PDA

View Full Version : Profile evaluation - 2018



southerncharm
01-25-2017, 10:00 PM
Appreciate any feedback on my competitiveness. Thanks!

Type of Undergrad: B.S. in business from state school (ranked in top 100) - 2002
Undergrad GPA: 3.7
Math/Econ Courses in undergrad: Tested out (AP credit) of Analytical Geometry + Calculus and Pre-Calculus with Trig; Honors Calc II (B); Business math with calculus (A); Microecon (A); Macroecon (A); Statistics for business and economics (A)

Type of Grad1: MPP from top 10 program - 2004
Grad GPA: 3.8
Math/Econ Grad Courses: Applied Quantitative Analysis I (B); Applied Quantitative Analysis II (A); Applied Microeconomics for Policy Analysis (A)

Type of Grad2 : MPhil in mngt from Oxbridge - 2005
Grad GPA: 68 overall, 75 on dissertation
Math/Econ Grad Courses: Public Policy and Economics (66); Methods in public policy (65)

GRE: need to retake took in 2002 and scored 770Q so Im guessing similar percentile on new test

Letters of Recommendation: My problem is that these advisors are from 10+ years ago - 1) MPP thesis and GRA advisor, who has PhD in economics from Michigan State; 2) MPhil dissertation advisor, who has PhD in engineering from Cambridge; 3) probably former manager from professional experience, which I think will be my strongest rec. Only other academic that I could use would be my undergrad honors thesis advisor, who is PhD from Wharton. But that's going way back.

Research Experience: Honors thesis funded by NSF and published in peer review journal; GRA in grad school for 2 yrs and thesis externally funded; dissertation in grad school 2, which was also externally funded

Teaching Experience: None

Research Interests: Applied Micro, Labor economics, Education, Inequality, Social Mobility

Working Experience: 4 years in strategy consulting in DC and London, 8 years in non-profit executive roles at national non-profits (VP and chief level roles)

SOP: My understanding is the SOP is not hugely meaningful, but here goes...My interests, grad school experience, and career have a clear line a focus on solving inequity. I dont want to continue on my current path, which is to a CEO type of position at a leading non-profit org. Im more interested in affecting the arc of the line the slope of impact on inequity. Which to me comes down to progressing knowledge both from a research side as well as actually building human capital. So my theory of change is simple to leverage data / analysis to better understand which policies affect inequity, and to influence and teach the future leaders a generation behind me. Very high level, but you get the point. I also have two other ambitions, which Im not sure are worth stating in an SOP. First, at some point Id want to be pres or univ of a major institution. Or at least dean of a policy or econ dept. Given my track record of promotions and leadership roles, I don't think it's a crazy ambition (assuming I was a successful researcher / professor for a while). Second, Im motivated to drive the conversation and thinking in my community (the southeast US), where honestly I dont think the research and ecosystem is near where it is in the NE and west coast (though Raleigh Durham does have interesting stuff going on).

Other: Id be 38 as an applicant, which I cant imagine helps!

Concerns: 1) Age; 2) Im in a highly compensated job so I could see questions about my seriousness of taking this on and then time to drive change in the field in my mid 40s and up; 3) Letters from profs that are based relationships a decade ago; 4) math/econ courses are probably on the weak side; 5) I have a growing family so am hesitant to move across the country for 4+ yrs

Applying to: This is what I want feedback on because I have no idea whether Id be competitive in top 10. My current thinking is the following tiers:
- Top 10s UofC, Stanford, prob 1 more
- Regional Duke, Georgia State
- Policy schools Kennedy, LSE (social policy), Harris, UGA
- Intl Oxford, LSE, UCL, Cambridge (if I went this route, Id prob explore doing a masters part-time in the US first in order to reduce my time abroad)

startz
01-25-2017, 10:13 PM
It doesn't look like you have enough math for any of the higher ranked econ PhD programs. Given your goals I would focus on policy schools.

tm_member
01-26-2017, 08:19 PM
Yes, policy programs, absolutely. There is nothing here to suggest you would enjoy an economics PhD but you would be very welcome in a Public Policy PhD program and would enjoy it much more. Remember, economics is a positive social science. It's the first concept in almost every intro textbook. We don't judge and we don't try to impose our beliefs on others. Your goals, as stated, are antithetical to that core principle.

Aside from all that, you have no chance of being accepted at Top 50 programs in economics - you have little formal math and your recommendation letters from 10+ years ago and are not economists. Schools have a plethora of over-qualified candidates to choose from. Somewhere like Georgia State Econ might offer you a spot but you'd be a risky bet and would probably have to pay your own way.

southerncharm
01-27-2017, 06:29 PM
Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate it. I'm inclined to agree with both assessments - that policy schools are more in my wheelhouse.

One follow - what are the top 2-5 math or econ classes you'd recommend to increase competitiveness? I have Georgia State and Georgia Tech available locally so could enroll in a few courses over the next year. Or could even do the masters program at either if that was going to help my chances significantly.

philipcheesy
01-27-2017, 06:52 PM
Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate it. I'm inclined to agree with both assessments - that policy schools are more in my wheelhouse.

One follow - what are the top 2-5 math or econ classes you'd recommend to increase competitiveness? I have Georgia State and Georgia Tech available locally so could enroll in a few courses over the next year. Or could even do the masters program at either if that was going to help my chances significantly.

The core math courses mentioned on most econ/policy program websites as the minimum are multivariable calculus, linear algebra, probability, and math stats. Make sure to take these in the math department as opposed to econ department equivalents.

Good luck!

southerncharm
01-27-2017, 07:05 PM
Grad level or will undergrad be enough to make me competitive?

startz
01-27-2017, 07:56 PM
Grad level or will undergrad be enough to make me competitive?
Undergrad is enough, but make sure any stat courses are the ones required of stat majors. You may also want to take a real analysis or other proof-based course.

southerncharm
01-27-2017, 08:19 PM
Ok, to get really detailed - which courses here?
https://www.math.gatech.edu/academics/undergraduate/projected-schedule


And - if I were to take those courses - what do you think on my competitiveness?

tm_member
01-28-2017, 01:20 PM
Ok, to get really detailed - which courses here?
https://www.math.gatech.edu/academics/undergraduate/projected-schedule


And - if I were to take those courses - what do you think on my competitiveness?

Math 1554, 2551 (you might need to take 2550 first based on that list), 4261, and if you want to be competitive for economics, 4317 & 4318.

Zubrus
01-28-2017, 09:27 PM
Even with A's in a few math classes, I really don't think you'll be competitive for top 20 schools which is what you really need to help you fulfill your goals.

chateauheart
01-29-2017, 01:11 AM
This is as clear-cut a case as I can ever imagine of someone who should not be applying to PhD programs.

1. You aren't competitive for PhD econ. I'd be shocked if you get a funded offer from a top 40 program within two years.

2. You're giving up way too much.

And international programs should not be within your consideration. That's just absurd for someone with a family.

There might be a very thin argument for going into policy PhDs, but I suggest you think long and hard about it. Our forum has lots of resources in its previous threads and posts, including some info on public policy PhDs; I suggest you browse through them and get all the info about an academic career in public policy before you make any decisions.

Finally, one thing I want to note is that a lot of econ/policy PhDs explicitly decide to go into policy institutions and non-profits for the opportunity of having a greater impact. Your assumption that academia provides you more opportunities to address social ills (via some human capital channel) strikes me as incorrect; if you continue to advance in your remarkably successful career in the non-profit world, you can easily get the opportunity to guest lecture at major regional universities every semester, especially for MPP programs, and reach a far larger/broader audience than that of most economists. I think this career provides you greater opportunities for your goals, than PhD programs, even if we compare it with your initial (overly optimistic) assumption that you have a decent chance of getting into a top 20 econ program and ending up as a dean. But I'm not experienced in this industry, so I won't say more.

southerncharm
01-30-2017, 09:55 PM
Hi all,

Again, thanks everyone for all of the feedback. It's been very helpful. I've also been concurrently talking with people - in particular had some conversations with econ admissions folks. Consistent themes on my lack of math, age, and the alternative paths that I could take to achieve my career goals.

All of this to say, I'm still in a place where I want to go for a PhD, but likely in public policy. Here are the programs that I am going to further explore. Any thoughts on competitiveness? I'm not as sure on the PP route but I'm assuming I'd be more competitive.

Reach Schools
1. Harvard Kennedy PP
2. Uof C Harris PP
3. Emory and Georgia State Econ

Mid
4. Duke PP
5. Oxford social policy
6. LSE social policy

Safety
7. GA Tech / GSU joint PP program

Zubrus
01-31-2017, 07:31 PM
Harvard PP is as competitive as top 10 econ programs. Since your profile is unlikely to even get into a top 40 econ, I would say you have no chance there. U of C PP is competitive as top 20 econ programs as well.

I don't know about the rest.

chateauheart
01-31-2017, 10:58 PM
You are certainly more competitive for PP. But I think most of us aren't sure exactly how much your non-profit experience will boost your chances. A 12 year career in consulting + non-profit is better for your application than a 12 year career in accounting; however, I'm not sure it's better or worse than students who graduated 2-4 years ago and have limited work experience. The latter is the standard candidate for some public policy PhDs. Because your background is quite unique, I think you'd be justified to cold contact a few people and ask about the relevance of your background. (try to find a current PhD student, or a faculty on an adcom - don't just ask the admissions office staff).

With that factor being a huge unknown to me, I'd just try to give you a benchmark: in terms of admissions competitiveness and level of quantitative rigor, Harvard Kennedy PP and U of C Harris PP are comparable to a #10-#20 economics PhD program. On a purely academic basis, your profile clearly isn't strong enough for those programs. For economics program in that range, using old GRE scores, the median quant score is 800 and the mean is somewhere between 790 and 800. Most admitted (funded) students from the U.S. will have 3.9+ in math/econ at a top 30 private university or 3.8+ top 30 state university, in addition to RA experience.

Other things:

1. I wouldn't consider GA Tech a safety. It's known as one of the top programs in the tier below Kennedy/Harris.

2. I also wouldn't rank GA Tech below Oxford/LSE social policy in your preferences. Typically, social policy programs are a class below public policy programs, if I may say that, because the latter have been better at keeping up to date with the quantitative areas of social science. This is reflected in stronger placements and funding. Furthermore, I don't know a lot about the strengths of Oxford/LSE's programs, but generally I'd recommend to focus on U.S. programs only, both for academic reasons (the U.S. dominates policy research) and because of your significant family commitments. I imagine for those programs you'd have to take a MRES+PhD route as well, which I think is sub-optimal (you'd have to write a thesis in the first year, when you should be spending all your time on econ/stats).

3. Another southern(-ish) program that's at the level of GA Tech is UNC's PP program. You should consider it - I quite liked the syllabus/structure of their program when I read about it. In general, you want to go for programs that have deeper economics training. The increasing use of economic methodology is the trend of the public policy discipline, and you want to receive enough training that guarantees you can continue to understand contemporaneous methodlogy for the next 2-3 decades.

Keep in mind all these advice comes from an econ PhD who's not too familiar with pub pol; don't believe it with conviction, but use it as a benchmark. Keep reaching out to people you might know with similar interests, especially pub policy phd students you may have known during your work.