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Could Steve Levitt get into a top economics Ph.D. program today?

That’s a good question, given how competitive it seems to have gotten and how little math preparation I had. Just this year we saw a 20% increase in applications to the U of C program (my colleagues blamed me for all the extra work that made, saying it was a Freakonomics effect).

The question of whether I could get into grad school today is being debated in the following thread.

I think the answer is that MIT and/or Harvard might still take a chance on me today, but not the other top places including the University of Chicago. At U of C, my application would be thrown out before ever getting to a faculty member, just as would have been the case 15 years ago.

I am lucky that MIT was willing to roll the dice.