Using a grad class as a prereq for stat/biostat MS in a unique situation.

#1
Hello all,

I guess I'll begin with my goal: to obtain an MS in stat/biostats in order to change careers. I do not intend to pursue education beyond the MS level. Also the schools I intend to apply to are not top tier, just solid regional schools where I'd like to settle.

I have a unique situation in that my undergraduate background was not formally in mathematics. In fact I have a BA in English. After graduation, when the urge to change careers crept in, I began taking mathematics courses to satisfy the min prereqs for stats degrees, calc I,II,III, diff eq, and linear algebra, receiving an A in each.

That left me with just one more prereq, a calc based stats course. Thinking I'd be slick and complete a prereq and get a degree requirement out of the way in one shot, I enrolled in a grad level mathematical statistics course at my states second largest public university. I then found out the differences between undergrad and grad level....THe hours of study, the level of expectation, and quality of teaching, totally different... but overall I learned more than any class I've ever taken--I liked it. Unfortunately I only cleared a B in the course, and therein lies my predicament. What does this grad level B say about me as a student?

It seems grad level Bs are vary a lot from institution to institution...some claim a B is a borderline failure others say that a B is not bad at all, even the norm. The course grade was a product of only two things, homework and single, five question final. I did great on homework, really enjoying working our the difficult problems, but the test posed an issue. I needed more time...and just didn't have it. I only mention this because I feel the test (thus the grade) did not completely reflect my abilities throughout the semester, but that is just the way it is...

So given your knowledge of grad school admissions (since you and your peers have gone through it) how would such a situation rank? Do I have a shot at getting accepted? I will note that I have no issue retaking the course once matriculated in a program.

Thanks for the help!
 

hlsmith

Not a robit
#2
You sound like you have a good background. Just for curiousity, what was your overall GPA. Will the program you are applying to required a standardized test score, say GRE (which has a quantitative component). If it is not an upper tier school, I bet you can get in. I wouldn't sweat the one B.
 
#3
You sound like you have a good background. Just for curiousity, what was your overall GPA. Will the program you are applying to required a standardized test score, say GRE (which has a quantitative component). If it is not an upper tier school, I bet you can get in. I wouldn't sweat the one B.
My undergrad GPA was 3.5, but that is not with factoring in the additional 5 As from the calcs linear and diff eqs.

I'm taking the GRE tomorrow. I've been pre testing around a 160-162 for quant... I'm hoping to pull the 160+ but you never know. Unfortunately I've only had about 2 weeks to study.
 

spunky

Doesn't actually exist
#4
uhm... did you take real analysis or any other courses that are heavy on the "theorem-proof-theorem-proof" base approach to teaching math?
 
#5
uhm... did you take real analysis or any other courses that are heavy on the "theorem-proof-theorem-proof" base approach to teaching math?
No. The two stat programs I'm looking at claim to just require the calc sequence, linear, algebra, and mathematical stats as a background....they claim to be 'professionally focused.' The biostat program is vague, claiming only quant mature student.

They are Umass Amherst stat and biostat, and Umass Lowell stat

Umass Lowell requires analysis as part of the MS itself.

Note***the mathematical stat grad course I took was of this nature. Lectures generally concerned proving theorems, homework extended the proofs with some light "show this or show that type problems." I was not required to truly prove a complete theorems. Ex. the prof would prove something like the weak law of large numbers, he central limit theorem, or random variable transformations, we would be required to work with and demonstrate various results from the theorem.
 
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spunky

Doesn't actually exist
#7
OMG YOU'RE RIGHT! UMass doesn't ask you for a major in Statistics/Math to get into their MSc program. heck, had i known this i would have applied there!

anyhoo, you've been through the basic calc stream and you've done linear algebra. you're clearly somewhat familiar with the method of proof and got to sample a graduate-level course in Statistics.

my vote goes for 'yes', you should be fine.
 
#8
I pulled a 159 Quant and a 162 Verbal.

Not the best quant ever, but I can only assume the two programs at Umass Amherst are not too competitive. What do yo think of these scores?
 

Dason

Ambassador to the humans
#9
I pulled a 159 Quant and a 162 Verbal.

Not the best quant ever, but I can only assume the two programs at Umass Amherst are not too competitive. What do yo think of these scores?
I didn't realize they changed the scoring in 2011 so when I read those scores for a moment I just thought you were *terrible* and then I realized that when I took it the min score was 200 so something must be wrong...
 

spunky

Doesn't actually exist
#10
well... your quant score is a little bit lower compared to what i've seen in other graduate programs, but you're still above the 70th percentile so i think you're probably OK. besides, UMass' website says you're encouraged to submit the scores but that it's not required.

do you have any programming experience? that would help enhance your qualifications as a candidate.

i wouldn't jump too fast on this idea that since the program is not competitive it would be easy to get in. ever since people figured out there's money to be made in big data analytics, Applied Statistics programs have seen a boost in candidates to try and secure getting a job. i mean, you admit yourself that you're trying to change careers (wouldn't blame you. i do research in un/underemployment and i know how tough things can be depending on which major you chose in college). and the fact that UMass has no requirement for a BSc in Math/Stats means the potential pool of people who can apply is a lot larger.

have you considered an educational measurement/psychometrics program as a Plan B, just in case?
 
#11
well... your quant score is a little bit lower compared to what i've seen in other graduate programs, but you're still above the 70th percentile so i think you're probably OK. besides, UMass' website says you're encouraged to submit the scores but that it's not required.

do you have any programming experience? that would help enhance your qualifications as a candidate.

i wouldn't jump too fast on this idea that since the program is not competitive it would be easy to get in. ever since people figured out there's money to be made in big data analytics, Applied Statistics programs have seen a boost in candidates to try and secure getting a job. i mean, you admit yourself that you're trying to change careers (wouldn't blame you. i do research in un/underemployment and i know how tough things can be depending on which major you chose in college). and the fact that UMass has no requirement for a BSc in Math/Stats means the potential pool of people who can apply is a lot larger.

have you considered an educational measurement/psychometrics program as a Plan B, just in case?
Definitely some good thoughts. Yes, at some points I have...actually I work in education now and regularly use the results of psychometric testing (I think). I am apprehensive about getting into a doctorate program at this stage in my life. I guess my plan b is Umass Lowell. The graduate coordinator claimed that a B in the course I took would give me a pretty good chance at getting in.

As for coding, I can do some work with python, but I'd consider myself a beginner. I would like to play around with some data with R over the next few weeks. I am considering taking the second semester of math stats at Umass Lowell while it is still fresh in my mind and I have momentum...

I may have enough time for a retest, but it will be close. App deadlines for both schools is 1/31. I can test next 1/10/15.

Would you recommend a second go at the GRE?
 

spunky

Doesn't actually exist
#12
it depends. if you think you can increase your score a lot (like maybe you were not feeling well that day or you were too nervous, etc.) then it's probably worth it. but if you feel like you tried your best, there's probably no point on it. keep in mind you're still above the 70th percentile, so that's a good thing.

if i were you i would try to get as many math/stats/programming courses under my belt as i can and get good grades on them (which you're already doing). the angle you need to take here is that you're not some lost English major with no clue of how to do math. good grades in tough courses/programming experience are probably gonna speak for themselves better that GRE scores (unless UMass is one of those schools who uses the GRE to filter out candidates in which case it's high-scores-or-die. my school does that in many programs).

to be honest with you, my quant GRE was not great either (actually all of my GRE was not great ) but i have a major in Math so my advisor immediately ignored my low GRE and focused on my grades/research experience/statement of purpose.
 
#13
it depends. if you think you can increase your score a lot (like maybe you were not feeling well that day or you were too nervous, etc.) then it's probably worth it. but if you feel like you tried your best, there's probably no point on it. keep in mind you're still above the 70th percentile, so that's a good thing.

if i were you i would try to get as many math/stats/programming courses under my belt as i can and get good grades on them (which you're already doing). the angle you need to take here is that you're not some lost English major with no clue of how to do math. good grades in tough courses/programming experience are probably gonna speak for themselves better that GRE scores (unless UMass is one of those schools who uses the GRE to filter out candidates in which case it's high-scores-or-die. my school does that in many programs).

to be honest with you, my quant GRE was not great either (actually all of my GRE was not great ) but i have a major in Math so my advisor immediately ignored my low GRE and focused on my grades/research experience/statement of purpose.
Yeah, I figured that was the case. To me (as I'm sure with anyone here) the GRE math is rather easy, it's just the speed and accuracy that trip me up. I feel like I tried my best, but then again I only practiced for about two weeks...4 days seriously. I probably could do better, but maybe not. With the GRE the difference between a 162 and 159 is a couple simple mistakes. I know I could do better, but you never really know until you're actually there. I could have a headache, or need to pee, or .... any number of things. If you don't think the score is an abomination then I'll probably save the $200 and not take it.

I know I am not the most competitive person... but do you think a 162 would really seal the deal? I know it would be highly unlikely for me to score a 170 simply because I am bit shaky with standardized tests...and I could probably land better than a 160, but maybe not...the math is easy, but the speed messes with me.

Also, Spunky, thank you again for entertaining my thoughts. I really do appreciate it.
 

spunky

Doesn't actually exist
#14
to be honest with you, i think that once you've crossed over the 65th-70th percentile threshold then it comes down to assessing each program individually to see how you measure up with respect to other applicants. do you have any possibility to see the average GRE score of people who were admitted in your program? a lot of universities publish them and it and that gives you a good idea of where your standing could be.

admission decisions related to GRE scores are tricky because there is no universal standard that you can apply. it varies program to program, department to department and university to university. i honestly wouldn't bother re-taking the GRE unless i could confidently say "i can increase my score to somewhere around the 85th percentile or higher". i mean, it's still $200, right? and you have your grades in your graduate courses to back you up. and UMass says that submitting the GRE scores is recommended but not required (although in your case maybe you definitely want to send them because you're coming from a liberal arts degree). what about taking the Math subject GRE? i know it says it's 'not required' for the Statistics program, but you need to show an admission committee that you're comfortable around math. like "sure, i have an English degree, but don't let that suggest i can't do math. i got a decent score in the quant section of the GRE AND i have a (hopefully good) score in the Math subject GRE AND i have all these advanced classes AND some programming experience!" i mean, that would definitely buff up your application.

and it is not a problem. i do my research/grad studies in the Department of Education. every year we get more and more people who want to upgrade their credentials because they want to open up their career prospects and this is usually something that comes up a lot (i.e. how do i get into a more "scientific/technological" field if my formal education is in liberal arts/social sciences/humanities?"). i was almost sure that UMass had an MEd program in Psychometrics for which you would be more than qualified, but i see they only offer it at the EdD level. the world is a scary place out there in terms of career development and one thing that you can be sure of is that number-crunchers will always be needed.