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Thread: Profile Evaluation (for switch to econ MASTERS)

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    Profile Evaluation (for switch to econ MASTERS)

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    Hello everyone, I'm struggling to figure out whether I have a chance of being admitted into any good econ masters programs (I have 0 chance of being admitted into any decent econ PhD). I have almost no background in economics, which is why I'm looking for advice here.

    Undergraduate Degree: BA in International Affairs from a top 10 IR school, virtually unknown for economics
    Undergraduate GPA: 3.55/4.0
    GRE: Q 168 V 169 AW 5.0
    Math Courses: Calculus I (A-), Calculus II (A), Statistics (A), Linear Algebra and Real Analysis (A-) (this last one is an intensive, proof based linear algebra and multivariable differential calculus class with a real analysis module)
    Econ Courses: Intro to Macroeconomics (A), Intro to Microeconomics (B), Intro to Int'l Economics (A-)
    Related Experience: None. 2-3 years in industry doing policy (sometimes economic/financial) work, and I have some policy research experience, but no economics research experience.
    Letter of Recommendation: Two letters from former and current bosses (which would be 10/10 for policy programs, probably not worth too much in this scenario, and one letter academic letter that I still have to figure out (I graduated over 3 years ago and haven't kept in touch. Possibly will be from an international finance professor that I had a friendly relationship with).
    Research Interest: Development economics, impact evaluation.

    Programs I'm thinking about applying to: Barcelona GSE MA Economics, PSE PPD, Bocconi ESS, IHEID MA International Economics, SAIS MIEF, LSE Two Year MSc(I don't think I make the GPA cut for this but maybe my GRE can push me over the edge?), UCL MSc.

    I think the ideal program for me would be something like the LSE Two Year MSc that's specifically made for people with very little background in economics. I unfortunately haven't been able to find any other programs like this one, though.

    Any feedback is greatly appreciated! I know that my chances would increase substantially if I took intermediate micro and macro but my local academic institutions do not offer open enrollment and I need to save money for grad school so I can't take any more online classes.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation (for switch to econ MASTERS)

    What do you classify as a decent program? Since there is a financial consideration at play here together with the limited background in economics coursework, it may be a much easier process if you were more open to lower ranked schools that can offer you funding (and possibly also a stipend). I believe there are schools in Germany that don't charge tuition, but you may need more background in economics. You do have a very good background and experience in policy work though!

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    Re: Profile Evaluation (for switch to econ MASTERS)

    Based on your reported interests, is there any concrete reason as to why you'd want to go for an econ PhD programme, explicitly? I ask because you'd have a much easier time getting into a PPol PhD programme with your background and end up doing similar stuff.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation (for switch to econ MASTERS)

    Thank you both for your responses!

    Quote Originally Posted by dogbones View Post
    What do you classify as a decent program? Since there is a financial consideration at play here together with the limited background in economics coursework, it may be a much easier process if you were more open to lower ranked schools that can offer you funding (and possibly also a stipend). I believe there are schools in Germany that don't charge tuition, but you may need more background in economics. You do have a very good background and experience in policy work though!
    I'm lucky enough that tuition won't be too much of an issue for me. Work savings have me covered there. I'm not rich, though, so a tuition free masters would be amazing. You're right, though. The German programs I've looked at so far require that I have an undergraduate degree in economics (I'm sure they make exceptions but they would still ask me for a lot more econ classes than I have).

    By decent program I meant well known, respected programs, like the ones I mentioned. I think the only two in my original list that aren't that well known are the IHEID and SAIS masters. The IHEID one is still very competitive and I've seen it place into top 5 PhDs so I'm guessing it's really good. The SAIS one probably won't lead to a PhD but they've got a solid pipeline into DC based development multilaterals.

    Quote Originally Posted by tutonic View Post
    Based on your reported interests, is there any concrete reason as to why you'd want to go for an econ PhD programme, explicitly? I ask because you'd have a much easier time getting into a PPol PhD programme with your background and end up doing similar stuff.
    From what I've seen so far (and granted, I know very little about academia) it seems like public policy PhDs have abysmal job prospects once they're done. Not to say that econ PhDs are incredibly high in demand, but their employment rate, both in and out of academia, seems to be much higher. I'm also not sure that PPol PhDs play a significant role in development institutions. Certainly very few of them end up employed by the World Bank/IDB/UNDP, and I don't think I've seen any of them when looking at the profiles of people working at places like J-PAL or Innovations for Poverty Action.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation (for switch to econ MASTERS)

    Quote Originally Posted by KleanKanteen View Post
    Thank you both for your responses!



    I'm lucky enough that tuition won't be too much of an issue for me. Work savings have me covered there. I'm not rich, though, so a tuition free masters would be amazing. You're right, though. The German programs I've looked at so far require that I have an undergraduate degree in economics (I'm sure they make exceptions but they would still ask me for a lot more econ classes than I have).

    By decent program I meant well known, respected programs, like the ones I mentioned. I think the only two in my original list that aren't that well known are the IHEID and SAIS masters. The IHEID one is still very competitive and I've seen it place into top 5 PhDs so I'm guessing it's really good. The SAIS one probably won't lead to a PhD but they've got a solid pipeline into DC based development multilaterals.



    From what I've seen so far (and granted, I know very little about academia) it seems like public policy PhDs have abysmal job prospects once they're done. Not to say that econ PhDs are incredibly high in demand, but their employment rate, both in and out of academia, seems to be much higher. I'm also not sure that PPol PhDs play a significant role in development institutions. Certainly very few of them end up employed by the World Bank/IDB/UNDP, and I don't think I've seen any of them when looking at the profiles of people working at places like J-PAL or Innovations for Poverty Action.
    You seem like a really good fit for a program like the RAND Policy Analysis PhD program. I looked into the program extensively during my application process and it seems like they'd weight your profile almost better than a traditional econ PhD profile. They like candidates with policy experience. They also have excellent government/think tank placements.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation (for switch to econ MASTERS)

    I disagree, the PRGS has almost no placements into academia or multilaterals and virtually no placements into development non-profits. They do have some government placements but as an international student I'm not interested in that. I know a few people from college that ended up there, but it was mostly the security people who have been slowly disappearing into the classified world.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation (for switch to econ MASTERS)

    Does anyone here know about the HKS MPA/ID and whether I would be a good fit? I think that program could be a solid middle ground for me, and I meet all the prerequisites.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation (for switch to econ MASTERS)

    What about the Warwick Diploma + MSc. It seems like some Warwick MSc students have placed into the university's PhD program and some others. I can't find substantial information on their MSc placements, though. Would this be a reasonable path for me?

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    Re: Profile Evaluation (for switch to econ MASTERS)

    Quote Originally Posted by KleanKanteen View Post
    I disagree, the PRGS has almost no placements into academia or multilaterals and virtually no placements into development non-profits. They do have some government placements but as an international student I'm not interested in that. I know a few people from college that ended up there, but it was mostly the security people who have been slowly disappearing into the classified world.
    You are correct that they have few development placements and they have a large focus on security type positions. But you can check their placement page and you'll find a decent number of post-docs and academic positions, definitely nothing to sneeze at. I agree they might not focus on the areas of policy you care about, and I think definitely it's probably not as good a match for international students.

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