View Full Version : Considering an Econ PhD

economist?

01-31-2008, 02:59 AM

Hi everyone. I'm considering going after an Econ PhD and am interested in some feedback on my prospects and any ideas on what I can do to improve my application. First a little about me:

-I went to a small liberal arts college (no econ PhD)--picked up an Economics minor during my Junior year and switched to the major during my Senior year.

-Overall undergrad GPA is 3.62.

-I graduated in 2005 been working at a private Public Finance firm since.

-The only math classes I've taken are Calc and Econ Stats.

-I don't have a research background, but should be able to get a pretty good rec letter from the chair of the Econ department at my undergrad.

I'm currently studying for the GRE to apply this fall (hopefully). Would a letter of rec from my employer be acceptable? Would it be helpful to pick up some additional math classes (Linear Algebra and Advanced Stats?) during the Fall semester as I'm applying? Is there anything else I can do to improve my application?

I'm also considering applying to Master's programs to get additional experience before applying to better PhD programs.

Thanks in advance for the help!

Luckykid

01-31-2008, 03:12 AM

Hi everyone. I'm considering going after an Econ PhD and am interested in some feedback on my prospects and any ideas on what I can do to improve my application. First a little about me:

-I went to a small liberal arts college (no econ PhD)--picked up an Economics minor during my Junior year and switched to the major during my Senior year.

-Overall undergrad GPA is 3.62.

-I graduated in 2005 been working at a private Public Finance firm since.

-The only math classes I've taken are Calc and Econ Stats.

-I don't have a research background, but should be able to get a pretty good rec letter from the chair of the Econ department at my undergrad.

I'm currently studying for the GRE to apply this fall (hopefully). Would a letter of rec from my employer be acceptable? Would it be helpful to pick up some additional math classes (Linear Algebra and Advanced Stats?) during the Fall semester as I'm applying? Is there anything else I can do to improve my application?

I'm also considering applying to Master's programs to get additional experience before applying to better PhD programs.

Thanks in advance for the help!

You will be hard pressed to get into a good school with out 3 sems of Calc and linear algebra...math stats is a plus too. Depending on what you do and your goals it may be beneficial to take a year off and cram in more math like Young Econ or just get masters first with a solid GPA.

Roy

TruDog

01-31-2008, 03:14 AM

You need to complete calc III, linear algebra, and a mathematical statistics class at the very least. Analysis is nice, but not necessary.

I'm one of the several LAC grads on this forum. My profile can be found here (http://www.urch.com/forums/448839-post44.html).

YoungEconomist

01-31-2008, 03:46 AM

Depending on what you do and your goals it may be beneficial to take a year off and cram in more math like Young Econ or just get masters first with a solid GPA.

Yeah, I got mentioned! :D

Seriously though, Luckykid is right, you definitely could use some more math. The bare minimum at most places is Calc, Matrix Algebra, Diff Eq, and some sort of Stats class.

I'm not going to take that much math (at least not compared to people on this forum), but I've decided to stay around my undergrad for a whole 5th year (this year) plus this summer and next fall (yikes, I'll be a 6th year senior for awhile:(). I've decided to take the following courses (which is really not that many for a pre-Econ PhD):

Basic Calc series (3 quarters)

Advanced Multi-variable Calc

Differential Equations

Matrix Algebra

Intro to Proofs (it's the Real Analysis prereq)

Probability Theory (Calc based)It really depends on how much time you have and what you want to do. If you're ok going to some of the lower ranked PhD programs you could probably get in with the math you have now or just 1 - 2 courses. However, I'd advise against it. A PhD in Economics is tough enough without trying to learn the math on your own. I contemplated this myself for awhile, because some people get into PhD programs without that much math. In the end, I decided that these math courses will be very vital to my success. For one thing, taking and doing well in some of these math courses will allow me to hopefully go to a good program. Second, I also decided that even if I go to a low ranked program, I'd much rather have seen the math as it will hopefully allow me to do well no matter what program I wind up at. I saw a stat once in some econ paper that said one of the key indicators of passing the prelims and finishing the dissertation where math exposure prior to grad school.

commodore

01-31-2008, 03:59 AM

Just FYI -- don't think it's just about admissions that you need the math. You will have all sorts of trouble in your first year without a full calc background and a solid linear algebra class. I've had those things and I still struggle. I'd say pass on diff eq if you're time-constrained, but calc, linear algebra, and stats are absolute musts.

economist?

01-31-2008, 06:06 AM

Thanks for the feedback! It'll be tough to get all the extra math since I've been out of school for a few years and currently work full time, but I'll definitely try to get some of the more necessary ones.

charlesbronson

01-31-2008, 02:05 PM

Economist?, you may want to consider the net math program at UIUC. It will allow you take the prerequisite math (Calc 1-3, Linear Algebra) as well as a course in probability theory and differential equations if you like.

I've been very happy with the program. I'm not sure if it is considered less by the adcoms (it appears as full credit from UIUC, nothing special on the transcript), but obviously it will be better than having nothing. If you start now, and really work at it, you should be able to have all 4 classes done by December (not easy, but possible).

The webpage is NetMath - Online Math Course - University of Illiniois (http://netmath.uiuc.edu)

economist?

01-31-2008, 10:33 PM

Economist?, you may want to consider the net math program at UIUC. It will allow you take the prerequisite math (Calc 1-3, Linear Algebra) as well as a course in probability theory and differential equations if you like.

I've been very happy with the program. I'm not sure if it is considered less by the adcoms (it appears as full credit from UIUC, nothing special on the transcript), but obviously it will be better than having nothing. If you start now, and really work at it, you should be able to have all 4 classes done by December (not easy, but possible).

The webpage is NetMath - Online Math Course - University of Illiniois (http://netmath.uiuc.edu)

That's interesting. I'll definitely look into that. Also, does anyone know anything about auditing classes at a local University? I'm in LA, so there are a few around here, obviously.

buckykatt

02-01-2008, 06:28 AM

I wouldn't audit key prerequisites like calc, linear algebra, etc.--adcoms will want to see your grades.

economist?

02-01-2008, 05:10 PM

I wouldn't audit key prerequisites like calc, linear algebra, etc.--adcoms will want to see your grades.

thanks for the advice. in this case, do you think it would be better to do some sort of online course or community college (do they even offer advanced math at cc?)?

MomDeaminPhD

02-06-2008, 04:15 PM

Some cc do offer advanced math, some do not.

Personally I would not suggest online courses for advanced math classes.

The cc I went to many moons ago did offer up through Calc IV - differentials, but the local cc where I live now does not. It is like high school for adults, very general ed focused.