|Mathematical Research / Graduate School|
Mathematical Research / Graduate School
This fact sheet gives recommended upper level courses that will be particularly useful to students interested in continuing their education in graduate school. About one third of our graduates receive an advanced degree in mathematics or a related field.
Why Graduate School?
There are plenty of careers to choose from after getting a math degree, so why bother going to graduate school? Some fields require it - you are unlikely to find a job in operations research or college teaching with just a Bachelor's degree. Many industrial and government employers prefer that you have additional training, and they'll pay you more for it. Some will even send you to school while you work.
M.S. versus Ph.D.
A master's degree prepares you to teach at a community college, or work in a variety of applied industries. It takes approximately two years of study. You take courses and you may have to write a thesis. A doctoral degree prepares you for research in industry or an academic setting, and for teaching at a four year college or university. It usually takes four to six years, the first few of which are devoted to course work. A major step is passing a candidacy exam, after which you pick an advisor to work with in a specialized field. The last couple years you concentrate on your research which culminates in a dissertation: a paper of original research.
What Graduate School is Like
The best thing about graduate school is that you don't pay them - they pay you! The typical graduate student teaches or helps teach an undergraduate math course. Sometimes there are also research assistantships and grading jobs available. The stipend for this work depends on the school, but is usually about $14,000 to $16,000. It won't make you rich, but it is enough to live on. The typical course load is three classes per term. These classes will be faster and more challenging than the ones in college. The professors will expect you take responsibility for your own learning.
Preparing for Graduate School
You will need a strong foundation in mathematics. You should take as much math as you can, more than the requirements, and preferably a mix of pure and applied topics. This will add to your mathematical knowledge and help you decide which field you might like to specialize in. It will also improve your score on the GRE, the Graduate Record Examination, which is similar to the SAT but a lot harder. A practical knowledge of computer programming is valuable in many graduate courses, so consider some extra computer science. Please refer to the course recommendations above.