I want to apply for Ph.D. in Economics in HK, US or Europe, but I met a problem.


  • I am Chinese. My undergraduate was in Peking University majoring in Economics. Though it's one of the best two universities in China, my performance was just average (3.5/4.0, where 3.5 is about 50% among my peers).
  • I had several research assistant experiences, but they are basically dirty work, and the professors whom I worked for do not have strong foreign connections.
  • I also conduct some individual researches, but they seem to be very naïve when I looks back one years later.


  • My master is now in Hong Kong. It's a two year program. I am now in the 2nd semester of yr 1. I planned to polish my background before applying for Ph.D., that's why I am pursuing this master degree.
  • Masters in my program can choose Ph.D. level courses, and I confidently did so, but unfortunately didn't achieve my goals. Due to inadaptation of the teaching speed, in the 1st semester, I got B in Ph.D. level Macroeconomics, B- in Ph.D. level Microeconomics , B- in Ph.D. level Econometrics. These are very bad signal when applying for Ph.D. in economics.
  • I didn't fully understand the knowledge during the 1st semester, but I reviewed it again in the winter vacation, it didn't seem to be very difficult then. I asked the academic office but was told that I can't retake the same courses in year 2.
  • I am currently working hard on: ① achieving better grades; ② producing some course papers to use as writing sample; ③ seeking RA opportunities with professors in my department.


  • Are the deficiencies in my master's transcript irreparable? If not, what can I do?
    (I have considered taking another 1-year master to get another transcript, but it will be expensive and time-consuming.)

1 Answer 1


It is probably a mistake for you to judge your own qualifications, especially if they seem weak to you (maybe always). It is others who will look at your application and decide whether you seem to be a good fit for a position. A GPA you judge to be low is also relevant to where you study. A 3.5 GPA might mean vastly different things in China and in the US, for example.

In the US, note that letters of recommendation are relatively important for doctoral study applications, perhaps much more so than other places. Committees are looking for evidence that a candidate is likely to succeed in a program and thereafter.

Assuming you have a problem and doing some additional masters degree is sub-optimal. You will find out where you stand by making application to a few (or many) places and then evaluate the result. And, don't apply to a set of very similar institutions only. Cast a broader net to help assure success.

Admissions committees are pretty good at evaluating these things as they do it often.

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