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Thread: Chances for Econ MA (non-major with some econ coursework)

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    Chances for Econ MA (non-major with some econ coursework)

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    Education: Top 10 undergrad, majoring in CS and Statistics

    Test Scores (GRE): 170Q, 168V

    Undergrad GPA: 3.9 (Major 3.85)

    Research Experience (my weak point):
    1. RA for graduate student my freshman fall
    2. Relatively weak independent study my senior spring

    Teaching Experience:
    1. Three semesters as a TA for a CS class
    2. Online course development
    3. Grader and tutor for multiple departments

    Work Experience: trader intern at top firm (2x), quant intern at top bank (2x)

    Relevant classes: 1st semester of PhD microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics, all A's. several applied statistics and ML classes, through the graduate level, all A's. several theory and asset pricing undergrad electives, all A's.

    Target programs:

    Duke MA Econ
    UW Madison MA Econ
    Columbia MA Econ
    UIUC MA Policy Economics
    Penn State Econ MA
    NYU Econ MA
    Cornell AEM MA
    UM Twin Cities AEM MA
    Vanderbilt GPED MA

    International student and will apply after working, so I can't do a predoc instead of a masters.

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    Re: Chances for Econ MA (non-major with some econ coursework)

    1. You should apply to LSE for its EME program since it seems like your mathematical preparation is good. That program does a far better at job at placing people at top PhD programs than any American masters.

    2. You can still apply to predocs even after working. It is not uncommon for private-sector people to apply to these jobs. If your main weak point is research and letters of recommendations, then you may want to still apply for predocs.

    3. Is there a reason why you are working first? It's not a bad thing, but I also want you to be certain that an economics PhD is actually what you want to pursue.

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    Re: Chances for Econ MA (non-major with some econ coursework)

    Thanks so much @hallowedelegy

    1. I'm a bit worried about the EME program. I think I could do very well but I'd be really worried about what's next. I'm not a citizen of either the US or the UK, where most of the predoc opportunities are, and I'm worried that I might not be able to find an RA for the year afterwards in the UK. The EME program only has results at the end of the year and even if I get the absolute top result, this wouldn't help if I have nowhere to go afterwards, and by the time I get the result hiring for RA positions will be over. I could do another masters at the LSE or elsewhere in the UK, as the second year, but this doesn't seem better than just doing a two-year masters upfront.

    2. I'll consider this, but will it be possible to get into a predoc without good recommendations? I'll have a recommendation from an AP who knows me well, and two from senior profs who'd just say that I got an A in the class and is overall a strong student.

    3. Just money, to be honest, for the short term. I have around $30k in debt from undergrad and I'm hoping to let my brother get through college without loans. I already spent a lot of time towards industry so I didn't want this to go to waste. I also got a pretty attractive offer that was simply hard to decline, but my heart is really, long-term, in econ academia.

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    Re: Chances for Econ MA (non-major with some econ coursework)

    It is generally understood that you don't apply for PhD programmes while you're in the EME, since results are only released after the application cycle. You should be applying to RA positions while you're at LSE. Brush up on your programming skills. Assuming that you managed to get into EME, given your undergrad grades + the signaling value of getting into EME, it should be sufficient to get responses from a couple places. So it'll just be down to your programming skills, basically.

    No, doing well in EME and then sitting around for an extra year still dominates the majority of two-year masters programme since it's extremely difficult to do well in EME, which is why it's a good signaling device. Furthermore, the top few students in EME from every cohort are given the option to stay at LSE to do their PhD.

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    Re: Chances for Econ MA (non-major with some econ coursework)

    Quote Originally Posted by lasagnabite View Post
    Education: Top 10 undergrad, majoring in CS and Statistics

    Test Scores (GRE): 170Q, 168V

    Undergrad GPA: 3.9 (Major 3.85)

    Research Experience (my weak point):
    1. RA for graduate student my freshman fall
    2. Relatively weak independent study my senior spring

    Teaching Experience:
    1. Three semesters as a TA for a CS class
    2. Online course development
    3. Grader and tutor for multiple departments

    Work Experience: trader intern at top firm (2x), quant intern at top bank (2x)

    Relevant classes: 1st semester of PhD microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics, all A's. several applied statistics and ML classes, through the graduate level, all A's. several theory and asset pricing undergrad electives, all A's.

    Target programs:

    Duke MA Econ
    UW Madison MA Econ
    Columbia MA Econ
    UIUC MA Policy Economics
    Penn State Econ MA
    NYU Econ MA
    Cornell AEM MA
    UM Twin Cities AEM MA
    Vanderbilt GPED MA

    International student and will apply after working, so I can't do a predoc instead of a masters.
    Have you thought about applying straightly? It seems you are shoes in for top 10. Top 5 might be hard but you have chance

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    Re: Chances for Econ MA (non-major with some econ coursework)

    Quote Originally Posted by lasagnabite View Post
    Thanks so much @hallowedelegy

    1. I'm a bit worried about the EME program. I think I could do very well but I'd be really worried about what's next. I'm not a citizen of either the US or the UK, where most of the predoc opportunities are
    You should know that the UK now has the equivlent of a two-year OPT for international students.

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    Re: Chances for Econ MA (non-major with some econ coursework)

    Question is why you want to apply for econ masters? I don't think terminal MAE will help either way in your case? You already have a strong profile for industry jobs, and for econ phd it seems you may have a shot even at this moment with all the phd level courses, but you do lack research exp and strong letter writers that adcom cares more. If you are certain that you want to do an Econ PhD, which is the most important thing, applying for predoc is going to help you get in top.

    As for predoc and work authorization, at least in the US, a handful of programs are actually sponsoring J-1 research scholar or H1B(I'm currently on). One thing tho, the pay at predoc is going to be half or even less of what you may get for a good trading job.

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    Re: Chances for Econ MA (non-major with some econ coursework)

    I might do a predoc, but I'm worried about my chances of getting into one, given the lack of research and rec letters. I kinda believe that the only way to have a second shot at undergrad (which I kinda messed up by focusing too much on getting into a good industry position) is to do a two-year masters, where I could have another shot at building relationships with professors and showing my research ability. I think I would do quite well at a predoc. My programming skills are quite strong given that I'm a CS and stats basically took a lot of applied classes. They're definitely not the best among the CS cohort but I think the software expectations for a predoc are lower than that for the best software engineering jobs.

    I'm confident about my raw ability and preparation, given that I didn't even take economics seriously until the spring of my sophomore year, and treated the econ graduate classes I've taken as more of a side hobby than the actual thing I was focused on. As a result I didn't really think about optimizing for an econ PhD nor was aware of the signals one must send to an admissions committee. I still find it hard to believe that one year at LSE EME, even if I literally top the program, can bring me up to a top-5 level given that it's just classes which the top admissions committees don't care too much about.

    I hope this doesn't seem arrogant but I will be very surprised if I do the EME program and don't end up at the top or very close to it. When I took the sequences I would take all three at once while taking two other classes in my major, doing this while working for 20 hours a week (I'm low-income), having a couple extracurricular commitments, and recruiting heavily for industry positions. From what it seems EME students just do classes and maybe RA, so if I have the privilege to put all my time on classes in material I am already familiar with I will expect to do even better than I did in undergrad. Surely markets are efficient enough that this "arbitrage" is not feasible, with EME in particular having strong "pay-to-play" vibes?

    I think I forgot the most important part of my application which is that I'm Asian male, which is why I'm worried about my graduate school chances as a whole despite my record. Or maybe my record is strong enough that admission committees at less selective PhD programs (say top 20-30) or masters programs will be willing to overlook this? I also think this practice is more of a US thing, so maybe EME might end up my best option. Anyway throughout undergrad I was always made to believe I was a crappy student, which is why I always set my expectations very low.

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    Re: Chances for Econ MA (non-major with some econ coursework)

    Quote Originally Posted by lasagnabite View Post
    I might do a predoc, but I'm worried about my chances of getting into one, given the lack of research and rec letters. I kinda believe that the only way to have a second shot at undergrad (which I kinda messed up by focusing too much on getting into a good industry position) is to do a two-year masters, where I could have another shot at building relationships with professors and showing my research ability. I think I would do quite well at a predoc. My programming skills are quite strong given that I'm a CS and stats basically took a lot of applied classes. They're definitely not the best among the CS cohort but I think the software expectations for a predoc are lower than that for the best software engineering jobs.

    I'm confident about my raw ability and preparation, given that I didn't even take economics seriously until the spring of my sophomore year, and treated the econ graduate classes I've taken as more of a side hobby than the actual thing I was focused on. As a result I didn't really think about optimizing for an econ PhD nor was aware of the signals one must send to an admissions committee. I still find it hard to believe that one year at LSE EME, even if I literally top the program, can bring me up to a top-5 level given that it's just classes which the top admissions committees don't care too much about.

    I hope this doesn't seem arrogant but I will be very surprised if I do the EME program and don't end up at the top or very close to it. When I took the sequences I would take all three at once while taking two other classes in my major, doing this while working for 20 hours a week (I'm low-income), having a couple extracurricular commitments, and recruiting heavily for industry positions. From what it seems EME students just do classes and maybe RA, so if I have the privilege to put all my time on classes in material I am already familiar with I will expect to do even better than I did in undergrad. Surely markets are efficient enough that this "arbitrage" is not feasible, with EME in particular having strong "pay-to-play" vibes?

    I think I forgot the most important part of my application which is that I'm Asian male, which is why I'm worried about my graduate school chances as a whole despite my record. Or maybe my record is strong enough that admission committees at less selective PhD programs (say top 20-30) or masters programs will be willing to overlook this? I also think this practice is more of a US thing, so maybe EME might end up my best option. Anyway throughout undergrad I was always made to believe I was a crappy student, which is why I always set my expectations very low.
    First of all, your profile would fit for most pre-doc, if not, the top pre-doc programs. Ive done 2 rounds of recruiting for my pre-doc institute, and your profile should guarantee you for a data task or even interviews given you perform well in the task. We want to see why one wants to do econ research, instead of how much of econ research one has fully done. It would be a plus if one has done a lot, but to be honest it wouldn't matter that much. When I applied for my predoc 2 years ago, I had only 1 semi-finished thesis and one-year math RA. So if you question your qualification and strength in predoc application, please don't.

    Second I cannot say for how you would perform in LSE's EME, but just notice since it's a masters program, everybody cares about the grades & getting RAship, so it will be a very competitive environment. Personally I know quite a few graduated from that program, and they are very strong. So good luck if you decide to apply and go there.

    Third, as an international asian male myself, I see your point, but if you are as strong as you say, there is no need to worry about that, even in the US. Dude you are from a top5 with good grades in stats/cs, done first year sequence with A. There is no need to sell yourself short.

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    Re: Chances for Econ MA (non-major with some econ coursework)

    I'm also worried that the grades right now are much higher due to COVID-related policies in my university, so a 3.9 GPA might be considered to be quite low.

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