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In process of earning a B.S. in Mathematics but confused about grad school?

  1. Apr 2, 2012 #1
    I will be entering my third year of undergrad this fall in the process of earning my Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. My current stats for school such as GPA is 3.74 (no research experience, already taking upper-level undergrad mathematics courses, maybe a few grad courses). However, I am VERY confused about the graduate school, and I hope maybe someone can give me some information/advice/answer some of the questions that I have.

    I just want to know a few things about graduate school (especially when you go to grad school for Mathematics). I am really interested in maybe getting a Masters of Science of Applied/Financial Mathematics or a PhD in applied mathematics. But I am wondering a few things:

    1. What do students DO in graduate school, especially for applied math?

    2. What type of research can one do if they were in a Master/PhD program in grad school?

    3. How can you tell when a grad school is "good" for you?

    I am just really confused and I am worried if I can get in to grad school. I have not taken the general OR Math subject GREs.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 2, 2012 #2
    I am NOT the one to answer this question, but my understanding of grad school is that it's more like an apprenticeship with a professor rather than the teacher / student dynamic.
  4. Apr 2, 2012 #3
    Usually masters degrees are teach/student. Especially if we are talking about a masters in financial mathematics.

    1) I believe it is the same for applied as it is for pure in a PhD. You spend your first year passing the qualifiers and then do research under a professor as e^(i Pi)+1=0 stated.

    2) The research you would do would be something that interests you. It will probably be focused in an area your adviser specializes in. I can't see any reason to do research you have no interest in as your time would be better spent elsewhere because chances are if you have no interest in what you are doing, your work will not be fruitful.

    3) Choose the one you feel fits you best. Most PhD committees also accept students based on fit for their university culture.

    If you mean when it is a good time to go to grad school then it really depends on your situation. If you have a job lined up by the time you graduate and it is the career path you want to follow, I don't see why you would want to spend anymore time in school. If the higher degree is necessary for advancement, I would think that it would be smarter to take the job for experience for one or two years before going back to school. There might even be a chance that your company would be willing to help you finance a masters degree because unlike PhDs, masters degrees usually are paid out of pocket. If you need a PhD for advancement, it doesn't hurt you to tell your employer you want to go back to school. If you did will, you can be certain as hell they will take you right back when you graduate.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2012
  5. Apr 2, 2012 #4
    Your GPA is good, and if you're looking at the master's level you might not need the GRE subject test. I didn't, and my general test scores were optional at some of the places I applied.

    I can't tell you about what one *does* in grad school, as I don't start until the fall, but I can tell you how I picked a school I thought would be good for me. It came down to a couple things: location, tuition cost/assistantship opportunities, program flexibility (I'm not sure if I want to do applied or pure math, so I wanted options), and potential to continue into the PhD program if I wanted to later on.
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