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Thread: No Linear Algebra and Calc II and III, NEED TO APPLY FOR PHD ECONOMICS, WHAT DO I DO

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    No Linear Algebra and Calc II and III, NEED TO APPLY FOR PHD ECONOMICS, WHAT DO I DO

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    Hi guys, first off, I am grateful for the existence of this forum. What an invaluable resource!

    Okay so first off I was given a four year contract at perhaps the most reputable international organization in DC, it's always been my dream to work there, and through the experience as a Research Analyst and working there, I have realized I am excruciatingly unequipped for the career I would love to have as an Economist or Development Specialist. I have one more year on my contract and I have been trying to apply for other positions but I read the job description and I don't have the macro or macro skills required for the economist roles. I met with the leading Economist there in the region and he told me to go to a PhD in Economics and it would put me in a whole different league. I have come to believe him and would be passionate about pursuing something that would give me something fulfilling to do for the rest of my life. Economics was my first love, I have always been passionate about learning and doing it.

    Background: I studied Economics at undergrad, at an American University located in Africa. Achieved a 3.81/4.0 CGPA, Magna Cum Laude, and if not for devastating incidents and mistakes like not being told to read a particular textbook for exams and then 50 percent of questions coming from there, I would have done much better. I am really passionate about school. I went to Masters at the London School of Economics but I did not have a Masters in Econ. I got it in Economics and Risk which was from the Sociology Department, it was a take on economic sociology and using it to decipher an alternative way of analyzing financial risks and disasters that kind of thing. So I didn't take mathematics or statistics here, which makes me wanna just cry because I need math so bad for this Eco PhD thing. The math/statistic courses I took in undergrad are: Introduction to Statistics, University Algebra (not linear algebra), Pre-Calculus, Calculus 1, that's it. I got a B in Calculus but an A in the rest. I took difficult Econ courses and got an A in all Econ courses but 1 where I got a B.

    I want to apply to good Econ Phd Programs towards next year, the deadline is December and I am thinking of taking any classes necessary for admission in top economics programs the next three to four months. Please give me advice, I don't want my Econ dream to die, I am stuck at a place where a career in this is what I would love to work toward. I also don't wanna go back to Africa after a year because I don't feel I have much to contribute right now so with a PhD I would be able to work towards a clear path in my career. A career as an economist in IMF or World Bank is kind of my dream job. Today I met someone from the IMF who spent 6 and a half years on his PhD (extenuating circumstance) and got a job at the IMF through the EP program which I just think is amazing, all the opportunities and extraordinary work is so immense. I am sorry for this epistle I have written but basically I would please like to know how I can apply for a PhD in Econ for next year given my limited Math history and what I can do to surmount the challenges if there are any. Thank you so much.

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    Re: No Linear Algebra and Calc II and III, NEED TO APPLY FOR PHD ECONOMICS, WHAT DO I

    I feel bad for you, but the simple fact is that even a very low ranked Econ PhD program will not look at a candidate with as weak a math background as you. Calc III and Lin Alg are absolutely necessary just for making it through the first year classes of an Econ PhD program. For that matter, some US MA programs in Econ require Calc II, and a few require at least one of Calc III or Linear Algebra. Pretty much every US university is already at least two weeks into the fall semester, so it would probably be very difficult for you to take courses as a non matriculated student this fall.

    Spend a year taking Calc II, III, Lin Alg and possibly a serious undergraduate econometrics class (if you do not have it). If you could somehow squeeze in Real Analysis and a good Probability course that would help. Then apply next year. Even so, you would probably only have a chance at a lower ranked program, though it seems to me that you would be OK with a lower ranked program as long as it is respected enough that graduates can get decent industry jobs.

    I do understand that you only have a year left on your contract but there is no way for you to be ready to apply this fall to PhD programs. If staying in the US after the end of your contract is an issue, you might be able to get into Econ MA programs which usually have application deadlines in the Spring, some as late as May.

    Given your current job, having the Sociological Econ MA from LSE, and the fact that you want to work in development it might be a good idea to look a little outside the standard Econ PhD programs. A PhD in Public Policy or in Development or something similar, perhaps with an Econ oriented focus might work out better for you. However, you would still probably need Calc III and Lin Alg to get into a good program in those fields that have an Econ focus.

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    Re: No Linear Algebra and Calc II and III, NEED TO APPLY FOR PHD ECONOMICS, WHAT DO I

    Thank you for taking the time and effort to respond to me. I took econometrics in undergrad and was the highest in my class, got an almost perfect score (A+).

    Are you saying that even if I spend a year taking Calc II, III, Lin Alg, Real Analysis and a good Probability course Iíll still only have a chance at a lower ranked program? Whyís that? I thought that was sufficient math to get me considered for a higher ranked program? At least thatís what Harvardís website says. Are you saying the maths wonít still be enough to be considered for a higher ranked program even after taking these courses?

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    Re: No Linear Algebra and Calc II and III, NEED TO APPLY FOR PHD ECONOMICS, WHAT DO I

    Meeting the qualifications to be considered at a program is very different from having a realistic chance of being admitted. Harvard gets 600+ applications a year and admits 40~45.

    But you don't need to go to Harvard to get a job at the IMF or the World Bank. Spend a few minutes looking at current (young) economists at organizations that you might be interested in. Note where they got their degrees from. The think about what you need to be competitive at those schools.

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    Re: No Linear Algebra and Calc II and III, NEED TO APPLY FOR PHD ECONOMICS, WHAT DO I

    Thanks for your reply. But youíre still not telling me what would make me not realistically admitted even after taking all those math courses. I thought that was all that was missing. What is the obstacle to being realistically admitted after taking the required math courses, because the first response said even after taking the required math courses I will still only be able to apply to lower ranked schools despite my stellar background in academics, research at the world bank for three years and a masters at the LSE. Iím confused. Pls What stops me from being competitive to Harvard after taking the required math courses?

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    Re: No Linear Algebra and Calc II and III, NEED TO APPLY FOR PHD ECONOMICS, WHAT DO I

    I think the biggest thing that I see is the depth and breadth of experience in various coursework in Economics and also in higher level Math aside from the basic requirements that are stated online, and also the relative lack of foresight and conscientious planning in your academic record. But others can chime in too because this is just my 2 cents.

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    Re: No Linear Algebra and Calc II and III, NEED TO APPLY FOR PHD ECONOMICS, WHAT DO I

    You might like to review some of the profiles of past people who have gotten into top 10 schools and see what they have that you could add to your arsenal?

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    Re: No Linear Algebra and Calc II and III, NEED TO APPLY FOR PHD ECONOMICS, WHAT DO I

    Quote Originally Posted by Ada View Post
    Thanks for your reply. But youíre still not telling me what would make me not realistically admitted even after taking all those math courses. I thought that was all that was missing. What is the obstacle to being realistically admitted after taking the required math courses, because the first response said even after taking the required math courses I will still only be able to apply to lower ranked schools despite my stellar background in academics, research at the world bank for three years and a masters at the LSE. Iím confused. Pls What stops me from being competitive to Harvard after taking the required math courses?
    Econ adcoms will not care much about the LSE masters that you have because it is not in (mainstream) economics or in a quantitative field like math or statistics. Now, if you were applying to a PhD program in Public Policy or International Development at certain universities, or perhaps a sociological oriented PhD Program in Organizational Behavior that masters degree would help somewhat. That is why I mentioned looking at options in related fields in my earlier post, though the work you would be doing once you graduate would probably be different than an econ PhD.

    The math classes startz and I mentioned are the bare minimum for someone who did not graduate from an elite university to even have a chance of their application getting looked at at a top 30. The letters of recommendation also matter a lot. Without at least one letter from a top tier economist, even someone with a far stronger profile than yours would have trouble getting into a top tier school.

    As startz mentioned, it is not uncommon for top tier econ PhD programs to get 500+ applicants for perhaps 30-40 acceptances and 20 total slots for matriculating students, and a large portion of the applicants will have a far stronger profile than you.

    Look at the profiles of the current students a Harvard. Almost all of them either graduated from elite US universities, or have masters degrees from the top European econ departments or graduated from very good US universities often with a double major in math and econ and then spent time as research assistants for top economists. Or take a look at the student profiles at the some of the top 30 programs. They will still mostly have graduated from very good US universities with a lot of math classes and research experience, or have masters degrees in econ from very good econ departments, mostly in Europe.

    There is nothing wrong with going to somewhat lower ranked program outside the top 30 or even top 50. Many of them have a history of placing their best students in places like J-PAL, World Bank, IMF, etc., though you would still need to take the math classes I mentioned to have a real chance at getting admitted.

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    Re: No Linear Algebra and Calc II and III, NEED TO APPLY FOR PHD ECONOMICS, WHAT DO I

    Quote Originally Posted by dogbones View Post
    You might like to review some of the profiles of past people who have gotten into top 10 schools and see what they have that you could add to your arsenal?
    This is also a good idea. And compare those profiles to those who only got into top 30's or top 50's and those who only got into below top 50 programs.

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    Re: No Linear Algebra and Calc II and III, NEED TO APPLY FOR PHD ECONOMICS, WHAT DO I

    Quote Originally Posted by Ada View Post
    Thanks for your reply. But youíre still not telling me what would make me not realistically admitted even after taking all those math courses. I thought that was all that was missing. ...What stops me from being competitive to Harvard after taking the required math courses?
    You're thinking of the admission's process backwards...lots of people do. There is no set of check boxes that guarantee admission. Admission committees are looking for positive signals. Perfect grades, good math courses, great GRE's mean the committee will look at your application. But then there has to be something at the next level to get you serious consideration. A letter of recommendation from someone who knows you very well and has evidence to speak to your research potential is a leading candidate. (It's entirely possible that you have such evidence from your current gig.)

    Think of the math and stuff as necessary, and the "something special" as sufficient.

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