Program Rankings and Post-graduate placement

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
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Program Rankings and Post-graduate placement

Post by hormander » Sun Feb 14, 2021 10:05 am

Hi guys, although I've heard (and I agree) that we shouldn't rely on graduate program rankings but focus on choosing advisors. I observe that most faculties from the math department are top school (call it set A: say NYU, Ivy, etc.) graduates and I've seen very few professors graduate from others (Call it set B: say Notre Dame, UIC, UCI etc.) that are believed to also have strong PhD programs. I wonder what you guys opinion on this?

Would it probably because that the B universities are not as strong as they are today and A's are the only universities that have good programs say 20 years ago? Or is it a common phenomenon that only A's graduates will have better future in academia?

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Re: Program Rankings and Post-graduate placement

Post by soo » Sun Feb 14, 2021 11:00 am

I think it has more to do with connections and academic snobbery. Plenty of applicants are just as smart and accomplished from lower tiers, it is just much harder for domestic students to break into A+ without a hook or connection, especially if A+ isn't on their CV. There are exceptions of course.

As for better future? There are also plenty of good post doc and faculty positions for phds from A and B. If being tenured at A+ is your goal, yeah it's gonna be far more unlikely if you didn't go to A+ for your phd. Is tenure track at A+ better? That all depends on what you want to do and how important A+ prestige is to you. There are many academic jobs with a greater focus on teaching like at LAS schools and also research faculty at mid level R1 public and private universities that hire phds from A and B universities and may not have the stress of publishing non-stop like A+ tenure track. And if money is important, there are lots of very high paying research jobs at big tech and financial companies for those A and B math phds too.

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Re: Program Rankings and Post-graduate placement

Post by herzog » Thu Apr 08, 2021 12:36 pm

There are 100 or so schools from which some number of graduates have gone on to do very well. Frankly, you are who you are whether you're at Stanford or, as you mention, UIC. The reason you see more people at "top" schools with degrees from places like Stanford or Harvard is because on average they attract stronger students. But not every strong student goes to these programs. The harsh reality is that you can't change who you are, and the name of your degree won't matter much if you don't have strong research. I know of at least one person from UIC who is now a tenure track professor at Cambridge. I also know people from Princeton who are unemployed (and not by choice!). Ironically, depending on your background, you (plural, not you specifically) might end up doing better at a place like UIC since you won't be surrounded and drowned out by people who learned class field theory in middle school.

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