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Programs How hard is a Phd in Mathematics in mit?

  1. May 13, 2012 #1
    My question is pretty much what i wrote in the title, i'm wondering how hard a phd in mathematics from mit or an ivy league univ would be.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 13, 2012 #2
    Getting any PhD from a decent math program, including MIT, is challenging. I don't think this is something that we can easily compare between two schools (as definition of "harder" differs from a person to another person).

    Getting INTO a PhD program in mathematics at MIT, on the other hand, is significantly harder than many math PhD programs in US.
  4. May 13, 2012 #3


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    in general i think it is hard, but doable, to get a phd from any school that admits you, if they do a good job of vetting their applicants. i got into univ of utah in 1974 and finished there in 3 years in 1977, although they thought i should have finished in two. It was the hardest thing i have ever done, but it did eventually work out.

    In other words, I presume most phd programs admit you thinking that you will probably finish, if you give it absolutely every ounce of effort that you have. To be more more specific, it is about as hard as anything could possibly be. You have to really enjoy your work to persist in such a task.
  5. May 17, 2012 #4
    That is the question that I worry about; that is, what program (if any) will I be able to gain admission to? I worry less about succeeding once I'm accepted. Not out of any misplaced confidence, but simply because I have some measure of control over that outcome whereas being accepted to a PhD program seems to be, to a certain extent, out of my hands. (Or at least strongly influenced by factors that I have little control over.)
  6. May 17, 2012 #5
    I think the most important part of your application is your letter of recommendations. If you want to get into any particular graduate school, the best way to increase your odds is to have an excellent letter written by someone who is well known (and liked) by that institution. Most anything can be overlooked with strong enough letters.

    I have just been accepted into graduate school, so I'm no authority. In my defense I became very close to my advisor and learned a lot about the process from his experience.
  7. May 17, 2012 #6


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    you are ignoring the gist of my comment about vetting. namely schools take people that seem likely to succeed. hence by making yourself more qualified, you increase the likelihood of admission.
  8. May 17, 2012 #7
    I see my confusion, I mixed up Mallus with the OP who referred only to being accepted. In any case, I think it's easier to convince the search committee that you will succeed in their program if someone they know (and trust) vouches for you.
  9. May 17, 2012 #8
  10. May 17, 2012 #9
    I think that you already know the answer. Notice how you didn't word the question, "How easy would a phd in mathematics from mit or an ivy league univ be?" but "how hard would it be?"

    I'm 16, but even I know that you're going to have to work your *** off, and that it could easily be the most difficult thing that you'll have to do in your life. Maybe not for everybody, but judging by the fact that you have self-doubt about your capabilities, then I doubt it will just be a breeze for you.

    In the end, you'll never know until you apply, either get rejected/accepted, and actually go through the program. Second-hand accounts will never be able to apply for you, because other people AREN'T you. Your abilities are different from theirs, as is your work ethic, etc. First hand experience is going to be the best answer to your question.
  11. May 18, 2012 #10
    No no no. It is over Nine Thousand....
  12. May 18, 2012 #11
    Lol. I do remember when my friend spammed that phrase every 5 minutes. >.<

    For people who don't know, it's from a parody of DBZ.
  13. May 18, 2012 #12
    Followed by Vegeta getting crapped on by Goku of course.
  14. May 19, 2012 #13
    I second the advice about letters of recommendation. Especially because there are extremely terrific applicants of very different shapes, the letters indicating a good fit for the program are the most crucial thing, once you have good coursework, grades, and scores. I have seen applicants of various resumes get rejected from universities like MIT. Aside from the very few true prodigies out there, I think aside from having spectacular awards or publications, most of us are in the same boat admissions-wise aside from the letters. Keep in mind it's not just how good your letters are, but how they are received by admissions (hence a lot of variables that you have no control over -- apply to a good number of schools that you could be happy at, and you'll probably be fine).

    However, simply maintaining a great record from a terrific undergraduate mathematics program with strong but not stellar letters can still get you into a great program for PhD.
  15. May 19, 2012 #14
    I remember it going the other way in that particular fight actually. Just saiyan.
  16. May 19, 2012 #15
    Just saiyan. lol I like that. Vegeta was getting killed until he went ape. Then yea... Goku ate monkey poo.

    To the OP: Work hard everyday and everyday it'll be a little easier to get into MIT because everyday you'll be strengthening your foundation.
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