1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Graduate School: Can I get in? - Thinking about going back to Math

  1. Jun 11, 2012 #1
    Graduate School: Can I get in? -- Thinking about going back to Math

    Hi, I have been pondering some kind of PhD program in mathematics, and I have a couple questions. So, first, knowing my background might be nice. I graduated from a small, mid-level liberal arts college with a major in philosophy and minors in math/physics. Then, for whatever reason, I went to another year of undergrad at a low/mid-level state school, where I took a bunch of random classes, including enough math to have ~33 hours. Originally, I was going to go to go to graduate school in philosophy. I got into a relatively great terminal M.A. program, but decided not to go that track, and ended up starting into a M.A. program for IT, which thus far I have enjoyed quite a bit. I'm about halfway through this program, and it's not too challenging, but I am definitely going to finish it; also, classes are only offered at night. I currently work as a tutor and substitute teacher, which makes enough money for me, so my days are open a bit.

    To get down to it, I am curious if I could get into a mid-level PhD program and whether or not I could get funding of any kind from such an institution. My stats are essentially, ~33 hours in mathematics (most of the essentials accounted for), Overall GPA: ~3.7, Math GPA: ~3.25, GRE: Quant 750, Verbal 580, and if it counts for anything I spent a semester at Oxford studying the philosophy of mathematics.

    I didn't really try that hard through the good portion of my college career. It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I really started caring, even though I have always loved school, I just didn't put that much into it. Anyway, I love teaching and I love math, and would be interested in trying to get into a PhD program, as a supplement to my IT/Philosophy knowledge, and in case I would like to teach later in my life. Does this sound feasible as long as I am not trying to get into a mid-level-ish school?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 13, 2012 #2
    Re: Graduate School: Can I get in? -- Thinking about going back to Math

    I don't know a whole lot about PhD programs, but I expect you could, at the very least, get into a master's program, from which you could transfer up to a PhD eventually. Have you taken abstract algebra or real analysis (also known as advanced calculus at some schools)? Schools tend to look for that, although even those can be worked around, at least at the master's level. I can't really tell you much about your specific situation, but I can tell you that I graduated with a BA in creative writing with almost enough credits for a second major in math, and I got accepted to several master's programs in math. They weren't terribly prestigious schools, but they were all right. I hadn't taken algebra or analysis or even discrete math, but the state school I ended up choosing will let me make up the undergrad coursework I'm missing. I don't remember my GRE scores, but my overall GPA was 3.8 and my math GPA was about 3.6.

    Sidenote: Philosophy of math sounds really awesome! What sorts of things did you study in that program?
  4. Jun 14, 2012 #3
    Re: Graduate School: Can I get in? -- Thinking about going back to Math

    Thanks. That's useful information. Also, I have taken abstract, but only one semester's worth. I haven't taken real, though. A second question, if you don't mind: did they offer you funding, also, or were you on your own?

    Sidenote response: It was really great. I did a lot of weird things like numbers as objects and platonic ideals; number structures and whether these structures were localized to a specific model or solely structures in themselves. Stuff like that. It was very interesting.
  5. Jun 15, 2012 #4
    Re: Graduate School: Can I get in? -- Thinking about going back to Math

    As it stands, I'm not entirely sure. The school generally funds all its grad students, both at the master's and PhD levels. They told me I wouldn't be able to get an assistantship right away because of the gaps in my background (apparently they are somewhat concerned that I will drop out because I'll be freaked out by how much math is involved, since I was not actually a math major...or something?) but that if I stuck it out and did well in the transitional coursework I should have an assistantship by either my second semester or the beginning of my second year. They said they may be able to give me a tuition waiver until then, but I am still waiting to hear back for sure. I did get offered full funding at another school, but its program was much smaller and had fewer options.

    Response to sidenote response: That's so cool! What kind of program was it? I was looking into history/philosophy of science programs before I decided I wanted to keep going with math.
  6. Jun 15, 2012 #5
    Re: Graduate School: Can I get in? -- Thinking about going back to Math

    Canadian universities offer funding at both the MSc and PhD levels. Look into those options. I'm not certain about eligibility (with regards to your degrees) though. If that interests you, try e-mailing to confirm.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook