Graduate Studies in Other Fields
An undergraduate degree in mathematics is often excellent preparation for graduate work in disciplines where mathematics is used. These areas include computer science, statistics, law, medicine, economics, engineering, operations research, genetics, forestry, physics, meteorology, and various other fields in the social, biological and physical sciences. A student who has taken few courses in his/her area of graduate interest may well be required to take a substantial number of prerequisite courses before beginning the advanced degree program. However, some of these disciplines accept mathematics majors who have had very little background in the area of study.
Graduate Studies in Mathematics
There are opportunities for well-qualified students to obtain support for graduate studies in mathematics. Due to the large number of retirements of math faculty at colleges and universities across the country, the market for academic jobs for students with graduate degrees has improved dramatically in the last couple of years. This trend is expected to continue for several years. In addition, some math Ph.D's have obtained non-academic jobs doing consulting or research.
If you are interested in pursuing an advanced degree in mathematics, you should consider taking more than one of the required two semester sequences. The choice of sequences would depend upon your intended area of study (i.e. theoretical or applied mathematics or statistics). Consult with your academic advisor to select the courses that will be important to include in your undergraduate program.
The American Mathematical Society (AMS) and the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) have collaborated on a project designed to increase awareness of the employment opportunities outside academia that are available with an advanced degree in mathematics. The centerpiece of the project is the Web site www.ams.org/careers/. A new part of this project is an online mentoring program designed to connect students with mathematicians working in industry, government or business. The program is aimed at students who are enrolled in masters or doctoral programs in the mathematical sciences in at U.S. institutions.
Participants are assigned a mentor who will answer general questions about preparation for working in industry and about the work environment in industry, discuss what to expect on an interview, and share their career experiences. In addition, participants can ask mentors to look over the courses already taken and make recommendations about future course work, read over a resume and give feedback from the perspective of someone hiring in industry, and give guidance about putting together a cover letter suitable to industry.
APPLYING FOR GRADUATE SCHOOL IN MATHEMATICS
Normally, you should apply in the fall of your senior year for admission the following fall. Most mathematics departments with graduate programs offer, on a competitive basis, financial support for graduate study in the form of teaching assistantships, research assistantships or fellowships. You should apply to departments of varying quality in order to increase chances of admission and/or support.
Usually, letters of recommendation and results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are required with the admissions packet. Some, if not all, of the letters should be from mathematics faculty who know the quality of your work in advanced courses. You should plan to take the GRE General Test and the GRE Mathematics Subject Tests - not all departments require this latter section - in the fall of your senior year. The fall dates are usually in October and December. In some cases it is important to take the October test to be sure the results arrive in time for full consideration for admission and support. (Most departments make final decisions on assistantships in mid-March.)
If you are considering graduate work in mathematics, feel free to ask faculty members about various math departments and graduate programs. Some specific information about graduate programs is available from either Dr. Hulett, 1024 Cowley Hall, or Dr. Reineke for Statistics students, 1030 Cowley Hall. The following should also be useful sources of information about graduate programs.
Sources of Information about Graduate Programs in Mathematics
- Assistantships and Fellowships in the Mathematical Sciences. This book is published each fall by the American Mathematical Society, and lists the assistantships and fellowships available for the following academic year. A copy may be purchasedfrom the American Mathematical Society, P.O. Box 6248, Providence, RI 02940.
- Peterson's Guides. Many universities pay to have their programs listed in this publication. Areas described usually include programs of study, research facilities, financial aid, cost of study, cost of living, student group, the community, the university, application procedures, and the faculty.