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Thread: Undergraduate preparation for Ph.D. in Economics

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    Question Undergraduate preparation for Ph.D. in Economics

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    Does any of the Philosophy, Political Sci., Sociology, Psychology, History, etc. social science double major will add value for an economics major who wants to do a Ph.D.? Instead of doing one of these, I'm taking as many math classes as I can for my elective spaces. Is it the right path in the undergraduate?


    Note: I cannot do math double major, unfortunately.

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    Re: Undergraduate preparation for Ph.D. in Economics

    Are you interested in political economy/economic history? Otherwise no (but it won't hurt provided you have the enough math preparation).
    They look at your coursework, not your major.

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    Re: Undergraduate preparation for Ph.D. in Economics

    Thanks for your reply.

    I don't feel my math preparation to be enough yet, so I'll continue with taking advanced calculus, real analysis, diff. equation, etc. Maybe I can do Political Sci. minor.

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    Re: Undergraduate preparation for Ph.D. in Economics

    Quote Originally Posted by petheory View Post
    Are you interested in political economy/economic history? Otherwise no (but it won't hurt provided you have the enough math preparation).
    They look at your coursework, not your major.
    I agree with this. We look at courses, grades, and skills. Besides math, I think it is really important to have good writing skills. It may not help you get into graduate school, but it will help you immensely writing a dissertation and throughout your career. So courses that help you build this skill are really helpful.

    Psych may be helpful if you are interested in the overlap between psychology and economics.

    I wouldn't be too strategic, though. Take classes in things that interest you. You don't have to load up on excess economics courses. Take a lot of math.

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    Re: Undergraduate preparation for Ph.D. in Economics

    If your polsci department is focused on quant/positive political economy, taking advanced/grad polsci classes will help you to read many modern polsci+econ papers, which are methodologically indistinguishable from non-structural applied micro. You will write a lot which will increase the pool of possible writing samples (ideally the sample should come from your econ senior thesis, but having experience in writing research papers is important). In this sense, they are more useful than undergrad econ classes, which are not very useful if you only do problem sets and not read modern papers.

    Of course, econometrics/math/statistics are of paramount importance, as well as grad econ classes.

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    Re: Undergraduate preparation for Ph.D. in Economics

    One thing I'll chime in and add is that while yes, taking as many math courses is optimal for getting into grad school, elective courses have their benefits too. They offer you the ability to meet professors doing research in areas you're interested in, which can open doors to research opportunities with them or some sort of mentorship. Electives will also allow you to better understand your own research interests, which is very helpful for knowing what grad schools to apply to and what faculty you want to work with.

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    Re: Undergraduate preparation for Ph.D. in Economics

    Hi, I would suggest that you take the following math/stat courses to enhance your Econ Phd application, and if you still have additional elective space, then of course feel free take other courses of interest.

    Real analysis (one academic year's worth)
    Probability theory
    Linear algebra (this will come in handy for your econometric sequence during your first year of your PhD)

    Math courses that weren't too helpful in hindsight for my PhD coursework: Topology, basic algebra (group theory, ring theory stuff).

    Good luck!
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