Hi all, I'm looking for some feedback on my profile, and this seems like this is a good place to get it. Hopefully I'm on the right subforum, but please let me know if this would be more appropriate in General Admissions.
Long story short, I was somewhat interested in academia all through undergrad, but never really did a whole lot to pursue it. Instead, I developed an interest in data science near the end of my undergrad, and ended up falling into software while trying to pursue that. I thought that was the right path for me at the time, but I'm finding that I'm not really enjoying it, and that's gotten me thinking about academia and policy again.
I started off looking mostly at masters programs for econ and public policy, with the aim of possibly doing data science for public policy. However, I do see myself wanting to work on more serious research, which I know one usually needs a PhD for. That in mind, I've started looking around mostly at Economics, Political Economy, and Public Policy PhD programs, and it feels like I'm not qualified for any good ones.
Right now, it seems like my best bet is to get into a good masters program (once again, either an economics or a very quant-heavy public policy program) and use that to plug up the holes in my profile. A good U.S. program would probably be ideal, although I wouldn't be totally adverse to a non-American program, ideally one in an English or possibly German speaking country, especially if going to a non-American program would let me do it with minimal debt.
I'd like to hear some feedback about my profile and my plans. Specifically:
1. What kinds of PhD programs would I be competitive for with my profile as it stands now?
2. Would my profile be significantly stronger after a good masters program? If so, what kinds of programs would be best?
3. Would I be better served by something other than a masters? e.g. just patching up my math? finding an RA position somewhere?
Here's my profile to help you all better evaluate where I am.
Type of Undergrad: B.A. Global Economics cum laude from U.C. Santa Cruz (ranked 53 for econ by U.S. News). Was granted a Certificate of Research Excellence for my performance in my senior seminar (thesis in all but name).
Undergrad GPA: 3.7 / 4
GRE: Haven't taken yet, but I'm not especially worried about scoring well
Undergrad Econ Courses: Intro to Microeconomics (B+), Intro to Macroeconomics (B+), Intermediate Microeconomics (A), Intermediate Macroeconomics (A), Public Finance (A), Economic Growth (A), International Finance (A), Economic Development (A), Financial Crises Research Seminar (A), International Political Economy (A-, research seminar) Financial and Economic Policy (B-, study abroad in another language), International Trade (B+, study abroad in another language), Financial Crises and Heterodox Economics (C+, study abroad in another language), History of Economic Doctrine (A+), Honors Economic Rhetoric (A+, senior research seminar)
Math Courses: Calculus I (B), Mathematical Methods for Economists (Pass, basically Calc II and III), Intro Stats (A-), Intro to Econometrics (A), Game Theory (A), Linear Algebra (B+)
Other (Relevant?) Courses:Intro to Programming in Python (A+), Austrian Economics Seminar (A), Several years of German language classes (A avg)
- International Political Economy professor. He's technically a political science professor, and he's not at an American university, but he's reasonably well-connected in U.S. and does a lot of work in economics and political economy. He knows my research interests really well, and I may be helping him with some research in the next few months.
- Financial Crises seminar teacher. Was a PhD candidate when he taught the class, but is now an economist at the Federal Reserve. Can speak to my research and writing skills.
- Haven't asked this professor yet, but I'm very sure I can get a LOR from him: Professor for senior research seminar. Can speak to my research and statistical skills. Former department chair at UCSC and reasonably well-connected.
Research Experience: Three research seminars during undergrad, nothing published. No formal RA experience. May be helping one of my old professors with some programming and data analysis for a paper he is writing.
Teaching Experience: None, unless you want to count some experience mentoring junior software engineers.
Work Experience: Nothing directly related to Economics. Brief experience as a temp data analyst at a market research company. 2.5 years as a frontend developer at a startup that makes educational software for business schools. About to start a job as a software engineer at the SF Fed helping to build the tools that their economists use to access bank data.
Research Interests: Political Economy, New Institutional Economics, Development, Financial Crises
In short, math and research experience. It wasn't super clear to me at the time how 90% of the math I learned in undergrad applied to economics, so I never worked especially hard at it, and I screwed up the grading option for the one math class I would have done well in (see the Pass grade in Math for Econ). I'm planning on trying to make up for that with some courses through extension programs and possibly the local community college. I'm looking at taking Harvard Extension's Real Analysis and Linear Algebra class, and possibly a course in Differential Equations. Also wondering if it would be worthwhile to retake any/all of the calc courses.
As for research experience, I'm worried that I don't have a whole lot of it and that that will have me looking at the bottom of the barrel as far as programs go.
Thanks for reading through all of that!
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