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Is an Econ PhD right for me given my interests, qualifications and abilities?


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Hello all,

I am currently finishing a Research Analyst position at the IMF, and am considering getting a PhD and going into academia as an alternative to working in the public, private or non-profit sectors. I am very interested in researching comparative economics and economic history, and would love to teach in these subjects, or general economics as well. I love learning for the sake of learning, thinking about new ideas, and think that academia would be a good place for. However, I am unsure as to whether a PhD in economics, public policy or history would be the best fit for me. My biggest issue is math, where I am able to understand well the concepts, but when it comes to doing well in the classes themselves, I have struggled. I am a great writer, however, and had no problem acing economics, history and policy classes. I know that if I decide to do an Econ PhD,, I would need to retake Calc II and II, as well as take Linear and Real, at a minimum. Given my background, interest and qualifications, what kind of program would be best, and where does the forum think I can get into. My profile is posted below.


Type of Undergrad: Double BA in Economics and International Relations - Top 40 LAC

Undergrad GPA: 3.36, Econ: 3.6, IR: 3.6

GRE: 163 Q, 160 V, 5.5 W

Math Courses: Calc I - III: B-, C+, C+ Stats (Undergrad and Grad): A-

Econ Courses (Undergrad): Intro to Econ I/II: A-, A-, Intermediate Macro/Micro: B+/B+, Econometrics: A-, Econ Development: A-, International Trade: A-, Senior Seminar: B+

Grad School: Johns Hopkins University SAIS - MA in International Economics and Finance

Grad GPA: 3.3

Econ Courses: Macro: A-, Micro: B+, Econometrics I/II: B-, B, Time Series Econometrics: B+, Economic Development: A-, Advanced International Macro: B+, International Finance: C+, International Trade: B+, International Financial Organizations: A-

LORs: I feel pretty confident that they will be really good and will speak to my interest in research and teaching

Research experience: Several internships during college at economic think tanks in DC, the Council of Economic Advisers, and an RAship for an undergrad IIPE professor. Currently an RA at the IMF

Teaching experience: Undergrad Intermediate macro TA

Research interests: Economic development, comparative economics, economic history

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You don't need to retake Calc 2, only Calc 3. Linear Algebra is essential but it also makes sense to take the full Real Analysis Sequence (single variable analysis + multivariable analysis) in your case (for adcoms to overlook your past math grades). It's yours to judge if this path is right for you, but it will take quite a bit of extra commitment. It would be a good idea to show your profile to Economists at your RA institution.


p.s. Are those grad courses at the PhD level?

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Whether the course material is at a PhD level or not depends on the reference textbooks. What constitutes as PhD-adjacent for one person might not be the case for another. If your courses use the standard textbooks as reference, then your results in those classes will be given more weight. If that isn't the case, then for all intents and purposes, they are probably on par with advanced undergraduate courses.
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