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Profile Evaluation and Program Suggestion


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Type of Undergrad: First Class Honours Economics and Minor Mathematics at a Top 3 Canadian University


Undergrad GPA: 3.54/4.0, 3.8/4.0 for Econ


Type of Grad: NA

Grad GPA: N/A


Predoc: At another T3 Canadian University with relatively well known, albeit younger profs.

GRE: 168 Quant (92nd percentile), 166 Verbal (97th percentile), 5.0 writing (92nd percentile)

Math Courses: Calc 3 (D, B+, I'll explain later), Differential equations ©, Linear Algebra 1 (B+), Honours Linear Algebra 2 (A), Intro to Statistics (A), Probability (A), Statistics (A), Analysis I (A).

Econ Courses (grad-level that I took as an undergrad): Game Theory (A-), Micro I (B+)

Econ Courses (undergrad-level): Honours Intermediate Micro (A-), Honours Intermediate Macro (B+), Honours Intermediate Stats (A-), Honours Econometrics I (A); Honours Econometrics II (A), Honours Advanced Micro (A), Honours Advanced Macro (A); various econ courses outside the core classes, some honours some not (All A- or A).


Other Courses: Foundations of Programming (A), Intro to Computer Science (A)


Research Experience: two internships in economic policy with well known think tanks in Washington DC, part time RA for labour economist while in Undergrad, part time RA for a different labour economist at another institution during undergrad and summer after undergrad, part time RA on NBER project summer after undergrad, Predoc at a different top 3 Canadian University.


Letters of Recommendation: All from professors I've been an RA for. Two have published decently however are quite young, another is more senior.


Research Interests: Primarily in Urban, but also interested in Public and Applied Micro in general


SOP: Going to talk about realizing my late interest in graduate economics in tandem with my upward performance in my grades. My GPA is bad because I wasn't very focused on school at the start. I started my undergrad as a geography student and got bad grades in those courses, the gen-ed freshman courses, and the math courses. I switched into econ 2nd year, enjoyed it, and started taking school more seriously and have gotten significantly better grades since (3.33 average for first two vs 3.84 average for final two years). Additionally, I got straight As in the math courses I took in the latter half of my degree (Honours LinAlg 2, Analysis, Probability, and Statistics) vs the B+ and C I got in the first half in Calc 3 and ODEs.


Other: Deans list, 2019/2020 academic year. Received an award for being the graduating student with the highest academic standing in the economics department.


Applying to: Would love some advice as to the caliber of school I should be applying to, open to anywhere in US, Canada, or Europe. A very tentative list would be

  • Reaches: University of Pennsylvania, NYU, Columbia, Brown, UCLA, UCSD, Oxford
  • Target: University of British Columbia, University of Toronto, USC, UC Irvine, Boston University, Queens, University, Maryland, UCL, Toulouse School of Economics, Georgetown, University of Washington.
  • Safety: McGill University, University of Pittsburgh, CU Boulder, George Washington University.

Is that list realistic? Should I shoot higher/lower? Are there other places I should look at specific to my research interests? Thanks in advance!

Edited by econ546
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It's hard to gauge how your grades will be perceived. The upward trajectory and strong grades in final two years is meaningful and not unusual, and it seems that often people are able to successfully explain that in their SOP. However, regardless of all that the grades in Calc III and DiffEq and even alrebra are going to hurt your chances some.


Your targets don't seem terribly unrealistic to me, if a little high. There are probably some reaches in your target, and Pittsburgh is not any less competitive than Georgetown. For a true "safety" (if that even exists_ you would probably have to apply much lower in the rankings. Ask your advisers what they think and apply widely, this year could be another tough admissions cycle.

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