Masters Vs PhD direct entry

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math_applicant
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Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby math_applicant » Fri Mar 08, 2013 6:58 am

Hi,

I am amidst making the decision of either going directly into a phd school that I got into or go for a masters for 1 year in a school in europe first and I thought I'd get your input about it. I have been rejected by pretty much all my top choices which were all below top 15 (I was trying to be realistic by ignoring the top 15 but even that didn't work so well :D ). I got into Ohio which I happen to think is a very good place yet I can't help but think whether it is better to wait and may be get into a higher place next year.
During this year, I will try the usual: pump up my MGRE (from 61% :oops: ) and take grad courses, may be also catch a recommendation letter from someone who is better known to the US schools.
The question is how far can one semester of such work (since applications for 2014 start in december and I am out of school currently) get me up the hierarchy of schools ? I realize that rankings are not very accurate so small differences won't really count, so in my case I think the question is about whether such work can get me into a top 15-20 for instance and whether it is worth it.
Just some background, I am an international student, and interested in pure math. good luck for everyone.

mathfreak
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby mathfreak » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:52 am

That sounds like a good plan, but I'm speaking from my very limited exprience. I plan to do the same since I've a almost zero chance of directly getting into a phd program. BTW, I was wondering why masters in Europe instead of in US?

mindreader
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby mindreader » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:59 am

mathfreak wrote:That sounds like a good plan, but I'm speaking from my very limited exprience. I plan to do the same since I've a almost zero chance of directly getting into a phd program. BTW, I was wondering why masters in Europe instead of in US?


Europe has more funding. I was accepted into the MS Applied Math program at EPFL, Switzerland with 16,000CHF fellowship. They are indeed very generous with the masters funding which is ironic given that the EU is still embroiled in a crisis. Well, Switzerland is an exception but still other schools have mentioned their support for international MS students, it's just that you have to take language exams such as French for schools in France.

I applied to this program as a back up plan because I thought that it would be good to take more advanced courses (which my current institution lacks) to boost my chances into good PhD programs. But now that I have an admit and a waitlist, the thought of having to reject this awesome fellowship + chance to learn French (they provide intensive French courses before your studies) + chance to learn European math is driving me insane!!! But that's life and I'm thankful for the opportunities that have come my way

longtm1989
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby longtm1989 » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:07 am

I'm heading to Europe for a master too, and I don't see why not? I'm young, and I don't really mind people giving me free money to travel, learn language, and experience life in Europe. Also, I will know more leading scientists from europe in my career.

math_applicant
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby math_applicant » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:17 am

@mathfreak, I second @mindreader in choosing europe for masters regarding funding.

@longtm: I should have cleared out that I left school 2 years ago (I am now 24), so waiting 1 or 2 more years does sound like a little late for me to start my phd. also, the phd application process has been really painful and very costly so I wouldnt go through that again if the gain isnt really worth it, I can always experience europe during my phd or later on an exchange program or a postdoc or conferences or what have you.

marco
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby marco » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:21 am

Is it too late to apply to masters programs in europe? Could you kindly tell me about some good schools there?
I think what you are doing is a good idea.

mindreader
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby mindreader » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:35 am

marco wrote:Is it too late to apply to masters programs in europe? Could you kindly tell me about some good schools there?
I think what you are doing is a good idea.


From what I know, Ecole Polytechnique or ParisTech in France has a round 2 admission with the deadline coming up. Do check it - I am not sure because I decided not to apply there after speaking with one of my professors from France. It seems to be a top school and he warned me about the different approach to math in France. According to him, a course on ODE, say, is more abstract rather than one which teaches solution techniques as is done in the undergrad ODE course in my school (Asia). Although one of ParisTech's requirements is that you ought to take DELF, the french equivalent of TOEFL, to determine which level of French you ought to be taking during your studies there. That's another reason which held me back from applying - I couldnt afford to spend money for more tests!!!

Aside from that, continental Europe has more funding than UK. In the UK, I believe that no school offers funding for their 1 year MS program. There are fellowships like Gates but they're too limited. As the rankings suggest, Swiss schools fare well globally. ETHZ and EPFL are sister schools and they are named Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ethZ) and Lausanne (epfL). ETHZ is in the german speaking part of Swiss while EPFL is in the french area.

In France, my research tells me that many schools have strong programs in probability. My French professor is a testament to this. University of Paris VI (Universite Pierre et Marie Curie) is a good school in this discipline, among others. OF course, ParisTech is also a top school according to the rankings.

If you're looking for a funded master program, you might want to consider the Erasmus Mundus fellowship. You get to study in about 3-4 schools in Europe for 2 years with generous funding. The downside, in my opinion: difficult to have the chance for a professor to know you well and the schools are not very very famous like the ones I mentioned.

That's all about that I know. Hope this helps and good luck! :)

math_applicant
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby math_applicant » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:38 am

marco wrote:Is it too late to apply to masters programs in europe? Could you kindly tell me about some good schools there?
I think what you are doing is a good idea.


I think deadlines for funding have passed for most schools I know, but application deadlines are open till May.
As for good programs, Berlin Mathematical school (3 universities in berlin) , ALGANT (erasmus mundus scholarship + choice of 2 different schools among several), Bonn (hard to get funding), EPFL, ecole polytechnique in france (hadamard scholarship), Ecole normale superieure de Paris, part III in cambridge UK (funding is tricky). there are also some funded masters programs in canada.

so you think Ohio is not good, or that such 1 semester of masters will pay off considerably ?

marco
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby marco » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:53 am

math_applicant wrote:
marco wrote:Is it too late to apply to masters programs in europe? Could you kindly tell me about some good schools there?
I think what you are doing is a good idea.


I think deadlines for funding have passed for most schools I know, but application deadlines are open till May.
As for good programs, Berlin Mathematical school (3 universities in berlin) , ALGANT (erasmus mundus scholarship + choice of 2 different schools among several), Bonn (hard to get funding), EPFL, ecole polytechnique in france (hadamard scholarship), Ecole normale superieure de Paris, part III in cambridge UK (funding is tricky). there are also some funded masters programs in canada.

so you think Ohio is not good, or that such 1 semester of masters will pay off considerably ?


I think that Ohio is good but that 1 semester might pay off considerably. It is a tough decision to make.
I guess the question is: would you be happy doing you phd in ohio?

math_applicant
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby math_applicant » Fri Mar 08, 2013 12:00 pm

marco wrote:I guess the question is: would you be happy doing you phd in ohio?


since I know nothing about the environment of any school, and I don't mind generally any city to live in, I believe my level of "happiness" in a school is directly correlated with its quality :lol: that's why i was asking about an estimate of the pay off

marco
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby marco » Fri Mar 08, 2013 12:15 pm

math_applicant wrote:
marco wrote:I guess the question is: would you be happy doing you phd in ohio?


since I know nothing about the environment of any school, and I don't mind generally any city to live in, I believe my level of "happiness" in a school is directly correlated with its quality :lol: that's why i was asking about an estimate of the pay off


IMHO, the payoff could be substantial if you land an enthusiastic lor from someone in europe. Otherwise, some grad courses will not do much good. Another thing that might boost your app is scoring higher on the gre.

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Gasquet
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby Gasquet » Fri Mar 08, 2013 12:20 pm

Just adding my $0.02:

With a one year masters, you can definately improve your MGRE and have more advanced courses under your belt. But, it will not help in terms of recommendations. Once your masters starts, you will have just three months before you will need to approach a professor for a recommendation. That is not enough time for a professor to get to know you well enough to get a good recommendation.

Anyone that has gone through the admission process once knows what a huge pain it is in terms of money and effort too. Moreover, you would know that no matter how good you can make yourself look on paper, there is no guarantee of getting into a top school. Your undergrad grades will be the same and your recommendations will be about the same. So, you need to weigh in how much of a difference a one year program can really make. Also remember that next year you will still be applying as an international student so thing won't be much better.

I feel that a top 50 school in US is a good option. I believe USN ranks Ohio at #30. IMO, that is too good to pass up.

marco
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby marco » Fri Mar 08, 2013 12:25 pm

Gasquet wrote:Just adding my $0.02:

With a one year masters, you can definately improve your MGRE and have more advanced courses under your belt. But, it will not help in terms of recommendations. Once your masters starts, you will have just three months before you will need to approach a professor for a recommendation. That is not enough time for a professor to get to know you well enough to get a good recommendation.

Anyone that has gone through the admission process once knows what a huge pain it is in terms of money and effort too. Moreover, you would know that no matter how good you can make yourself look on paper, there is no guarantee of getting into a top school. Your undergrad grades will be the same and your recommendations will be about the same. So, you need to weigh in how much of a difference a one year program can really make. Also remember that next year you will still be applying as an international student so thing won't be much better.

I feel that a top 50 school in US is a good option. I believe USN ranks Ohio at #30. IMO, that is too good to pass up.


I concur with Gasquet on this.

mindreader
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby mindreader » Fri Mar 08, 2013 12:33 pm

marco wrote:
Gasquet wrote:Just adding my $0.02:

With a one year masters, you can definately improve your MGRE and have more advanced courses under your belt. But, it will not help in terms of recommendations. Once your masters starts, you will have just three months before you will need to approach a professor for a recommendation. That is not enough time for a professor to get to know you well enough to get a good recommendation.

Anyone that has gone through the admission process once knows what a huge pain it is in terms of money and effort too. Moreover, you would know that no matter how good you can make yourself look on paper, there is no guarantee of getting into a top school. Your undergrad grades will be the same and your recommendations will be about the same. So, you need to weigh in how much of a difference a one year program can really make. Also remember that next year you will still be applying as an international student so thing won't be much better.

I feel that a top 50 school in US is a good option. I believe USN ranks Ohio at #30. IMO, that is too good to pass up.


I concur with Gasquet on this.


Not quite, really. The thing is, almost all master programs in continental Europe (note: does not include the UK) last for 2 years. Especially in France, it's called M1 and M2 with the numbers signifying whether you're in the first or second year.

Gasquet is probably more used to 1 year masters because India somewhat follows the UK system. In the UK, a 2 year MS program is unheard of.

Anyway the sad thing about continental European universities is that even though many of them are at par with top American schools, they are not very well known in the media.

mindreader
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby mindreader » Fri Mar 08, 2013 12:36 pm

Actually, another advantage about going to Europe for 2 years is the opportunity to learn another language such as French or German which is beneficial in a mathematical career.

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Gasquet
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby Gasquet » Fri Mar 08, 2013 12:55 pm

@mindreader: Actually almost all Masters programs in India are for two years. I was just adding my thought on the one year program because math_applicant explicitly mentioned direct PhD vs one year masters in the OP. I even agree with everything you said for two year programs.

From what I hear(Keep in mind:half knowledge...), very few people who go to Europe for a Masters(one or two years) end up going to US for their PhD. Most of them would end up doing their PhD in Europe itself. Not saying it is a bad thing, just mentioning it.

mindreader
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby mindreader » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:02 pm

Gasquet wrote:@mindreader: Actually almost all Masters programs in India are for two years. I was just adding my thought on the one year program because math_applicant explicitly mentioned direct PhD vs one year masters in the OP. I even agree with everything you said for two year programs.

From what I hear(Keep in mind:half knowledge...), very few people who go to Europe for a Masters(one or two years) end up going to US for their PhD. Most of them would end up doing their PhD in Europe itself. Not saying it is a bad thing, just mentioning it.


Ahh yes, thanks for letting me know. Are you in a 1 year MS program in India? I'm learning something new!

If it gives the OP any consolation, I know of someone who did a 1 year MS at TCIP in Trieste, Italy. Her field is in astrophysics btw. She was lucky that there was a visiting professor from Princeton/someone who has ties with Princeton during her stay and she managed to get a recommendation letter from him. She ended up doing her PhD in princeton and has been published in Nature. She's now a postdoc at UChicago.

math_applicant
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby math_applicant » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:07 pm

@mindreader, 2 years of masters in europe + 5-6 years of phd in US is quite a long time towards a degree unless you know that you can spend a less number of years doing a phd if you have a masters, say by transferring a number of courses ?
as for your friend, good for her, but it sounds like an astronomical event (in the sense that its rare to count on :D)

@gasquet, I also agree with you, I was trying to bound the estimate of the boost and weigh it against the pain of the process and the extension of the length of time to degree, from what you guys suggest, it doesnt seem like its worth it.

mindreader
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby mindreader » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:14 pm

math_applicant wrote:@mindreader, 2 years of masters in europe + 5-6 years of phd in US is quite a long time towards a degree unless you know that you can spend a less number of years doing a phd if you have a masters, say by transferring a number of courses ?
as for your friend, good for her, but it sounds like an astronomical event (in the sense that its rare to count on :D)

@gasquet, I also agree with you, I was trying to bound the estimate of the boost and weigh it against the pain of the process and the extension of the length of time to degree, from what you guys suggest, it doesnt seem like its worth it.


I'm only 21 btw. May I know how old you guys are, if you don't mind? I'm curious whether I am too young, or too old, or just normal...

math_applicant
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby math_applicant » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:19 pm

mindreader wrote:I'm only 21 btw. May I know how old you guys are, if you don't mind? I'm curious whether I am too young, or too old, or just normal...


I am 23 (24 when i start next semester), but I graduated 2 years ago, so I guess its quite normal :D

y45askel
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby y45askel » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:40 pm

Just wanted to add a tidbit. Ohio University is #119 in Math but Ohio State is #30. I'm not sure which you were referring to.

math_applicant
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby math_applicant » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:53 pm

y45askel wrote:Just wanted to add a tidbit. Ohio University is #119 in Math but Ohio State is #30. I'm not sure which you were referring to.


Ohio State

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Gasquet
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby Gasquet » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:24 pm

math_applicant wrote:I was trying to bound the estimate of the boost and ...


I'm sure you will be able to find a norm in which there is a large enough lower bound for the boost estimate. The main problem is that your norm should make sense physically.

Sorry, couldn't resist :D


@mindreader: I would think 21 is a bit on the lower side. I am 22(and will be so even come the start of our hopeful PhDs), but have an extra engineering degree to show for it.

longtm1989
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby longtm1989 » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:42 pm

I'm 24 too. (you can see 1989 in my nickname). I applied to some Phd top programs this year, but I was rejected by most of them. I got into Uconn, but I think I'm going for the ALGANT master program (Unless I get into Michigan, or Columbia Phd, ha ha ). I think they provide a very generous scholarship, (1600 Euro/month + 5k Euro for summer) so you can save like 500 Euro/month. Unfortunately, the deadline passed a month ago. I think it's a very good opportunity to know leading professors from Europe and collaborate with them. (especially if you want to be a good researcher in the future)

If you look at the list of alumni of the ALGANT, they ended up quite good. I think most people ended up in Europe, because they became more familiar with European professors, and style. There were couple of students went to US, and they are doing their Phd at Penn State, or Chicago, which I think are good too.
http://www.algant.eu/algant_alumni.php
I looked at the list of courses for the first year in Italy (I will spend one in Italy, one in France), I think they are quite challenging. http://lauree.math.unipd.it/algant/node/4
I'm a little bit afraid too, cause I has spent 4 years studying in US, and I don't want to leave the US. But whatever, this is an awesome opportunity, both for math and personal development.

math_applicant
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby math_applicant » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:53 pm

Gasquet wrote:
math_applicant wrote:I was trying to bound the estimate of the boost and ...


I'm sure you will be able to find a norm in which there is a large enough lower bound for the boost estimate. The main problem is that your norm should make sense physically.

Sorry, couldn't resist :D


lol :D, no worries, I walked right into this one :D

longtm1989
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby longtm1989 » Fri Mar 08, 2013 3:04 pm

Yes, Ohio State would make it a difficult choice. It's a very good school. I remember they said in the website that their graduates have postdoc at Princeton Institute of Advanced Study, Cornell, and so on. did you visit the school ?

math_applicant
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby math_applicant » Fri Mar 08, 2013 3:35 pm

longtm1989 wrote:Yes, Ohio State would make it a difficult choice. It's a very good school. I remember they said in the website that their graduates have postdoc at Princeton Institute of Advanced Study, Cornell, and so on. did you visit the school ?

the school visit is end of march, but i dont think i will go, since the reimbursement is quite low. thanks for the info!

kunnysan
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby kunnysan » Sat Mar 09, 2013 10:10 am

I have got into Master's program at University of British Columbia. Also I have been accepted in some PhD program like Penn State, Boston College. But I am highly confused thinking what I should do. If I do Master's from UBC will my chances to get into some top 20 US PhD program increase? Because then I may get some recommenders from UBC who are more familiar to US professors. Or should I join some US PhD program now?
BTW I am an international student (India). Someone please give some idea....

longtm1989
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Re: Masters Vs PhD direct entry

Postby longtm1989 » Sat Mar 09, 2013 5:47 pm

kunnysan wrote:I have got into Master's program at University of British Columbia. Also I have been accepted in some PhD program like Penn State, Boston College. But I am highly confused thinking what I should do. If I do Master's from UBC will my chances to get into some top 20 US PhD program increase? Because then I may get some recommenders from UBC who are more familiar to US professors. Or should I join some US PhD program now?
BTW I am an international student (India). Someone please give some idea....


Penn State has a very good reputation, and it's in group I ranking of the AMS. I think you have a reasonable chance of making a good career there, but if you are more ambitious and have funding, then doing a master degree does not do any harm. I think you can try to ask/find some alumnis of these schools ( who are studying areas you are interested in) to see how well they do after their graduatation from a Phd at Penn State or a master from UBC.




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