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Programs Advice of path to a PhD -starting from irrelevant BA

  1. Nov 3, 2009 #1
    I have a bachelors degree in Media.

    I want to pursue graduate studies in Mathematics (possibly statistics), but my BA has insufficient math credits for me to be accepted into any such program.

    I am debating between earning a second BA in Mathematics and then sending applications to PhD programs or earning math credits as a non-degree seeker and then applying for a masters program so that I can then apply to PhD programs.

    My constraints are time and money -as anyone else, I suppose. Except that I am already pretty mature, and if I take too long, it will be difficult to find work. Plus I am indebted for my B.A. as is. Also, right now, my only feasible options are online studies.

    My overall goal and aspiration is first and foremost: I want to teach at the collegiate level.

    I taught H.S. Math for 3 years, admittedly, under-qualified. Even so, I'd like to think I did a decent job. My style was to never teach a single formula but to ask my students the right questions that would lead them finding solution methods. I never had to teach beyond trigonometry, so I had mastery of what I was teaching.

    In the process of refining my ability to ask the right questions, I realized that even though I had taken College Calculus and Matrix Algebra (immediately irrelevant to what I was teaching) I had to reteach myself the material I was responsible for -in a way different from the rote approach I was brought up in. It was in this training phase that I discovered that I enjoy mathematics.

    I am currently teaching English abroad in a college; along with speaking I am teaching the equivalent of English 101 Composition. I enjoy this as well. In fact, this is how I've discovered that I want to teach at the collegiate level. I am competitive for the teaching position I have now, abroad. But if/when I am ready to go back home -stateside, even if I pursued graduate studies, competition would be terribly fierce.

    And so I am at the point where I know that I want to teach in a college or university. As for the subject to teach, I think mathematics should allow me to be more competitive than English, especially ESL. I am particularly contemplating statistics because I would like to be more marketable than if I have a pure or applied mathematics degree, should I fail to achieve a tenure track position in a university
    . As for the research aspect of professorship, I love learning, and I enjoy mathematics so I'm sure that on my way to completing a PhD I would be able to find some intriguing questions I would enjoy devoting my time to.

    Sorry for the lengthy post -I might have gotten carried away in my efforts to being clear and thorough.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 3, 2009 #2
    I think the latter two options are better. Also you might consider a Ph.D. in math education. That's one of the few fields in which there is a decent demand for faculty.

    People that go in for a Ph.D. should know that they are extremely unlikely to get a faculty position at a four year college. If you get a Ph.D. and insist on teaching, you will likely end up teaching at a community college, which can do with a masters degree.

    Also, do not get a Ph.d. mainly for career reasons. The analogy that I use is that getting a Ph.D. is like joining the Marines. Yes it will help your career, but you will severely regret it if that is your main motivation.

    It really depends on what you want to do. If you enjoy teaching for the sake of teaching, there is really a huge demand for teachers at community colleges and in online universities such as the University of Phoenix. The catch is that they do not pay enough to live on. Also you can teach at those places with a Masters degree.

    You almost certainly will not get a tenure track position at a major university. Nothing to do with your qualifications or the fact that you are non-traditional. It's just that anyone getting a Ph.D. needs to go in with the knowledge and belief that they will not end up as a professor. You *might* get a professorship, but you might get find a lottery ticket for a million dollars.
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