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Programs Which applied math phd program to apply to?

  1. Oct 5, 2011 #1
    Hi guys, I am trying to figure out what Applied Math PhD programs I should I apply to this fall. My main interests are in computational science, specifically numerical methods and stochastic methods.

    My profile is as follow:

    Undergrad: big state school, solid reputation in math
    Major: mathematics
    GPA: 3.9
    GRE: 590/800/4.5 (expect ~80th percentile on math subject GRE)
    Type of student: domestic, male

    Relevant courses and grades:

    Calc II (A)
    Calc III (A)
    Fundamental Math ( B )
    Biostatistics (A+)
    Math Stats and Probability I (A+)
    Discrete Math (A)
    Combinatorics (A)
    Numerical Methods (A+)
    Applied Linear Algebra (A+)
    Real Analysis (A+)
    Applied Complex Variables (A)

    (calc III, fundamental math, stats and prob I, and combinatorics were all honors courses)

    Currently taking:

    Numerical Analysis (expected A/A+)
    Differential Equations (expected A/A+)
    Math Stats and Probability II (expected A/A+).

    Spring term:

    Numerical Methods for PDE's
    Abstract Albegra (or something else)
    Game theory (econ department)

    Research experience:

    1) A summer research project investigating a new iterative method for solving large linear systems.

    2) An honors project involving obtaining information about lottery participation and optimizing the lottery scheme for state revenue.

    3) Currently working on honors project on Brownian motion, although I'm not sure how much research will be done here.

    4) Currently working on a project with a well-known professor involving cryptography techniques and pseudo random number generators that hopefully will result in a publication.

    I should have good letters from at least 2 professors, and maybe a good third letter.

    Which schools do you guys think would I be a good fit at?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 5, 2011 #2
    Any advice, at all?
  4. Oct 5, 2011 #3
    just quit. don't apply anywhere, especially nowhere good. The B in fundamental math says it all.
  5. Oct 5, 2011 #4
    Ha, that was my first time seeing proofs and I hadn't taken a math class for about 6 years, so it was quite challenging!

    I really have no idea where to apply, though. Some places that seem interesting include Texas, Georgia Tech, UIUC, NYU, Stanford, Maryland, and Cornell, among other places. Any shot at these schools?
  6. Oct 5, 2011 #5
    Just don't apply to Maryland. I'm applying there and I don't want the competition.
  7. Oct 5, 2011 #6
    ;) yeah me too, I got a B in discrete math which at my school is the first introduction to proofs.

    If I were you, I'd apply to every school I wanted to go to and had the money for applications. I mean seriously, what are you worried about, your GRE? True, the good spots are very competitive, but I think you're well close enough in order to apply anywhere without it being a complete waste of money.
  8. Oct 5, 2011 #7
    Another "if i were you",, but seriously.. Research schools you'd be willing to attend. Find professors whose work interests you, maybe even contact them. rank schools of your preference. start applying to the top of the list until you run out of money for applications.
  9. Oct 6, 2011 #8
    If you don't mind me asking, what does your profile look like and what other schools are you considering?

    Thanks, I think if I can manage an 80th percentile on the subject GRE I will at least be considered for all the programs I apply to, including the top ones. I just don't want to be wasting my time and money on applications if I'm not competitive, know what I mean?
  10. Oct 7, 2011 #9
    Has anybody had an success applying to any of these programs?

    I'm sure I'm not the only one interested here...
  11. Oct 7, 2011 #10
    Not quite as good as yours, but close. I have a 3.88 GPA at a state liberal arts school with a tiny physics program. I'm a physics major, so I don't have nearly as many math classes, though there is a very large math component in all of my upper level physics classes.

    I took the new GRE with the new score system, so I won't have my scores yet. They gave me an estimate based on the old system of 750-800 quantitative and 550-650 verbal if I recall correctly. There was no estimate for analytical.

    I'll be taking the physics subject GRE a week from Saturday, and I have no idea how I'll do there.

    I'm also applying to the physics program at Maryland (in addition to applied math) and the Theoretical and Applied Mechanics program at Cornell, and those are my "reach" schools. I'm applying to a few safety schools as well, but other than that, I haven't decided. I plan to wait until I get my GRE scores (subject and general) before thinking about others.

    My main areas of interest is in nonlinear dynamics and mathematical modeling, but I also have an interest in atmospheric physics and climate research, so I don't know what direction I will go with that.

    Anyway, best of luck.
  12. Oct 10, 2011 #11
    Best of luck to you as well.

    (I'll be taking the math subject GRE at the same time.)
  13. Nov 16, 2011 #12
    Received math subject GRE score: 670/56th%

    How much does this terrible score hurt my chances? Should I even submit it?
  14. Nov 16, 2011 #13
    apply everywhere, who gives a ****.

    also, apply to brown as well.
  15. Nov 18, 2011 #14
    Unfortunately, for top-tier schools I think it hurts a lot. I once read a thread concerning admissions at one of the tippy-top schools which discussed that while Berkeley is one of the best, it's still accessible to many students who would have absolutely no chance at other places like Harvard, Princeton, Stanford etc....but the caveat was that you better get an AWESOME subject GRE.

    BUT! On the other hand, I also saw somebody on mathematicsgre.com who got into UT Austin with a 630/48th% math subject, and a girl who got into the same school with a 540/23rd%. That's abysmal and UT Austin is pretty damn good.

    And there's also a guy on there who got into Penn State with a 670/55th
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2011
  16. Nov 18, 2011 #15
    I know it would definitely hurt a lot in top pure math programs, but since I'm applying to separate applied math or computational science programs that don't require the test, I wonder how much it hurts and if I should even report it...

    Anybody have an idea?
  17. Nov 18, 2011 #16
    report it / retake it, i woudlnt intentionally hide stuff.
  18. Nov 18, 2011 #17
    I think you'll be fine with the 56th % considering you have some "research" experience, great grades in your upper level applied math classes, solid general GRE quantitative scores (but everybody has those), and even the upper level pure stuff looks good. If you have at least 2 SOLID recommendations, I think you'll be fine.

    Just apply to as many schools as you can afford and that fit your style. I'd report a subject GRE above 50% ... I mean it shows you did better than at least half of the people who took the test and are looking at math/physics/computer science graduate programs.

    I feel that anything over 50% is pretty solid. I'm going for an 80% or higher on the math GRE this coming April, but I'll have been preparing for it for 14 months by the time I take it. These tests are partly about speed and partly about how much exposure to all areas you've had. So if you just took the test with a little review and maybe doing the practice one, then yeah 56th % is good. It takes A LOT of work to hone your "fast twitch math muscle" to where you can beast out answering 60+ questions in 3 hours.

    The only reason I've spent over a year studying for this math GRE and taking a new practice test every 2 weeks for the past 8 months so far is because I have a masters degree in trumpet performance and don't have any upper level math classes on a formal transcript, so it's kinda all I have going for me other than strong letters from profs who were PhD'd at ivy league programs.

    for what it's worth, I'll post a list of the schools my fiancee is applying to for admission in fall '12. She's applying to I/O psych and human-computer interaction PhD programs. We've narrowed down her programs to only include ones that either have a great biological/neurological math PhD or a great biophysics PhD program near by (sometimes I'd be going to a different school than her, sometimes it's the same).

    U Pitt
    U Maryland
    U Washington
    Iowa State
    U Michigan
    Indiana U
    Georgia Tech

    Those are the 10 schools near the ones she is applying that had "acceptable" math / biophysics programs for me. some of them are the same school she's applying to, but for example, she's applying to Carnegie Mellon, where I'd have U Pitt as my option ... same with Northwestern, where she's actually applying to DePaul. But anyway, if you haven't looked at any of those schools, for what it's worth, I've rubber stamped them and will ultimately be at one of them in 2013 depending on where Debra gets in.

    ***I do realize that you're interested in a completely different area than I am based on the stuff you've done so far, but I'd imagine most of the schools in that list are also pretty strong in the rest of the applied math / computational science stuff too, maybe not, worth a look I guess.

    ALSO: if you haven't read or even heard of "A Mathematician's Survival Guide, Graduate School and Early Career Development" by Steven Krantz ... you should check it out. It's pretty easy to find for purchase or pdf/djvu download.

    I hope all or at least some of this helps***
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2011
  19. Nov 18, 2011 #18
    bpatrick, that is quite helpful. I actually only learned calculus last summer, so I guess >50% is not terrible given my background.

    I will have one very strong letter and 2-3 strong letters. My current research is going well and I hope to have A+'s across the board this semester, so hopefully I'll still be a strong candidate at top schools.
  20. Nov 19, 2011 #19
    One other random piece of advice, if you don't think that a certain program is a good fit for you, but there is a prof or two who is doing research that is interesting, look at whatever program they got their degree from, it may be a better fit for you than where that prof is currently at.

    In the end, at least how I look at it: you are doing preliminary shopping for a thesis adviser. Your interests may change a bit along the way, so if there's a few people at the school that are into the general field, then all the more for you to pick from and get involved with their research programs after you mature a bit with all the grad school knowledge you'll be packing in.

    I recall a program that looked really good that Debra and I were looking into, since it wasn't terribly high on her list, it was at my discretion to veto it or not based on what I was looking for. The reason I finally vetoed them despite their program strength (and thus helped trim her long list down to the final 10) was because there were only three profs who were into what I was interested in:

    the one stepped down as department head in early 2000s and has gradually minimized his activities in department committees and whatnot and is currently 64 ... so who knows if by 2014 when I pass my quals, he'd still be there, or if he still is, that he would want to take on another PhD student for the next 2-3 years.

    The second prof was fresh out of grad school in 2009 and is of course an "assistant professor" so no tenure yet, and doubtful he'd be able to advise a PhD student (not sure if I'd want to be the first assuming the department would allow it anyway).

    The other prof who is in my area (from reading over the "courses taught" section of her CV) has taken 8 semesters off over the past 14 years due to "family medical leave". Now I have no clue what that's about, it could be personal health problems, it could be kids, spouse, or parental health issues, it could be maternity leave, or who knows what else.

    Now I'm not sure what the time off was really about, but 8 semesters over 14 years is a lot and who knows if that would happen during my thesis years and if it would affect her ability to advise me or what that might impact. Knowing all this, it was rather easy to remove the school from our list even though the program I would have been in is pretty strong and well known.

    I guess I'm just throwing extra stuff out for you to think about still since some applications are due as early as Dec 1st but most are in January or February. You probably want to look a tiny bit deeper than just program reputation and even the flexibility of your specialty, because who knows what I would have had to do if I wouldn't have looked at those three prof's CVs ... I mean I guess that's what you spend a lot of time doing after you have admission letters though, so it's not TOTALLY necessary to do all of it before you apply.

    But yeah, bottom line, shop for potential thesis advisers, program fit for you personally (like what qualifiers you take, what electives, how much teaching you'll do, stipend/fellowship info, and location if you even care about where you end up geographically).

    Good luck with all this ... it sounds like a lot, but it's easily managed in your spare time and you still have time.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2011
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