Potential Fit and Application Tips

I’m especially interested in applicants who

  • Are motivated and can persist through challenging research problems
  • Has a strong interest in statistical and data analytic methods and their applications in broader behavioral and social science research problems
  • Are willing to learn technical stuffs, including statistical theories, computational and programming skills (e.g., R and Julia), and engage in technical writing and programming

The standard package in our program provides five years of support. Student from minority and underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply. Potential applicants are also encouraged to check out the Awards and Fellowships Database at USC, which includes internal and external opportunities for students of different demographics.

Tips on Preparing Your Statement

The following only represents what I personally would pay attention to when reviewing applications. You’re encouraged to check out other resources, such as this excellent post, for more general advice.

First, be sure to highlight why you are interested in quantitative/statistical methods. Tell me a little bit more how you get interested in them, and it would be great if you can share some concrete examples showing your passion. Things like class projects, thesis, courses you’ve taken, books you’ve reading, or anything that motivates you to get into quant.

Second, tell me any relevant experience you’ve had. For example, what statistical software/programming language do you use? What statistical methods are you interested in or have you learned? What relevant courses you’ve taken that you found interesting? You’re going to learn different methods in the graduate program, but having some previous experience would help the transition.

Third, talk a little bit about your goals and how getting in grad school can help you with your goals. It is understandable that you may not have a clear picture now, and it is not uncommon for people to change their plans during grad school (I did too), but at least putting a plan into writing shows that you have given some thoughts on your future.

Hok Chio (Mark) Lai 黎學昭
Hok Chio (Mark) Lai 黎學昭
Assistant Professor of Psychology (Quantitative Methods)

My research interests include statistics, multilevel and latent variable models, and psychometrics.

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