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Undergrad, Grad, Postdoc, Tenure Stream

  1. Nov 25, 2007 #1
    How many people out of the original number entering as a physics or physics/math undergrad (overall, not at any specific university) will:

    1. Get their B.Sc.?
    2. Get their Ph.D.?
    3. Become a PostDoc, or stay in the academic stream in some way?
    4. Become a professor?
    5. Become a tenure stream professor?

    In other words, what are the chances of reaching each stage? Feel free to add more stages if you feel they are appropriate.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 25, 2007 #2

    mathwonk

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    i have no idea. when i was a freshman math major at harvard in 1960, there were 110 roughly students in my fall honors calculus class. there were about half that many in the second semester, and i heard something like a handful finished as math majors.

    i myself got a D- in 2nd semester and only returned to the fold much later. It required far more than mere smarts, everyone had that,... it took desire, dedication, persistence, and good study habits [ i mean every day], and ability to accept how many really smart people are out there, and how many of them are in math, and to accept whatever ones own place among them may turn out to be. obviously not all the high school valedictorians are going to be that in college. and all the state math champs from here to there who cannot accept being in the middle of the pack at univ, drop away. those who only want to be first, instead of learn the subject, often give up for an easier path.

    this was 40+ years ago, but is similar to my elder son's experience in the 1990's at stanford. many schools today try very hard to keep more majors, but there is a strong temptation for students to major in something far easier. some of them say "i can get an A with half the work in another subject". maybe so. but....then what ?????

    there is a reason most new profs hired in math in US today are from other countries - Russia, Romania, Iran, China, Korea, Canada, Croatia, Italy, Spain, .....
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2007
  4. Nov 25, 2007 #3

    mathwonk

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    a positive aspect for interested parties nowadays is the desire of the funding agencies to increase the number of US citizens obtaoning these degrees. There is a program at NSF funded by millions of dollars called VIGRE, which provides good stipends for US stiudents who go into grad programs in math. This enables math departments who have these grants, to admit many more students than before and to pay them better and give them less teaching duties.

    This enables US students, often with weaker backgrounds than their foreign counterparts, to have an advantage in these US programs. It gives them an edge in admissions and a more advantageous situation for doing their work.

    In short there is a buyers market in many graduate math programs in US today as it is hard to find US citizens who are qualified to complete Phd in math. So this is a good time to be looking for this degree. as the programs are offering as much help as possible to students who might not have been considered qualified in the past. Graduate progrms are creating "remedial" graduate entry level courses to bring US math majors up to speed. This targets talented people who attended schools where the course work was below standard.

    Just the opposite obtained in the late 1970's when some universities kicked out students right and left because of a perceived glut of phD's.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2007
  5. Nov 26, 2007 #4

    robphy

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  6. Nov 26, 2007 #5
    For a broad survey that includes other sciences and engineers (which may or may not be useful to you), see this study:

    http://www.urban.org/publications/411562.html
     
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