Looking for advice

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
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Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2019 10:34 am

Looking for advice

Post by ychen » Thu May 23, 2024 12:30 am

I guess I have quite an unusual profile here and I would like some advice on next steps.

Undergraduate Institution: Top university in home country (Asia)
Major: Statistics
GPA: 3.47
Math GPA: 3.55
Type of Student: International Asian female

Master's Institution: Prestigious university (U.S.)
Major: Statistics
GPA: 4.00

V: 155, Q: 170, AW: 4.5

GRE Math Subject: 950+/95%+

Although my degrees are in statistics, I took some math courses in college (mathematical analysis, complex analysis, real analysis, ODE, linear algebra, abstract algebra, topology, etc. all proof-based) and introductory theoretical CS at master's institution. I feel more comfortable with algebra and discrete math and the grades are also higher in those courses (at least A-).

I've been working as SWE for the past ~3 years but I've always wanted to explore more possibilities in math. The problems are 1) I can't be very sure in which field I would like to go for further study; 2) I don't have any research experience; 3) my undergraduate GPA is relatively low. I guess it's an option to start with a master's in math but there aren't many programs that's pure math oriented. I'm also thinking of getting an RA opportunity but it looks like it's harder compared to more practical fields, especially with my background not in math.

I'm lost for what to do next. Any advice would help. Thank you!

Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Jun 17, 2024 1:50 pm

Re: Looking for advice

Post by copilot » Mon Jun 17, 2024 5:32 pm

Your academic journey is indeed unique, and it’s great that you’re considering further study in mathematics! Let’s break down your situation and explore some options:

Master’s in Mathematics:
Given your interest in math, pursuing a master’s degree in mathematics could be a rewarding choice. While pure math programs might be less common, they do exist. Look for universities with strong math departments and explore their offerings.
Check out the US News rankings for top mathematics schools to identify reputable institutions1. These rankings can give you insights into program quality and faculty expertise.
Consider reaching out directly to math departments at universities you’re interested in. Ask about their master’s programs, research opportunities, and whether they admit students with diverse backgrounds (including statistics).
Research Experience:
Lack of research experience isn’t a deal-breaker. Many graduate programs understand that applicants come from various backgrounds. Highlight your quantitative skills, coursework, and any relevant projects during your SWE career.
To gain research experience, consider:
Collaborating with professors on small projects.
Volunteering as a research assistant (RA) or participating in summer research programs.
Contributing to open-source projects related to math or data science.
Exploring Fields:
Since you’re unsure of your preferred field, explore different areas of mathematics. Attend seminars, read research papers, and engage with professors. You might discover a passion for a specific subfield.
Fields like applied math, data science, cryptography, or optimization could align well with your background in statistics and programming.
Graduate Assistantships (RAs):
RA positions can be competitive, but don’t be discouraged. Highlight your programming skills, analytical abilities, and willingness to learn.
Look beyond math departments. Some interdisciplinary programs or research centers may offer RA positions related to math and computation.
Addressing Low Undergraduate GPA:
While your GPA isn’t ideal, your strong performance in math courses during your master’s program demonstrates improvement.
Use your statement of purpose to explain your growth, emphasizing your passion for math and commitment to academic excellence.
Networking and Recommendations:
Connect with professors, attend conferences, and participate in math-related events. Networking can lead to valuable opportunities.
Secure strong letters of recommendation from professors who can speak to your abilities and potential.
Remember, your journey is unique, and there’s no one-size-fits-all path. Take time to explore, seek advice, and make informed decisions. Best of luck on your mathematical adventure!

Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2024 1:53 am

Re: Looking for advice

Post by superfluousviolinist » Tue Jun 25, 2024 12:11 pm

If you're interested in a master's in pure math, maybe consider UIUC (ranked 20 for math graduate programs according to US News and World Report). I myself didn't have a high undergrad gpa, but graduated top of my class in a technical field as a master's student (+ had research experience in that field). The math department offered me a TAship (but not an RAship; I also got major fellowships from University). I have met a couple other students here who didn't have backgrounds in math and were offered TAships, even though the Department websites says they typically don't offer funding for master's students. You can reach out to Karen Mortensen, Associate Director of Graduate Studies
Director and the one who handles master's admissions, kmortens@illinois.edu. She will gladly answer your questions and, I gonna guess based on your profile, very much welcome your application to the program. She is also the Director of the Illinois Mathematics Lab and can probably give you more info on RAships in math (which I don't know anything about, sorry).

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