master student being admitted to a... master's program?

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
lecram
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2015 10:34 am

master student being admitted to a... master's program?

Postby lecram » Mon Apr 06, 2015 11:10 am

Hello,

I would like to ask for advice given my actual situation.
I am a master student from Germany, currently doing my master thesis under the supervision of a well-known mathematician in a well-known university.

The thing is that I did not take the GRE, since it was never my intention to apply outside of Europe.. but I ended up applying to a university in Canada because of the research in their department.
Long story short, after contacting some of the professors there and seeing that they were interested in me, I thought I would have a good shot at being accepted. Last month I heard back from them, but this time they said that the professor with whom I wanted to work with 'will not be able to take any more students'. That was a surprise because the professor never mentioned anything of that sort.. also, he never wrote me back. Anyway, the admissions committee sent me an email saying that there are no other professors offering a PhD position atm (they said I was 'waitlisted' for two professors though). In any case, they finally sent me an offer to their masters program (fully funded + TA).
That was a bit weird to me, since I am already doing a master degree; but they argued saying that I would need to take graduate courses during my PhD program anyway, and that I could as well get rid of these courses during my master at their university. (Again, weird, because if I already have graduate courses from my current university, I should be able to transfer them.)

In any case, seeing as this is the only university I have applied outside of Europe, I don't know what to make out of it. I have applied to other PhD programs in Europe (and still have to apply to others...), but I will not hear from them until May.. or even June!

I just don't know what to think about being accepted to a master program, does this happen often? I would certainly prefer to start with a PhD right away... My current professor does not have any open place as of now, but in the worst case I could stay one more year at the same university and even make a joint publication with a PhD student in his group. (While still being able to attend seminars, take courses etc. Germany: free tuition. Also, I have a TA-ship, so I can pay for my living expenses)

Do you guys think it would be more profitable to stay in my current university during one year than going to Canada to do another master degree?

I appreciate any input on this matter, thank you a lot!

MathCat
Posts: 139
Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2014 12:17 am

Re: master student being admitted to a... master's program?

Postby MathCat » Mon Apr 06, 2015 1:21 pm

That's an odd situation, for sure. I think I would just stay at your current uni for another year rather than repeat a Masters. Publications will be more worthwhile than taking more courses. By the way, you shouldn't expect to be able to transfer your courses to another degree - if they fulfilled a requirement of one degree already, they cannot be counted again. If you come to North America for a Masters or PhD, you will have to take more courses. What you take is almost always up to you (and your advisor), so you wouldn't be retaking things you have already seen.

joga
Posts: 24
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2015 2:21 pm

Re: master student being admitted to a... master's program?

Postby joga » Mon Apr 06, 2015 2:02 pm

Hi,

Before I believe I can comment anything, I believe it would be of merit in Specifying the following few facts

(a) What is your area of research and your Master's thesis about (The nature of area according to me weighs in very heavily)

(b) Who is your possible advisor and university in Germany

(c) Which is the canadian university.

But on the other hand i believe it is the norm in USA. Most undergrads getting into TOP schools have already seen the material. Eg most of the entering class PhD students who want to work in Algebraic Geometry in Top schools like columbia for exmple have certainly done a grad classes using hartshorne in their undergrad.

So if you feel comfortable in detailing some of the above queries I believe we can make more earnest comments whch are concrete

lecram
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2015 10:34 am

Re: master student being admitted to a... master's program?

Postby lecram » Tue Apr 07, 2015 4:56 am

@MathCat,
thanks for the reply!
I was unaware about this issue of taking courses, I always thought that one could just come to the program and take the 'qualifying exams' (had they taken the courses in another university). But yeah, it makes total sense that courses cannot be counted twice.
[However, in the hypothetical case where somebody has done a master degree and has seen all the important graduate courses of their subject of interest... if they start the PhD in said subject and there are no other courses to be taken (because, e.g. (s)he is doing the PhD in the same institution of the master), the supervisors cannot expect the student to take random courses just to fulfill 'credits', right? - I guess not.. and maybe that's one of the reason in America a lot of people jump from bachelor to PhD.]

@joga,
thanks for your reply!
My area of research is algebraic geometry, more concretely my thesis will be about Deligne conjecture in the setting of higher algebraic structures -e.g. monoidal categories. And I'm based in Bonn. That said, there is not that much derived algebraic geometry going on in Germany. Sure, there are mathematicians working on this stuff, but DAG is as huge as AG itself, and I would be more interested in working in some topic concerning deformation theory (hence Deligne conjecture). There are other countries in Europe where DAG has had more impact, so I'm also applying there.

I see your point on students having already seen the subject previously (as a way for schools to weight students' applications). Even though as you may know, in Europe, a bachelor takes normally 3 years; thus forcing students who want to do a PhD, to first take a masters to specialize. In which case, if someone wants to do algebraic geometry, they will have to work with hartshorne/qing liu to at least learn about sheaf cohomology and all that jazz. So that's where my confusion was coming from, as to why master students need to take more courses during their PhD. But MathCat already stressed this point, so that's okay.

At this moment though, I may be more inclined to just staying in Europe though. Hopefully I can land in some of the PhD positions I have applied and, if not, it is perhaps better to stay at my current university.
Because in any case, even if I were to go do the masters in Canada, admission to their PhD is not certain afaik, right? So after a year there, I could end up worse than now. Overall, I don't think it's worth the risk.
(At least that's how I personally see it now, but I wanted to ask here to make sure I wasn't just 'chickening out' of going into the unknown in Canada and then missing out on a good opportunity -I mean, the funding is very high compared to what I'm earning right now, but I still can pay for everything with it.)
Also, the deadline for answering their offer is coming up soon, but I will probably not have heard from the European unis by then.

Thanks again for your comments! (and sorry for my rant)

joga
Posts: 24
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2015 2:21 pm

Re: master student being admitted to a... master's program?

Postby joga » Tue Apr 07, 2015 8:42 am

Oh given that you are are at Bonn, you should so stay at Bonn. Bonn is a fantastic center and I am no person to ever state it. its as superfluous as it can be to make that remark.

By Deligne conjecture I guess you mean the one on the structure of Hochschild cohomology i presume. I guess Mathew Morrow does close stuff to what you might be thinking but I don know ur interests in full. I presume you would also be attempting to work with Toen or Vezzosi and others. But at any rate Bonn, Berlin, regensburg, within germany will certainly give u a host and I guess you will sail easy.

If i am not being pokey might I ask with whom you are doing your current thesis ? I really did try to find a HAG, DAG guy and haven't been able to be sure at Bonn. Again this is totally personal and i leave it to u.

lecram
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2015 10:34 am

Re: master student being admitted to a... master's program?

Postby lecram » Tue Apr 07, 2015 12:26 pm

thanks!
Yes, I meant that conjecture of Deligne. (I will pm you with other info in a bit!)

joga
Posts: 24
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2015 2:21 pm

Re: master student being admitted to a... master's program?

Postby joga » Tue Apr 07, 2015 1:06 pm

I did reply to u but i am unsure if it did go through. just lemme know if u got it.

lecram
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2015 10:34 am

Re: master student being admitted to a... master's program?

Postby lecram » Tue Apr 07, 2015 6:34 pm

Yeah, I got it! I will be answering it in a bit, thanks!




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