How to be competitive for a Econ PhD?

<p>I am a sophomore at Penn State (Schreyer Honors College, so I will have written a thesis before graduation, as well as having taken several honors math and honors econ courses). I came in as a BMB major and started doing research in a BMB lab freshman year. I switched to a math major recently and am still working in my lab. I am also majoring in Econ and Spanish. I have a 3.81 GPA. I do several other things on campus -- I've been a Big Sister in Big Brother Big Sister since I was in high school and I am an editor for the college newspaper. This summer I studied abroad and had an internship in Puerto Rico. I'm also a teaching assistant for intro microeconomics. </p>

<p>So my question is, with all of that, what can I do to make myself a competitive applicant for the top Econ PhD programs? Will the fact that I spent the beginning of my college as a BMB major hurt my chances? Should I continue doing research in my BMB lab?</p>


<p>The fact that you spent beginning of college as BMB major won’t hurt your chances, nor your past experiences doing BMB research.</p>

<p>But not getting enough econ research will hurt your chances.</p>

<p>Therefore, now you know you want to do Econ PhD then you should start getting more Econ research exp, not continuing doing BMB research which has nothing directly related to your field, which won’t be considered by adcoms.</p>

<p>Alright thanks for the advice! Another question… I would like to take a graduate level Econ course (perhaps like a first semester micro class). What math classes would be the most useful to take before that? I want to plan my schedule so I have the math to do well in a grad course as an undergrad before I do it. Also, when should I take the grad class so that the schools I’m applying to will see it? Should I wait until senior year so I have the most math possible? Thanks!</p>

<p>First off, the extracurriculars are meaningless unless they are related to economics research or policy. As was pointed out, economics research and strong letters are key. It’s possible to get into a top program without lots of research (as I did) but not without stellar letters, so work on getting those. With regards to graduate micro, real analysis is essential. The more math you know the better but real analysis and/or point-set topology are the most useful. As for when you should take the graduate courses, as soon as you can. Some schools will accept a fall-senior transcript and see your grades while others won’t.</p>

<p>I’m sorry, but I don’t know what BMB is. I do hope you know that Econ PhD, funded, is incredibly competitive. Your GPA is good, research in another area is fine, TA is bonus, Spanish nice, but you need econ related or data research and LOR’s, to be the creme de la creme who get the accepts. Forget the Ec’s except for your Personal Statement, and even them it is an aside.</p>

<p>The one who I know who did get such program out of undergrad, graduated with Honors from quite top college, Phi Beta Kappa, serious research on the CV and some math under his belt at least stats and calc, don’t know what else. Spoke 5 languages and was willing to relocate anywhere globally. Still he got many rejections. The happy part was the accept was prestigious and paid. Don’t know about grad classes, ask a prof who teaches it, or his grad student.</p>

<p>Sorry, BMB is Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I know it is really competitive and difficult, that is why I am seeking advice on how to be more competitive. Thanks for the advice! I found a professor on my campus that does research in mathematical economics. I’m considering seeking her out to get involved with her research and possibly write my senior thesis with her. Would this be a good idea or would it be better to seek someone out in the economics department?</p>