APPLYING TO GRADUATE SCHOOL AND MBA PROGRAMS Drew University, Department of Economics Before you graduate Choose Classes Carefully Graduate schools care much more about what hard classes you have taken and how you have done in them than about overall GPA. If you have taken difficult classes, highlight them in the application and/or essay because schools might not know which Economics classes or other subjects are the advanced ones. Courses that emphasize real world analysis provide especially important skills because they tend to be demanding and they draw on many aspects of your education. Essays may be an opportunity to highlight your coursework, specific papers or projects. Math – Calculus and Analytic Geometry I, II, III plus Linear Algebra Is graduate school right for you Graduate school work focuses on research. The best way to know whether you enjoy doing research and working in an academic environment is to try it! If you take a graduate course as an undergraduate, you could get a better feel for the amount of work required, compared to an undergraduate course. M.A./M.S. versus Ph.D. If you are not sure whether you want to do an M.A. or Ph.D., you might want to start out in a Ph.D. program as the coursework for the 1st year is often the same. Recommendation letters Get recommendations from people who know you well ! Get to know some of your professors well ! If a professor hesitates at recommending you, find someone else. It is fine to have a letter from someone you worked for even if they didn’t teach you in a class. Try and find professors that work in the field you are applying for to recommend you. Graduate school essays On your application it is very important to write an essay indicating what areas of economics you are interested in, what questions you think are interesting, what papers you have read that you have liked, etc. Be as specific as possible and make sure you edit the essay properly. Check essay samples on-line to get a better idea of how to organize yours. Get someone to read your essays. GRE Scores Although the test is not necessarily a good predictor of success, it matters a lot, especially the quantitative portion! Study for the GRE and/or take a preparation course. The Economic section is usually not required so don’t spend much time on it if you take it. If your score is strong send it, otherwise do not use it. Where to apply Do your homework! Most students spend a significant portion of their senior year in high school preparing for college – do the same if you are going to grad school. Go on-line to search engines such as econ.lit or JSTOR and enter subfields that interest you – see who is publishing and where they work. Talk to your professors and ask them if they could recommend graduate programs and/or people to work with. Send an application to at least eight schools. If you only want to go to a certain school for its brand name than maybe graduate school isn’t for you. How to choose a school Talk to students who are already graduate students at that school. Can you see yourself with that particular group of students? Ask about retention rates and qualifier exams. Check the placement record of the department. Rankings - pros and cons: The US News and World Report offer a ranking of US schools, but remember the world is a big place with many other universities throughout the world that offer excellent programs. Never accept a school you have not visited before hand. Financing Graduate School Financial aid is based on income and can be combined with loans. Scholarships: many Ph.D. programs offer funding for students. Research/teaching assistant positions: although these may be difficult to get in your first semester, they are available afterwards. Working outside the university: check to see if there are research institutes or other research organizations within the area of the university that you can apply for a position at. MBA Programs The goal of an MBA is usually to advance in one’s career not to start into a particular career. There are usually three types of MBA programs to consider: full-time, part-time and executive MBA programs. Many MBA programs offer night classes and weekend courses to accommodate working students. The admission goal in an MBA program is a well-rounded class consisting of people from a broad range of work backgrounds. Most MBA programs have two broad work categories: finance and management consulting. Why do you need to work for two years prior to applying: it often makes job placement easier after completing the program. Why apply to top rated programs versus lower rated programs: top rated program usually have better job placement. Typical MBA Class 60-65 percent of admitted students come from finance – investment banking and management consulting. Individuals from these areas tend to have higher GMAT scores How to add depth to a program and get admitted Coming from nongovernmental organizations, nonprofits and government can be a plus as GMAT scores can be lower. Have something unique to share with your potential classmates. Apply early as top MBA programs get many good applicants and few spots are left for late applicants. How important are my grades for an MBA? They are not! Many applicants to MBA programs were not planning on graduate school so they were not focused on grades. Two years of interesting work can mean much forgiveness on the grade front. GMAT Test Many of the top schools have cut off numbers for their programs so scores matter. Tests are a convenient filter for schools with lots of applicants. Practice before and/or take a preparation course. In fact, you really cannot afford not to take a course as most of the students you will be competing against for spots will have taken a course. The Interview Dress professionally. Think about the questions you might be asked and practice answering them – even in front of a mirror! Show that you have done your ‘homework’ – know the program inside and out. Interviews are not the time for cost/fee/funding questions. Key question: ‘Why do you want to do this MBA and now? Funding and Scholarships MBA programs are expensive so think about the cost implications. There are very few scholarships for MBAs. Many students are funded by employers either fully or for part of their costs. Many MBA students work while pursuing their degree. Unlike Ph.D.s, who are perceived as going to teach/research after graduate school, MBAs are perceived as going for a lucrative professional career.