Michigan vs Penn vs Yale

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
Incognito
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 11:15 pm

Michigan vs Penn vs Yale

Postby Incognito » Wed Apr 08, 2015 11:36 pm

Hi, I've applied for the PhD program in pure mathematics beginning in the upcoming fall term. I've been lucky enough to receive funded offers from Michigan and Penn as well as a waitlisting at Yale. I have been trying to decide where I should go for a long time now. My interests are quite broad and mostly in geometry and topology. I've had email exchanges with professors at Michigan and Penn and was very happy with both exchanges in terms of how I got along with them and what reading they recommended. From the department websites, Michigan seems to have a significantly larger department than both Penn and Yale. All three places have professors with whom I would love to work though my currently (this could change with more information) favourite possible advisor/project combination is at Michigan. I've had contact with graduate students at Michigan and was happy with what they said about the place and program but have not had contact with graduate students at Penn yet.

Suppose that I receive an offer also from Yale. Given everything, it seems to me that of the three places, Michigan is where I should go, however I do not feel certain about this just yet. I am certainly affected by the prestige associated purely to the names Yale and Penn, which I feel is almost certainly superficial of me but I'm also wondering whether the general, non-program specific, prestige is there for a reason, could imply positive things about their programs and so shouldn't be ignored?

Any pertinent information comparing the programs at Michigan, Penn and Yale and any thoughts at all on where I should attend will be greatly appreciated.

MathCat
Posts: 136
Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2014 12:17 am

Re: Michigan vs Penn vs Yale

Postby MathCat » Thu Apr 09, 2015 12:01 am

If you haven't already, you should ask about attrition rates (how many people don't finish the program) and also job placements of graduates. Are they getting the kinds of jobs you want? Are 50% of their students dropping out?

Also, definitely try to correspond with lots of students at both places. It sounds like you didn't get to visit, so try to get as much of a sense of the department as you can by talking to lots of people. Research fit is not the only factor! Some places are much friendlier and supportive of their students than others. I've heard some bad things about Yale in that regard, but it was second hand and the person was there 15 years ago, so take it with a grain of salt.

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

Re: Michigan vs Penn vs Yale

Postby joga » Thu Apr 09, 2015 1:15 am

Things to consider
Yale :
(a) only 2 geometers
(b) very small student in take - was 3 last year
(c) pretty Strong for representation theory and categorification

UPenn:
(a) a lot of geometers and topologists
(b) good intake 10-12
(c) well represented in geometry

Michigan:
(a) I think by far amongst the best places for algebraic geometry broadly in america.
(b) great intake
(c) geometry is in their name.

now if u are an incoming student with broad interests, u should seriously not bother with yale. by prestige michigan is way ahead over upenn which i feel is better than yale. broad interests go to michigan. u are doing yourself the best career choice.

i am pretty much in ur situation. u can see my profile addition. would go to yale only if i am hell bent of working with goncharov on Mulitiple zeta values, and mixed tate motives and periods ( i was genuinely considering).

u should put ur interests in the page, and your undergrad thesis and masters thesis topics if any. that will help us make better suggestions

Incognito
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 11:15 pm

Re: Michigan vs Penn vs Yale

Postby Incognito » Thu Apr 09, 2015 2:40 am

MathCat wrote:If you haven't already, you should ask about attrition rates (how many people don't finish the program) and also job placements of graduates. Are they getting the kinds of jobs you want? Are 50% of their students dropping out?

Also, definitely try to correspond with lots of students at both places. It sounds like you didn't get to visit, so try to get as much of a sense of the department as you can by talking to lots of people. Research fit is not the only factor! Some places are much friendlier and supportive of their students than others. I've heard some bad things about Yale in that regard, but it was second hand and the person was there 15 years ago, so take it with a grain of salt.


I haven't asked about attrition rates, thanks for that piece of advice. I have looked at some job placements but only at Michigan (because the information was easily available on their website) and I was happy with them but I haven't looked at those of Penn and Yale, I'll check that out.

You're right, I didn't get a chance to visit (I'm coming from o/s and it would've been too expensive to make the visit). I have contacted various students at Michigan and now also Penn and Yale and am waiting on replies. Thanks for pointing out that I should look into how friendly/supportive the place is, I'll keep that in mind. Is there some particular way in which you heard that Yale wasn't the most friendly or supportive? I know it was 15 years ago but it could still help to know. I do have a general unfriendly vibe from Yale but that's only because they haven't replied to any of my emails.

joga wrote:Things to consider
Yale :
(a) only 2 geometers
(b) very small student in take - was 3 last year
(c) pretty Strong for representation theory and categorification

UPenn:
(a) a lot of geometers and topologists
(b) good intake 10-12
(c) well represented in geometry

Michigan:
(a) I think by far amongst the best places for algebraic geometry broadly in america.
(b) great intake
(c) geometry is in their name.

now if u are an incoming student with broad interests, u should seriously not bother with yale. by prestige michigan is way ahead over upenn which i feel is better than yale. broad interests go to michigan. u are doing yourself the best career choice.

i am pretty much in ur situation. u can see my profile addition. would go to yale only if i am hell bent of working with goncharov on Mulitiple zeta values, and mixed tate motives and periods ( i was genuinely considering).

u should put ur interests in the page, and your undergrad thesis and masters thesis topics if any. that will help us make better suggestions


Thanks a lot! This was very helpful and confirmed many things which I had been thinking. It seems that Michigan is probably the best place for me. Were I go to Yale, Goncharov, or possibly Minsky, are the people I was thinking of working with.

I actually intentionally decided to not put any more specific information on my interests and previous thesis topics in my first post as advice for a broadly interested, geometrically/topologically minded person is probably the advice I'm looking for rather than for someone with more specific interests.

I had a look at your profile and we are in similar positions indeed. Can I ask, from what source did you find out that Yale had only 3 incoming students last year?

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

Re: Michigan vs Penn vs Yale

Postby joga » Thu Apr 09, 2015 3:31 am

I guess you wanted a specific choice on why Yale etc. hence i think it is best if you put your interests so that people can read and review. But if you are fairly broad then joining U Mich would be a fantastic prospect. The group in geometry surpasses places like MIT, UCLA, among the few to name with little doubt, and they are broad.

would be nice if you post your profile as would be help to future students in gauging. Any how thats your choice. all the best. i hope u enjoy where ever you go!

The yale thing is listed on their GSAS website. and make a count. their avg phd life time is 5.7 years and they have 40 students in pure and applied math put together

grad
Posts: 31
Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2014 1:02 am

Re: Michigan vs Penn vs Yale

Postby grad » Thu Apr 09, 2015 11:43 pm

Incognito wrote:Hi, I've applied for the PhD program in pure mathematics beginning in the upcoming fall term. I've been lucky enough to receive funded offers from Michigan and Penn as well as a waitlisting at Yale. I have been trying to decide where I should go for a long time now. My interests are quite broad and mostly in geometry and topology. I've had email exchanges with professors at Michigan and Penn and was very happy with both exchanges in terms of how I got along with them and what reading they recommended. From the department websites, Michigan seems to have a significantly larger department than both Penn and Yale. All three places have professors with whom I would love to work though my currently (this could change with more information) favourite possible advisor/project combination is at Michigan. I've had contact with graduate students at Michigan and was happy with what they said about the place and program but have not had contact with graduate students at Penn yet.

Suppose that I receive an offer also from Yale. Given everything, it seems to me that of the three places, Michigan is where I should go, however I do not feel certain about this just yet. I am certainly affected by the prestige associated purely to the names Yale and Penn, which I feel is almost certainly superficial of me but I'm also wondering whether the general, non-program specific, prestige is there for a reason, could imply positive things about their programs and so shouldn't be ignored?

Any pertinent information comparing the programs at Michigan, Penn and Yale and any thoughts at all on where I should attend will be greatly appreciated.


Hi Incognito. I accepted an offer from Yale a few days ago. I'm also interested in geometry and topology. In terms of what school you should decide on, I think it should depend heavily on what specific topics you're interested in pursuing within geometry and topology. If you're interested in differential geometry then either UPenn or Michigan would be good choices. I was also accepted to UPenn. But what I'm really interested in right now is hyperbolic geometry. Since UPenn doesn't really have anyone working on that kind of thing, I rejected their offer. On the other hand, Yale has Minsky who is one of the best people in the country working on hyperbolic geometry, Kleinian groups, Teichmüller theory, and related topics. He's the professor who I plan on working with. Yale also has quite a few good postdocs in geometry and topology who would probably be good to interact with. If you have any more specific ideas about the topics you're interested in pursuing in geometry and topology, I could probably give you some better advice (although you said you didn't want to do that). If you happen to be interested in hyperbolic geometry then I'll also mention that Michigan has Canary who is also one of the best in the country in that area.

Of course there are other practical factors to consider. At Michigan, I imagine you would do significantly more teaching than you would do at Yale or UPenn. Teaching every semester is a big time commitment and it limits the amount of time you're able to devote to research and coursework.

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

Re: Michigan vs Penn vs Yale

Postby joga » Fri Apr 10, 2015 3:38 am

Congrats grad - i hope you enjoy it at yale. u even have margulis for your kind of work and Hee Oh. quite a few people. thats a fantastic choice. Yale also has frenkel. I was very disappointed to know Prof. Kapranov has left yale. You made a good point about teaching load.

To incognito - i hope you choose a place which best suits ur interest as goncharov and minsky are far. Research of goncharov really is very exciting i must add - especially his work on hodge correlators and L functions and MZV.

As grad mentioned we really do not know your pref, but if you are open about algebraic geometry on the whole michigan is the best place. if you want to do the derived stuff Upenn has Pantev and MZV -Yale goncharov. All the best and do let us know your choice

Incognito
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 11:15 pm

Re: Michigan vs Penn vs Yale

Postby Incognito » Wed Apr 15, 2015 6:59 am

Thanks a lot joga and grad. I considered everything and have made the decision now and went with Michigan. The deciding factor in the end was the size of Michigan's faculty, it seemed the right option due to its large size because my interests are still very broad. I'll post up my profile now to help future applicants as you suggested joga.




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