Hello all,

I’m a long-time lurker of this forum in the need of some advice. I’ve read much of the excellent advice given to others and hope that someone here can help me out as well. I would like to get a PhD in statistics and then go into industry. However, the college I attend does not typically send students to graduate school in math, so I am completely on my own when it comes to applying. I’ve also never taken any graduate level math classes nor done any research with a professor. This means that I have absolutely no idea what area of research I’m interested in. Hence, I am a bit lost when it comes to deciding which schools I should be applying to. I know I want a school that focuses on applied statistics and that has strong ties to industry, but not much else. I’d also prefer to stay in the Northeast, but am willing to relocate if the school is ranked highly enough.

Another thing I was wondering about is whether I can get into a PhD program just yet. I was considering going for a MS first and then for a PhD. My LORs will be good, but my professors are not well-known. I’m also not quite sure what to write in my SOP. I know it doesn’t matter much for admissions, but I’ve heard that I’m not supposed to mention that I want to go into industry, and being that I’ve never done any research, I don’t have any research interests to talk about (although I will be doing a senior thesis next year on a yet to be determined topic that I will probably be able to expound on). A MS program would negate both of these issues, but if I can get into a PhD program with my current stats, I’d much prefer to save time and go straight to a PhD program.

I’m putting my profile below, and if someone could please help me out here, I’d really appreciate it. Thank you in advance!

Undergrad Institution: small unknown private college

Major: Mathematics

Minor: Finance

GPA: 3.9+

Type of Student: DWF

GRE General Test: haven’t taken yet

GRE Subject Test in Mathematics: haven’t taken yet

Math Classes: 3 semesters calculus, 2 semesters probability, differential equations, operations research, biostatistics, time series and regression analysis, linear algebra, finite mathematics, financial mathematics, actuarial mathematics, senior thesis

Research Experience: senior thesis

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: president of college math society

Letters of Recommendation: 3 math professors, including the deputy chairman of the math department. 2 strong, 1 ok. None of the professors are well-known.

Any Miscellaneous Points that Might Help: 2 actuarial summer internships

To reiterate my questions:

1. Do I have a chance of acceptance into a PhD program, or should I go for a MS first?

2. What programs should I be applying to?

3. What tier/rank of programs should I be considering?

4. Can I mention my interest in industry in my SOP?

5. Any other advice or thoughts on my situation would be appreciated.

Thank you!