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I finished my master’s in mathematics a year ago from ETH Zurich. Now I want to do a PhD in economics, preferably at a top graduate school. My questions are:

  1. Would admission committee give minus points for me if I have a gap for two years at the time of PhD application? I want to apply in the US in December 2020, and it would be two years of my masters completion by then. I will be teaching mathematics at undergraduate level during these two years.

  2. How can I prepare myself for an admission into a top PhD program for economics? Would getting involved in a research project in economics with a local economist be seen an advantage for me? Would working at a local research institute be helpful? How can I make my application competitive? How can I exhibit the knowledge in economics that the top PhD programs demand?

The last time I studied economics was during my high school, where I did two basic courses on micro- and macro-economics.

  • teaching mathematics at undergraduate level during these two years. Why? I don't see how this will help your application. – user2768 Aug 15 '19 at 8:17
  • Would getting involved in a research project in economics with a local economist be seen an advantage for me? Would working at a local research institute be helpful? Yes and yes, imo, but these activities will delay your entry, why delay? – user2768 Aug 15 '19 at 8:19
  • Questions regarding preparation have already been asked on this site, what is new about your question? – user2768 Aug 15 '19 at 8:19
  • I have edited my question, having read your first response. For the second, all the good universities that I have looked into say that I need to have some sort of background in economics. Just with a high school level micro, macro knowledge, I am not sure if my application will be competitive. That's why I want to know how can I preprare myself? – specfunctor Aug 15 '19 at 8:23
  • @user2768 "Why delay?" Because I do not know if my application as it is now will be competitive. So the idea is to delay and do the necessary things to make my application competitive... – specfunctor Aug 15 '19 at 8:30
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I'd consider mathematics as an excellent footing for economics, perhaps top graduate schools and their professors will agree, ask them.

I don't see that delaying your application to teach mathematics for two years will help, and I don't think that delaying to "[get] involved in a research project in economics with a local economist" or "working at a local research institute" will provide a significant advantage. But, top graduate schools and their professors may disagree. Again, ask them.

It seems you don't know whether executing your plan (or aspects of your plan) will help make your application more competitive. This makes your question rather personal (indeed, you've gotten at least one close vote - not mine - on this basis). I strongly recommend asking the institutes involved, the relevant professors, or a combination of both, they can guide you, the broader Internet cannot.

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    Whether an undergraduate degree in mathematics is still an excellent footing for economics can only be discovered by asking, but even without having to look them up I thought immediately of Oliver Hart and Nick Stern, both of whom achieved great prominence in economics very quickly after graduating in mathematics. – JeremyC Aug 15 '19 at 22:06

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