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Math Math Guidance wanted

  1. Jan 11, 2010 #1
    I'm currently a grad student and I was hoping some of the more experienced members of this board could give me some guidance.

    Due to some unfortunate circumstances, I'm really wondering if being in a PhD program is the best possible option for me. I do not want to get into specifics, seeing as how all these posts are Google cached, I will just say some outside, non-academic issues are come up that I need to deal with sooner rather than later. In particular, money is becoming a big issue.

    Fortunately, my university has a very good applied math department and the department overall is very flexible with who my adviser can be, within reason.

    OK, let's cut to the chase. As you can tell by my name, I wanted to do geometry in graduate school. However, things change. I'm considering the following two options:

    (1) Leave graduate school and try to go to business school or attempt to get a masters degree in a field that will allow me to be employed within the next 2-3 years.

    Personally, I see a lot of problems with this situation. For one, I have no experience in business school or anything really outside of math. I am also wary of taking on so much debt, it seems like it can escalate to 6 figure debt.

    (2) Stay in graduate school, but switch my focus to some in applied math or has a higher degree of employability.

    This is my favorite option at the moment. Coming into graduate school, I wanted to work on geometry and mathematical physics. But that was then. I am in a totally different situation right now, and I cannot afford to be selfish at the moment. I have many other interests mathematically, it doesn't have to be geometry. I'm flexible. And I'm also hoping I can get my thesis done quicker if I pick a field outside of geometry.

    A question I have is: How much do employers care what you did your thesis on? I'm heavily considering doing a thesis in quantitative finance, and this will be possible for me to do in my department, so this is not a concern. I understand the quant market right now might not be so good, but in 3 or 4 years, hopefully it will have picked back up. And I honestly have always been fascinated by quants, one of my favorite mathematicians is James Simons; I actually wanted to do my thesis in geometry and then move to a hedge fund anyway, kind of like Simons, except for the working at a government position and then being head of a math department.

    Anyone else leave graduate school to do something with more financial prospects? And for anyone who thinks this money is for me, please do not assume that, it is not the case. I do not want to get into a discussion about my motivations for switching, they are valid, please trust me on that. And I do have genuine interest in applied math and other fields.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 12, 2010 #2
    go with number 2. employers don't really care what your thesis is on. the fact that you have a phd shows that you can solve new problems by yourself which employers will like.
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