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Thread: Tips for getting to a top 10 economics PhD programme as a VERY non-traditional app

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    Tips for getting to a top 10 economics PhD programme as a VERY non-traditional app

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    I'm a highly motivated third year History student at a top European university, where because of the nature and content of my course, cannot take official math courses. However, a.) having self-taught advanced calc/prob theory/lin algebra/real analysis, b.) RA under macro economics proff, c.) having been published in 2 economics journals, and d.) taking certain optional econometric and economic theory courses, I have tried to make my profile very economics centric. I was able to land an analyst internship at a well funded think tank for this coming summer, and at European Central Bank for the next month.

    However, as you're aware, these have virtually no academic standing for PhD admissions. I have found certain online programmes, which include assignments and exams that are graded and are of expected standards, which can possibly attest to my mathematical capabilities. This includes paid courses at MIT OCW (Advanced mathematical modelling, advanced statistics, prob theory) and Harvard Extension School (calc II, multivariable calc, linear algebra, real analysis I & II, and real analysis - convexity and optimisation). I hope to complete all of these in the next 2.5 years and would have had greater exposure to economic research by then.

    What else can I do? I am willing to work extremely hard and give my very best. And before you say it - Yes, I know it's crazy/impractical/possibly useless/weird and Yes, my chances are really low and I'm possibly not going to cut it.

    EDIT 1: GRE: 170(Q)- 167 and GPA ~ 3.9. Extracurriculars - starting a software product company with 6 digit annual turnover/ consultancy internships/ volunteering

    EDIT: Do you suggest any master's programmes? Are there master's programmes in economics which have placements in top 10 for econ PhD?
    other aspects ~ 3.9 GPA, with a letter from my college's vice-chancellor and econ proff.
    Last edited by blaringtrumpets; 04-25-2021 at 12:49 PM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Tips for getting to a top 10 economics PhD programme as a VERY non-traditional ap

    If you have very strong recommendations from the prof you have RA'd for and from people at the ECB, you are already a fair ways toward your goal. (The letter from the college's vice-chancellor is probably useless unless they are an economist.)

    European students usually do get a master's before going on to a PhD. Another option is to look for a pre-doc position.

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    Re: Tips for getting to a top 10 economics PhD programme as a VERY non-traditional ap

    I am looking programmes only in the US, should've clarified earlier - apologies.

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    Re: Tips for getting to a top 10 economics PhD programme as a VERY non-traditional ap

    startz's advice still holds. If you want to attend a US PhD program, then it is common for European students to get a European masters (e.g. EME/MSc at LSE, BGSE, etc.). If you do very well in a European masters, then you'll have a good shot at a good US program. Doing a good predoc (i.e. working with someone who's actively invested in the professional development of their RA) is helpful, and there are many of these positions in the US. Check out https://twitter.com/econ_ra?lang=en or Opportunities | Pathways to Research and Doctoral Careers. Googling Economics predocs will also show a bunch of results. Some, but not all, predocs will sponsor a visa.

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    Re: Tips for getting to a top 10 economics PhD programme as a VERY non-traditional ap

    In many cases, it's ambiguous whether a predoc or a master's is a better option. In your case it is not. A master's can make up for your lack of undergrad math whereas a predoc definitively cannot. I would pursue one of the masters mentioned above: LSE EME, BGSE, Bocconi are all names I've heard before with good programs.

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    Re: Tips for getting to a top 10 economics PhD programme as a VERY non-traditional ap

    This is tangential, but what were the MIT EdX courses you took? Is it the stats/probability micromasters?

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