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Thread: Economics graduate school

  1. #1
    Within my grasp! daageep's Avatar
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    Smile Economics graduate school

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    Hi everybody, I'm a a new user to this site and hope I can learn a lot from TM. =)

    I wish to pursue an advanced degree - specifically a PhD - economics here in the United States and wish to get more feedback before I have to apply. I am a senior in Economics here at the University of California Berkeley.

    Here are my statistics so far:
    *Junior transfer from a community college (gpa 3.76/4.00)
    *University of California at Berkeley for two semesters and a summer (cummulative gpa 3.6, major gpa 3.68)
    *classes taken so far: Intermediate Micro, Macro, Financial Econ, Finance, calc I-III, linear algebra & diff equations, probability theory, two "introductory" statistics courses, econometrics (the more rigorous one out of the two offered in undergrad)
    *classes for next semester: mathematical statistics, applied econometrics.
    * currently writing an senior honor's thesis on reputation on final prices and dynamic prices in online auctions. i'm using econometric models to quantify the effect of reputation.

    So my questions are:
    1) Assuming I get high 700s on GRE Q and decent verbal and analytical scores, which Universities should I apply to for Econometrics, Macroeconomics, or International Econ? Which ones are safety, a stretch, and hopeless?
    2) I'm planning on taking proof-based linear algebra and real analysis before I graduate, but I don't know how well I will do in these. What are the consequences if I get B- to B range? I think it is still better than not taking them. Should I save them for the last semester I'm here?
    3) How should I approach professors for LOR and from *which* Professors (which fields)? I have a few professors in mind, but I don't know how to approach them. Right now my thesis advisor is a famous econometrician so I will ask him for one next year, after I finish my thesis. For my probability theory class, I go to office hours sometimes and have talked closely with my prof. But I just don't know how to approach her. Next up is the professor leading my thesis seminar. I talk to him a lot and about graduate school sometimes. Again, I don't know how to ask.
    4) Do graduate schools weight GPAs from different Universities differently? I feel that my University is VERY rigorous and my GPA is lower than a lot of applicants' gpas from less rigorous universities. If they do weight it, do they weight them accurately?
    5) What classes do you guys suggest I take before I graduate to maximize my chances of passing in graduate school? Getting in is one thing, but surviving is another. I want to survive.

    Thanks for your help. I hope to hear from you guys!

  2. #2
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    Re: Economics graduate school

    Hi! Here are some answers/suggestions to your questions:

    to 1)
    Very hard to say what will be safety, stretch, and hopeless schools for you. I don't know what a GPA of 3.6 at UCB is worth. In which classes did you get As? Did you get As in calc III, linear algebra & diff equations, probability theory, and econometrics? Do you know your class rank/percentile? Additionally, it depends on how good your LORs will be.

    Do you want to apply for fall 2005? If yes, you may get into problems because deadlines are soon. This may limit the number of universities you can apply to.

    to 3) Pick LOR writers who think that you are a really good student. For example, ask a prof in who's class you were the best student. It might also be helpful to ask somebody who did his PhD at the school to which you want to go to.

    I don't really understand what you mean with "how to approach them?". I just wrote an email to my prof saying that I want to apply for grad school and then asked "Do you feel comfortable to write a positive LOR for me?".

    to 4) Yes, graduate schools weight GPAs from different Universities differently.

    to 5) If you are worried about passing grad school, try to avoid those places famous for failing 50% of their incoming class. Second, take some additionally proof-based math classes.

    I hope I could help you a bit.

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
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    Re: Economics graduate school

    For (1) and (2) I concur with sally.

    (3): A nice way is to ask a prof: '' I am trying to get into grad school. Where should I apply? '' If the answer is MIT, Stanford, Yale, Harv or related top schools then ask for a LOR from him/her. Remember, the quality of the LOR depends mostly of what the paricular prof thinks about you. So if a prof answer ''apply to top schools'' then he/she must have an excellent opinion about your potential.
    (4): Certainly a x GPA from Berkeley will strictly dominate a x GPA from other schools in 99/100 cases.
    (5) For survival: take many maths, mainly static optim (KT and Envelopes are the very important for grad micro) and dynamics-differential systems and dynamic programming. Not that these are absolutely necessary, but certainly they will help both to get in and to get out.

    Your profile seems very OK (contigent on good GREs) but if you want to apply for the fall 2005... hurry!

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    Within my grasp! daageep's Avatar
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    Re: Economics graduate school

    Hi thanks for the replies, sally and Econ.

    I don't know my class rank here at Berkeley; i don't even know if we have that here.

    No, I'm not applying for this this coming Fall's enrollment. I will be here at Berkeley for this coming spring, summer, and next fall. Then, around fall time, I will apply for admissions for Fall 06 (i hope that's correct).

    I don't think I have enough time to take that much more math. The classes I'm thinking about taking for the remainder of the time here are: applied econometrics, mathematical statistics, proof-based linear algebra, graduate statistical computing (programming), real analysis (very scared), and an econ elective.

    For the "safety, stretch, hopeless schools question," I know it's hard to answer based on my statistics. Would anybody know some profiles of recently admitted students to UCD (university of california, Davis), UCLA, UCI (univ. of cali, irvine), UCSC (santa cruz), USC (univ. of southern california), and other california schools? I want to stay mainly in California. I hope you can provide me with some profiles for especially the first three schools I mentioned, because those are my top (realistic) choices.

    One more question :o How long did you guys study for the GRE? I don't knwo when I can allot more than three weeks to the gre (winter break), because I have classes all year long. When do you suggest I should study?

    Thanks guys. I appreciate the help.

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
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    Re: Economics graduate school

    For a typical profile check the amazing site www.econphd.net: it has an admission guide with profiles of students applying for econphd in recent years. Roughly speaking for an admission in a top20 school you need (I guess):

    GRE Q780+ (preferably Q800), GPA in the top 3-5% (in the above site I have seen guys/gals from US Universities getting in econ phd programs with GPAs from 3.4-4.0 but preferably over 3.6), strong math preparation, excellent LORs, some people have research experience. Generally GPA, GRE, LORs, maths, SOP are the most common requirements. Rexp is essential and maybe the most important factor but few persons in this age hav e papers in economic journals.

    For the GRE I prepared for a full-3-month period (studying only for the GRE) but this should not scare you since my English is awful and I wanted to get a decent V score. However, preparing for 3 weeks seems to me as a little risky since GRE is a peculiar exam and certainly needs its time to get familiar. The earlier you give your exam, the better. I think that the fact that you are thinking from now about schools/admissions/GRE is very positive.

    Finally, for Cal schools my opinion (I might be wrong of course)
    Top + : Berkeley, Stanford (top 5-7 among all econ phd in the world)
    Top : UCLA, UCSD (San Diego, very good in econometrics and game theory) - top 10-15 in the world
    Top - : UCD, UCI -- I guess they are top30 (?)
    For the rest I have no opinion, unfortunately

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    Re: Economics graduate school

    I think LORs are really important. GPAs in math is also very important. I helped an potential Econ PhD with her application. She's at Harvard now. The strongest part of her application was LORs. Her recommender (math prof.) really liked her and took time to do a really good one for her. Her overall GPA was not so high, but in Math classes she got all As. I think she spent like 3 days studying for the GREs. I don't know how she did, but I don't think she did well. Her SOP was not so good (I read it; suggested she revise it but she didn't care to). That said, I think what stood out on her application was her math ability. She was a potential math major.

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    Re: Economics graduate school

    What 777 brings as an example, shows the randomness of the whole procedure. Definitely, all schools want top GPA and GREs. But when one passes the cut-off points for these two, LORs, maths and SOP matter the most. The random part enters since school X might care about maths but school Y might care more about strong LORs. That is, it is very difficult to find safe schools these days!

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