Math masters after humanities undergrad?

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
humanitieshopeful
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:53 pm

Math masters after humanities undergrad?

Postby humanitieshopeful » Sat Aug 31, 2019 11:32 pm

Hi all,
I went to a top 5 university where I chose to major in an obscure corner of the humanities. However I did economics research and a software engineering internship at a machine learning startup, which piqued my interest in applied math. I also really loved my proof based math courses, and I'm now trying to assess what the best way to get back into mathematics would be for me. My primary motivation here is to experience more of the beauty of mathematics, with a secondary motivation of potentially finding math related employment.

Courses I've taken (all proof based): Calc 1 (B+), Calc 2 (B+), Calc 3 (B-), Real Analysis 1 (Withdrew first time I took the course, retook for a B), Linear Algebra (B).

    1. Should I retake real analysis and linear algebra if I feel I can be more successful in those courses the second time around? Or would admissions committees look at my profile and think that I was unable to succeed in math at my top ranked department and was boosting my GPA with an easier state school? (Although I was a consistent B student in math in college, I feel that some personal changes in my life will enable me to be more successful in math coursework going forward.)

    2. What math courses should I take before I apply to a math masters? From my reading online, linear algebra, real analysis and abstract algebra seem to be the basic requirements. But how much real analysis/abstract algebra is expected? And is there anything else I must take? I would prefer to take minimal courses before a masters program because of the high cost per course.

    3. Would doing a masters from a lower ranked program count against me in academia? Among other things, depending on my aptitude and interest in higher level mathematics courses, I'm considering trying to do a PhD in a mathematical field like economics or statistics. And one lower-ranked university I applied to last year for a math masters program was willing to consider me with just the background that I have (1 term each of linear algebra and real analysis). I've also noticed online that more prestigious departments offer no funding, while less prestigious departments in less desirable locations in the US seem to offer some funding for masters students (although I have not contacted any departments directly about this).


Thanks for your time -- I appreciate any feedback on this!

defen
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Sep 12, 2018 7:40 pm

Re: Math masters after humanities undergrad?

Postby defen » Sun Sep 01, 2019 4:42 pm

Some schools (in the Cal State system anyway) will let you enroll with conditional status to clean up a few more prerequisites before starting on the master's coursework proper, and this may be concurrent with TAship if funding exists. I recommend taking a second course in linear algebra, even if it's not required - it will be valuable no matter what direction you take.

Cyclicduck
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:55 pm

Re: Math masters after humanities undergrad?

Postby Cyclicduck » Wed Sep 04, 2019 3:53 am

I would recommend retaking those courses only if you genuinely believe doing so would help you master them. If you are confident that you can learn them well them at this point through self-study, it might make sense to review them yourself and take the next courses in the series and explain your route in your personal statement. These are very fundamental classes though, so I would advise you to make sure you master them one way or another.

If you are interested in pure math, you should also try to take a topology course and an abstract algebra course. After that, anything you can afford to take will be helpful, and the direction you take should be guided by your interests.

I don't have any data on this, but I would guess that doing a masters from a lower ranked program wouldn't be a deal-breaker if you excel in it. Given your background in the humanities, I'd expect PhD programs to understand that you're simply starting a bit later than others.

jhill42
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Jul 27, 2019 3:23 pm

Re: Math masters after humanities undergrad?

Postby jhill42 » Sun Sep 08, 2019 2:19 am

I went to a top 5 university where I chose to major in an obscure corner of the humanities

software engineering internship at a machine learning startup

Hmmmm methinks I know which school :P

enjoy
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:52 am

Re: Math masters after humanities undergrad?

Postby enjoy » Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:53 am

Stanford Symbolic Systems?

humanitieshopeful
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:53 pm

Re: Math masters after humanities undergrad?

Postby humanitieshopeful » Thu Sep 12, 2019 3:18 pm

Thanks for the helpful feedback, cyclicduck and defen!




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