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undergraduate: UC Berkeley

Major: Economics

Awards: Dean's list once

Undergraduate Courses(Econ)

International Trade A-

International Monetary Economics A-

Financial Economics A

GRE: prepping

Research Experience: 2 years briefing, not full time

startz

02-09-2017, 02:11 PM

For a top 30 program, you should almost certainly take more math--and get A's.

How do you know that the letters will be good? Go talk to your letter writers about where you should aim (and what more you need to do). Be clear that you might want to ask them for letters. If they tell you to aim for top 5-30, then you're in good shape. If they've already told you they can write a letter aimed to 5-30, then trust them. The Berkeley faculty know what they're doing.

I did undergrad there too, assuming you took econometrics 141 instead of 140, look into taking C142 which is a more advanced methods econometrics class. I found it very useful and challenging and the professor was always helpful in office hours to talk about grad school or career goals too. Take math 104, real analysis is an important grad school signal. Also look into writing an honors thesis or taking the research seminar (I think econ 191) Finally, ask professors about RAing full time after graduation. They may know someone with a grant that can support an RA or something and can pass around your CV.

chateauheart

02-17-2017, 05:41 PM

If they tell you to aim for top 5-30, then you're in good shape. If they've already told you they can write a letter aimed to 5-30, then trust them. The Berkeley faculty know what they're doing.

Letter writers are a good source of advice, but I wouldn't say they're strictly better than the advice you get from this forum. In top departments, particularly, many professors did not do their undergraduate degree in the U.S., so they might not realize that a math major is almost a necessity for U.S. undergrads. That also happens to be OP's main problem.

startz

02-17-2017, 06:06 PM

Letter writers are a good source of advice, but I wouldn't say they're strictly better than the advice you get from this forum. In top departments, particularly, many professors did not do their undergraduate degree in the U.S., so they might not realize that a math major is almost a necessity for U.S. undergrads. That also happens to be OP's main problem.

But almost all the faculty did get their graduate degrees in the U.S. I agree that there is probably some advantage to a math major. However, a very large fraction of students in top programs are econ majors only. The advice about taking lots of math can't be argued with, though.

Spectrum

02-17-2017, 08:59 PM

But almost all the faculty did get their graduate degrees in the U.S. I agree that there is probably some advantage to a math major. However, a very large fraction of students in top programs are econ majors only. The advice about taking lots of math can't be argued with, though.

Hello sir,

Could you tell me a little bit more about the mathematical preparation that econ Phds typically have? (especially the ones that do well in grad school if possible.. and I've read your notes on this on the UCSB website already)

I'm going to have much more math than the standard requirements, but I'm not sure if you actually see it as an advantage; that is, is the difference between an A in real analysis I and an A in real analysis I,II, complex analysis, algebra I,II, etc very much in principle? When do the extra math courses stop mattering/start mattering? Assuming similar rigor in both math programs.

Thanks - you don't have to answer this, but I figured I should ask just in case :)

Have a good day and congrats to your daughter, I hope one day I can become as strong an economist as she is going to be!

startz

02-17-2017, 09:21 PM

All good questions. For most programs, an A in real analysis is about all that's needed. If you want to try for top five programs, or if you are interested in either theory or theoretical econometrics, then more is better. (An A in real analysis II would be a good thing.)

You also want to think about this as an economist. Rather than just asking about the marginal return to more math, think about how else you might spend the time. Might you get more research experience or work more closely with an econ professor? (Or just something fun. That's okay too.)

chateauheart

02-19-2017, 08:17 PM

Given the lack of technical rigor in undergraduate economics courses in the U.S., ambitious students should aim to have either graduate-level econ courses, or advanced math courses involving topology or measure theory, and preferably both.

It's true that more pure math courses are not necessary, but they're still arguably the best option for a lot of students. Aspiring PhD students should be spending time on research assistance, but you still have to take 3 or 4 courses per semester. Well-prepared students, especially international students, can take a first course in real analysis at the end of the freshman year or beginning of the sophomore year. What else can they do for the next 2-3 years?

Some things like algebraic topology may only be occasionally useful for game theorists, but anything under the field of mathematical analysis is likely to be conducive to further studies in probability, statistical theory, and many areas in applied math, all of which can be useful in your career.