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Thread: Good grades in PhD micro vs. weak math grades

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    Good grades in PhD micro vs. weak math grades

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    For undergraduates, can strong performances in graduate Mathematical Methods for Economists and Microeconomic classes help cover up a somewhat weak math record? How would adcoms treat this kind of situation?

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    Math for econ won't compensate for signalling of your math ability, since most people regard math courses taken in economics department as not being as rigorous as those in the math dept.

    Grad Micro is a good signalling course, so it would work in your favor.

    It's impossible to say how strong either will be relative to say poor performance in certain math courses. But it suffices to say that there will be applicants to at least top programs who would have performed well in both graduate econ and math courses. If you can't directly improve your math background, then i suppose this would be the next best alternative.

    There are also many externalities involved with taking grad econ courses. The main one being access to strong letters of recommendation, so that's something to consider as well.

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    If you can perform well in a graduate economics course on the level of where you're applying, this is a very good signal. Good grades in math courses are used to assess your ability to deal with difficult graduate material. If you demonstrate directly that you can do that, then it can somewhat alleviate the concerns they have about your math grades.

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    Quote Originally Posted by art_vandelay View Post
    Math for econ won't compensate for signalling of your math ability, since most people regard math courses taken in economics department as not being as rigorous as those in the math dept.
    That's probably true for undergrad math for econ, but I doubt it's quite so black and white with grad math for econ. In terms of whether it will help cover up the answer is yes, since its a positive signal. If you're question are grad econ courses a substitute (i.e. do they fully cover up for a weak math background), I don't know but from conversations with professors I suspect not since even after doing well in some grad courses one professor at least wanted to check to make sure I was still taking enough math courses.
    Last edited by Charis; 05-13-2011 at 06:47 PM.

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    Probably the main reason that grad schools care so much about math is so that they know you can handle grad micro. So yea, grad micro would be a good "substitute".

    Depends on what math for econ is. There's a lot of variance for the content of this course between different universities. The closer it is to mathematical economics (more theoretic, not applied), the better it is for a substitute. At my university, the typical "math for econ" and "math econ" courses are integrated into one course.

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    Quote Originally Posted by seacucumber View Post
    Probably the main reason that grad schools care so much about math is so that they know you can handle grad micro. So yea, grad micro would be a good "substitute".

    Depends on what math for econ is. There's a lot of variance for the content of this course between different universities. The closer it is to mathematical economics (more theoretic, not applied), the better it is for a substitute. At my university, the typical "math for econ" and "math econ" courses are integrated into one course.
    I'm pretty sure my university's graduate math for econ class is a more theoretical one (At least this is what I've heard from other grad students at my school).

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