Masters programs in pure math

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
math_monkey
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:50 pm

Masters programs in pure math

Postby math_monkey » Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:36 am

Hi all,

I am a recently graduated student with a bachelors in a non-quantitative degree (finance) at NYU with a ~3.6 GPA. I'd always been interested in mathematics but had opted for finance because I was lured by the prospects of making big bucks. Over the last year, I've rekindled my interest in mathematics, but unfortunately I don't have much paper background to show for it. In the past two years, I've done a lot of independent study, as well as having taken courses as a non-matriculated student at a local CUNY college. While its not much, here is my background in math:

1. A in undergrad real analysis 2 (text: Carothers) //I was able to plead the dept head to let me skip analysis 1 as I had previously self-studied all the content
2. A in undergrad algebra 1 (text: Fraleigh)
3. Audited course in graduate analysis I (text: Royden) //I also sat for the exams and received A's

I received a 100 average for all exams, and all the professors are willing to write good recommendations for me. I've also since then independently studied analysis on manifolds (munkres), topology (munkres), and currently working my way through introductory functional analysis (kolmogorov).

Clearly, my current background is not strong enough to get accepted to any phd program so my guess is that my best route is to get into and excel at a math masters program and apply/transfer to a phd program from there.

There seems to be a wealth of information on phd programs, but not as much for masters, and not many schools even seem to offer terminal masters programs. I have not yet taken the math GRE subject test, but assuming I can score in the 60-80% range, what caliber of math programs can I realistically be accepted to? My dream school would be Stony Brook, but how competitive is the masters program for a school like that?

Any other advice for a non-traditional student to break into math grad school would be greatly appreciated as well! Thanks for all the help!

rmg512
Posts: 97
Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:15 pm

Re: Masters programs in pure math

Postby rmg512 » Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:49 am

That sounds like an excellent idea. The amount of independent study you've done is incredible. It sounds like you might stand a chance getting into the less competitive Ph.D. programs, but getting a Masters' done first would be a wise decision, and subsequently, you might be able to get into a competitive Ph.D. program. Doing a Masters first, you'll be going at a much more comfortable pace, and you'll have the time needed to fill in all the gaps in your knowledge. It sounds like you're going to make good use of that catch-up time. I would recommend UC Riverside: they accept plenty of Masters students with funding, if I recall correctly.

Good luck!

math_monkey
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:50 pm

Re: Masters programs in pure math

Postby math_monkey » Wed Dec 05, 2012 3:59 am

Thanks rmg512! This is exactly the type of advice I was looking for. I will definitely look into UCR. I mentioned Stony Brook only because I am a NY local so I know more about the state schools there. Are there any other similar schools to UCR that can offer funding for masters students that you know of, and that I can realistically stand a chance of being accepted?

Also, what are some of the so-called lower tier phd programs you mentioned? Money is somewhat an issue for me and I'm not too picky on name brand since more than anything else I am doing this for my interest in the subject!

Thanks again for the help!

MattW
Posts: 47
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2010 6:34 pm

Re: Masters programs in pure math

Postby MattW » Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:50 am

math_monkey wrote:Thanks rmg512! This is exactly the type of advice I was looking for. I will definitely look into UCR. I mentioned Stony Brook only because I am a NY local so I know more about the state schools there. Are there any other similar schools to UCR that can offer funding for masters students that you know of, and that I can realistically stand a chance of being accepted?

Also, what are some of the so-called lower tier phd programs you mentioned? Money is somewhat an issue for me and I'm not too picky on name brand since more than anything else I am doing this for my interest in the subject!

Thanks again for the help!


Essentially all master's programs in Canada offer funding. It sounds like you would benefit from a larger department, considering your background. The University of Alberta and University of Waterloo seem like reasonable places for you to apply. Which area are you interested in? I'll see if I can give some recommendations based on that.

math_monkey
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:50 pm

Re: Masters programs in pure math

Postby math_monkey » Wed Dec 05, 2012 10:23 am

Thanks MattW, I hadn't thought of the Canadian universities before. From the website, it doesn't look like they require the Math GRE, but do you think I ought to send results to them anyway (I'll be taking it in April)? You don't think that my lack of coursework on my transcript is going to be a problem at a lot of these places?

I'm definitely much more of a visual person so I think anything in analysis or topology would suit me. I think a field like differential geometry or complex analysis would be a good fit for me, though I'd still like to cast a wide net.

Anyhow thanks for all the help. Keep the suggestion coming! You guys are definitely helping me to firm up a picture of the types of places I can expect to be a competitive applicant! :D

rmg512
Posts: 97
Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:15 pm

Re: Masters programs in pure math

Postby rmg512 » Wed Dec 05, 2012 4:36 pm

I'm not entirely sure. I think I've heard of Cal Poly Pomona giving their Masters students funding. I'm going straight into a Ph.D. program after receiving my Bachelors, so unfortunately, I just haven't looked into what Masters programs offer funding much.

The lower tier Ph.D. programs I mention are universities that rank in the top 70 or so but not top 40-50 according to US News and World Report. So, UCR, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and so on. Going in without the GRE Subject Test, that's probably the best you can hope for, because once you start looking into the top 50, the GRE Subject Test will almost always be required or highly recommended.

What do you want to do with your Ph.D.? Depending on your answer, prestige of the university you're applying to could matter a lot.

math_applicant
Posts: 157
Joined: Sun Oct 14, 2012 12:15 pm

Re: Masters programs in pure math

Postby math_applicant » Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:28 pm

rmg512 wrote:
What do you want to do with your Ph.D.? Depending on your answer, prestige of the university you're applying to could matter a lot.


I believe you mean that prestige will matter for an academic career. Could you elaborate on why you think so ?

rmg512
Posts: 97
Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:15 pm

Re: Masters programs in pure math

Postby rmg512 » Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:23 pm

Yes. I meant that, but also, I know that employers do recruit fresh Ph.D.'s, and they go after certain schools (namely, the prestigious ones) first. Also, it's been shown that where one went to school and personal income are strongly correlated. Also, the professors at higher ranked universities will probably have many more connections.

math_applicant
Posts: 157
Joined: Sun Oct 14, 2012 12:15 pm

Re: Masters programs in pure math

Postby math_applicant » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:14 am

I read that top 30 schools announce at most 1 professorship track a year while they graduate around 450 PhD students a year. Unless you mean Ivy league or the top 5 by prestige, I think the prestige of the top 30 schools is common in the competition among ~300 phds over ~30 available positions, So I think it all boils down to the quality of one's phd and postdoc work (which is helped in part by the school you do it in but is mostly about one's abilities and hard work and so on). With that in mind, since quality research is highly dependent on the person itself, it won't really matter where you do it. As for the correlation evidence, between having a high income (which is to say to be hired at a prestigious place) and getting a phd from a "good" school, it is expected since if you are good, u are expected to go to a good school in the first place but in the end, the number of qualified good people is larger than the available spots at big prestigious schools and I don't think one should lose much sleep over not attending one.
Bottom line, I think if one is able of doing good work, they will have a good rewarding career regardless of where they receive their education.

MattW
Posts: 47
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2010 6:34 pm

Re: Masters programs in pure math

Postby MattW » Fri Dec 07, 2012 2:07 pm

math_monkey wrote:Thanks MattW, I hadn't thought of the Canadian universities before. From the website, it doesn't look like they require the Math GRE, but do you think I ought to send results to them anyway (I'll be taking it in April)? You don't think that my lack of coursework on my transcript is going to be a problem at a lot of these places?

I'm definitely much more of a visual person so I think anything in analysis or topology would suit me. I think a field like differential geometry or complex analysis would be a good fit for me, though I'd still like to cast a wide net.

Anyhow thanks for all the help. Keep the suggestion coming! You guys are definitely helping me to firm up a picture of the types of places I can expect to be a competitive applicant! :D


I wouldn't bother with sending the Math GRE to Canadian universities. It's unlikely to affect your chances of being accepted unless the score is exceptionally good or bad.

It sounds like Toronto or UBC would be a good fit for you, although both are likely out of your reach. I think that I will keep my recommendations of Waterloo and Alberta, and throw in the recommendation of Western Ontario. It looks like Western Ontario is most in line with your interests. Waterloo and Alberta are both stronger and larger programs but lack anybody working in complex analysis. However, Waterloo does have a strong analytic number theory group which involves a ton of complex analysis. Look up, for instance, modular forms.

Both Alberta and Waterloo have super analysis research groups, with members working in a large number of different flavours. In particular, Waterloo has the strongest functional analysis group in Canada (which is my research area). I can't comment on the differential geometry/topology group at Alberta but the geometry/topology group at Waterloo consists of young and very active members.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a PhD student at Waterloo. If you want any more information about Waterloo, send me a PM. For instance, I would be happy to point out potential supervisors.




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