What is math grad school like?

In summary: Anyways, thats what I've found so far.In summary, a graduate student in mathematics does a lot of homework and research.
  • #1
ForMyThunder
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I've decided to major in mathematics but I need to know something: so, what exactly does a graduate student in mathematics do?

I assume a grad student in physics, chemistry, or biology will spend their academic time in class and performing experiments with there professors, but a mathematician has no experiments to perform.
 
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  • #2
That's kind of funny; I asked almost the exact same question back in October. Here's a link to that thread:

https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=343271


fantispug gives a wonderful answer, however I've done quite a bit of reading (and studying) since then and I feel that there is one additional element that should be emphasized. fantispug touches on it when he says,
fantispug said:
This is the hardest bit - you have to guess what tool you need. Often you just try different things with varying amounts of success.

However, Steven Krantz (A Mathematician's Survival Guide), Courant & Robbins (What Is Mathematics?), Ian Stewart (Letters To A Young Mathematician, as well as the introduction to the second edition of WIM?), come right out and say it, but I think it was best expressed in this (perhaps) apocryphal story about David Hilbert from Derbyshire's book Prime Obsession:

One of Hilbert's students stopped showing up to classes. On inquiring the reason, Hilbert was told that the student had left the university to become a poet. Hilbert replied, "I can't say I'm surprised. I never thought he had enough imagination to be a mathematician."

The point being, imagination and creativity are essential for (pure) mathematics research, a revelation that rather surprised me when I stumbled across it and one that is quite a bit removed from my previous misconception that it would only involve a great deal of number-crunching and calculating.
 
  • #3
ForMyThunder said:
I assume a grad student in physics, chemistry, or biology will spend their academic time in class and performing experiments with there professors, but a mathematician has no experiments to perform.

Its actually, quite a bit more boring than this. Most of my time is spent just doing homework and projects and helping other people with their homework and projects. Research is only done when I have free time which isn't very often.

Although I'm an engineering major, I would imagine mathematics wouldn't be that much different.
 

1. What is the workload like in math grad school?

The workload in math grad school is typically very heavy. You will have a combination of lectures, problem sets, projects, and exams to complete each semester. It is not uncommon for students to spend 40-60 hours per week on coursework and studying.

2. How much time do students spend on research in math grad school?

The amount of time students spend on research in math grad school varies depending on the program and individual student. Typically, students will spend at least 20 hours per week on research, but this can increase as they progress through the program and take on more responsibilities.

3. What is the class structure like in math grad school?

The class structure in math grad school is different than undergraduate studies. Classes are typically smaller and more focused, with more emphasis on independent learning and research. Professors expect a higher level of understanding and participation from students.

4. Will I have opportunities to collaborate with other students in math grad school?

Yes, there are often opportunities for students to collaborate with one another in math grad school. Many programs have group projects or research teams where students can work together. Additionally, attending conferences and seminars can also provide opportunities for collaboration with other students.

5. How long does it typically take to complete a math grad school program?

The length of a math grad school program varies depending on the type of degree and the individual student's progress. A Master's program typically takes 2-3 years to complete, while a PhD program can take 5-6 years. It is important to note that some students may take longer if they are also working or have other commitments.

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