View Full Version : Profiles and Results 2018

04-17-2018, 03:44 PM
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?

04-17-2018, 04:40 PM
Type of Undergrad: Top 30 Econ Dept (USA)
Undergrad GPA: 3.96
Type of Grad:N/A
Grad GPA: N/A
GRE:164 Q/156 V/4.5 AW
Math Courses: Calc I-III(A+,A+,B+), Intro Stats (A+), Mathematical Stats and Probability (B+), Linear Algebra (A), Diff EQ (A), Real Analysis (A).
Econ Courses: All A's so far including Intermediate Micro and Macro.
Other Courses:
Letters of Recommendation: Great, 2 of them I have worked with for research assistantships, 1 of them I took a class with.
Research Experience: 1 year of RA to two faculty members. Wrote my own research paper in Development Economics.
Teaching Experience: N/A
Research Interests: Development Economics
SOP: Good, had the career center proofread it for me.

Acceptances: UIUC PhD ($$), Notre Dame PhD($$), CU Boulder PhD ($$), Clemson PhD($$), Michigan State off waitlist PhD($$), University of Washington Seattle PhD ($), GWU PhD(no funding), UMD AREC PhD($$), UW MADISON AAE PhD($), OSU AEDE PhD(No Funding), Minnesota APEC PhD (No Funding), UC Davis (Ag Econ MS),
Waitlists:Michigan State (later accepted)
Rejections: UT Austin, Yale, Cornell, Northwestern, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD, Vanderbilt, BU, UBC
Pending: UCR
Attending: UIUC !
Comments: Given my not so stellar GRE Q Score, I was surprised to get in to a few top 30s. I think that my letter of recommendation plays a huge role in it because of my RA experience. Moreover, my SOP also shows a clear research interest. My math classes are not that exceptional either ( I didn't take more proof classes like a lot of guys/girls here). My GRE Score probably didn't get me through the first round on the top 10 schools though.

What would you have done differently?
Did better on the GRE ! That said, I have no regret because I did my best (took the GRE more than once).

What I learn through this process is that strong letter of recommendations are absolutely critical !! Make sure you know your letter writers and do good work so that they could write you a strong letter. My Q score on the GRE is below average of the admitted students. It shows that although GRE is important, it is not everything (it depends on the range of schools that you are applying, of course). Try to get research experience, and if you can, write a research paper and include it in the application because it will signal your research ability, which is what your PhD's is all about. And of course, do well in your advanced math courses.

04-18-2018, 02:26 PM
Type of Undergrad: One of the UCs
Undergrad GPA: 3.3
Type of Grad: Cal State
Grad GPA: 3.7
GRE: 164Q
Math Courses: Calc Sequence (B average), DiffyQ (C+), Linear algebra (B), Analysis (B)
Econ Courses: Intermediate Sequence (A average), graduate micro, macro, micrometrics, time series (A), random econ electives (A)
Other Courses:
Letters of Recommendation: 1 from masters thesis chair, 2 from masters coursework professors who have seen my research. These letters are solid.
Research Experience: Ugrad honors thesis (department award); MA thesis (department research award); RA for 2 professors during masters
Teaching Experience: 2 semesters as adjunct at 5 different schools--instructor of record for principles of micro/macro and business stats
Research Interests: macro, monetary, time series
SOP: Individually tailored to each school. Identified 3 faculty I wanted to work with as well as discussed those faculty member's research and how it relates with my existing research pipeline.

Acceptances: UC Santa Cruz ($$), NC State (no idea about funding, turned down before got funding offer), Houston (same with NC State)
Waitlists: Indiana
Rejections: 20 other places
Attending: UC Santa Cruz!
Comments: Honestly not that surprised given my math history. Honestly felt that the masters was worth it (it was fully funded)--allowed me to explore my interests while also giving me additional time to prepare and get better LORs.

What would you have done differently?
Figured out I wanted to do PhD not during the end of senior year of ugrad--would have allowed for better planning. Taken way more math and taken that math more seriously during the beginning. Honestly, should have probably either double majored in math or have a math minor as well as some comp sci classes. Also, probably have taken the GRE sooner rather than cram it all in at the end...164 kind of a weak signal.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the results and am super excited to start this fall at UCSC! Hope things work out for everyone else!

04-19-2018, 01:10 AM
Type of Undergrad: US top 10 liberal arts
Undergrad GPA: 3.6
Type of Grad: N/A
Grad GPA: N/A
GRE: 170Q
Math Courses: Linear Algebra (A-), Statistics (A), Linear Models (A), Calc 3 (A), Operations Research (A-), Real Analysis (A), Mathematical Statistics [graduate] (A-)
Econ Courses: Intro Macro (B+), Intro Micro (B+), Intermediate Macro (B), Intermediate Micro (A-), Advanced Macro (A-), Econometrics (A), Advanced Econometrics (A), Thesis (A-), and B/B- in two field courses
Other Courses: (nothing relevant)
Letters of Recommendation: 1 undergrad thesis advisor; 1 Federal Reserve section chief; 2 Harvard/MIT profs I work for. I submitted three to each program I applied, alternating which three I chose, since I wasn’t totally sure which combination was the strongest.
Research Experience: 1 year undergrad working for professor; undergrad senior thesis; 2 years Federal Reserve, culminating in an independent paper the Fed published; 2 years working for Harvard/MIT professors
Teaching Experience: none
Research Interests: Labor, Political Economy
SOP: Standard, I would guess. Intro, 1 paragraph on coursework, a few paragraphs on research background, 1 paragraph on future research areas I’m interested in and an idea for a project I’d like to develop, conclusion that mentioned 3-4 profs at that program I’d like to work with.
Other: Audited a couple PhD field courses at MIT while working as an RA, which probably helped my profile a bit but more importantly was an awesome experience.

RESULTS: (get ready, my list is very long… )
Acceptances: Berkeley, UBC, Michigan (Econ), Michigan (joint Public Policy & Econ), UCLA, UT Austin, Cornell, Michigan State, UVA, UC Davis, Maryland
Waitlists: Harvard Kennedy School (Public Policy) [I declined this one before finding out if I got an offer], Chicago Booth [I think this was a waitlist, hard to tell how they worded it; anyway I didn’t get this offer]
Rejections: Wisconsin, Princeton, Chicago, UCSD, Duke, Columbia, Penn, Harvard Kennedy School (PEG), Stanford, Chicago Harris (Public Policy), Stanford GSB (Political Econ), Northwestern, Brown, MIT, Yale, Penn State
Pending: Never heard back from BU; withdrew from Penn Wharton (Applied Econ) after phone interview because I had offers I preferred
Attending: Berkeley
Comments: Obviously I applied to a ton of programs, and ex post it was way more than necessary. Ex ante, I was unsure how my profile would turn out, since I have very strong research experience but a weak transcript. I figured since I was potentially a high variance applicant it was worth applying to a bunch of programs. Also, being 4 years out of undergrad, I wanted zero chance that this cycle would not work out for me.

What would you have done differently? Ex post, I would have only applied to Berkeley. Or, more realistically, I at least would have pared down my list to top 15 or so. However, ex ante, I still think my strategy wasn’t unreasonable. Actually, I initially planned on 15 programs and was advised to apply to more. Of course I also would have tried a little harder in undergrad econ courses – there’s just no excuse for missing A’s in the intro courses, and my few B/B- also didn’t help. But then again I didn’t know what a PhD was until my junior year, so I’ll cut myself some slack.

A more useful point, I would have focused my RA applications as an undergrad senior toward the NBER positions and similar positions working directly with research professors. I did 2 years at the Fed, and then 2 years at one of these positions. Fed does alright getting people into especially the ~12-20 or 25 range of programs, but if you want an RA job to set you up for a top 10 or even top 5 it seems you stand a much better chance working with a well-known research prof.

Anyway, I am ecstatic to be going to Berkeley! And I hope the application fees I paid will at least prove useful as data points for others. In particular, even if you don’t have perfect grades, you can do well for yourself if you get into a solid RA position.

04-19-2018, 01:17 AM
Type of Undergrad: BS Dual Major in Computer Science and Computer Engineering, BS Economics @ Satellite State School
Undergrad GPA: 3.85
Type of Grad: MS Mathematics @ Same School
Grad GPA: 3.96
GRE: 166/166/3.5
Math Courses: A- in grad advanced stochastic dynamic programming; A in grad Analysis I&II, ODE, Numerical Analysis, Numerical PDE, Optimization, Measure Theory, Complex Analysis; taking grad Functional Analysis, Algebraic Topology, Abstract Algebra; B in Calc II; B+ in Calc III, Discrete Math II; A/A+ in Probability, Discrete Math I, Diff Eq, Linear Algebra;
Econ Courses: B+ in grad Micro taken in UG; B+ in Intermediate Macro; A/A+ in Game Theory, Econometrics, Managerial Econ, Intl Trade, Intermediate Micro, Money and Banking, Development, Intl Finance, Public Econ, Mathematical Econ
Other Courses: A+ in Machine Learning, Senior Design project in Big Data, Artificial Intelligence
Letters of Recommendation: 1 from behavioral research prof who is well known (excellent), 1 from robotics research prof (excellent), one from Analysis II prof (probably pretty good), one from former grad student in the robotics lab now AP (excellent)
Research Experience: 4 years robotics, 1 year behavioral econ
Teaching Experience: None
Research Interests:Market Design, Mechanism Design, and Social Choice
SOP:I really hate writing application essays. Wrote it in one go and sent the first draft. Basically an annotated list of books that inspired me to study economics. Added a couple professorís names at the end who Iíd like to work with. (Found a spelling mistake after sending it to 90% of my applications. I think it is true they donít really read these.)
Other: Had a couple robotics papers as third author.

Acceptances: Caltech ($$$), University of Arizona ($$), Ohio State University, CS Program @ Alma Mater ($$)
Waitlists: University of Chicago($$$$), UCLA, Boston College ($$)
Rejections: MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Berkeley, Columbia, NYU, University of Pennsylvania, Penn State, University of Michigan, University of Maryland, Duke, Operations Management Program @ Alma Mater
Attending: University of Chicago!
Comments:The first time I applied a year out of undergrad I didnít get anything but a subsidized MA program from UT (only applied to a couple T10 & UT at that time). I think the most important difference this time was having at least one letter from an economist. Luck also had a lot to do with it.

What would you have done differently?
I am very happy with my results. However, through talking with other students on visit days and browsing this forum, I think I could have improved my application. This is what I would have done differently starting from the beginning of my masters.

I wish I had found this site before I sent all my applications.
I should have had more economists writing my letters.
I should have started RA work earlier and worked with more than one prof.
I should have studied or taken a practice test for the GRE, my time management was terrible.
I should have taken the stochastic dynamic programming course in the second year when I was better prepared and got a letter from that prof

04-19-2018, 06:17 AM
Type of Undergrad: BA economics and BS math at a large and well-known international school, probably comparable to a good state school
Undergrad GPA: 3.94/4.0
Type of Grad: N/A
Grad GPA: N/A
GRE: 170Q, strong verbal and writing
Math Courses: Cal I-II, Cal III (B+), "Advanced" Cal (essentially more rigorous Cal III), Lin Alg I-II, Probability/Stats I-II (A-), Abstract Math, Real Analysis, ODEs, Complex Analysis, Group Theory, Number Theory. All A or A+ unless indicated otherwise in parentheses.
Econ Courses: Intro to economics, Intermediate Micro and Macro, Game Theory, Advanced Macro, Econometrics I-II, a ton of field courses and seminars. All A or A+.
Other Courses: Random electives, nothing relevant
Letters of Recommendation: 1) Not-so-famous AP: took his course and RAed for him, 2) Well-connected tenured prof (top 5% RePEC, some famous co-authors): took his course and RAed for him, 3) Solid associate prof (top 5% within his field): took his fairly rigorous/quantitative course. I asked 1) and 2) to vouch for research ability and 3) to vouch for quantitative ability. I was very sure that 1) would be strong, 2) is a generally hard person to read but seemed ready to go to bat for me, 3) told me he was confident I could succeed in grad school so I also expected a strong letter. Given my outcomes, I think they all wrote very good letters
Research Experience: RAing for profs mentioned above, some empirical term papers, undergrad thesis in progress.
Teaching Experience: Limited. Worked for the department as a tutor in intro/intermediate courses.
Research Interests: Labor/Development, though potentially subject to change.
SOP: Quite standard, I think. Discussed some real-world issues I'd like to study. Explained why econ is a good tool for studying these. Tied this into my own research experience and skills. I cited a few well-known papers as examples of work I'd like to do, not sure if that was necessary. I also had a paragraph about how my I know grad school coursework is tough but I'm ready and have the quantitative skills. I probably put in more effort than I really needed to.

Acceptances: Berkeley ($), Columbia ($$$), NYU ($$$), Yale ($$$$)
Waitlists: Northwestern (responded to survey saying I was no longer interested, no further contact), UCSD (never expressed interest, eventually rejected)
Rejections: Chicago, MIT, Stanford
Pending: N/A
Attending: Yale
Comments: Very happy with how things turned out - somewhat better than I expected! Despite the famous randomness of the application process, my results mostly make sense. I got rejected towards the high end of the top 10 and accepted/waitlisted in the low top 10. UCSD is a bit odd, but I'm guessing they thought I would get better offers and waitlisted me to see if I would show interest. I should also mention that one of my references went to one of the schools where I was accepted, so that might have helped me with that specific school. I chose Yale over Berkeley despite the latter's strength in my fields of interest. This was partially because of funding and partially because I was just very impressed with Yale's program and heard nothing but good things.

What would you have done differently?
In terms of preparation, I think I did a pretty good job. Probably the biggest thing I would have changed would be to try to have a more polished and finished research paper as a writing sample, although I'm not sure how much adcoms weigh writing samples. It might have helped to have some more prominent letter-writers, but obviously this is easier said than done, and I think the letter itself matters more than who writes it. I also kind of wish I had taken some computer science or programming courses. These likely wouldn't have mattered for my application, but the skills from these courses would help when doing research during the PhD.

In terms of the "strategy" of applying, I probably should have applied to Harvard. My reasoning for not doing so was that one of my references had good connections at MIT, so I thought that if I was good enough to get into Harvard I would also get into MIT, and I would have chosen MIT over Harvard anyway. In retrospect, it was kind of dumb to assume a Harvard acceptance would imply an MIT acceptance, what with all the random factors that influence admissions. I probably wouldn't have gotten in anyway, given my other results, but I think even the small probability of acceptance at Harvard would have made the expected benefit outweigh the cost of applying. The other top 10 schools I didn't apply to were Princeton and Penn. I don't really regret these. Princeton was for weird but legitimate reasons - probably not relevant for most people. Penn was because I haven't heard great things about their program.

The other thing I might have done would be to give more thought to PhDs outside of econ departments, like business schools (Booth, HBS, Stanford GSB) or public policy schools (Harvard Kennedy, Chicago Harris). I really didn't consider these much when I was applying, but they're probably worth thinking about in depth.

04-19-2018, 03:11 PM
Type of Undergrad: Top 25 USNWR research university; Mathematics and Economics
Undergrad GPA: 3.95
Type of Grad: N/A
Grad GPA: N/A
GRE: 165V; 170Q; 5.5W
Math Courses (undergrad): Calc IV (A); Intro to Proofs (A+); Differential Equations (A); Probability and Statistics (A); Linear Algebra (A-); Real Analysis (A); Numerical Analysis I/II (A/A-); Computational Linear Algebra (A); Mathematical Finance (A); Partial Differential Equations (A)
Econ Courses (undergrad): Introductory Micro/Macro (A/A); Intermediate Micro/Macro (B/A+); Advanced Micro (A); Econometrics I/II (A+/A+); Financial Economics (A+); Innovation (A+)
Econ Courses (grad): Micro Theory II (A); Econometrics I (A, at top 5 during RA)
Other Courses: A handful of computer science courses including object-oriented programming; algorithms; and machine learning/data mining.
Letters of Recommendation: 1) an economics professor from undergrad who taught me in a couple of theory-oriented courses, I went to their office hours frequently to discuss research but did not RA for them; 2) a supervisor from my summer policy research internship, has a PhD in economics and still publishes in economics journals; and 3) my supervisor from my current RA job at a top 5.
Research Experience: A summer at a policy institute working for a couple of economics PhDs; and at the time of application 1.5 years of RA-ing full time at a top 5 after undergrad.
Teaching Experience: TA for 3 semesters in non-economics courses.
Research Interests: Applied work in innovation, will need to winnow down soon :)
SOP: I spent a long time researching faculty to write a unique paragraph for each school in my SOPs, part of which included listing several faculty whose work I admire and at this point would be interested in having as my advisor(s). I'm not sure how valuable it was for getting into places, but it was extremely helpful in deciding my list of schools. Knowing every researcher in my interests' work back to front was also helpful during fly-outs and my final decision.
Other: Audited some field courses while RA-ing.

Acceptances: Columbia (33K); Cornell (32K); Princeton (38K); Stanford (41K); UC Berkeley (effectively 0 first year, 21K afterwards); UC San Diego (20K)
Wait lists: Brown; Northwestern; Yale (would have been 39K)
Rejections: Harvard Business Economics; Harvard Economics; Michigan; MIT
Attending: Stanford!
Comments: I am extremely happy with my results. They are more than I could have hoped for.

What would you have done differently?
I would have applied to 2-3 more schools, probably including Wharton Applied Econ and NYU Stern Econ. In general I think 15 is a good target to aim for (I did 13), and looking back my distribution was missing some weight towards the lower part of the top 10.

I don't think I made any real mistakes once I figured out that I wanted to do a PhD in economics during my second semester junior year of undergrad, after thinking I was going to do comp sci or quant finance before then. My `B' in intermediate micro came early in undergrad while I was still exploring options. I took and worked hard in advanced micro and one course of the graduate micro sequence to compensate for that, and it appears to have been enough. In general, if you don't perform as well as you would have liked in a course it's definitely good practice to take and excel in the more advanced version(s) if at all possible.

Taking a full time RA job after undergrad is absolutely what got me where I am now with my results, and I am so grateful to my PI for all of the help and guidance that they have given me over this process. Most importantly I developed a deep understanding of what it takes to be a successful researcher in applied microeconomics, and I feel ready to pose and answer my own research questions going into graduate school. Also, I'm not sure how valuable my handful of computer science courses were directly for getting into graduate school, but they definitely helped me get my current job.

From an application perspective I got a really strong letter of recommendation and had the ability to take a graduate econometrics course to act as a further signal to admissions committees. It might not make sense for everyone, but I can't recommend RA-ing full time enough if you are interested in applied topics like I am. You get some time to figure out whether research in economics is right for you, all the while getting paid!

04-19-2018, 03:47 PM
Type of Undergrad: Top 30 Econ Dept (USA)
Undergrad GPA: 3.96
Type of Grad:N/A
Grad GPA: N/A
GRE:164 Q/156 V/4.5 AW
Math Courses: Calc I-III(A+,A+,B+), Intro Stats (A+), Mathematical Stats and Probability (B+), Linear Algebra (A), Diff EQ (A), Real Analysis (A).
Econ Courses: All A's so far including Intermediate Micro and Macro.
Other Courses:
Letters of Recommendation: Great, 2 of them I have worked with for research assistantships, 1 of them I took a class with.
Research Experience: 1 year of RA to two faculty members. Wrote my own research paper in Development Economics.
Teaching Experience: N/A
Research Interests: Development Economics
SOP: Good, had the career center proofread it for me.

Acceptances: UIUC PhD ($$), Notre Dame PhD($$), CU Boulder PhD ($$), Clemson PhD($$), Michigan State off waitlist PhD($$), University of Washington Seattle PhD ($), GWU PhD(no funding), UMD AREC PhD($$), UW MADISON AAE PhD($), OSU AEDE PhD(No Funding), Minnesota APEC PhD (No Funding), UC Davis (Ag Econ MS),
Waitlists:Michigan State (later accepted)
Rejections: UT Austin, Yale, Cornell, Northwestern, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD, Vanderbilt, BU, UBC
Pending: UCR
Attending: UIUC !
Comments: I am happy to attend UIUC ! Given my not so stellar GRE Q Score, I was surprised to get in to a few top 30s. I think that my letter of recommendation plays a huge role in it because of my RA experience. Moreover, my SOP also shows a clear research interest. My math classes are not that exceptional either ( I didn't take more proof classes like a lot of guys/girls here). My GRE Score probably didn't get me through the first round on the top 10 schools though.

What would you have done differently?
Did better on the GRE ! That said, I have no regret because I did my best (took the GRE more than once).

What I learn through this process is that strong letter of recommendations are absolutely critical !! Make sure you know your letter writers and do good work so that they could write you a strong letter.Try to get research experience, and if you can, write a research paper and include it in the application because it will signal your research ability, which is what your PhD's is all about (your math courses is a signal whether you are adept enough to survive the first year).

04-19-2018, 04:55 PM
This is surely more than enough to identify me, but since I probably wouldn't have gotten into grad school if I didn't learn of this forum when I started college, I will repay the favor and imbue unbearable anxiety on future generations the same way this did to me.

Type of Undergrad: top 2 Canadian (the better one ;))
Undergrad GPA: 3.9
Type of Grad: none, do grad courses count?
Grad GPA: if grad courses count then 4.0, otherwise none
GRE: 168Q
Math Courses: grad real analysis, grad functional analysis, and all the analysis courses up to those; graph theory, nonlinear optimization, topology, linear algebra (B+), measure theoretic probability theory, stats I (C) and II (all A's and A-'s except for noted)
Econ Courses: phd metrics at top 5, phd micro sequence at undergrad, phd education econ, two thesis-courses, development, urban, empirical IO, and core courses up to advanced level (all A's)
Other Courses: basically none.
Letters of Recommendation: top 5 prof (leader in field) who I work for as an RA for two years, prof from undergrad who taught me a field course and we discussed a lot of research, prof from undergrad who I worked for as an RA for 2.5 years (see below). All of them are young and recently-tenured and probably think that I'm halfway decent (that's my posterior anyway).
Research Experience: second year project over at the school of the environment, 2.5 years with J-PAL/IPA affiliated project during undergrad, 2 years at a top 5 full-time RA. Two work-in-progress projects that definitely made it into my rec letters.
Teaching Experience: none
Research Interests: IO, political, development
SOP: basically the abstract of my undergrad thesis and the abstract of one of my current projects back to back

RESULTS: I applied to basically everything on Earth
Acceptances: Princeton, Berkeley (partial), Northwestern, Columbia, NYU, UBC, Michigan, Wisconsin-Madison, Duke, Maryland, Toronto MA
Waitlists: Chicago, NYU Stern, UCSD, Chicago Booth, UCLA
Rejections: MIT, Harvard, HBS bus ec, Yale, Chicago Harris, Stanford GSB, Stanford, Wharton AE (declined to interview), Brown, Sloan sociology (lol), Columbia management (lol^2), Fuqua decision sciences (withdrew), Penn

What would you have done differently?

Probably not get a C in first year stats?

I should have started my own research earlier instead of riding on coat-tails for a couple of years in undergrad.

I should have gone out of my way more to talk to professors at my undergrad and at the top 5 I'm currently at --- that way I would have had a wider advising network for both my own work and different research opportunities (although I've gotten my ideal RA-position each time I've had to apply for one).

To any undergrad at my alma mater: feel free to send me a message or email if you know who I am, I'm more than happy to advise!

04-20-2018, 08:08 AM
Type of Undergrad: US Top 5 Public School
Undergrad GPA: 3.92
Type of Grad: None
Grad GPA: N/A
GRE: 167Q, 163V, 5.0 AW
Math Courses: Calc 1 (AP Test), Calc 2 (A), Calc 3 (A - took at community college after graduating), Linear Algebra (withdrawal mark at original unviersity, A at community college after graduating), Real Analysis (A from UMUC Online after graduating), Introductory Statistics (A), Statistics for Economists (A-)
Econ Courses: Intro Micro (A), Intro Macro (A), Micro Theory (A), Intermediate Micro (A+), Intermediate Macro (A-), Intro Econometrics (A-), Advanced Time Series Econometrics (A-), Labor Research Seminar (A), Mathematical Microeconomics (A+), Economic Models of Public Choice (A+), International Trade (B), Development Econ (A+),
Other Courses: Bunch of political science courses, probably little impact on my application.
Letters of Recommendation: 1 from undergrad labor econ seminar professor who I part-time RA'd for after graduating, 1 from undergrad Political Science professor (took a political economy course with him, as I was a double major in political science), 1 from undergrad development economics professor who I graded exams for and was ranked first in class (the professor said they mentioned these things specifically, which was reassuring and I think very helpful for my application).
Research Experience: One paper in the works at the time of application, but it was not near publication ready, so no publications. I RA'd part-time
Teaching Experience: graded one course's final exam, tutored math and economics during undergrad (this probably did not matter)
Research Interests: Labor, Public Economics, Labor Market Search Theory
SOP: I think it was pretty typical. I had a core essay that I used for the econ programs I applied to, but I wrote a more tailored essay for the applied econ/public policy programs. For every school I tried to specifically discuss faculty I was interested in working with/who had research topics that aligned with my interests.
Other: I worked in the private sector (economic consulting) for the last two years since completing undergrad.

Acceptances: UCLA (27K)
Waitlists: UCSD, RAND PRGS Program
Rejections: Harvard PEG, Stanford GSB, Stanford Econ, Wisconsin-Madison, Yale, Princeton, University of Chicago (but got into MA with half scholarship), UPenn Econ, UPenn Wharton Applied Econ, Berkeley, MIT, Columbia, Northwestern
Pending: None
Attending: UCLA
Comments: I think I approached my application season with an unorthodox outlook: I decided to only apply to highly ranked programs and to not re-apply if I was universally rejected. My reasoning was this: I only wanted to pay the opportunity cost of a PhD program if I could get into a top 15 program, and I wanted to basically leave myself no choice but to follow through on this strategy (so no safety schools). I knew going in that my profile was a stretch for a top 15 program, and that universal rejection at econ programs was a distinct possibility. I don't recommend this for everyone, and I quite nearly tested the worst case scenario of my strategy because it was looking pretty bleak until mid to late March (since I only got one acceptance). I do, however, strongly believe in the advice frequently posted on here, that everyone considering applying should seriously consider the cost benefit, and try to ignore any sunk costs.

Retrospectively, I think using academic LORs rather than one from my work was a good choice, because it does appear that private sector work is heavily discounted by ad coms. I would even go as far to say that if the choice is between a well-regarded professor in a non-econ discipline and an econ PhD in the private sector, you are still better off with the academic if they can assess your academic potential well. I am not saying there is anything wrong with this - comparing my more extended exposure to the private sector to my more limited exposure to academia, they seem very different.

What would you have done differently?
I and a few professors saw my profile as a stretch for top 15 from the beginning, and I think my results mostly confirm this. I am very grateful for the offer from UCLA. I did not decide to really pursue an econ PhD until my last two quarters at undergrad. I wish I had realized the route I wanted to take sooner, because my math background was woefully inadequate when I graduated. I took some math classes while working full time between then and now, but that was extremely difficult to schedule and I was limited in what classes were offered at community colleges and online. I also underestimated how quickly math skills can atrophy. The whole process would have been much easier, and my application would have been much stronger if I had taken more math in undergrad. When in doubt, take math.

I also wish I had re-taken the GRE one more time. 167 gets you in the door I think but I only took the test once and it probably would not have hurt to get a few points higher. Finally, I wish I had pursued research opportunities more in undergrad, and had at least one publication under my belt.

04-21-2018, 12:06 AM
Type of Undergrad: US Public University, T30 UG, T15 Econ, Math & Econ Major
Undergrad GPA: 3.94
Type of Grad: N.A.
Grad GPA: N.A.
GRE: 166(V), 170(Q), 4.5(AW)
Math Courses: Analysis (A+), Linear Algebra (A), PDE (A+), Multi-variable Analysis (A), Abstract Algebra (A), Stochastic Processes (A+), Measure Theory (A+)
Econ Courses: Intermediate Micro (A+), Intermediate Macro (A+), Game Theory (A+), Labor Economics (A-), Intermediate Metrics I & II (A+, B+), International Finance (A), International Trade (A), PhD Micro Sequence (A+, A, A+, A+), PhD 2nd-year Game Theory (A)
Other Courses: Some philosophy courses. Bunches of random business management courses from my previous university.
Letters of Recommendation: 1 from micro theory prof with whom I RA-ed (well-known); 1 from micro theory prof with whom I took three courses (top 5 PhD); 1 from math prof with whom I took one math course
Research Experience: RA in micro theory with one of the profs above
Teaching Experience: None
Research Interests: Micro theory
SOP: A detailed description of research projects that I did and would like to start. Did not customize school-wise.
Other: Transferred to current school from a little known university in Asia.

Acceptances: Stanford, Yale, Columbia, Northwestern (waitlist for first-year funding)
Waitlists: None
Rejections: Harvard, Stanford GSB, Princeton, Chicago, Penn, NYU
Pending: None
Attending: Stanford
Comments: This is definitely more than I had hoped for. Extremely happy about this. Advice for future applicants: Research experience and letters are way more important than many think. As far as I know, applicants tend to over-estimate GPA and under-estimate research experience and letters. I've seen at least 4 applicants (some applying for econ, some for other PhDs) who have perfect grades but little research experience with profs, and got rejected almost everywhere. Grades in math and graduate econ classes weigh more than grades in UG econ classes and/or irrelevant classes.

What would you have done differently?
Spend less time on video games (Delete civ 5!), and spend more time on coursework, research, socializing and exercising.

04-22-2018, 12:52 AM
Type of Undergrad: A university from a Southeast Asian country. It is well-known in the country but globally unknown.
Undergrad GPA: 3.36/4
Type of Grad 1: Master's program in Econ at a decent university in Japan, but unknown globally
Grad 1 GPA: 4.40/5, kind of 4.0/4.0 in the US
Type of Grad 2: Master's program in Econ at a US state flagship university.
Grad 2 GPA: 3.927/4.0
GRE: V 141/ Q 170/ A 3.0
Math Courses: Calculus (B), Linear Algebra (A), Stat (B) taking in the US: Intro to Real Analysis I, II (A, A), Intro to Abstract Algebra (A), Grad level Math Stats I, II (A, in progress)
Econ Courses: Mostly everything
Other Courses:
Letters of Recommendation: my former advisor from Grad 1 and advisor from Grad 2, both are good, the third one is probably good.
Research Experience: 3 semesters working as a Grad RA. Doing thesis in undergrad, and both Grad. Have 3 working papers and 2 papers is in progress.
Teaching Experience: 1 semesters working as a TA in Japan.
Research Interests: Everything related to development, labor economics, and agricultural economics

Acceptances: Wisconsin AAE with RAship, Iowa State, NCSU (get into the second round of funding offer but refuse to take it), Bocconi and Master in Mathematics at the current institution with TAship
Waitlists: UC Davis ARE (just got rejected)
Rejections: BU, NYU, Wisconsin Econ, UIUC
Attending: Wisconsin AAE
Comments: I am happy about Wisconsin AAE.Wisconsin AAE is a good place since I am going to be assigned to work with an advisor who knows a lot about the work I am intending to do. I was not even 100% serious about applying, because I was so busy with my RA work. And I had some personal reasons to stay at the same institution for a Master in Maths. I don't retake GRE, I took it 2 years ago in Japan.

What would you have done differently?
Probably working harder in college.
I don't think I can get into any better school with my undergrad GPA. Wisconsin is good enough for me because the program is good and I will have a chance to take classes in their econ department. Anyway, I don't wish to change anything, because I am happy with what I've already had.

04-22-2018, 06:25 PM
Type of Undergrad: Honours Econ at Mid-tier Canadian research school
Undergrad GPA: 4.07/4.3
Type of Grad: Took grad Health Economics elective
Grad GPA: A+
GRE: 162Q/170V/5.5AW
Math Courses: Calculus I & II (A+), Linear Algebra (A-), Stats I & II (A)
Econ Courses: Advanced Micro (A+), Advanced Macro (A+), Introductory and Intermediate Micro/Macro sequence (A/A+ in all), two semesters of Econometrics (A+, A), range of field courses on Public Finance, Labour and Development (A- to A+ in all).
Other Courses: Various philosophy, political science and liberal arts courses (A- to A+ in all)
Letters of Recommendation: Apparently very good given results. One well-known prof that I took two field courses from. Another less well known but was my honours advisor, taught me advanced theory courses and knows me well personally.
Research Experience: Honours thesis, 8 months as part-time RA, 1-year work experience in Public Policy role.
Teaching Experience: Economics dept tutor for first and second year courses.
Research Interests: Public Finance, Public Policy, Labour, Development
SOP: Good. Talked about current work experience, drew connections between my undergrad research and current work in public policy and RA, future research interests.
Other: Won a couple undergrad research awards in department.

Acceptances: LSE MSc Econ and Philosophy (no funding), Paris School of Econ APE (no funding), U of T MA ($$), Queens MA ($$), McGill MA ($$)
Waitlists: None
Rejections: None
Pending: None
Attending: LSE
Very happy with my results. Consensus here was that I was a shoe-in for Canadian schools, on the bubble for European ones. I feel like LSE is worth the money for prestige/connections alone; I’m not dead-set on academic econ, and could be looking at the NGO/Public Sector or Public Policy PhD route, in which LSE has a big advantage over the other programs.
Also, given the emphasis around here on taking as many math courses as possible, a piece of evidence that you can get into top-tier MA programs with only a moderate math background.

What would you have done differently?
Applied to a PhD program, just to see what would happen, given that I had no rejects for MA.

04-23-2018, 02:25 AM
Type of Undergrad: Finance Business Canadian
Undergrad GPA: 3.7/4.3
Type of Grad: Economics at mid-tier Canadian Business School
Grad GPA: 4.1/4.3 (equiv: 3.95/4.00)
GRE: 166Q/167V/5.0AW
Math Courses: Calculus I & II & III (A), Linear Algebra (A), Business Stats (A), Real Analysis (A), Probability (A+),
Econ Courses: Advanced Micro (A-), Advanced Macro (A+), Introductory Micro/Macro sequence (A+ in all), Intermediate Macro I & II (A+), Undergrad Econometrics (A+). Graduate Classes: Time Series (A+), Cross Sectional & Panel Econometrics (A+), International Macro (A), Monetary Econ (A-)

Letters of Recommendation: One shining letter from an Assistant Econ prof, One great letter from a regionally well-know Canadian Econ prof, one good letter from a very high profile full US professor with top international reputation
Research Experience: Master's thesis, 4 different RAships (between 3-4 years)
Teaching Experience: TA in Undergrad and Grad econometrics
Research Interests: International Macro & Finance
Work Experience: Five years in various investment finance research internships/jobs

Acceptances: UCLA Anderson ($$$), UToronto Econ ($$), UMinnesota Econ ($$), Wisconsin-Madison Econ ($$), Queens Econ ($$$), UBC Econ ($$), Rochester Econ ($), USC Econ ($$$), Boston College Econ ($$),
Waitlists: Cornell Applied Econ, got interview calls from Carnegie Mellon, Minnesota and Michigan Business Schools but I rejected all of them
Rejections: Duke, HBS, NYU Stern, Columbia Business, Haas, Purdue (?), UCSD, Kellogg, Michigan Econ, Wharton, Brown
Pending: None
Attending: UCLA Anderson

Sunny LA, can't complain geographically. Had to split my application list with another candidate who was applying that same year and we had letters in common. He applied higher/more aggressive and got a better placement but hey that's life.

What would you have done differently? It's kinda random and it's very very much about the letters.

04-23-2018, 04:56 AM
Type of Undergrad: University located in Northeast Asia, well-known within my home country
Undergrad GPA: 4.07/4.30 (3.92/4.00)
Type of Grad: Same as my undergraduate institution, did take courses at the MA-level without intending to finish with a MA degree
Grad GPA: 4.30/4.30 (4.00/4.00) (6 courses, 18 credits)
GRE: V 163 / Q 170 / W 5.0
Math Courses: Math for Economics(A-), Introduction to Statistics(A+), Statistical Methods(A+), Calculus(A-), Linear Algebra(Statistics department, A+), Linear Algera 1 and 2 (Mathematics department, A+ and A0), Mathematical Statistics(A0) Stochastic Process(A+), Analysis (1) (A0), Convex Analysis(Graduate level, A+)
Econ Courses: 1) Undergrad: Introduction to Micro and Macro (both A+), Intermediate Micro and Macro(A+ and A0), Development Economics (A0), Money and Banking(A+), International Finance(A+), International Trade (A+), Industrial Organization(A0), Game Theory(A0), Econometrics (1) and (2) (Both A0), Dynamic Economics(A0), Dynamic Macroeconomics(B+), Honors Program in Economics(A0). Public Finance(A+), Graduate Microeconomics and Macroeconomics(Both A+), Topics in Macroeconomics(Graduate, A+), Graduate Public Finance(A+), Graduate Econometrics 1(A+)
Other Courses: Various courses ranging from Politics, French, Law and etc. Grades ranging from A+ to B+
Letters of Recommendation: (For the institution I am attending) One from my advisor, One from a professor also affiliated with a US University, One from the advisor of the honor’s club I was a member of.
Research Experience: Honor’s thesis at the undergraduate level, Won prizes at two paper competitions, RA in a joint project between my university and the central bank of my home country
Teaching Experience: Teaching assistant for two professors for total of four semesters. TA for junior/senior level course (Public Finance) and sophomore-level course(Macroeconomics)
Research Interests: Public Finance, Labor Economics, and Applied Microeconomics
SOP: Started with a very general question that I was interested in for a long time. Then mentioned that my motivation to study further stems from that question. Went on to mention what my research experiences are and how they relate to the question that I seek to answer. Afterwards, I mentioned some of my academic achievements and skills. I customized the last paragraph differently among schools, mentioning certain faculty members that I am interested in working with in particular.

Acceptances: Columbia($$$)
Waitlists: Northwestern(Eventually rejected at 4/20)
Rejections: Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, Berkeley, Yale, U of Chicago, UPenn, NYU, U of Michigan-Ann Arbor (Everywhere but the two schools above)
Attending: Columbia
Comments: Very happy with the outcome and relieved at the same time. I felt that Columbia would be a perfect fit for pursing graduate studies. Also, had it not been for the only acceptance I got from Columbia, I would be thinking about applying for the next application cycle.

What would you have done differently?
- Perhaps I should have mixed in some Business schools as well. After application I have found out that some Business schools provide courses and research areas that I am interested in.
- Apply to a few more schools. One thing that I did terribly I this application cycle is dispersing risk in terms of number of schools. Probably would have tried about 4-5more schools.
- I took most of the advanced mathematics courses starting my junior year. Maybe I should have taken more courses starting from earlier years.