An anxious undergrad seeks advises! Really Appreciate!

<p>Hi all,
I am an international undergraduate student currently studying at Ohio University. I will transfer after the end of Spring quarter. I applied to a bunch of universities which are almost Top 50s. My majors are mathematics/statistics and econ.
I am considering to go to a graduate school to get a phd in economics or business field. Here are my questions, by the time I enter my new school, I will have earned 91 quarter credit hours which are almost 60 semester hours. That is to say, I will be a junior at my new school.
However, I do not have any extracurriculum activities at Ohio University during my freshman and sophomore year, nor do I have any research experience during the time.
So I wonder if it is enough time for me to begin to prepare for top phds beginning at my junior year. I want to go to a Top 20 program, is that possible to achieve in 1.5 years of time?
Since I am going to apply for business or econ program, will that be less competitive just because I am an undergrad? I saw a lot of Ph.D candidates and faculty that they had master degrees. So I am just a little worried. I will take graduate courses and do well in GRE & TOEFL. Will a CFA certificate as well as GRE Math Subject be useful when I am applying? Is 1.5 year enough for preparing research experience?
Also, will the reputation of my undergrad school influence my chance to get into top programs? If I want to apply for about 20 schools, will my authors of LORs be willing to send those letters to so many schools?</p>

<p>I really appreciate your patience to read my thread. And Hope you could give me some clues.
Thank you so much for your responses!</p>

<p>You don't need extracurriculars for graduate admissions, nor will a CFA certificate be of any value.</p>

<p>Ph.Ds are research-based programs and if you want to be competitive for economics or business Ph.Ds, you need to start pursuing undergraduate research.</p>

<p>As polarscribe already said, extracurriculars don't matter in grad school admissions.</p>

<p>Many people begin doing research in their junior year of college. Whether or not that's enough depends on who you are competing with when you apply. It won't be less competitive just because you are an undergrad; the admissions committee is trying to pick the best cohort. If that's all people with MAs, then so be it. They're not comparing you only to other BA holders; they will be comparing you to everyone in the pool.</p>

<p>You also need to make a decision about business vs. econ, because they are two VERY different programs. Generally speaking, it may be easier to find a tenure-track position in a business school depending on your experience and qualifications. The econ field is more saturated, especially since fewer PhDs want jobs outside of academia in econ than in business.</p>

<p>The reputation of your undergrad college will influence your chances, in a small way. But what you do in undergrad is far more important than where you go.</p>

<p>You probably should not apply to 20 PhD programs. Most PhD students apply to between 5-10, although in some very competitive fields like clinical psychology people may apply to a few more (maybe 9-12). You pick the programs that are the best fit for you and you apply there. This isn't like undergrad applications where you just blitz. Your LOR writers will most likely write a template and slightly modify it for each school so it's not as time consuming, but 20 schools may have them raising their eyebrows.</p>

<p>Thank you so much juillet! Your response is really helpful, but I have another question about selecting business and econ. I am willing to choose business phd, but aren't it much harder to go to a business school as an undergrad than going to a graduate school of art & sciences? Or is this a ridiculous view that I have? I want to go to business school for my phd, could you give me some direcitions? Still doing math&econ?Will that be helpful? If I want to attend top programs, such as HBS, Standford GSB, MIT Sloan, UCBerkeley Haas, does that mean I must go to a top 20 school for undergraduate? I read many CVs of the students and faculty of those schools, they all have superior undergrad colleges, despite research experiences, what else do I need to have to get into those top schools?
Thank you so much!</p>

<p>All the schools you mentioned are extremely selective and competitive. You need undergraduate research experience.</p>

<p>I have no idea what you mean by the "harder to go to a business school" line.</p>

<p>Yeah, I just mean that in my opinion, it is harder to enter a business phd program in a top business school than to enter a econ program in a graduate school of art & science with the same application statistics and background. Is that correct? I do not know excatly, but as far as I know from the materials I get, it is. Yeah, I will begin my research at my new school which begins next Fall. Just research experience is enough? As you know, those programs are really competitive.
Thank you.</p>

<p>So is the combination of math&econ still good for me ?</p>

<p>It's very rare for entering business PhD students in some fields to have prior research experience. It is extremely rare for Accounting and Finance. It may be more common in Management or some types of Marketing, especially in applied psychology sub-disciplines. Professional Masters degrees (MBA, MS Fin, etc.) are common as is some (2-3 years) of related work experience. Though there are some quasi-research masters degrees, such as pre-PhD-track MBAs and programs such as honors theses that come close, and these are not all that unusual. </p>

<p>I know fewer Econ PhDs and PhD students, but I can't recall hear that any had prior research experience. As a group they tend to be a bit more book smart (better at math) but with much less prior work/professional experience than their Business counterparts. My impression is that Econ programs commonly accept larger incoming classes and then cull a significant fraction at either the first-year screening exam and/or at second-year comprehensive exam. That sort of planned attrition seems to be much less common in Business, but it varies by department and school.</p>

<p>Econ and math are the best preparation for both. Your odds of being accepted to either are probably not great, but all you need to do to find out is take a couple of tests (GMAT for Business, GRE ? for Econ) and apply. Earning excellent marks in difficult math and econ classes will return benefits regardless of whether you end up doing a PhD or not.</p>

<p>You'll also need a very credible story as to why you feel you should become a academic researcher in a specific discipline. Your story will need to be specific to that discipline and convey clearly that you understand what that is and why people conduct such research in the first place. I mention this because your questions to this point are rather vague. That's OK. There is no reason that you should know any of that at this point, but you do need to learn.</p>

<p>Asking such questions on forums like this is probably one of the least reliable, least effective and most inefficient way to learn such things. You need to get to know some of those old guys at your school that sit in those cluttered offices full of books and talk to them about your interests and their experiences.</p>

<p>Good luck.</p>

<p>So that is to say, a master in business field will increase my chances to get into those top programs, right? I primarily want to do finance or financial economics, operation research is also OK for me. For Econ, I prefer macro and international economics to any other fields. I come here just because I want to know if I could go to top programs if I am not Ives but devote my whole life to achieve it. I will begin to do related research in my junior year and do well in tests. Will my odds still be low? As you know, business or Econ as well as math/stat master programs often have no grants or TA/RA as well. I cannot afford a master. I need to increase my chances.</p>

<p>Huh. If there is any common thread linking OR, Macro and Finance, it eludes me.</p>

<p>You're correct that MS & MBA programs seldom provide support. They can help or hurt your chances depending on where you attend and how you perform. In any case all you can do is take challenging quantitative classes, earn excellent marks, score well on your exams and apply. There is no magic formula to get accepted.</p>

<p>Here is a free econ lesson for you: If there were a known formula for increasing your odds of a favorable outcome in an uncertain and competitive market, all rational competitors would commit resources according to that formula up to the point where the marginal costs and (expected) marginal benefits were equal. Thus, at the equilibrium such investments, while rational, earn no rents.</p>

<p>All you can do is your best as far as your current studies and getting involved in research now. Econ majors can do research, access will depend on the school you are going to. When it approaches time to go to grad school you will also take your exams (GRE, whatever--not Math GRE, though, that is only for Mathematics majors that intend PhD in math.) At that time you will assess your qualities, consult with your professors and decide what quality of school you can get in. I do know econ grads going into PhD programs in business/finance with full funding and partial funding but it is extremely competitive.</p>

<p>Thank you for your responses. After reading a lot of CVs of current graduate students in top business programs and concerning of your responses, I am just less confident in myself. Does that mean I have no chance to go to a top program as an international undergrad at an ordinary school(Top 50)?</p>

<p>Don't think about "ease" of getting in; you do not want to predicate your career upon what is easier. I also do not think that getting into a top business PhD program is harder than getting into a top economics program. I can't common on which one is more difficult, but I do know that many more people get PhDs in economics than get PhDs in business. Also consider this: the demand for PhDs in business is larger than the supply. If you want to be a professor, for example, there are far more applicants for professor positions in economics than there are positions. But he opposite is true in business: there are more business professor positions than there are people who want to be business professors, so you will face less competition (and higher salaries) if you want to be a business professor.</p>

<p>You could major in math and econ and go to business school to get a PhD, yes. Most business PhD programs don't require an MS or an MBA first. Some may prefer that you work a few years in business between your BA and your PhD, but others will accept you straight from college.</p>

<p>No, you don't have to go to a top 20 undergraduate school. Remember that people often go to top 20 schools because they are already thinking about going to top business schools and graduate schools ahead of time; in other words, top 20 undergrads are often more motivated to go to top graduate schools and are thinking about it very early. Fewer people from your local public go not because they couldn't get in, but because they don't want or need a graduate degree to get what they want to do.</p>

<p>You do, however, need research experience. However, that's not difficult to get. You could do research in a variety of departments - obviously with a business or economics professor, but also with a math professor, or in the departments of psychology, sociology, political science, statistics, and a variety of other fields depending on your interests. Many business professors have PhDs in social psychology or organizational psychology. You will be more competitive to get into a business PhD program with research experience, and you won't get into an econ PhD program without it.</p>

<p>
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You probably should not apply to 20 PhD programs. Most PhD students apply to between 5-10, although in some very competitive fields like clinical psychology people may apply to a few more (maybe 9-12). You pick the programs that are the best fit for you and you apply there.

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<p>I would say the same, though I think it is important to pick a fair variety of programs which fit you well enough (have people you want to work with). Twenty is definitely ridiculous, but one should include plenty of programs, since there seems to be a high degree of randomness in the process. Basically, including several programs often should not need to imply including programs of a poor academic fit.</p>

<p>I don't know anything about business PhD, but I do think for economics, it's pretty important to get some mathematics foundations down from what I've heard (real analysis through a first course in measure theory maybe). To get this particular piece of info, talk to a faculty member in the economics department, and I'm sure that will be most reliable.</p>

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<p>Perhaps the two of you have some explaining to do :D</p>

<p>Thank you so much for your responses. They are really helpful. I will start with them right now. Really appreciate your patience and help.</p>