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I Think Math's the Life For Me! Trouble is

  1. Feb 15, 2012 #1
    So I'm a 4th year biology major. I absolutely hate what I have been/am learning but that's another story. Ideally, I'd like to get into the field of math and get a master's/PhD degree but I've only taken up to CalcII - and that was about 3 and a half years ago. I did, however, love the math classes I was taking and I've always felt that it was the right path for me. I really, honestly enjoyed doing math problems and they gave me a joy that I wasn't getting from learning chemistry and biology.

    Now, like I said, I want to get a masters but I know that there are pre-reqs I need to do. Should I hold up graduation and finish them or do a post-bacc program? I'd like to get into research if I do hold up my graduation and I can also rack up math related LORs as well.

    My gpa is not so great, too. Again, a story for another time. If I do well in my upper level maths, will this be added to my undergrad gpa? Will grad schools take that into consideration?

    Help me out!
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 15, 2012 #2
    If you've only taken up to calculus 2 and decided you like math based on classes, it might not be what you are expecting it to be.
  4. Feb 15, 2012 #3


    Staff: Mentor

    check out the book math 1001 by Prof Elwes to get an idea of the many kinds of math there are and then decide if you're still interested.

    Maybe what you'd really like is more math in your biology like bioinformatics, proteomics, biological data visualization...

  5. Feb 15, 2012 #4
    Math is nothing like what they teach in calculus II. Math is really heavy on proofs and it isn't certain you will like that.

    I suggest you take out an actual math book first and go through it. For example, if you like "Calculus" by Spivak or "A book of abstract algbra" by Pinter, then you'll probably like mathematics. You'll see soon enough that a math degree is very different from calculus classes.
  6. Feb 15, 2012 #5
    There is also the field of theoretical/mathematical biology or biostatistics that you could look into.
  7. Feb 17, 2012 #6
    I know someone at my university who's in a similar situation. If you are willing to take the time to turn around, I'd think it's doable. It's going to be hard, but if you find it gratifying, it'll be worth it.

    If you're a woman, there's a post-bac at Smith you might look at (although that's for women who want to go into PhD programs). There's also one at Brandeis--for anyone. Or you could just stick around at your current university. I think the minimum entrance requirements for master's programs tend to be multivariable calc and linear algebra.
  8. Feb 18, 2012 #7
    Your comment reminds me of this:

    (Not intending to be rude, but I'm sure you can see the similarities.)
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  9. Feb 18, 2012 #8
    Most of these comments, related to writing proofs for example, seem to be directed towards a degree in pure math.

    I think if you were to go for a degree in applied mathematics or something like computational engineering/science. You would likely not see as many proof filled courses.
  10. Feb 18, 2012 #9
    The math you're talking about sounds more like physics or applied math than pure math. I'm not sure if you understand what pure math is, but if you want to do something that you enjoyed before in your previous math classes, you will want to go applied. I know you said you hated biology, but perhaps you can get over that if you see that there is a lot of mathematics that can be used in biology (and people who can do that are in demand).

    If you're wanting to use your biology background and not have it wasted, you could take the following classes: multivariable calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, statistics, and perhaps a numerical programming class for scientists/engineers, although a normal programming class would be okay too. This would only take you about two semesters (with hard work), in which case you would be ready to do higher level research in the field. Having those classes, plus your biology degree would make you a suitable candidate for graduate school in an applied mathematics department.
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