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Thread: Profile Evaluation: MPhil Economics Oxford/Cambridge - PhD in top 15 UK

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    Profile Evaluation: MPhil Economics Oxford/Cambridge - PhD in top 15 UK

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    Hello everyone.

    Long time lurker, first time poster. As the title insists, I am interested in applying to the Oxford & Cambridge MPhil Economics or to a PhD Economics program at a top 15 UK University. I would be really grateful if you could evaluate my profile.

    BSc: Economics (Top 2 in Greece) Magna cum laude
    MSc: Economics (Top 10 in the UK) Pass
    GRE: Planning to take the exam in the coming months
    IELTS: 8.0/9.0

    Research Experience: Master's Thesis on fiscal policy in a liquidity trap (received merit), applied economics project on children's health related to recessions in India (received distinction), various projects (political economy heavy) during my undergrad
    Research Interests: DSGE modelling, macroeconomics, applied economics, time series
    Work Experience: I am working for 1 year as a Financial Accounting Analyst focusing on forecasts and financial reports
    Other skills: Experience in Matlab, Stata, Python
    References I can acquire:
    3 academic
    • Lecturer, ex Oxford, (2 modules distinction)
    • Professor (1 module merit)
    • Professor, ex Cambridge, with whom I worked with as an undergrad serving as the class coordinator for 1 module (2 modules distinction)

    2 work related
    • President of the company I work
    • Senior Director of the Auditing Team


    Unfortunately I do not have a sparkling academic background but provided that I can achieve high GRE results and maybe if I try to publish my dissertation, do I have a chance in Oxbridge? Could I get funding for a PhD in a medium tier UK university? I am not overly intimidated by the math requirements as I have some experience from my master's degree and I will have a gap year when I can prepare myself more adequately as the application will be for the academic year 2016-2017. Am I aiming too high?


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    PhD wannabe jrdonsimoni's Avatar
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    Re: Profile Evaluation: MPhil Economics Oxford/Cambridge - PhD in top 15 UK

    I would unfortunately have to say that no, I dont see you having a shot at oxbridge, even remotely. Even if your 'pass' was from an excellent university, they might keep your application for a while, but they would probably reject it quickly afterwards.

    You should probably consider your own institution for a phd first (when you say top 10, are we talking russel group?), or failing that consider: Bristol, Royal Holloway, Lancaster, Birmingham, Birkbeck or Leicester. Although Im not sure whether any of them specifically focuses on macro and DSGEs, but they are fairly well-rounded departments, so I think you should be covered.

    You could attempt Manchester, York or Sussex but these might be a bit high given your grade. As for funding, unfortunately I'd bet against it again because, even if you did get admitted, say in Lancaster, then their funding would be more limited than at top programmes and they would favour those who got Distinctions or Merits before they d consider you. Your best bet for funding and getting better admission results would be to redo another master, conditional on your current master being a specialised one (e.g. Development Economics, Economic Policy, etc.). If however you have a standard MSc in Economics, then there wouldn't be much point in it, because then universities would ask why you are doing this, and why you didnt do well the first time around :/

    Sorry for the not so good reply, but with a 'pass' your options are limited for phds at decent departments. And I would never recommend anyone to go to Loughborough, Dundee, London Met or Middlesex.... unless you reeeeeally want to be an academic.

    But, are you sure you want to do a phd? You could perhaps RA for someone or just go directly for a job.

    P.S.: I just remembered, if you re looking for funding for a phd (Im assuming you re set on this) you can check out jobs.ac.uk and their listings under 'economics', they often advertise GTA (grad teaching assistantships) for various universities, very often in fact. And these imply 99% of the time a place on their doctoral programme. It might not be Oxford or the LSE, but it ll be what you want to do
    Attending: Frankfurt GSEFM
    Admitted: Frankfurt GSEFM ($$), EUR ($$), Barcelona GSE (MSc)
    Interview: Munich GSE (declined)
    Rejected: sooo many places- Bonn, Manheim, Caltech, NYU Stern, Chicago, BU, UCSD, UT Austin, Virginia, UCSB, USC, GMU

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    Re: Profile Evaluation: MPhil Economics Oxford/Cambridge - PhD in top 15 UK

    Thank you so much for your prompt reply!

    Don't feel sorry for your answer. That's why I posted in the first place, to hear other people's opinions with greater experience than mine. I can't say that I'm not disappointed though I was expecting that an applicant who already has a master's, a publication, a job in a relevant field and strong GRE scores would be at least considered given a good performance at the interview.

    As far as my master's degree, yes it's Russel Group (Bristol MSc economics), so me taking another economics master's would be counter intuitive, even though I could consider something like Economics and Finance or Economics and Econometrics. I am really interested in pursuing an academic career so I'm kinda set on doing a PhD.
    Last edited by Nedra; 06-10-2015 at 06:20 PM.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation: MPhil Economics Oxford/Cambridge - PhD in top 15 UK

    Glad I could help. But yeah, a masters is a necessary condition for phds in the uk anyhow, even those that say they dont actually do since they make you do an MRes, MPhil or take classes and get an MSc regardless. So thats not a huge signal on its own. Now, it is true that with a publication it sends a better one. However, a merit in your thesis, although a good thing on its own cannot undo the damage of the pass in the other classes.

    But like I said, perhaps going about it via those GTA jobs I mentioned might be one way to do it. There, your experience and publication might carry more weight. I know universities (especially in the midlands, for some odd reason) do advertise those very often and they do entail being part of their PhD programme usually. By midlands I mean the Leics, Loughs, Cov; but also some northerners: Sheffield, Leeds, etc.

    Obviously, you can still apply to those good schools if you want (The Manchester, York, or Bath of the world). If you can afford the application fees, then you wont be losing out much. Bristol is a good uni, with a strong econ department, so there s always a chance they might want to hear from you. Good luck to you anyhow
    Attending: Frankfurt GSEFM
    Admitted: Frankfurt GSEFM ($$), EUR ($$), Barcelona GSE (MSc)
    Interview: Munich GSE (declined)
    Rejected: sooo many places- Bonn, Manheim, Caltech, NYU Stern, Chicago, BU, UCSD, UT Austin, Virginia, UCSB, USC, GMU

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    Re: Profile Evaluation: MPhil Economics Oxford/Cambridge - PhD in top 15 UK

    Hi All,

    I know that people are generally expected to start their own thread when asking for a profile evaluation. However, I thought this might be one instance when it is better not to follow the rule since I am applying to the same programs as the OP and it will be easier for users to comment on one thread. Please let me know if you would rather have me start my own thread. If not, can you all please let me know what my chances are for the Mphil Economics at Cambridge/Oxford and the Msc Economics at LSE? Also, should I bother applying to a Top15 Ph.D program at all?

    Type of Undergrad: Top 30 US Liberal Arts college
    Major: Mathematical Economics
    GPA: Cumulative 3.81, Econ 3.94, Math 3.8
    Relevant honors: Graduated magna cum laude, received distinction in mathematical economics, and was awarded award for most outstanding senior thesis
    GRE: Yet to take but should be able to get 165+ on the quant with practice
    Math Classes: Calculus I II III (A-, A, B+), Linear Algebra (A-), Number Theory (B), Ordinary Differential Equations (A), Partial Differential Equations (A), Probability Theory (A), Probability and Statistical Modeling (A), Stochastic Processes (A), Numerical Analysis (A).
    Econ Classes: Intermediate Micro (B+), Intermediate Macro (A), Econometrics (A), Advanced Econometrics (A), Mathematical Economics (A), Labor Economics (A), International Finance (A), International Trade (A), Environmental Economics (A)
    Research Experience: Wrote a thesis that won the award for most outstanding senior thesis. Advisor was impressed and we are trying to publish the work. I have also worked as a research assistant for three other professors, with one professor publishing the paper I helped him with. The work with these professors mainly involved writing Stata code, importing and cleaning datasets using excel and SAS, and creating pretty graphs and tables for the final paper.
    Recommendations: Should get excellent recommendations from all of the professors I researched with, especially my thesis advisor. My thesis advisor, who also taught me two advanced mathematical economics classes, will be able to talk to my aptitude for econometrics and mathematical economics since I aced all of his classes. He also saw me self-teach myself time series econometrics for the thesis. The other recommendation will come from the professor who had published the paper I had RA'd for. He also taught me two econometrics classes, both of which I aced.
    Teaching Experience: Worked as teaching assistant and grader for multiple economics classes. Also worked as a tutor at the college's mathematics tutoring center for three years.
    SOP:​ Not sure yet. Will think of one if I feel that I have a decent shot at getting in.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation: MPhil Economics Oxford/Cambridge - PhD in top 15 UK

    Just quickly, you are expected to start your own thread normally when there s enough room for differentiation in the recommendations. Given that you have a US background, completely different grades, you are also targeting US schools, and you have no clear research interest listed. ==> You re going to get completely different advice, from different people. For instance I usually refrain from advising US applicants as I am not familiar enough with their background.

    There s no problem at all with starting your own thread, and pooling is really only valid if you genuinely have an almost identical profile and target schools (although one might ask why you d post in the first place then).

    Good luck though
    Attending: Frankfurt GSEFM
    Admitted: Frankfurt GSEFM ($$), EUR ($$), Barcelona GSE (MSc)
    Interview: Munich GSE (declined)
    Rejected: sooo many places- Bonn, Manheim, Caltech, NYU Stern, Chicago, BU, UCSD, UT Austin, Virginia, UCSB, USC, GMU

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    Re: Profile Evaluation: MPhil Economics Oxford/Cambridge - PhD in top 15 UK

    jrdonsimoni, thanks for the quick reply. I just created a new thread.

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