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Are my goals realistic if I pursue a PhD at a mid/low rank school?

  1. Jul 28, 2014 #1
    I'll be applying to PhD programs in pure math this fall. However, my profile isn't that outstanding, so I'll most likely being going to a "mid" to "low" rank (as determined by US News Grad Rankings, for what it's worth). Ultimately, I'd want to do research as well as teach lower/upper division math classes. That being said, I know how overfilled the market is with math PhDs, so even those from top 10 schools don't have much of a chance getting tenure, at least, not super fast. That being said, I'm totally okay with being able to either just teach lower/upper division classes with no research, or doing research and teaching at a "No Name" or "low rank" school. I just love the idea of always learning new mathematics and contributing to it, no matter how small or insignificant it may end up compared to others', and I don't think it's absolutely necessary to go to a top 10 school to do that. I could be wrong though. So given my last few statements about be content with ending up somewhere that's not necessarily top rank, are my goals for teaching/research realistic?
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  3. Jul 29, 2014 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    I think the target (as opposed to the plan) is somewhat unrealistic. There are relatively few career-track jobs out there of the sort you describe, and even "low rank" schools get some highly qualified candidates.
  4. Jul 29, 2014 #3


    Staff: Mentor

    Community colleges in our area require an MS in the subject and at least 20 graduate credit hours in order to be qualified to teach 1st and 2nd year college math like Calculus I, II, III. So I think its possible that going to a second tier math school you'll be able to find work at least part-time at a local community college at some point.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2014
  5. Jul 29, 2014 #4
    Keep in mind also that it is not always about the name of the school, but who your mentor is. You can find some well known people in some not so well known places. Having your name associated with somebody well known in a particular field is very beneficial.
  6. Jul 29, 2014 #5
    Thanks for the reply. I'm from California, so I'm not sure if you're familiar with California State system. Even though none of them are "ranked" I do see that there quite a few professors from top schools and quite a few from mid rank schools. So even schools like that seem some what unrealistic if I want to teach there?
  7. Jul 29, 2014 #6
    Thanks for the reply. To expand on this, what is a good metric to finding a "well known" professor at these schools? I've recently been searching their names through the arXiv and the Genealogy Project, but I'm not sure if that tells me anything since having papers uploaded there doesn't mean they're being cited. Though, I think I'm getting some decent information by looking up how many students they had and where they ended up, but I'm not sure how complete the list is on Genealogy.
  8. Jul 29, 2014 #7
    I'm not exactly sure either, since I found this type of information out after I was already at the school for awhile. I think the number of publications, students, and where those students are working are pretty good indicators.

    -Dave K
  9. Jul 29, 2014 #8
    It depends. Would you be happy if you do something else for a day job, but teach the occasional math class at a small college for low pay? Getting an adjunct job is pretty easy, but the pay is awful (2k-3k for a 4 credit course), getting full time positions is very difficult.

    Even highschool teaching is tricky- with a phd you start at a higher pay bracket, so you are asking a school to take a chance on someone who will get paid more despite no experience teaching people in the age group.
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