How do graduate schools look at an applicant with a master degree?

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
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Dragan
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Dec 25, 2019 11:13 pm

How do graduate schools look at an applicant with a master degree?

Post by Dragan » Wed Feb 03, 2021 7:02 pm

Hi

As the title suggests, I am wondering how grad schools look at a PhD math applicant with a MS degree from a reputable program (say from a school that offers only graduate studies). I have heard lately that they usually prefer well-prepared BS applicants and might not provide as much funding for MS holder. I am asking becuase this did not make any sense to me. I feel a MS student is much more prepared. Any ideas?

bxbdhdj
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2020 2:00 pm

Re: How do graduate schools look at an applicant with a master degree?

Post by bxbdhdj » Wed Feb 03, 2021 9:48 pm

Dragan wrote:
Wed Feb 03, 2021 7:02 pm
Hi

As the title suggests, I am wondering how grad schools look at a PhD math applicant with a MS degree from a reputable program (say from a school that offers only graduate studies). I have heard lately that they usually prefer well-prepared BS applicants and might not provide as much funding for MS holder. I am asking becuase this did not make any sense to me. I feel a MS student is much more prepared. Any ideas?
I think it depends. From my understanding, admission committee will generally expect more from master students. And the bar to get into a Phd program as a MS student is higher than that of undergrad. Indeed, it is unfair to simply compare a BS applicant and a MS one on their grad courses, research experiences, etc. Master students have two more years preparation time than most BS applicants. And the application process value applicants' potential, not only their current capacity of mathematics.

However, I don't think any program will simply bias against master students. I actually know one of master students from my school got into Princeton a few years ago. They will just expect more if one holds a master degree and has already received two-year graduate training in mathematics.

MolecularCaterpillar
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Sep 27, 2020 7:54 am

Re: How do graduate schools look at an applicant with a master degree?

Post by MolecularCaterpillar » Thu Feb 04, 2021 6:59 am

bxbdhdj wrote:
Wed Feb 03, 2021 9:48 pm
Dragan wrote:
Wed Feb 03, 2021 7:02 pm
Hi

As the title suggests, I am wondering how grad schools look at a PhD math applicant with a MS degree from a reputable program (say from a school that offers only graduate studies). I have heard lately that they usually prefer well-prepared BS applicants and might not provide as much funding for MS holder. I am asking becuase this did not make any sense to me. I feel a MS student is much more prepared. Any ideas?
I think it depends. From my understanding, admission committee will generally expect more from master students. And the bar to get into a Phd program as a MS student is higher than that of undergrad. Indeed, it is unfair to simply compare a BS applicant and a MS one on their grad courses, research experiences, etc. Master students have two more years preparation time than most BS applicants. And the application process value applicants' potential, not only their current capacity of mathematics.

However, I don't think any program will simply bias against master students. I actually know one of master students from my school got into Princeton a few years ago. They will just expect more if one holds a master degree and has already received two-year graduate training in mathematics.
Will the situation be any different for people switching fields (in my case from physics to pure math)? I was thinking maybe a masters will help me gain more experience in mathematics (and perhaps build better connections) and hopefully makes me more competitive when I apply again, how true is that?

bxbdhdj
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2020 2:00 pm

Re: How do graduate schools look at an applicant with a master degree?

Post by bxbdhdj » Thu Feb 04, 2021 7:29 am

MolecularCaterpillar wrote:
Thu Feb 04, 2021 6:59 am
bxbdhdj wrote:
Wed Feb 03, 2021 9:48 pm
Dragan wrote:
Wed Feb 03, 2021 7:02 pm
Hi

As the title suggests, I am wondering how grad schools look at a PhD math applicant with a MS degree from a reputable program (say from a school that offers only graduate studies). I have heard lately that they usually prefer well-prepared BS applicants and might not provide as much funding for MS holder. I am asking becuase this did not make any sense to me. I feel a MS student is much more prepared. Any ideas?
I think it depends. From my understanding, admission committee will generally expect more from master students. And the bar to get into a Phd program as a MS student is higher than that of undergrad. Indeed, it is unfair to simply compare a BS applicant and a MS one on their grad courses, research experiences, etc. Master students have two more years preparation time than most BS applicants. And the application process value applicants' potential, not only their current capacity of mathematics.

However, I don't think any program will simply bias against master students. I actually know one of master students from my school got into Princeton a few years ago. They will just expect more if one holds a master degree and has already received two-year graduate training in mathematics.
Will the situation be any different for people switching fields (in my case from physics to pure math)? I was thinking maybe a masters will help me gain more experience in mathematics (and perhaps build better connections) and hopefully makes me more competitive when I apply again, how true is that?
I would say yes. Your motivation sounds totally resonable. I think it would help if you mention that in your application package then.

lee_34
Posts: 15
Joined: Sun Feb 07, 2021 2:34 am

Re: How do graduate schools look at an applicant with a master degree?

Post by lee_34 » Sun Feb 07, 2021 2:53 am

I am a math master student from a very unknown school, ranking for math grad program is below 100. I did my undergrad in something else but decided that I wanted to do math Ph.D. I didn’t want to stay in my undergrad to take those required math classes because I was poor. Instead I got into a funded math master program. My first year as a master student, I literally only took undergrad senior math classes. I applied for math Ph.D. And so far I got into one school that is ranked around 30 for math grad program. I would say that if you don’t feel like you are quite ready for a Ph.D., doing a master wouldn’t hurt. Especially, there are some funded master’s programs out there.



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