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Distance Math MS for old engineer

  1. Oct 9, 2009 #1
    Hi all,

    This question is about pursuing a MS/PhD in Math. I'm kind of old (31).

    I have a BS is in mechanical engineering and MBA and I've worked in the power industry for 9 years. Getting an MS/PhD in engineering was a goal of mine back in my early 20's, but I never did it.

    I am in a position now where I could do this if I wanted to, but I think I am more interested in math than engineering. It's hard to say for sure when I don't have any math beyond Diff EQ and numerical analysis, so I have a math program contingency plan I want to run by people who are more deep into academia than I am.

    I found a small in-state university that has a real MS of Math program online that can be used as a stepping-stone to a PhD.

    This appeals to me on several levels.
    1.) I have all the prereqs, although I haven't taken a class with proofs. I have time to take a u/g class or self-study before fall semester.
    2.) I could start in the spring with an advanced stats class, which would let me get my feet wet to see if I like the online format.
    3.) I can keep my job, especially important at first, since I'm not 100% sure I really love this stuff yet.
    4.) I don't have to take the GRE.
    5.) If I went straight to the regular math MS/PhD program at the bigger U, I would have to take some u/g math and the GRE to meet their prereqs. I can have part of an MS done in the time I would spend meeting their prereqs, keep my day job, and still have a shot at a PhD later.
    6.) Paying out of pocket and working is still a better financial deal than getting free school and living on a stipend.
    7.) I am not too concerned about program competitiveness. I'm doing this for the love of knowledge, not having a "fancy" math career (top PhD, top post-doc, TT position), as I plan to rely on other sources of income and want to stay located here.
    8.) If couldn't get into the PhD program, and had to stop with the MS and could do some part-time CC teaching, that would be worthwhile, too.

    I don't really see any cons to the program for me, other than the challenge of a distance format and not having the total math immersion. I wouldn't recommend it to a 22 year old, but it lets me do something that I probably couldn't do in a traditional format, so why not?

    As for math vs. ME, if I quit this program after a semester or two, no harm done. The advanced math would just be a bonus if I later applied to an MSME or PhD program. I like school and I guess it's juts a weird way for me to occupy my time. . .

    I'd love to hear the shock and horror from the younger students out there who won't settle for less than MIT, or from any other old folks who are in the thick of something like this now. : )

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 9, 2009 #2
    I don't have a lot to say other than it sounds like a good fit. If the program is reputable, is there really any downside?

    Out of curiosity, do you have a link to the program?
  4. Oct 9, 2009 #3
    Sounds like you answered your own question.
    It looks like a good fit. You can keep your job while you take classes, so if 10 weeks into the semester you realize that Math is not for you....you're not jobless and stuck in a program you regret every starting. lol
    I'm sure there will be some people that have strong 'beliefs' about the quality of an online education (I'm not one of them), but again....you have a career and are going to school for yourself.

    I've taken some online courses in the past (not in math or physics though) and I never found myself lacking because of it.
    In fact, because the lectures were typed out and posted, I could go back and review the lecture notes multiple times....and they were invariantly better and more organized than my own lecture notes are.

    All things being equal, I don't think I'd consider an online program at the same level as a traditional lecture course. However, if you excel in the classes, graduate at the top of your class, fully learn and understand the material, and score well on the subject GRE, I'm sure you'd find placement in a PhD program if you decided to pursue that after completing the MS.
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