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View Full Version : How much material should we remember before starting a PhD program?



Bayern
07-30-2007, 08:19 AM
Before entering our Phd Program, we are supposed to complete so many many courses. We take some courses way back in the freshmen year. We do some courses which are decently complicated. We do a lot of theories and applications throughout our college life. In the end, how much are we expected to remember before entering the phd program? Of course they dont expect us to remember all the stuff. But I think, I could forget more than half of the math and econ I would do in my entire college life, before entering the program. So, how much do the grad schools really expect us to remember?

buckykatt
07-30-2007, 10:08 PM
In general, I think the point of all those courses is for you to develop a certain level of sophistication--a familiarity with the most important concepts in economics (opportunity cost, rational actor model, moral hazard, income vs. substitution effects, etc.) and the mathematical language (calculus & linear algebra) they're expressed in at the graduate level.

IMHO, as long as you remember the key techniques of calculus (e.g. the chain rule) and linear algebra notation doesn't look like a foreign language to you, you'll be fine. Every program out there has a math review course to jolt the necessary brain cells back into life, as well as teach you techniques (e.g. constrained optimization) you might not have seen much of as an undergrad. As far as the economics, your core courses won't so much build on your undergrad econ courses as rebuild the material from first principles.

TruDog
07-31-2007, 12:51 AM
Every program out there has a math review course to jolt the necessary brain cells back into life, as well as teach you techniques (e.g. constrained optimization) you might not have seen much of as an undergrad. As far as the economics, your core courses won't so much build on your undergrad econ courses as rebuild the material from first principles.

That's not entirely true. Wisconsin, for one, does not have a math camp.

jjmann
07-31-2007, 03:54 AM
So, what is done where there is no math camp to polish things up? Very curious...

snappythecrab
07-31-2007, 07:23 AM
Little to none on the econ side. Do your best to forget macro, and as long as you remember basic micro stuff you'll be fine. On the math front if you're rusty, just a refresher on some calc/lin algebra basics. I spent one afternoon looking over some excercises and I've had no problems.

SMH
07-31-2007, 09:32 AM
snappythecrab, basically you mean that even not learning most of the stuff wont mean too much negative for us?

if yes then thats a great news :D

apropos
07-31-2007, 01:06 PM
Little to none on the econ side. Do your best to forget macro, and as long as you remember basic micro stuff you'll be fine. On the math front if you're rusty, just a refresher on some calc/lin algebra basics. I spent one afternoon looking over some excercises and I've had no problems.

It's good to know that I don't need to remember much about macro. While the math and micro theory are fresh in my head, the last time I took a macro course was in the previous century.

YoungEconomist
07-31-2007, 02:38 PM
Do your best to forget macro

This will be a piece of cake for me. ;)

werther
07-31-2007, 02:48 PM
This will be a piece of cake for me. ;)

Likewise. Macro bores me to death. Maybe I haven't seen the "real" macro yet, but what I've been taught during undergrad, i really don't care much for them - policies and growth models and market clearing models and whatever else. :sleepy:

YoungEconomist
07-31-2007, 03:10 PM
Likewise. Macro bores me to death. Maybe I haven't seen the "real" macro yet, but what I've been taught during undergrad, i really don't care much for them - policies and growth models and market clearing models and whatever else. :sleepy:

Yeah, I'm not the biggest fan either. Everybody says it's so much better at the graduate level and I hope that's true. To be honest, I'm even a little excited about taking it at the graduate level because everyone hypes it up.

buckykatt
07-31-2007, 06:07 PM
That's not entirely true. Wisconsin, for one, does not have a math camp.

I just knew that if I said every program has a math camp, there'd be an exception... ;)

Anyway, "all" of them also have a math methods courses for first-years that ought to help.

Bayern
08-01-2007, 03:22 AM
A lot of people have to do TA work at the grad schools which is ofcourse good if someone wants to teach at the LACs. How abour remembering materials for TA? Are we supposed to remember the stuff for TA, or is it simple enough (or will be simple enough at that point after being a grad student) to teach undergrad courses? I think the courses we are TAs are not limited to the introductory courses.

kartelite
08-01-2007, 04:04 AM
I think you will be surprised at how easy the material seems to you now, even if you didn't do great the first time around. I pretty much got straight B+'s in high school calc, during my masters I had to teach a couple small sections of calc 2 and it was fine. I also TA'd for linear algebra a couple times, it makes it so much easier having "mathematical maturity," even if the course was a struggle a few years ago. I think you'll find it's the same for econ. Plus, if you're just grading, you don't really need to understand everything in great depth. And if you're asked to TA a grad course, it usually means you were one of the top students in the class so you have nothing to worry about.

I had to teach an intro econ class for high schoolers this summer (stuff I hadn't seen in 6+ years, and as I wasn't an econ major this stuff wasn't at all fresh). I had to relearn a lot of the stuff, but just by virtue of having seen and done it all before it will all come back. Things that seemed blurry a few years ago all seem so intuitive when you come back to it. Plus your department doesn't want to place a huge burden on first years, they wouldn't give you an assignment if they didn't have confidence in you. I had the same concerns going into my masters, but trust me it'll be fine.

jjmann
08-01-2007, 05:39 AM
And if you're asked to TA a grad course, it usually means you were one of the top students in the class so you have nothing to worry about.

Usually all the econ applicants are one of the top students in the class. But isn't TA given to the relatively weaker applicants (in some places)? Because, usually the best of the applicants go to the schools on full scholarship or aid, and do not require the TA job. The ones who are weaker, are asked to TA as they do not qualify for full scholarship or aid. I had the impression this was how TAs were chosen in the first place.

Zoethor2
08-01-2007, 11:36 AM
I think kartelite was referring to TA assignments in the years 2 and beyond; I doubt any 1st student would be asked to TA for a grad level course! You would be asked to TA for a grad class if you had taken it and done exceptionally well, I imagine.
I think, from my experience, that in the first year, anyway, TA-ships are given to the top applicants without outside funding. None of the funding offers I received were just university scholarships with no strings; I got the impression that receiving pure fellowships was not the norm in economics and only a few people from each class, at most, should expect them.

dyiwang
08-02-2007, 04:04 PM
I was in the same boat before I started my program a year ago. And I worked for a couple of years in between my undergrad and ph.d program as well. So I remembered very little, but now that I have finished my first year, all is good. There was 2-3 weeks when I was particularly stressed, and probably rightfully so, but 2-3 weeks out of a year isn't too bad. Enjoy life in grad school, don't worry too much about your performance, and best of luck.