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Through a rather strange set of circumstances, I ended up reading this blog post by Bryan Caplan from 2005 on how getting a PhD in economics is a good deal. I think my brilliant colleague makes a lot of sense in this post.
Posted by Peter Boettke on April 27, 2009 at 06:55 PM | Permalink
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I was in desperate need of motivation to get on with mine today, and that's done it. Thanks!
April 28, 2009 at 05:37 AM
Here you have more motivation, Ed:
April 28, 2009 at 05:34 PM
Thanks! I love it! That is a great story.
king mises |
April 28, 2009 at 09:49 PM
MartinF- Thanks. Block's advice is good.
Now, if only I could find my copy of Competition and Entrepreneurship and I coudl really make some progress.
April 29, 2009 at 03:36 AM
Bryan Caplan hinted at the math... Dr. Boettke (or others), can you recommend the best types of math classes to take in order to do well in grad school? I'm not planning to enroll until next fall, so I have an opportunity in the mean time to prepare myself well.
I assume basic statistics (e.g. GMU STATS-250). How about advanced statiscs (e.g. GMU STATS-350)?
How about calculus, differential equations, and matrix algebra?
Michael Foley |
April 29, 2009 at 10:09 AM
@Michael, of course it depends on your research interests what types of math will help you to "do well in graduate school" - read the sorts of articles you are interested in writing and see what kind of math is used in them. You may find (and probably will if you are interested in this blog) that most of the articles you like use little or no math. Graduate school is about learning how to write these sorts of articles which are the focus of academic life. At least this is what I've been told.
I recommend picking up Alpha Chiang's Fundamental Methods of Math Econ text, which will expose you to most of the sorts of maths you'll find in the journals.
But maybe since you are an undergraduate you are really wanting to know "what sorts of classes should I take to get IN to grad school" which is a different question. If you sniff around for a while, you'll find that most advice givers say you should consider a major in math. In the least, the standard battery will be calculus through multivariate, linear algebra, probability, statistics. Oft recommended is a course called Real Analysis (a proof-based approach to calculus, at GMU and some institutions it is called Advanced Calculus). GMU offers an undergraduate course in econometrics, take it (I had the excellent Jon Klick, then a student, now a law professor).
Beyond that you may find you have caught the math bug and want to make your application competitive to top schools. Diff eq, operations research, advanced courses in probability/statistics/linear algebra, complex analysis, numerical analysis would all be good choices. Topology is often recommended but at least when I was a student it was not offered at GMU. If you have a chance to take any courses with Prof. Sachs in the math department, do so, he is awesome.
I could have graduated a year earlier than I did, but stayed the additional year to get the math major. In retrospect it turned out to be a bad idea, but only because I got very sick and performed uncharacteristically poorly in my classes. If you are serious about grad school in economics, you should consider staying as an undergrad an additional year, especially if you are a junior who has not yet taken much if any maths.
Zac Gochenour |
April 29, 2009 at 11:10 AM
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April 29, 2009 at 12:00 PM
Thanks, Zac. Looks like a lot of classes, but perhaps worthwhile. I'll consider that extra year you suggested.
Michael Foley |
April 29, 2009 at 01:15 PM
I would like some information about the graduate school system in the US:
-In Brazil it is pretty much mandatory to have a MA before your PHD, but seeing the curriculum of many American economists, it appears that you can just enter the PHD program after graduating. If you want to be an scholar.
-How the selection system works in the US, it is basically the GRE test and the TOEFL? Having an MA counts for the selection process?
Rafael Roos Guthmann |
April 29, 2009 at 10:43 PM
Most of your questions about PhD economics will be answered at the forum: http://www.urch.com/forums/phd-economics/ If not, you can ask a new question.
In response to your question, I think an MA helps if you do well, or at a high reputation school, can get good letters of recommendation from reputable scholars. So basically if you can much improve on your first degree. Otherwise, better to just go straight for PhD.
Btw, the phd-econ forum is very useful for advice on which math courses to take etc.
April 30, 2009 at 05:37 AM
As to math for econ, there are really quite a few good books out there that explain just those topics you are lilely to need as an economist.
- the already mentioned book by Alpha Chiang, but on a more advanced level there is also his _Elements of Dynamic Optimization_ (1992);
- Standard are also Simon and Blume (1994) _Mathematics for Economists_, and, a bit more advanced, Angel de la Fuente (2000) _Mathematical Methods and Models for Economists_;
- If you like real analysis see Efe Ok (2007) Real Analysis with Economic Applications, = also great book if you want to do finance later;
- On optimization theory I also liked Rangarajan Sundaram (1996) _A First Course in Optimization Theory_;
and many others...
May 01, 2009 at 11:55 AM
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