ETH vs UIUC Applied Math Masters

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
Prometheus_1776
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Mar 17, 2013 6:39 am

ETH vs UIUC Applied Math Masters

Postby Prometheus_1776 » Sun Mar 17, 2013 7:31 am

Hello everyone. I was looking for some advice regarding my admission decisions. Thanks a lot in advance.

My undergraduate degree (in mathematics) is from a more or less unknown international school. Given my background, I was pretty sure that I wouldn't be able to get into an Applied Math Phd program at a decent (top 30) US school. I HAVE been admitted to a couple of Phd Programs that are ranked ~40-50 in the US but nothing to write home about. Therefore, I decided to focus on a Master's Program with a thesis option, both to improve my Subject GRE score (currently pretty mediocre) and also to get some research experience and better LORs. As things currently stand, I have the following two options available to me:

1) ETH Applied Math Masters
2) UIUC Applied Math Masters

While neither program is funded, I want to mention that money for an MS program is NOT an issue for me. So, keeping all of this in mind, which program do you think is a better choice, given that my career goal is to get a doctorate from a top 30 school in the US in applied math?

mindreader
Posts: 90
Joined: Sat Oct 13, 2012 11:12 am

Re: ETH vs UIUC Applied Math Masters

Postby mindreader » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:13 am

Prometheus_1776 wrote:Hello everyone. I was looking for some advice regarding my admission decisions. Thanks a lot in advance.

My undergraduate degree (in mathematics) is from a more or less unknown international school. Given my background, I was pretty sure that I wouldn't be able to get into an Applied Math Phd program at a decent (top 30) US school. I HAVE been admitted to a couple of Phd Programs that are ranked ~40-50 in the US but nothing to write home about. Therefore, I decided to focus on a Master's Program with a thesis option, both to improve my Subject GRE score (currently pretty mediocre) and also to get some research experience and better LORs. As things currently stand, I have the following two options available to me:

1) ETH Applied Math Masters
2) UIUC Applied Math Masters

While neither program is funded, I want to mention that money for an MS program is NOT an issue for me. So, keeping all of this in mind, which program do you think is a better choice, given that my career goal is to get a doctorate from a top 30 school in the US in applied math?


Ooh that's a tough one. may i know which schools you refer to by phd programs ranked 40-50 in the US? I'm just curious what schools people consider as lower ranked and higher ranked.

in my honest opinion, since money is not a factor, i think uiuc would have a slight edge in that phd programs in the usa are more familiar with the caliber of the program at uiuc. i know that ETH is a very good school but the fact that it's outside the us MAY be a disadvantage. i'm not sure of this so better check it out with the rest.

i would also consider the environment. switzerland is somewhat boring in that most shops close by 6 or 7 pm on weekdays and closed on weekends. they prioritize spending time with families so you might want to consider this too if this matters or not.

but learning math from a european perspective is a plus. the chance to learn german would also be another plus. it just depends on your preferences i believe...

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Gasquet
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Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2012 5:00 am

Re: ETH vs UIUC Applied Math Masters

Postby Gasquet » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:20 am

As Masters programs in themselves, I would go for ETH without thinking twice.

But, since your ultimate goal is a PhD from a 'top' US school, I would say UIUC is a better option. US schools know UIUC better and they would be more familiar with the curriculum. More importantly, they would know the professors better. Getting a good recommendation from a professor they know can make even an average profile look great to them.

blaue000
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2013 2:55 pm

Re: ETH vs UIUC Applied Math Masters

Postby blaue000 » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:48 am

If money does not matter, you can also consider the ms program in nyu. Application of this ms program have not passed yet. The advantage of this program is you can pick up as many phd courses as you want.

Prometheus_1776
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Mar 17, 2013 6:39 am

Re: ETH vs UIUC Applied Math Masters

Postby Prometheus_1776 » Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:07 am

mindreader wrote:
Ooh that's a tough one. may i know which schools you refer to by phd programs ranked 40-50 in the US? I'm just curious what schools people consider as lower ranked and higher ranked.

in my honest opinion, since money is not a factor, i think uiuc would have a slight edge in that phd programs in the usa are more familiar with the caliber of the program at uiuc. i know that ETH is a very good school but the fact that it's outside the us MAY be a disadvantage. i'm not sure of this so better check it out with the rest.

i would also consider the environment. switzerland is somewhat boring in that most shops close by 6 or 7 pm on weekdays and closed on weekends. they prioritize spending time with families so you might want to consider this too if this matters or not.

but learning math from a european perspective is a plus. the chance to learn german would also be another plus. it just depends on your preferences i believe...


Thanks a lot for the reply. Well, I have gotten into Vanderbilt and UGA (both funded) and am currently wait listed at NC State and U of Arizona, Tuscon, although I'm fairly confident that I will get rejections from the wait listed options. I'm not sure how these universities conform to your idea of a good school but my feeling is that with the exception of the applied math program at UA, the rest are average schools. Of course I could be wrong....

Regarding your comments about the US vs Europe problem, that is exactly what I am worried about. My personal preference would have been ETH, given that I have lived in Switzerland before and really like the country. However, I have been getting the vibe (from some of my profs and friends) that I should pick a US university over ETH, if I plan to go to the US for doctoral studies. This is what is bothering me.

Gasquet wrote:As Masters programs in themselves, I would go for ETH without thinking twice.

But, since your ultimate goal is a PhD from a 'top' US school, I would say UIUC is a better option. US schools know UIUC better and they would be more familiar with the curriculum. More importantly, they would know the professors better. Getting a good recommendation from a professor they know can make even an average profile look great to them.


Thank you for your reply. I agree completely with most of your points but part of the problem is that I have no idea how good (or mediocre) the applied math program at UIUC is. By most accounts, the Applied Math Program at ETH is pretty awesome in terms of the curriculum etc but UIUC remains an unknown factor for me. Based on your comments, am I correct in assuming that you have some idea of the applied math program at UIUC?

blaue000 wrote:If money does not matter, you can also consider the ms program in nyu. Application of this ms program have not passed yet. The advantage of this program is you can pick up as many phd courses as you want.


I applied to both NYU and Columbia in mid December and my application is currently under review. As per my understanding, the problem with the MS Applied Math program at Columbia is that it is a professional (no thesis option) degree which doesn't really help me. The problem with NYU (please correct me if I am wrong) is that it has a really well-entrenched reputation for using the MS program as a method of making money. My concern is that this reputation will be a factor when my application for a Phd is being considered by other schools. I really don't want to spend ~$100,000 on a Masters Program only to discover that it has not improved my chances for getting into a top school for my Phd.

blaue000
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2013 2:55 pm

Re: ETH vs UIUC Applied Math Masters

Postby blaue000 » Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:53 am

Umm.. Most unfunded ms programs are used to make money.

Last year I have similar situation like yours: get accepted to some funded program but finally choose to go to a ms program.

Actually whether it is worth the cost depends on individuals. For nyu ms, one can make life easy by taking undergraduate-honor-level classes. However, one can also take a more challenging life. All phd courses are available to ms students. If one can take many phd courses, obtain nice grades and have some research experiences during summer, he will be very competitive in applying phd program.

marco
Posts: 263
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2012 2:27 am

Re: ETH vs UIUC Applied Math Masters

Postby marco » Sun Mar 17, 2013 2:47 pm

I would just like to say that from what I have heard from professors at U of A the Applied Math program is really not that separate from the Pure Math program. There are a lot of Applied Math students who end up doing a very pure thesis and there are a lot of Pure Math students who end up doing a very applied thesis. My point is, that if your interests are in Applied Math then U of A is a great place to be. I would not pay much attention to the rankings, while they are good indicators, the best way to analyze if a school is good for you is to check out the professor who are working at your fields of interest.




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