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Thread: Profile Evaluation: PhD/Master's Degree

  1. #1
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    Profile Evaluation: PhD/Master's Degree

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    Masters/ PhD Application (Planning to apply Fall 2021)

    Background: I was originally a double major in business and biology with the intention to go to med school, and I was not overly motivated my first two years. I got quite a few B's and one C, and this is the main reason my GPA is not where it should be. The courses listed below were mainly taken over my last two years, where my GPA averaged > 3.9.

    GRE: Yet to Take (Averaging 170 on Quant section)


    Undergrad: University of Michigan '21, BA Economics with Highest Honors - 3.6/4

    Courses & Grades:
    Econ: Intro Micro (A-), Intro Macro (A+), Intermediate Micro (A), Intermediate Macro (A+), International Economics (A+), International Finance I (A), International Finance II (A-), Labor Econ Survey Course (P for pass), Intermediate Econometrics I (B+), Intermediate Econometrics II (A+), International Trade Theory (A), Experimental Econ (A), Game Theory Seminar (A)

    Math: Calculus 2 (A-), Calculus 3 (A), Linear Algebra (B+), Probability Theory (A), Differential Equations (A)

    Research Experience: RA'd for Michigan professor, expecting strong LOR from him.
    Wrote a research paper on the East Asis Crisis which was published in the Michigan Undergraduate Research Journal
    Wrote a senior thesis on theoretical micro theory/game theory under a prominent game theorist at Michigan.

    LOR's: Thesis advisor, a prominent game theorist at Michigan. Expecting a really strong letter (he said my thesis is among the best pieces of undergraduate research he has ever seen in his career). He also mentioned he would absolutely recommend me to the top economics PhD programs.
    Professor that I RA'd for - also expecting strong letter, however we do not have as much of a relationship as I do with my thesis advisor

    Work Experience: I will be spending one year working as an equity analyst at JP Morgan starting July. Planning on going to graduate school after one year.

    Concerns: Not enough math classes (the B+ in linear algebra was a fluke - I packed calc 3 and linear algebra into a spring term, which is twice as fast). Also, I have not taken Real Analysis. However, my thesis is quite mathematical so I hope this signals some mathematic competence.

    Awards: Received award for best undergraduate Economics paper at Michigan in fall '20. Also expecting a prestigious award for my honors thesis.

    Plans: I want to apply this fall for a graduate program, and preferably I would go straight to a good PhD program. However, my thesis advisor also suggested doing a masters abroad (Bocconi, LSE, some Israeli universities like TAU or Hebrew University which have strong programs) to make up for my deficiencies. He has connections to the top Israeli programs and said he would love to recommend me to their programs. How would my profile fare in PhD applications, and how would it fare in Master's program applications (specifically abroad)?

  2. #2
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    Re: Profile Evaluation: PhD/Master's Degree

    Your two Michigan advisors are much better placed to answer those questions than we are. Their recommendation letters carry enormous weight. Yes, the classes, grades, etc. matter too. While your advisers can't guarantee anything, they are the ones with experience getting people like you into graduate school. I'm not saying that you should do what they say without questioning it, but I'd put a lot of weight on their advice and no weight on definitive statements by people on an anonymous message board.

    Here are some questions you can ask your advisers to help guide your decision process: what range of PhD programs they would expect you can get into this fall? Kind of think of this as a floor, ceiling, and best guesses at where you would get in. In their experience, how much would your admissions chances change if you did the MA first? Does this depend on what field you want to go into? How much is the benefit of the MA is in getting into a better program versus doing well in a program? Any classes you could take this summer, such as real analysis or a class in mathematical statistics?

    Also, you can certainly apply to both MA and PhD programs and see what you get.
    Last edited by tbe; 04-12-2021 at 06:17 PM.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation: PhD/Master's Degree

    Michigan Peer here.

    If your Linear Algebra is 214, that might be a bad signal. Math 351 or 451 is almost a must if you want to be competitive for top 30 programs as an undergrad applicant.

    One of the phd micro seq class in Fall 21 is taught by your thesis adviser, and see if you can get override permission. That serves as a strong signal if you'd like to try this year for phd applications (Fall 21), to off-set being lack of math.

    Overall, it really depends on your expecations for rankings of schools to get into. It's not a bad choice for improving backgrounds on math from a master.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation: PhD/Master's Degree

    I took 217 for linear algebra. The problem is I am graduating this term, so I will not be enrolled in the fall. The only option then would be a master's to make up for some deficiencies.

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