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San Francisco State Univ. or UC Berkeley for re-entry in math?

  1. May 14, 2012 #1
    It seems trivial but which school would be best suited for a non-traditional student interested in taking basic upper math courses (analysis, topology, algebra) as a non-degree seeking student?

    My long term goal is to do graduate study in applied math. My immediate goal is to learn the fundamental math courses very well. How well does SFSU math program prepare students for graduate work at top universities? I appreciate any inputs/suggestions.

    Here are the pros and cons I came up with for both schools.
    1) UCB - rigorous math courses (+)
    2) UCB - big class (-)
    3) UCB - most undergraduate courses taught by post docs/first time teacher (+/-)
    4) UCB - focus on research may tempt profs to disregard teaching (-)
    5) UCB - Profs approachability. How willing are professors to go over things (??)

    1) SFSU - not sure about the rigor of math courses (???)
    2) SFSU - smaller classes compared to UCB (+)
    3) SFSU - taught by tenured profs (+/-)
    4) SFSU - not research based so profs may focus more on teaching
    5) SFSU - Profs approachability. Heard profs are willing to go over things with students during office hours (+)
  2. jcsd
  3. May 14, 2012 #2
    I would disregard the whole "professors more interested in research" stereotype. A big research university has a mixture of professors interested in mentoring undergraduates and ones who just don't care. Also, it is not true that postdocs teach almost all undergraduate classes. There is a good mixture. Also, the only real disadvantage I can see to a postdoc teaching is that you're better off asking an established faculty member for letters for graduate programs. Postdocs are research professionals, and already know a lot of things about their area of research that tenured faculty may not - that's why they're even paid to persist in the research world. So they can easily offer a ton in an undergraduate or graduate level course they teach, provided they are strong postdocs (which concentrate, usually, in the strongest research universities).

    If you are serious about mathematics graduate programs though, you're going to do a lot more than just obtain coursework as a non-degree-seeking student in some mathematics courses. I will have to assume you have extremely substantial experience in a mathematical field (like electrical engineering, statistics, etc etc) and are just trying to get the fundamental math coursework because for whatever reason, you didn't do it as an undergraduate.
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