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Thread: Profile Evaluation - PhD in Economics

  1. #1
    Trying to make mom and pop proud
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    Profile Evaluation - PhD in Economics

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    PROFILE:
    Type of Undergrad: B.B.A. in accounting from large state university
    Undergrad GPA: 2.32
    Undergrad GPA last 60 hrs: 3.93
    Type of Grad: M.S. in accounting from same state university
    Grad GPA: 3.90
    Type of 2nd Grad: M.P.P. from top-ranked public university
    Grad GPA: 3.84 currently - exp graduation 05/21
    GMAT: 44V 47Q - approx equiv to GRE: 168V 165Q, plan to take next summer
    Math Courses: calculus 1-3 (A), linear algebra (A), business statistics (B), applied stats & optimization (A), business calculus (B)
    Undergrad Econ Courses: intermediate micro/macro (A), business economics (B), international economics (A), quantitative analysis (A)
    Grad Econ Courses: history of economic thought (B+), micro (A-), macro (A+), quant analysis (A-), international development economics (A+), econometrics I (A+), econometrics II (A)
    Letters of Recommendation: two relatively strong letters from respected econ professors at current program who can speak to research I've done in their classes, one very strong letter from previous boss who is partner at CPA firm
    Teaching Experience: n/a
    Professional License: CPA - 3 yrs private sector employment at regional firm
    Research Experience: no RA experience. several graduate research projects and papers, extensive use of STATA and econometric analysis
    Research Interests: Public Policy, Labor, Monetary Policy


    My undergrad GPA is cringeworthy, I know. I had a serious injury my junior year that left me in a wheelchair and changed my priorities a bit. Theres a clear shift in my grades post-injury, so anyone looking at my transcript would easily notice the medical withdrawal, gap years, then mostly all As after. But Im worried that the cumulative GPA will be an automatic rejection in the first round of sorting/cutoffs at most schools.

    I'm applying for RA positions in the DMV area now, hoping to get some experience at the FRB or a think tank in the area to add to my application. I'm also taking math classes online through IU's CITL program, planning on having real analysis, differential equations, and a proof class or two done before applying. Maybe some statistics as well.

    Questions:
    1) What type of schools should I target?
    2) How irredeemable is the undergrad GPA? I've got some mitigating factors like the grades trending up post-injury, private sector work experience and professional license, and the graduate degrees but I'm not sure how much weight these carry.
    3) Mostly, though: what can I do to improve my application? Is taking any extra math classes worth it? Or are grad econ classes more important?


  2. #2
    economist
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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful. Good post? Yes | No

    Re: Profile Evaluation - PhD in Economics

    (1) You may want your letter writers to send emails to colleagues they know at places you apply explaining about the change in GPA. That may help avoiding an autorejection at many schools.
    (2) I assume your grad econ classes are master's classes. If so, then yes, take PhD grad micro (and ace it). Real analysis is also valuable.
    (3) A third letter should come from an economist you RA for or from someone you took graduate classes from. Not from an employer.
    (4) The CPA and professional experience are pretty worthless for admissions. (Would be different if you wanted an accounting PhD.)

    Don't apologize for your early record. You've clearly turned it around and should be proud of that.

  3. #3
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    Re: Profile Evaluation - PhD in Economics

    With your background I think you would be better off looking at accounting PhD programs than econ PhD programs.

    You have an accounting background and a pretty good math and econometrics background for an accounting PhD applicant. Accounting research is not like practical accounting and for many subfields significantly overlaps with econ and finance. In fact at many schools the accounting PhD students take micro and metrics together with the econ and/or finance PhD students. Take a look at some of the recent papers published in the "top 3" accounting journals - Journal of Accounting and Economics, Journal of Accounting Research and The Accounting Review- to get an idea of what is currently being done. At the same time, accounting PhD programs do like people with an accounting background and some work experience, and having a CPA will help a little, though a lot less than you might think.

    The accounting PhD job market is much better than econ too, Average 9 month salary (i.e. not including any extra for summer teaching or other extra activities) for an assistant professor in accounting across all AACSB schools is around 140k (AACSB puts out an annual report on this). That type of salary for an assistant professor in econ is only possible with a placement at a top tier school. And unlike econ, nearly every student who graduates with a PhD in accounting from an AACSB accredited school -even a lower ranked one- is able to get a TT position.

    Additionally, nearly all b-school PhD students get full funding which is not the case in econ, especially at schools outside the top 20. And since most programs accept both GMAT and GRE you could even apply this cycle, though if you want to do that I would advise getting some accounting LOR's, bur econ LOR's will be fine and I know a few accounting PhD students who got into good programs with all or mostly econ LOR's.

    Obviously this is only a good option if you think you will find the current accounting research interesting. I see the interests you list and with the exception of public policy there isn't much overlap with accounting research (PP has some overlap), but as I mentioned above, look at the top tier accounting journals and you might find some of the stuff more interesting than you think.

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