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Thread: PhD in Economics Advice for Research Heavy Undergrad

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    Smile PhD in Economics Advice for Research Heavy Undergrad

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    Hi All! I am currently in my second year at American University in D.C. I'm graduating in 3 years in may 2022, making me a junior in credits. I am an economics major and math minor with a 3.88 GPA

    I plan to apply for PhD in economics programs as well as some dual-degree or combined econ/public policy PhD programs. Right now I am planning on applying to top 30-60 for my target schools as well as potentially some reach schools in the top 30. I wrote a brief summary of my statistics below:

    Math Classes: Calc 1 (A), Calc 2 (A-), Statistics (passed because of COVID grade changes), Linear (A), and Calc 3 (A). I also plan on taking Foundations of Math (Math 403) and Real Analysis, both of which I hope to get an A or A-.

    Economics Classes: Basic Macro and Micro (A), Intermediate Macro (A-), Intermediate Micro (A), and 3 econ 3xx electives (A). I also will take both econometrics 1 and 2 as well as 2 more upper level econ electives and mathematical economics. I expect that those classes will also be mainly A or A-.

    Internship Experience
    : I have interned at the Treasury Department, worked at the Smithsonian, and interned for a consulting company.

    Research Experience: I have worked as a RA for a year and have co-authored a historical economics paper (and one more on the way) with my economics professor. The papers will be presented at various conferences in Spring/Summer 2021. I also am working as a RA in the mathematics department on a federally funded project that identifies malware in data documents using comp sci theory. I hope to do some sort of research position next summer as well.

    I also have significant diversity in my background although I don't know how much that would help.

    I would appreciate any advice on my chances for grad school or classes to take!

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    Re: PhD in Economics Advice for Research Heavy Undergrad

    Not sure what your priorities are but your profile seems primed for a full-time research position (provided that your "historical economics" paper was an empirical paper that used historical data a la cliometrics rather than a history of thought type paper) at a top 10 predoc (I am at one with a similar profile to yours). This would open the door to top 20, and even top 10 PhD programs, provided you do well and get superb letters. Of course, you may not want to spend one or two years as an RA and may want to start a PhD right away, in which case you should apply widely. You should sprinkle some top 20 schools (and maybe a few top 10s) because the expected marginal benefit far exceeds the marginal cost, even with the low probabilities of getting in.

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    Re: PhD in Economics Advice for Research Heavy Undergrad

    Thanks! Would you recommend applying to specific predoc programs? Are those better than postbaccs? Would top 50 be a target range if I go straight through?

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    Re: PhD in Economics Advice for Research Heavy Undergrad

    Yes-the paper is empirical and new data not theoretical!

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    Re: PhD in Economics Advice for Research Heavy Undergrad

    Quote Originally Posted by alphatrunks View Post
    Not sure what your priorities are but your profile seems primed for a full-time research position (provided that your "historical economics" paper was an empirical paper that used historical data a la cliometrics rather than a history of thought type paper) at a top 10 predoc (I am at one with a similar profile to yours). This would open the door to top 20, and even top 10 PhD programs, provided you do well and get superb letters. Of course, you may not want to spend one or two years as an RA and may want to start a PhD right away, in which case you should apply widely. You should sprinkle some top 20 schools (and maybe a few top 10s) because the expected marginal benefit far exceeds the marginal cost, even with the low probabilities of getting in.
    Very misleading suggestion. The OP’s profile is hardly T25 material; suggesting to “sprinkle some T20 and few T10’s” is just a waste of money. American University is unranked both in Econ and Mathematics; I would talk to your professors on the range but T27-60 seems about right. If you have the time, I would take Grad Micro/Metrics at Georgetown to improve your profile.

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    Re: PhD in Economics Advice for Research Heavy Undergrad

    Quote Originally Posted by alphatrunks View Post
    God sometimes you guys give such silly advice! I personally know someone from American who got into Berkeley with a similar profile. The marginal cost of applying to another school is negligible and the benefits are large. I don't know what you consider top 25 material, but I am at a top predoc and am familiar with the profiles of students at both Stanford and Yale's predoctoral programs and they place fairly well; you guys love to claim that predocs are pure selection and zero treatment. Well then, OP has a chance!
    I would rather speak from a data point of view than make “I know someone who did this” arguments. Also, T10 Predocs are much harder to land than actually getting into T10 for PhD. The OP is yet to take Analysis, so there is no T10 predoc acceptance at sight. You are predicting prematurely that OP will get into a T10 predoc and that even if OP does not, he should still apply to T10. Btw, constantly mentioning you are a T10 predoc on every post will not make people consider your argument noteworthy. You actually need to make an intelligent argument.

    Note: Looking at your post history, you claimed before it was not worth going to program outside of T30 and made some absurd claims about grad micro. I doubt you are a predoc, oh excuse me, a predoc at T10 or whatever; just a wannabe who has a lot of free time in their hands.

    To OP: Don’t mind people like this and always check their post history on this forum. Make sure you continue to do research with your profs and ace the analysis sequence at your school. Georgetown is very close (and it is a T50 Econ School); you can surely take Grad Metrics/Micro from there to boost your rankings even more. Good luck!

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    Re: PhD in Economics Advice for Research Heavy Undergrad

    Bayes, I don't want to get drawn in an unnecessary fistfight over this but I know several predocs at top 10 who take Real Analysis for the first time as predocs. Top 10 PhDs are far far harder to get into than predocs, partly because until recently predocs were largely restricted to domestic students (MIT SEII still might be restricted to domestic student). The inelastic supply of international students, along with their vastly superior preparation in terms of coursework (they often have taken the entire PhD core), means that domestic students are forced to exploit their comparative advantage in applied research. Often, this means less focus on math and more on actually doing RA work since early in undergrad. In fact, at my predoc, most predocs are not sufficiently well prepared to take PhD level first year courses (and in fact mostly opt to take 2nd year courses). There are a large number of incentive issues too here, because often not taking PhD micro is better than taking it and not getting an A.

    See here the people taking MATH 301 are predocs taking analysis for the first time. One person is taking grad micro for credit out of 30.
    PhD in Economics Advice for Research Heavy Undergrad-screen-shot-2020-12-16-3.20.04-pm.jpg

    Also, yes, I don't believe it is worth it to go to schools outside a certain range as they just become a way to exploit cheap labour from grad students via teaching assistantships. You want to have fun teaching intro micro while taking a full load of grad courses just so you can get your meager 15,000 stipend go for it. But don't sell these idealistic pipe dreams to people, where they slave away for 5 years at a program only to get jobs they could have had with a bachelor's degree.

    Frankly, you sound like a bitter and jealous person by insinuating than I am not a predoc; I don't have anything to prove to you or anyone else and I am just offering a pathway for people who didn't go to Ivies as undergrads to get into predoc positions. I didn't go to an Ivy or a top 15 phd granting school (I went to a top 15 LAC) and I got into a predoc just fine. If any curious person reading this really wants to verify my credentials they can do so by messaging me and I'd happily tell them who I am.

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    Re: PhD in Economics Advice for Research Heavy Undergrad

    Quote Originally Posted by alphatrunks View Post
    Bayes, I don't want to get drawn in an unnecessary fistfight over this but I know several predocs at top 10 who take Real Analysis for the first time as predocs. Top 10 PhDs are far far harder to get into than predocs, partly because until recently predocs were largely restricted to domestic students (MIT SEII still might be restricted to domestic student). The inelastic supply of international students, along with their vastly superior preparation in terms of coursework (they often have taken the entire PhD core), means that domestic students are forced to exploit their comparative advantage in applied research. Often, this means less focus on math and more on actually doing RA work since early in undergrad. In fact, at my predoc, most predocs are not sufficiently well prepared to take PhD level first year courses (and in fact mostly opt to take 2nd year courses). There are a large number of incentive issues too here, because often not taking PhD micro is better than taking it and not getting an A.

    See here the people taking MATH 301 are predocs taking analysis for the first time. One person is taking grad micro for credit out of 30.
    PhD in Economics Advice for Research Heavy Undergrad-screen-shot-2020-12-16-3.20.04-pm.jpg

    Also, yes, I don't believe it is worth it to go to schools outside a certain range as they just become a way to exploit cheap labour from grad students via teaching assistantships. You want to have fun teaching intro micro while taking a full load of grad courses just so you can get your meager 15,000 stipend go for it. But don't sell these idealistic pipe dreams to people, where they slave away for 5 years at a program only to get jobs they could have had with a bachelor's degree.

    Frankly, you sound like a bitter and jealous person by insinuating than I am not a predoc; I don't have anything to prove to you or anyone else and I am just offering a pathway for people who didn't go to Ivies as undergrads to get into predoc positions. I didn't go to an Ivy or a top 15 phd granting school (I went to a top 15 LAC) and I got into a predoc just fine. If any curious person reading this really wants to verify my credentials they can do so by messaging me and I'd happily tell them who I am.
    If you are indeed a Pre-doc and instigating misinformation like this, then that is even worse..

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