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How much more demanding are graduate math courses?

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  • Thread starter Shackleford
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

I'll be graduating next Spring with a B.S. in Mathematics with a Physics minor. I work part-time and attend school at least part-time.

If possible, I'd like to start taking graduate classes Fall 2012, probably in mathematics. Would it be possible to have the same schedule? Or are the graduate courses much more time-intensive?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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They are much more so in a few key ways. The intro and second year ones tend to assume you have lots of interest in really hammering out the material and getting it solid so you can be a researcher...or take a step in that direction. There are books people really have to read to research certain fields. Lots and lots of key exercises are almost always necessary. Learning material as an intro and learning the way a researcher needs to know it are two different things.

Then topics courses are intense in the sense though there will be few exercises, you will need to spend lots of time internalizing to get much out of it.
 
  • #3
1,654
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They are much more so in a few key ways. The intro and second year ones tend to assume you have lots of interest in really hammering out the material and getting it solid so you can be a researcher...or take a step in that direction. There are books people really have to read to research certain fields. Lots and lots of key exercises are almost always necessary. Learning material as an intro and learning the way a researcher needs to know it are two different things.

Then topics courses are intense in the sense though there will be few exercises, you will need to spend lots of time internalizing to get much out of it.
Ah, then I guess it would be difficult having an 8-5 office job during the week.

My university offers an M.A., M.S. and M.S. in Applied Math with specialties in Computational, Finance, and Statistics. I assume the M.A. and M.S.A.M. programs would be slightly easier.

What are the main differences between core course subjects in the "pure" versus "applied" programs? e.g., analysis, probability, etc. Will they still be as time-intensive?
 
  • #4
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It depends on how much you developed your mathematical abilities during your undergrad, they don't have to be harder at all if you know your undergrad material as if it was your native language.
 
  • #5
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eh...

there are "graduate courses" and then there are graduate courses. The former generally have a significant cohort of undergrads and can often be easier in terms of grading than undergrad weeder courses (though the material is much harder). Not sure if grades will matter to you at this point though.
 
  • #6
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eh...

there are "graduate courses" and then there are graduate courses. The former generally have a significant cohort of undergrads and can often be easier in terms of grading than undergrad weeder courses (though the material is much harder). Not sure if grades will matter to you at this point though.
I'm seriously considering the M.S. Applied Math. It looks a little easier than the "pure" M.S. Math which I'm sure prepares one for research and a Ph.D.

I think the "graduate courses" you're talking about are in the M.A. Math. It looks like all of those courses are taught online at the 5000-level. I imagine it's an math graduate program "lite."

http://www.mathematics.uh.edu/graduate/master-programs/msam/index.php [Broken]
 
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  • #7
gb7nash
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As funny as it sounds, I found the courseload to be much much less than when I was going for my undergrad in math. One reason being that I was getting a minor in CS, which required a lot of programming and getting acclimated to college life. Another reason is that a lot of college work I had was more calculation than theory. Once I got to grad school, I had a decent enough foundation and homework didn't really take that long to finish.

If you have a good foundation in mathematics and you know how to write good proofs, grad school won't be difficult for you. You may run into the occasional wall, but if you make friends and talk through your ideas with colleagues/professors it becomes much easier.

What are the main differences between core course subjects in the "pure" versus "applied" programs? e.g., analysis, probability, etc. Will they still be as time-intensive?
Pure mathematics deals with theory and proofs. Some concepts are very easy to prove, some are very complicated, and some are not intuitive at all. The same can be said for applied mathematics. There are some very simple math applications, and some are very complex. I know for one method that I've learned in how to solve a homogeneous PDE, it probably took about 27 pages to solve for an answer. So it really depends on what subject you want to take.
 
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  • #8
1,654
2
As funny as it sounds, I found the courseload to be much much less than when I was going for my undergrad in math. One reason being that I was getting a minor in CS, which required a lot of programming and getting acclimated to college life. Another reason is that a lot of college work I had was more calculation than theory. Once I got to grad school, I had a decent enough foundation and homework didn't really take that long to finish.

If you have a good foundation in mathematics and you know how to write good proofs, grad school won't be difficult for you. You may run into the occasional wall, but if you make friends and talk through your ideas with colleagues/professors it becomes much easier.



Pure mathematics deals with theory and proofs. Some concepts are very easy to prove, some are very complicated, and some are not intuitive at all. The same can be said for applied mathematics. There are some very simple math applications, and some are very complex. I know for one method that I've learned in how to solve a homogeneous PDE, it probably took about 27 pages to solve for an answer. So it really depends on what subject you want to take.
27 pages?! What method is that?

At my university, the cores for the Applied Math program are more restricted. In the pure M.S., you have a much larger selection from which to choose the cores.

This has also got me wondering about the M.A. program. The M.A. is stated to be for teaching high school or college. Does it have any reasonable applicability outside of teaching? Would the M.A. allow me to function technically in industry?
 
  • #9
gb7nash
Homework Helper
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27 pages?! What method is that?
I don't remember exactly, but it was a boundary-value homogeneous PDE that required just about every method and trick we've learned over the course of the semester. It was nuts. If I find it, I'll let you know what the problem is.
 
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