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iamelben
02-08-2015, 10:52 PM
Howdy folks,

Not sure how common or uncommon this is, but I'm actually a psych undergrad looking to apply to behavioral/experimental economics programs. I'll start my (second) senior year (dat 5 year plan, tho :stupid:) in the fall, so these are the classes I will complete by the time I graduate. A word before I even start, this isn't your typical: "Oh, I'm in a top-ranked program with perfect grades and a PhD in math, do you think I have a change?" request for a profile eval. I'm coming up on my last year of undergrad, and I need to start thinking critically about my application.

PROFILE:

Type of Undergrad: Unranked state school (borderline community college) with no econ program. Community/Organizational Psych Major, double minor in math and econ

Undergrad GPA:3.76 (econ GPA 4.0, Math GPA 3.6)

GRE: Not yet, but I'm nailing practice tests pretty well with ~167 Quant. Not even worrying about verbal right now.

Undergrad math courses: Calc I and II, Discrete Math I, Linear Algebra, & Probability and Stats.

Undergrad econ courses: Principles of Macro, Principles of Micro, Intermediate Macro, International Econ, Econ of Work and Pay (Labor)

Programming: proficient in SPSS (social sciences stats) and r (self-taught/Coursera).

Classes taken before applying: Intermediate Micro, Calc III, Discrete Math II, and Differential Equations

Research background (psych): 1 publication in an undergraduate psychology journal (1st author), accepted/pending publication. 2 poster sessions at regional conference (different research than published), 1 paper presentation (the research I published) at regional conference. [I should note that almost all my research is informed by and cites existing behavioral econ literature in addition to psychological literature.] Research assistant to two different profs (both published, relatively well-regarded in their fields: social psych and health psych) TA for the Research Methods and Stats course.

Letters of Rec: One of the hugest benefits of being at a small school are the really RICH relationships that you develop with the professors. Glowing recommendations won't be a problem. Both econ and psych professors have offered to help. Even the president of the college has offered, but he likely wouldn't be very useful at signaling my strength as a researcher.

Research Interest: Behavioral Econ and Cognitive Economics, Experimental Econ, Macroecon.

Biggest concerns: I'm concerned my completely unknown school/letter-writers will affect my chances. Also, I'm concerned that my lack of Real Analysis will be a negative signal. Further, as a dirt poor first-gen college student, I don't have a lot of family support. If I can't nail funding, I don't know that I can afford a PhD. Also, I'm 30. I went back to school at 25 after years of working dead in jobs. I'm worried about being "the old guy."

On the bright side: I've got a killer background in psych to really back up my behavioral interests. I've got a ton of lab/experimental design experience under my belt as well. I have fantastic grades in econ, pretty good grades in math, and a great relationship with my professors. I'm not sure what this proves, but for the past four (coming up on five years), I've worked two jobs to put myself through school, and managed to keep magna cum laude level grades. I might not always be the smartest person in the room, but I more than make up for it in sweat equity.

What do you think? Do I have a chance at getting into a program with funding? I likely have hopelessly high expectations, but I've been looking at the following schools (mainly the professors referenced) Michigan (Kimball), UCSD (Andreoni), Texas A&M (Eckel), Ohio (Coffman), UC Irvine (Duffy), and some lower-tiered schools are my more realistic choices as well: Ga State (Ferarro), and Clemson (Smyth). For what it's worth, I've been accepted to the MSc program at Warwick in the UK already, but I had to defer because I can't afford it (hence the 5th year at my super-cheap local school spent beefing up my maths)

Be real with me. Do I need to set my expectations lower?

P.S.: Reading back over this, I feel like it comes across as if I'm poor-mouthing. I'm not trying to illicit sympathy by bringing up my financial situation. It just is what it is.

Econhead
02-08-2015, 11:37 PM
Others that have more experience with more profiles can hopefully offer better advise (or confirm this post), but it seems to me like Ohio State should be your furthest reach. You should apply wide-OSU (reach) up through GA State (safety).

I would expect that you'd get an admit from GA state and clemson. Irvine might be an appropriate target.

One of yor challenges is that you don't want to come off as a psych kid who fancy's econ. You want to come off as an econ kid that believes in the credibility of psych's ability to more accurately depict economic modeling.

Your psychology background will probably be largely discounted at most schools (especially as you move up the ranks to places like OSU), although perhaps less so at someplace like GA state.

Off the top of my head, I'd assume you'd want to check out: OSU, U Arizona, PITT, UCSB, UCSC, UC-Irvine, UC-Riverside, GA State

Food4Thought
02-09-2015, 02:15 AM
I am aware of psych students getting admissions to the programs Econhead listed. One thing that really should be emphasized (for your sake, as well) is that an Econ PhD isn't a more rigorous version of psych. You must be able to convince people who may be skeptical of your commitment to econ. This is where a Master's might help (?).

I would apply to the programs you listed and Econhead listed but expect to get acceptances from the lower-end of that list.

RemiDav
02-09-2015, 03:08 AM
In the field of discrete choice, behavioral econ, neuro-econ ... we see a lot of overlap with mathematical psychology in the literature.

I cannot tell you for admission potential, I'll leave that to more experienced people (I don't know US schools that well). However, it looks very sane (even promising) in terms of research outcomes.
You might consider doing a PhD in a business school (In Toronto 3/4 of the behavioral economists and choice theorists are in the marketing department at the business school).

You might also look at Europe: aka cheap PhDs (excluding UK) and several schools very open to behavioral/neuro econ. Moreover, they might care a bit less about the name of your current university (but they might ask you to do an M.A.).

jrdonsimoni
02-09-2015, 10:33 AM
RE Europe, Germany would be your best bet at a cheap masters in a behaviourally-oriented university (given it's free). Mainz teaches an econ masters where the macro module has a behavioural component (I know because I TA for it :D), and we also run seminars which allos you to do some short research papers in the field. Others of interest in this specific field would then be Konstanz, Munich, Bonn, Köln (be careful there cause Bonn is tough to get in and I think Munich is quite selective too - although I got interviewed for Munich and straight up rejected from Bonn).

Afterwards for a PhD, assuming you get funding, which isn't too difficult if you apply early enough, then you can go to some really good European schools: Zurich, Nottingham, UEA, Warwick, or EUR. I think Barcelona also does some Behavioural, but I never followed up on that claim.

Zurich, EUR and Warwick would be your only choices if you later wanted to place in the US seriously.

But like I said Germany would be a financially sound option for you to do a master, also you could easily find a TA/RA/Student assistant job while studying to get some money, which is always welcome.

As for the US I just know which unis do Behavioural/Experimental, but I can't say anything about chances of admissions. The advice given above seems sound and quite reasonable to me if I were in your position.

arrm
02-09-2015, 04:30 PM
As RemiDav said, you should definitely look at some business schools as well. I don't know if Booth might be a bit of a reach, but as an example it has a Behavioral Science (http://www.chicagobooth.edu/programs/phd/academics/dissertation/managerial-organizational-behavior) PhD track and even has a joint PhD program with the Psych department at UChicago. I suspect that those programs might also be much more receptive to your psych credentials.

Econhead
02-09-2015, 04:39 PM
As RemiDav said, you should definitely look at some business schools as well. I don't know if Booth might be a bit of a reach, but as an example it has a Behavioral Science (http://www.chicagobooth.edu/programs/phd/academics/dissertation/managerial-organizational-behavior) PhD track and even has a joint PhD program with the Psych department at UChicago. I suspect that those programs might also be much more receptive to your psych credentials.

Booth would be a greater reach than Econ programs at Arizona, OSU-I am quite confident in that.

arrm
02-09-2015, 09:27 PM
Booth would be a greater reach than Econ programs at Arizona, OSU-I am quite confident in that.

Yea, I was mostly using it of an example of a behavioral program in a business school in case there are others like it. Booth is just the school I'm most familiar with.

On the other hand, I think the Behavioral Science track might be more of a psych program than an econ one. If you look at their current students, at least (http://home.uchicago.edu/~hkotabe/files/Kotabe-CV.pdf) one (http://home.uchicago.edu/~kwoolley/Woolley_CV.pdf)in the Behavioral Science track studied psychology as an undergrad with no mention of an econ degree. OPs psych credentials seem significantly stronger than his econ credentials, so this or something like it might be a good way to get an "in" at an econ department from the psychology side. Getting into what is essentially a small psych department housed in a business school that has access to econ classes and faculty seems like a viable path.

Econhead
02-09-2015, 09:36 PM
Yea, I was mostly using it of an example of a behavioral program in a business school in case there are others like it. Booth is just the school I'm most familiar with.

On the other hand, I think the Behavioral Science track might be more of a psych program than an econ one. If you look at their current students, at least (http://home.uchicago.edu/~hkotabe/files/Kotabe-CV.pdf) one (http://home.uchicago.edu/~kwoolley/Woolley_CV.pdf)in the Behavioral Science track studied psychology as an undergrad with no mention of an econ degree. OPs psych credentials seem significantly stronger than his econ credentials, so this or something like it might be a good way to get an "in" at an econ department from the psychology side. Getting into what is essentially a small psych department housed in a business school that has access to econ classes and faculty seems like a viable path.

That's a valid point, although I am not sure how many of these options exist that will not be reaches. For example, I am sure OPs interests could fit in-line with those at Cal-Tech's program, CMU, etc. I just don't know of any that have a high econ emphasis that wouldn't be a huge reach.

While I'm thinking about it, look into Duke's Decision Sciences. I Think it'd be a reach also, perhaps more difficult than some of the Econ programs listed already that would be reaches, but it is still worth looking at. They are rather exclusive, as I recall: accepting only a few each year.