in Canada, and by now I wrote a thesis 3 times and a minor (course) paper 5 times. Also, I am currently completing an internship at the national statistics office (however, for most of US/Canada applications, this was not known yet and was thus not included in my application)
Teaching Experience: Teaching Assistant in Intermediate Macro (0.5 years), Tutor in first-year macro (0.5 years)
Research Interests: Macro, Empirical Micro (especially Health)
SOP: My SOP focused on explaining my recent path (as I have two master degrees in Economics), and the reason why I basically have no math courses. Also, about half of the SOP was tailored to the specific university, in order to explain my reason for applying to that specific program.
Acceptances: WVU ($), Tilburg ($, off waitlist), UC3M ($)
Waitlists: -
Rejections: BU, Cornell, Duke, Toronto, Queens
Pending: Bonn, Mannheim
Attending: Tilburg (MRes)
Comments: I would have loved to go back to Canada, so in some way I am slightly disappointed about the results. However, Tilburg is a very good university, and I am very happy to be admitted there. In the end, the most difficult choice for me was between Tilburg and UC3M. Eventually, it was the language barrier (which I perceive to be quite substantial in Madrid, outside of the classes of course) that gave me the final push, though I already leaned towards Tilburg because I perceive the fit to be better there. Applying to the German universities turned out to be a waste of time, as none of them were able to reach a decision before the reply deadline for Tilburg (even though Bonn specifically states on their website that they will make early decisions when presented with an offer from another program)

What would you have done differently? I failed to take into account the disadvantage international students tend to have when applying to universities in North America (especially those in Canada). Given my preference for Canada, I probably should have applied to some lower ranked programs there (some actually had quite a decent fit with my research interests). Now, the lower ranked US program I applied to (WVU) was partly because there was not much choice left (though I would have been happy to attend if I would not have gotten any of the two other offers). As for the German universities I mentioned above, I would probably not have applied to Bonn and completed the Mannheim application before the early deadline.

05-12-2014, 04:09 AM

Undergrad: Mathematical Economics from a Canadian university known predominantly for Engineering & Math (top30 for math)
Undergrad GPA: 79%/B+ cumulative, 82%/A- economics courses, 78%/B+ math courses, ~85%/A average in the 3rd/4th year micro/macro/metrics courses
Econ courses: Intermediate Macro I/II/III (84/86/87 - A-/A/A), Intermediate Micro I/II/III (77/84/83 - B+/A-/A-), Econometrics (76 - B), other econ electives are mostly around ~80%/A-.
Math courses: Calc I/II/III (84/82/82 - A-/A-/A-), Lin Alg I/II (77/77 - B+/B+), Probability theory (75 - B), Intro to optimization (74 - B), Regression & Forecasting (85 - A), Diff Equations (66 - C), and other unrelated/low-level courses
LORs: From my macro II/III professors, ranked 8/60 and 5/28 in those classes. And also from micro III, most published faculty in department but only was about top 1/3 of class
Research/Teaching: N/A
Applying to: Waterloo, UWO, Carleton, McMaster, Queens, UBC, SFU


Acceptances: Waterloo ($), Carleton ($), McMaster ($), SFU ($), UBC (no $)
Waitlisted: -
Rejections: UWO, Queens
Attending: UBC
Comments: Honestly knew UWO was a long shot, but thought UBC would also be another rejection. But both of my strong letter writers have ties to UBC (including ex-faculty) so I'm thinking that really saved my application since I know just looking at my marks it's simply not a competitive application to UBC. Queens was a little surprising, I knew it was still a reach school for my application, but I thought given my letters and semi-decent grades I would have received an offer. The other schools were all relatively safe bets save for SFU, that offer came the latest out of the bunch. All acceptances except for UBC were funded, not first round max funding but still a decent amount.

What would you have done differently?

Other than the usual "should've tried harder", I really should have taken more honours math level math courses. Took some at the math major level, but took some at the non-specialist level (for science majors, etc.). Could've taken real analysis but simply chose not to, and in retrospect if I knew everything I know now from reading this board, I would've taken it and applied to some US programs even if my undergrad is from a relatively unknown school for economics. But all in all, other than no funding, got into one of the top 2 MA programs in the country so can't complain. Not sure whether I will be pursuing a PhD afterwards, but I should have a good idea not too long after starting in the fall.

05-24-2014, 07:53 PM
Type of Undergrad: BA in Business Economics low-ranked UK university
Undergrad GPA: Upper second class honours (2:1)
Type of Grad: MSc in Business Management at low-ranked British university & MSc in Behavioural Economics at a top-6 UK department
Grad GPA: High Merit for both
GRE: 166Q/158V/4.5
Econ Courses (grad-level): Micro (B+) Macro (A+), Metrics (B+), Econ Data analysis (A-), Time series metrics (B+), Adv. Micro (B+), Behavioural econ (A+), Experimental econ (B+), Econ Research Methodology (A-), Thesis (A-)
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Business economics (A), Intermediate Macroeconomics (A), Japanese Economy (B+), Chinese Economy (C+), EU Economy (B), Managing the Economy (B-), Business Environment [principles of economics] (A), Thesis (A+)
Other Courses: business modules (marketing, hr, strategy, finance etc.)
Letters of Recommendation: 1 from MSc thesis advisor, good but not amazing either (D. Phil Oxford), 1 from Micro professor, decent but nothing fancy (PhD Tilburg), 1 from experimental professor, good I suppose as she seemed very enthusiastic, but I didn’t know her so well (PhD Erfurt University)
Research Experience: Small research paper for a class; one experimental paper where I had to design and conduct the experiments myself; BA and MSc theses, the latter was an experiment I designed and ran myself
Teaching Experience: None
Research Interests: behavioural, experimental, macroeconomics
SOP: Interest in economics, teaching, doing research. Some bits about how the targeted school would allow me to achieve those goals, etc. (standard in a way) / for the German ones which also asked a Cover Letter I described how their programme (the structure and the coursework) could help me complement and support my training and future career.
Concerns: coming from the UK and given my applied econ bachelor, there are hardly any math class (in fact none in the traditional sense), but the econ classes in my MSc were very maths-oriented: Time series was proof-based and Micro/macro/metrics were all intensively maths-based. Also my undergrad is terrible, which is because I was a lazy undergrad. Thankfully my MSc somewhat mitigates that, but I’m painfully aware that this will stick in adcoms’ minds, and even then it’s not flawless
Applying to: NYU Stern, UCSD, UCSB, BU, GMU, USC, Virginia, Chicago, UT Austin, Caltech, Bonn GSE, Munich GSE, EUR (Tinbergen Institute), Mannheim CDSE, Frankfurt GSEFM, Barcelona GSE (MSc)


Acceptances: Frankfurt GSEFM (high chances for 2nd year onward), Barcelona GSE (-)
Pending: Mannheim CDSE, EUR, Munich GSE (selected for interview but declined)
Rejections: all 10 US, Bonn GSE
Attending: Frankfurt GSEFM
Comments? I seriously did not expect to get nothing at all from the US. I guess the combination of weak letters, an average profile overall definitely held me down.

What would you have done differently?

Worked harder in undergrad to get into a better MSc? ŰO I was a bit down after the initial batch of rejections from the US, and I definitely should not have put all my faith on these schools. I not only should have applied to a wider selection of universities (e.g. UC Irvine, OSU, Texas A&M, etc.), but I should have bet more (and earlier) on European universities. My late realisation that I might not make it into a US programme nearly nuked all chances of enrolling into a PhD at all this year. I should have considered UK, French and Dutch universities more and sent applications to all those schools much earlier. Also should have spent more time familiarising myself with faculty between classes. All in all I’m not disappointed, professionally Frankfurt might actually be the best choice for me (their placement over the past 3 years is exemplary) and it gives me the opportunity to live in Germany which I always wanted, and besides financial aid is more than probable from Year 2 onward, and even during the first year if I’m a bit lucky.

06-04-2014, 04:22 PM
Type of Undergrad: BS in Econ and Math, Big Ten U, Top 50-60 Econ Dept
Undergrad GPA: 4.00
Type of Grad: N/A
Grad GPA: N/A
GRE: 164Q, 164V, 4.5AW (took it twice, these are my second-round scores)
Math Courses (undergrad): Calc I, II, III, Linear Algebra, (all A's), Math Stat I (B+) Math Stat II (A), Intro. Real Analysis (B)
Econ Courses (undergrad): Intermediate Micro and Macro (both A+), IO (A+), Labor Econ, Game Theory, Public Finance, Information Econ (all A's)
Other Courses: Some econ-related Poli Sci classes
Letters of Recommendation: 1 from tenured Professor with endowed chair (Labor Econ prof), 1 from Assistant Professor recently denied tenure (Game Theory & Information Econ prof), 1 from Visiting Assistant Professor (IO and Public Finance prof, know them very well)
Research Experience: None at time of application
Teaching Experience: Private tutor for a lot of econ classes
Research Interests: IO
SOP: Standardish, but emphasis on IO research ideas, coursework performance, and tried to sell teaching/tutoring ability

Acceptances: UW-Madison ($$), Iowa ($$)
Waitlists: Virginia
Rejections: Stanford, Northwestern, UC-Berkeley, Michigan, UCLA, Boston U
Pending: Michigan State (withdrew app after being accepted elsewhere)
Attending: UW-Madison
Comments: The decision was a no-brainer. But, as I'll explain below, I feel I got a little lucky.

What would you have done differently?
As a result of taking some college-credit classes while in high school, I decided to finish undergrad in 3 years. Although I had been encouraged to apply for a Masters/PhD by a few mentors, as of the summer before my senior year, I was set on the workforce. But after a distasteful experience in the private sector that summer, in August I decided, "Why not, I'll go for my PhD and avoid those "what-ifs" and the idiots in the business world, at least for a while." When I told my closest advisor about this decision, they recommended I stay and do another year of undergrad. I thought that advice was silly, why spend another year stuck in the same place, going deeper into debt? But looking back, they were probably right. If I had stayed another year in at my undergrad institution, I would have taken more undergraduate-level math, some grad econ classes, written an honors thesis, done more research-assistant work, and enjoyed another year with the student org I came to love. If I had done that, I think my profile would have been much stronger, would have better letters of recommendation and I may have gotten into more programs. I also should have taken the GRE the summer before I applied so I would have more time to review before retaking it. I also think I should have applied to more programs that are similar to UW-Madison, like Cornell and Minnesota. Looking at other profiles, I think I got lucky at UW-Madison, probably thanks to my first letter writer.