Math Graduate School Advice

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zachbarnett
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Math Graduate School Advice

Postby zachbarnett » Sun Dec 18, 2011 9:49 pm UTC

Hi there. I graduated from Pomona College in May, where I majored in philosophy and minored in math. I am currently teaching math at an all-girls private school in Los Angeles. I am applying to graduate schools in philosophy, currently, but I am contemplating switching to math.

With a math minor from Pomona and math teaching experience, would I be able to get into a Master's program in math? Could I get paid to teach while I got my degree? If so, where should I apply?

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heyitsguay
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Re: Math Graduate School Advice

Postby heyitsguay » Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:21 am UTC

What math did you do as part of your minor? What do you intend to do in graduate school?

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Proginoskes
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Re: Math Graduate School Advice

Postby Proginoskes » Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:46 am UTC

This post had objectionable content.

There's no problem with the word "masturbation" on these forums. There is, however, a problem with insulting other majors for no reason in a thread about a completely different topic.

And I mean, sure, the fact that I myself majored in both math and philosophy no doubt makes me biased about this. Just one of the costs of having human beings as moderators, I guess. - gmal

zachbarnett
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Re: Math Graduate School Advice

Postby zachbarnett » Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:26 pm UTC

So far, I have studied group theory and combinatorics. But I don't have a particularly deep knowledge of either. Basically, I want to learn more, and I am willing to teach a lot in order to study for free.

Bash philosophy all you want. That's fine with me. But might someone actually try to answer my question?

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heyitsguay
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Re: Math Graduate School Advice

Postby heyitsguay » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:02 pm UTC

I'm currently a math grad student. This probably isn't what you want to hear, but I hope you can appreciate that I'm trying to give you a realistic answer:

A math minor with what is apparently a very shallow exposure to higher math is unlikely to land you a spot in a math graduate program. How much work have you done with math proofs? Where do your interests within mathematics lie? A funded position, i.e. one that you teach for, is even more unlikely. You're willing to teach? That's great, and I mean it. But so is every other person applying for these spots, and I hope you can recognize that almost all of them have a substantially richer exposure to mathematics. I went to Cornell for my undergraduate program, with a decently competitive math program, and even then you had students who spent years focused solely on math, struggling to find funded graduate positions. Several did not find one.

This does not mean that you should give up your hope for some sort of grad program spot. On the contrary, philosophy can be a good background for pure math, contrary to what some in this thread might say (and contrary to what I might have said myself, a few years ago). Unfortunately, pure math is an even better background for pure math, and it provides tools and perspectives that you are likely not even aware of yet. If you know anybody in math academia that you can talk to, I would seek them out. Other than that, your best strategy will likely be a shotgun approach, applying to many programs, definitely without an expectation of receiving funding. It's unfortunately very expensive (I think my applications averaged about $70/submission), but that is the state of things.

[Edit] And I should add - at least in my experience, funded positions are usually reserved for (or at least prioritized for) PhD students who intend to do research. I'm guessing you have even less exposure to math research, and it may not even be your end goal. This would further diminish your odds of finding funding.

zachbarnett
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Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2011 6:16 am UTC

Re: Math Graduate School Advice

Postby zachbarnett » Fri Dec 23, 2011 5:53 am UTC

That's an excellent answer. I highly appreciate your considered advice. Let's hope that this philosophy plan works out.

Klobbersaurus
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Re: Math Graduate School Advice

Postby Klobbersaurus » Tue Dec 27, 2011 9:18 pm UTC

I'm a masters student in statistics (close enough to math for me to offer an answer). Both schools that I have studied at/ am currently studying at (University of Waterloo (undergrad), University of Western Ontario (masters)) offer programs where you do a qualifying term/year or something where you take a bunch of undergrad courses in the chosen field and you have to get some prespecified average (typically 80%). You may or may not receive funding for this qualifying term/year but you would probably be guaranteed funding if you survive it.

I would think that a philosophy degree with a math minor should be enough to get into a qualifying program, but certainly not enough to jump straight into graduate level math courses.

What subject area in math were you looking into? How many courses have you taken in said subject area?

If you don't have an area in mind a qualifying term or two would probably be a good idea for you to get a better idea of what you wan't to do your masters on.


Disclaimer: This is based on my experience in Canada (obviously), you guys might do things a little differently down there.


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