MS  Applied Mathematics
MS  Applied Mathematics
Hi guys,
I'm in a bit of a weird situation. I graduated with a degree in Computer Science (Outside U.S) 1 year ago and since then I've been working as a software engineer. I decided I am going to apply to an Applied Mathematics grad program. The reason being that I've always wanted to pursue my interest in the field of mathematics but due to external factors I could not. Anyway, my background in terms of courses taken is quite insufficient. In the country I studied engineering in, we only have 2 math courses (Engineering Mathematics  1 and Engineering Mathematics 2). While these do cover Calculus 1,2,3 and some extra topics, it does not go into linear algebra at all and only touches the surface real analysis. (Although I used to watch linear algebra and various other lectures online out of my own interest during the 4 years of engineering) Since this was the case, immediately after graduating, I decided to self study these topics using online courses and some textbooks and take the GRE Mathematics subject test. Surprisingly I got a very high percentile and this has boosted my confidence for grad school. The question is, will 2 good LORs and a good GRE subject test score be enough to get admitted into a good program/school? How do I explain my lack of courses taken? Is there anything I can do to satisfy these missing credits?
If anyone has been in a similar situation or has any advice, please let me know.
Thanks in advance.
I'm in a bit of a weird situation. I graduated with a degree in Computer Science (Outside U.S) 1 year ago and since then I've been working as a software engineer. I decided I am going to apply to an Applied Mathematics grad program. The reason being that I've always wanted to pursue my interest in the field of mathematics but due to external factors I could not. Anyway, my background in terms of courses taken is quite insufficient. In the country I studied engineering in, we only have 2 math courses (Engineering Mathematics  1 and Engineering Mathematics 2). While these do cover Calculus 1,2,3 and some extra topics, it does not go into linear algebra at all and only touches the surface real analysis. (Although I used to watch linear algebra and various other lectures online out of my own interest during the 4 years of engineering) Since this was the case, immediately after graduating, I decided to self study these topics using online courses and some textbooks and take the GRE Mathematics subject test. Surprisingly I got a very high percentile and this has boosted my confidence for grad school. The question is, will 2 good LORs and a good GRE subject test score be enough to get admitted into a good program/school? How do I explain my lack of courses taken? Is there anything I can do to satisfy these missing credits?
If anyone has been in a similar situation or has any advice, please let me know.
Thanks in advance.

 Posts: 18
 Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2016 8:00 pm
Re: MS  Applied Mathematics
Hi there,
I'm in a pretty similar situation, although I didn't do well at all on the MGRE (take a look at my profile). I decided to apply to master's programs due to my lack of math courses and not being sure of research interests. No news yet, except for an informal acceptance (I think?) from Oregon State who contacted me about a fellowship nomination.
I imagine it would be harder to get into a PhD program with your background, but not impossible, especially with a good MGRE score and if you explain the reasons for your shift in career, etc. For example, my concentration in Computer Science was in theory, so I have taken a number of more mathy CS courses, and basically regret going into software engineering rather than doing more math You can also try to take some courses at a local university (some offer taking courses as a nondegree seeking student).
Sorry I'm not more helpful, but letting you know you're not alone!
I'm in a pretty similar situation, although I didn't do well at all on the MGRE (take a look at my profile). I decided to apply to master's programs due to my lack of math courses and not being sure of research interests. No news yet, except for an informal acceptance (I think?) from Oregon State who contacted me about a fellowship nomination.
I imagine it would be harder to get into a PhD program with your background, but not impossible, especially with a good MGRE score and if you explain the reasons for your shift in career, etc. For example, my concentration in Computer Science was in theory, so I have taken a number of more mathy CS courses, and basically regret going into software engineering rather than doing more math You can also try to take some courses at a local university (some offer taking courses as a nondegree seeking student).
Sorry I'm not more helpful, but letting you know you're not alone!
Re: MS  Applied Mathematics
I'm not in a similar situation, but I did my bachelors in applied/computational math and got into some PhD programs for applied math this cycle, so I can at least give you a run down on the applied vs. pure math angle. You say that
I think a good mGRE score can help your application stand out given that you won't be coming from mathematics background, but I'm not sure it's really a substitute for taking the actual classes. You will be competing for admissions against students who have both done well on the mGRE and taken the requisite courses, and at the end of the day, the GRE is just one component of your application. For schools that require it, a poor score can tank your application, but a good score is no guarantee of success. Also keep in mind that many applied math programs don't require the mGRE score; it's to your advantage to submit it if your score is good though.
Now, some schools include applied math within their pure math department (UCLA, Berkeley, etc.), meaning that you would be taking courses tailored to a pure math degree. Other schools have a separate department entirely for applied math (U Washington, Maryland AMSC, Rice, Stony Brook, etc), and the courses are much more varied. Keep in mind that there aren't many dedicated applied math departments, and their curriculums can vary significantly, though the core courses (calc 13, ODEs, linear algebra, analysis) are similar. For example, my undergrad curriculum was something like:
Calc 1, 2, 3 & ODEs
Real analysis
Linear algebra
Numerical methods for PDEs
Optimization/Linear programming, integer programming, graph theory
Numerical analysis, numerical linear algebra
That would be the bare minimum for the degree, and is more of a broad survey than anything else. It was up to the individual students to flesh out their studies to suit their interests. If you're looking to take bridging coursework before applying, this could give you some idea of what to look for. You ask
But this is kind of a vague statement. What particular aspects of math do you enjoy? You say you've taken "engineering mathematics" but nothing else, so do you know for sure you want to go the applied route vs. pure? One thing that could help you now is to enroll at a local university. In particular, on the pure math side, you can sample real analysis, algebra, and topology. This is good not only for pinpointing what your interests are, but also to get those courses on your transcript. You're also going to want your statement of purpose to be focused and meaningful (even forThe reason being that I've always wanted to pursue my interest in the field of mathematics
I think a good mGRE score can help your application stand out given that you won't be coming from mathematics background, but I'm not sure it's really a substitute for taking the actual classes. You will be competing for admissions against students who have both done well on the mGRE and taken the requisite courses, and at the end of the day, the GRE is just one component of your application. For schools that require it, a poor score can tank your application, but a good score is no guarantee of success. Also keep in mind that many applied math programs don't require the mGRE score; it's to your advantage to submit it if your score is good though.
Now, some schools include applied math within their pure math department (UCLA, Berkeley, etc.), meaning that you would be taking courses tailored to a pure math degree. Other schools have a separate department entirely for applied math (U Washington, Maryland AMSC, Rice, Stony Brook, etc), and the courses are much more varied. Keep in mind that there aren't many dedicated applied math departments, and their curriculums can vary significantly, though the core courses (calc 13, ODEs, linear algebra, analysis) are similar. For example, my undergrad curriculum was something like:
Calc 1, 2, 3 & ODEs
Real analysis
Linear algebra
Numerical methods for PDEs
Optimization/Linear programming, integer programming, graph theory
Numerical analysis, numerical linear algebra
That would be the bare minimum for the degree, and is more of a broad survey than anything else. It was up to the individual students to flesh out their studies to suit their interests. If you're looking to take bridging coursework before applying, this could give you some idea of what to look for. You ask
I don't think there is anything to explain, other than the obvious fact that you chose to major in computer science in undergrad. You can mitigate that by taking some higher level math courses and showing the admissions committees that you're committed. Also, there is most definitely some overlap between computer science and applied math. If you're interested in a specific subfield of applied math where your CS background will be an advantage, definitely highlight that. Hope this helps!How do I explain my lack of courses taken? Is there anything I can do to satisfy these missing credits?

 Posts: 108
 Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2016 3:47 pm
Re: MS  Applied Mathematics
Canadian universities require a MSC degree as a prerequisite for the PhD. How did you get accepted to a Waterloo PhD without one?omhk wrote:I'm not in a similar situation, but I did my bachelors in applied/computational math and got into some PhD programs for applied math this cycle, so I can at least give you a run down on the applied vs. pure math angle. You say that
But this is kind of a vague statement. What particular aspects of math do you enjoy? You say you've taken "engineering mathematics" but nothing else, so do you know for sure you want to go the applied route vs. pure? One thing that could help you now is to enroll at a local university. In particular, on the pure math side, you can sample real analysis, algebra, and topology. This is good not only for pinpointing what your interests are, but also to get those courses on your transcript. You're also going to want your statement of purpose to be focused and meaningful (even forThe reason being that I've always wanted to pursue my interest in the field of mathematics
I think a good mGRE score can help your application stand out given that you won't be coming from mathematics background, but I'm not sure it's really a substitute for taking the actual classes. You will be competing for admissions against students who have both done well on the mGRE and taken the requisite courses, and at the end of the day, the GRE is just one component of your application. For schools that require it, a poor score can tank your application, but a good score is no guarantee of success. Also keep in mind that many applied math programs don't require the mGRE score; it's to your advantage to submit it if your score is good though.
Now, some schools include applied math within their pure math department (UCLA, Berkeley, etc.), meaning that you would be taking courses tailored to a pure math degree. Other schools have a separate department entirely for applied math (U Washington, Maryland AMSC, Rice, Stony Brook, etc), and the courses are much more varied. Keep in mind that there aren't many dedicated applied math departments, and their curriculums can vary significantly, though the core courses (calc 13, ODEs, linear algebra, analysis) are similar. For example, my undergrad curriculum was something like:
Calc 1, 2, 3 & ODEs
Real analysis
Linear algebra
Numerical methods for PDEs
Optimization/Linear programming, integer programming, graph theory
Numerical analysis, numerical linear algebra
That would be the bare minimum for the degree, and is more of a broad survey than anything else. It was up to the individual students to flesh out their studies to suit their interests. If you're looking to take bridging coursework before applying, this could give you some idea of what to look for. You ask
I don't think there is anything to explain, other than the obvious fact that you chose to major in computer science in undergrad. You can mitigate that by taking some higher level math courses and showing the admissions committees that you're committed. Also, there is most definitely some overlap between computer science and applied math. If you're interested in a specific subfield of applied math where your CS background will be an advantage, definitely highlight that. Hope this helps!How do I explain my lack of courses taken? Is there anything I can do to satisfy these missing credits?
Re: MS  Applied Mathematics
I got into the masters program, should've specified that and also asked OP what countries he is applying to. In the U.S. the terminal masters in applied math is actually offered at some schools (Washington comes to mind), but it's not common, and it's definitely not funded except in really rare cases. Everything I wrote above is from a U.S. perspectiveverysweetjuices wrote:Canadian universities require a MSC degree as a prerequisite for the PhD. How did you get accepted to a Waterloo PhD without one?

 Posts: 108
 Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2016 3:47 pm
Re: MS  Applied Mathematics
Cool. Why didn't you apply to U of T?omhk wrote:I got into the masters program, should've specified that and also asked OP what countries he is applying to. In the U.S. the terminal masters in applied math is actually offered at some schools (Washington comes to mind), but it's not common, and it's definitely not funded except in really rare cases. Everything I wrote above is from a U.S. perspectiveverysweetjuices wrote:Canadian universities require a MSC degree as a prerequisite for the PhD. How did you get accepted to a Waterloo PhD without one?
Re: MS  Applied Mathematics
I applied to Waterloo for specific faculty working in areas that I was interested in. Just waiting for my official offer letter now. I don't think Waterloo pays for admitted students to visit, which is unfortunateverysweetjuices wrote:Cool. Why didn't you apply to U of T?

 Posts: 108
 Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2016 3:47 pm
Re: MS  Applied Mathematics
I've been there. It's pretty small, pretty depressing, and the city is pretty industrial. It's kind of sandwiched between London and Hamilton so it's kind of on its own in the middle of nowhere... admittedly, that middle of nowhere is in SE Ontario which is where around 12,000,000 people live in several cities.omhk wrote:I applied to Waterloo for specific faculty working in areas that I was interested in. Just waiting for my official offer letter now. I don't think Waterloo pays for admitted students to visit, which is unfortunateverysweetjuices wrote:Cool. Why didn't you apply to U of T?
One cool thing is that unlike most universities, you can get from any place to any other place without ever going outside.
Re: MS  Applied Mathematics
I studied applied mathematics. But then he went to work in the field of Finance. Mathematics gives us a large area to work.