When to start?
- The earlier the better, of course! Keep enough time to adjust the school list.
- Some schools have deadline as early as last week of November, e.g. Ohio State University (ARE). If you are planning for those schools, need to compile everything lot earlier.
- Lots of schools have two deadlines, later one without funding. Be careful.
Things you will need
- GRE score
- 3 Reference Letters
- Writing sample (Not that every school will ask for a sample, but it’s better to send one!)
Statement of Purpose (SOP) Matters
- Applied Economics program mostly offer RAship, so SOP will matter.
- Take time to write SOP. DON’T start at the last moment. Do some research on how to write SOP. Some schools have format, get idea from those. Keep at least one month in hand to make different adjustment in writing.
- Thousand SOP templates are available online, you can get basic ideas from those. But don’t copy anything- Admission committee also has access to internet!
- Focus on your strength, don’t apologize for your weak side (Like ”I got a B because....” Who cares?). There can be special cases though.
- Try to make some links between your research ideas and current literature. Don’t put 4/5 ideas together. Stick to one or two. Name those specific professors you want to work with. And, don’t put names randomly. Do some good research on their current work and specialization.
- Some schools have their own restriction on pages. Otherwise, you may try to be in 2 pages.
- Don’t put your course list in SOP. They have your transcript.
- Focus on the research experience, whatever you have. That’s important.
- If you have teaching experience, put that too.
- Why and how do your ideas and experience fit in that school?
- A rough sketch would probably look like- 1/2 para on your motivation, 3/4 para on your research ideas and experience, 1 para on ”why this school”, ”why these professors” and ”why you”.
- If you can manage, talk to some professors about SOP (show them what you have written and get feedback!).
Urch and gradcafe
Follow Urch and Gradcafe from June-July of the year. It will give a clear idea of the applicant pool.
I don’t know if there is any new forum!
Real Analysis? Good to have a class on Real Analysis.
Talk to 3/4 professors from August/September.
Talk to those professors who know you well, and will take some time to write.
Professors are busy, don’t ”order” them 15 different reference letters at the end of December.
Share the whole school list with them, and take their suggestions seriously.
Every single application form will take 3/4 hours. Some will ask weird things, so take time. No rush!
If you are confused on any requirement, ask the admission office. Don’t guess. International students, check if they have extra requirements.
Get the basic idea from IDEAS, but mostly ranking is not important, I think. A better strategy would be searching through your interest-specific journals. Go through the recent AAEA/AERE sessions (you can read accepted papers online), working papers of current grad students will show a better signal.
Link: https://ideas.repec.org/top/top.agr.html https://ideas.repec.org/top/top.env.html
Yes, it’s expensive, time consuming and frustrating. Make a balanced list. If you want to apply 7/8 schools, take 3/4 from top, 2/3 from medium, and 1/2 schools should be sure shot.
GPA and GRE
What is the lower bound?
There is definitely no lower or upper bound, except that some schools explicitly say, ”we want ***”. This chance is low. However, there is an acceptable range! A good quantitative score will help a lot.
Some schools put average GRE score of their accepted pool. You can get good ideas from those, Urch and Gradcafe are also helpful in this regard. Ask people who recently get admission in good programs to get an idea. My only point is: if you want to get a PhD, low GRE score or low CGPA should not stop you. Those scores are not reflecting your intellectual capability.
A nice online resource on application process: http://chrisblattman.com/about/contact/gradschool/
Bottom line Try to focus on your strength. Everybody has comparative ad- vantage in something, use that.
*All comments are my own. Suggestions are welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org