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Thread: Need help defining a roadmap

  1. #1
    Trying to make mom and pop proud
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    Need help defining a roadmap

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    The recent news about Duflo/Banerjee/Kremer has made me really interested in doing development economics (my goal would be to participate in the impact evaluations/RCTs done by J-PAL/IPA/Etc).

    The thing is, I graduated 2 years ago with a B.A. in International Affairs (at a top school in the field). I took very minimal econ/quant coursework (Calc I, Stats I, Intro to Micro, Intro to Macro, Int'l Econ). This doesn't seem to be enough to get into most masters programs (even less for PhDs).

    Does anyone know of any well known programs that have a qualifyng year (or a bridging program of that nature)?

    Right now I think my best bet would be to get into Sciences Po's International Economic Policy program (which has no quantitative requirements) and use it to get into my dream program, PSE's Public Policy and Development Masters. Getting that PPD masters would let me advance into a real econ PhD with PSE.

    Does my plan make sense? Do any of you have a better idea of what I could do?

  2. #2
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    Re: Need help defining a roadmap

    Before you try to get into any Master’s, you should take Calc II, Calc III, Intro to Proofs, Real Analysis and Linear Algebra at an reputable institution. Certainly PSE “International Economic Policy” might not require quantitative courses, but that is because many European Schools have calc III at the very minimum built into their regular Econ courses. They would have taken at the very minimum Mathematics for Economists which covers basic proofs, linear algebra and Calc III. No one is going to take you seriously with only high school mathematics (Calc I); certainly they would not give you important part of the projects like evaluating data and running multivariate regressions. First take these 5 courses over the course of 1 year(Many institutions let you take classes without leading to a degree) and then think about applying to masters (not “International Economic Policy”) but a more quantitative challenging Econ Masters would be ideal in your situation. You should also never put your eggs in one basket. A Public Policy masters will not lead to an Econ PhD. Lets say PSE did not work out, no one is going to take an Public Policy master holder into an Econ Phd programme. You can be very sure that Duflo or any other economist for that matter took Real analysis at the very MINIMUM with more extensive classes such like Topology, metric spaces etc.

  3. #3
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    Re: Need help defining a roadmap

    Bayes gives excellent advice. First take some more serious math to see if you like it. If you don't, then you probably won't enjoy getting an econ PhD. You might also want to take a little more economics, at least intermediate micro, to find out if you really enjoy the subject as it's done at more advanced levels.

    The suggestion that a public policy masters isn't a good path into an econ PhD is generally right, but there are exceptions. The founder of IPA went from a public policy masters to an econ PhD program

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    Re: Need help defining a roadmap

    I appreciate all the advice and I’ll certainly take more math classes.

    The International Economic Policy master definitely lets you take high level math classes and has a ton of intermediate (and some advanced) econ, so that’s what I meant. It’s not your usual public policy masters.

    I’ve also seen that some schools, like Warwick or McGill, let you take a “qualifying year” or a “diploma” which lets you take most of the classes you need to get into a Masters program. Would that be a good idea if I have the money for tuition?

    And I’m not too sure about Duflo taking Real Analysis. She double majored in econ and history so I doubt her econ/quant classes were too advanced before going to DELTA

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    Re: Need help defining a roadmap

    One thing to note is that admissions becomes increasingly more competitive with each passing year. Back then, real analysis is not a necessary condition for admission. That's definitely not the case today, especially for the top places. There's been an oversupply of students pursing a PhD in economics that results in the bar being higher and higher with time. So you shouldn't compare yourself with the likes of Duflo, since she got her PhD 20 years ago.

    It also needs mentioning that adcoms heavily discount a masters that is not explicitly in economics (i.e. things like applied economics, economics and policy, or what have you) since it definitely will not have sufficient rigour. By rigour, I mean, the material covered is comparable to first year courses (MWG). That's why people from BGSE, Bocconi, CEMFI and LSE can place pretty well into PhD programmes, conditional on doing well in their masters; their grades are a credible signal.

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    Re: Need help defining a roadmap

    Would it be a good idea to apply for “graduate diplomas”? I know Warwick has one that leads into their MSc. Paris 1 also has the MMEF.

    Is this a common path towards a PhD for people without the econ/quant background? If I perform well can I get into a solid program?

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    Re: Need help defining a roadmap

    This is dependent on what you mean by a solid program. If you mean Top 50, then it is certainly possible. Top 20 is usually reserved for those coming from very rigorous programs as Tutonic listed. I would advise you to contact the department and ask for their recent placements. That will be as accurate as it gets!. But with that you can certainly continue a PhD in Europe and that is not a bad outcome either(depending on what your goals are).

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    Re: Need help defining a roadmap

    Quote Originally Posted by Bayes View Post
    This is dependent on what you mean by a solid program. If you mean Top 50, then it is certainly possible. Top 20 is usually reserved for those coming from very rigorous programs as Tutonic listed. I would advise you to contact the department and ask for their recent placements. That will be as accurate as it gets!. But with that you can certainly continue a PhD in Europe and that is not a bad outcome either(depending on what your goals are).
    So Warwick MSc wouldn't be considered "very rigorous"? I see it ranked similarly to schools Tutonic mentioned (Bocconi, CEMFI, BGSE. Maybe Bocconi has better name recognition).

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    Re: Need help defining a roadmap

    You need to look at their placements, that is empirical data for you and not hearsay. I cannot comment further. But we do have plenty of data from the schools Tutonic mentioned (listed on their websites).

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    Re: Need help defining a roadmap

    Quote Originally Posted by Bayes View Post
    You need to look at their placements, that is empirical data for you and not hearsay. I cannot comment further. But we do have plenty of data from the schools Tutonic mentioned (listed on their websites).
    I've looked for the data. Warwick doesn't publish PhD placements for its MSc program.

    You're right, we do have data from some of the schools he posted. But like I mentioned at the beginning of this thread, I don't have the quant/econ background necessary to get into those programs. That's why I'm asking about Warwick here. The school itself is ranked better than CEMFI and Bocconi, and pretty close to BGSE, so it's a fair question to ask.

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