Hi, I have been lurking around this board for about four years now, I did not want to post my profile until I was ready.
I'm looking for direction because I have no idea where I stand. My first instinct is to believe that a top 100 school in econ is probably my best bet. I am fine with that.
I'm from a country in Africa but I did my undergrad in econ and masters in international development at a Big Ten school in the US. I did ok in the general sense, but terrible for PhD admissions.
I returned home after my masters and got a job, but during the three years since then, I had been taking online math classes from reputable schools in the US. My overall grades are better, but I'm not sure how they will be evaluated.
Type of Undergrad: Top 100 Public US University, Top 30/35 Econ
Undergrad GPA: 3.2 Econ GPA: similar
GRE: Q:165 V:157 AWA:5 (Previous GRE was way worse)
Math Courses: Calc 1 (F, retook for a A-, Business Stats (C+)
Econ Courses: Int. Micro/Macro (A-, B), International Trade (A), Econometrics (B), Labor 2 (B), Labor 1 (C+) International Finance (B+), Senior Capstone (B), Health Econ (B)
Type of Grad: MA in ID
Grad GPA: 3.0
Returned to home country (All courses after this are online)
Math Courses: Did an online math certificate at another top 100 US school, also another Big Ten school. GPA (3.73)
Calc 2 (B+), Calc 3 (A-), Applied Linear Algebra (A), Differential Equation (A-), Introduction to Probability Theory (A-), Capstone (A+)
Did a Masters in Applied Math online at a good in the West Coast. Grades are numerical, so I converted it to letters using their own scale.
Grad GPA: 3.54 (Not including my thesis class, I'm finishing this semester)
Grad Math Courses: Vector Calculus and complex variables (B), Introduction to Dynamic Systems (B+), Methods of Partial Differentiation Equation (B+), Applied Linear Algebra and Numerical Analysis (A-), Scientific Computing (A), Computational Methods for Data Analysis (A), Applied Probability and Statistics (A-), Applied Analysis (B+)
Research Experience: For the past 2 years I have been working as a program analyst for the state government and for the past 3 years I've been working part time as a research fellow at a local university. For the government job, I do a lot of program evaluation but this involves a lot of field work and statistical analysis (Hence, they funded my masters). For the research fellow job, I collaborate with professors in the econ and public admin department on papers and reports.
Letters of Recommendation:
I'll be using 3 from 5 people.
1) One of the professors I do research with. He got his PhD locally but he is a consultant for WHO, World Bank and African development bank. I do a lot of statistical work for him and some of our work has been published in regional journals, basically C and D journals according to the CL rankings.. Some I coauthored and some I just helped.
2) Another professor I do research with, he got his PhD in Europe.
3 and 4) During my math journey, I ended up taking 3 classes with the same professor twice. I could ask them.
5) For policy schools I may add a work experience letter if they ask for it, from my boss. He only has a masters but he would probably say the most good things about me.
Teaching Experience: Taught high school economics and commerce for a year.
Research Interests: Development economics, labor, technology shocks (most of the schools I'm applying to may not even offer macro, so I am not strong on this one).
Concerns: Everything is a concern.
1) All my math except cal 1 and business stats were online. My transcript doesn't say it was online, and both schools are reputable schools but adcoms will figure they were online due to the location differences
2) I am not aiming for top schools, so I am not really worried about my LORs, I know they will be good, but yeah, lack of big names is still a concern.
3) I'll be applying at 27, will matriculate at 28.
4) My GPA is terrible. Even my math grades are decent but not excellent, a 3.5 is good but not great. I'm still proud, considering how much I feared math. I don't know if schools will be impressed.
5) Many classes made use of real analysis concepts, my recommenders will stress that, but it might be a factor. The only school I know (through the help of this forum actually), that offers RA online is Indiana University East. I don't know if I should take it in the summer before applying.
Applying to: I am applying to a mix of policy and ARE/econ schools. I looked at non-academic placements as well as proximity to NGOs in the DC area. and location
Reaches: MSU AFRE and Maryland AREs, Purdue and Georgetown
Other econ schools: American University, George Washington
Other Policy Schools: Georgia State, Maryland.